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What is an Elopement Wedding?

The phrase “elopement wedding” to most probably sounds like a perfect contradiction. Weddings are large celebrations, filled with seating charts, cake tastings, and everything in between. Elopements are more intimate affairs with a handful of guests and no real planning, right? Well, not necessarily. The beauty of an elopement is blending both traditional and non-traditional elements, making your day exactly what you've envisioned.

Planning an entire wedding can feel like a daunting commitment, but an elopement at times requires some planning, too. Where should you have your ceremony? Who should be invited? What special details should be incorporated into your day? Fortunately, there are so many options on the wedding spectrum that helps relieve some of the pressures of planning.

So; what is an elopement wedding? Eloping has often been portrayed as spur-of-the-moment, courthouse affairs, so how does that marry (pun intended) with the traditions of a conventional wedding? Below are four key elements of an elopement ceremony.

Elopement weddings don't need a proper venue

elopement wedding
Kiholo, Hawaii

The beauty of an elopement is that there are endless options as to where to hold your ceremony. As a result, elopements can happen in nature, in public parks or buildings, at someone’s residence, or even a family member's property. Did you want to recite your vows on a beach in Hawaii? Were you hoping to have the mountains as your backdrop as you say your I-do's? With an elopement, the destination is essentially wherever you'd like it to be, without worrying about a hefty deposit on a wedding venue. As they usually require minimal setup (if any at all), the opportunities for ceremony locations are open as far as you can imagine.

There's no need to have an extensive guest list

elopement wedding
Wagner Cove, New York City

Some elopement ceremonies feature the couples’ intimate family or closest friends. But in many cases, an elopement party consists of the couple, the officiant, and the photographer, who often acts as the witness. This doesn't mean you can't invite everyone and their mothers, but generally speaking, the guest list is far more casual than what's expected for a wedding. No seating chart required here!

Vendors are a vital part of the elopement experience

elopement wedding
3M Curve, Colorado

The ceremony itself can last only a handful of minutes, but those few minutes can be the most important of your life! That’s why many feel that a photographer is key to capture the essence of the ceremony. It’s also common now to have a “First Look,” and just because you’re having an elopement doesn't mean you’re excluded from this option. Many photographers will work with your schedule to ensure that the moment where you first see each other is documented.

The price tag is unbeatable

elopement wedding
Triple Falls, Asheville

The most daunting part of any wedding is usually the price tag. Traditional weddings with a larger guest list can get pricy when you add up invitations, decor, venue, food, and time. Elopements are an affordable alternative to the couple on a budget — or for the couple who wants to put their funds toward the honeymoon.

Elopement weddings offer couples full command of their day. With less people in attendance, you don’t have to make concessions to please everyone. Attire can vary; ceremonies can be religious or secular; you can choose to have a reception or to skip it. They can be spur-of-the-moment, or you can plan them out a year in advance. This day is about your commitment to each other, so, why not take the financial and social pressures off the table? That way you can focus on what’s most important — each other.

Article written by karen norian
Karen Norian is a writer, editor, and content strategist. Her work has been featured in many publications, including INSIDER, Travel & Leisure magazine, and Elite Daily. Her work as a wedding photographer has led her to Simply Eloped, where she has been working since early 2019.

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