The term ‘elopement‘ has historically been viewed as spontaneous, often controversial and usually because the couple faced oppression. The Oxford Dictionary dates the term back to the 14th Century, stemming from the word ‘aloper‘ meaning ‘to leap‘. It originated as a term for ‘a woman running off from her husband with another man‘, right up until the 1800’s. Following that, it evolved into couples seeking to get married quietly, without external interference, cost and unnecessary fuss. They would run away together, often secretly and sometimes tainted by scandal.
In more recent times, it is becoming more of a common choice for couples who simply want a wedding with less expense and planning required. Between 2020 and the beginning of 2022, the Covid-19 pandemic meant eloping was almost the only way to get married. Strict regulations limiting guest numbers indoors, enforcing mask wearing and social distancing measures meant a lot of clients downsized their wedding significantly if deciding not to postpone it.
Eloping is often a by-product of a destination wedding, where the couple wishes for the focus to be on the two of them and the special setting around them, rather than the volume of guests in attendance. Many of our clients are great lovers of the outdoors (it’s hard not to be living in the Rockies), and opt for an experience that is spectacularly unforgettable such as a helicopter ride to the top of a mountain or next to a bright turquoise lake to exchange vows. With a backdrop of breathtaking views and only their most cherished people present as witnesses, the couple is free to focus completely upon each other and their declarations of love.
Whilst some argue that the feeling of magic from an elopement is heightened, others argue that it is lost. It all stems from the expectations of the couple and what values they hold more dearly. Some couples simply wish to share the day with all their friends and family around them, having many witnesses to their nuptials and being surrounded by buzzing activity from start to finish. If relatives and friends live far away, it is the perfect reason to bring everyone together, and often introduce families as they become connected through marriage. Clients see their visions being bought to life with their chosen venue being transformed into a wonderland of lavish wedding decor, florals and design touches.
Larger weddings absolutely can be planned and executed with minimal stress, granted there is either a VERY organised couple, or there is a solid planning team in place making it happen. A larger guest list usually means a big party! As wedding vendors, we have been present at receptions that will stick in our memories forever, watching people have the time of their lives dancing, and feeling the entire room filled with love as close family and friends give speeches that bring everyone to tears (including us!). With the couple being the sole focus at the event, the clients feel a million dollars for a day and are lavished with attention from all sides.
Other couples can’t justify the expense of hiring many vendors, organising logistics and enduring stresses of planning. They chose to solely focus on the act of getting married, to acknowledge the love between them and the meaning behind it.
Elopements can vary in numbers, but usually have less than 10 guests. Often, it is simply the couple, an officiant and two witnesses. Some elopements are termed that way but morph into a larger reception following the ceremony. Our team coordinated many elopements this summer where the clients took off in a helicopter, swapped vows on a mountain top vista with only themselves and witnesses, and then came back to town for a dinner reception with a larger group of close family and friends joining. Some clients elope and then choose to host a reception at a later stage, taking the actual nuptial stress off the occasion by already being married.
If trying to decide whether an elopement is for you or not- consider the values you cherish as a couple. If cost is a large factor, consider whether spending all your savings on a wedding is going to make the start of married life begin positively. We have heard stories of couples booking weddings that cost $85,000-$100,000 and they are still paying it off years later. Do you have your own house or wish to start a family soon?
Another angle to consider is whether you wish to have you family and friends present. Can you envision walking down the aisle without your Father by your side or your Mom smiling at you when you reach the alter? Families generally can be upset at the notion of an elopement. As someone who got married overseas spontaneously with no family in attendance, I can vouch for this and say that the disappointment is very real but it gets less over time. Parents dream of watching their children get married and hopefully go on to live ‘happily ever after‘.
Whatever you decide upon, it has to be the right decision for you as a couple. Your happiness on your wedding day is paramount and only you both know what it means to become Newlyweds.