More and more people plan to elope these days, but how do you know if eloping is right for you? What even is an elopement?
For starters, “eloping” used to exclusively mean: “the two of you run off together and no one knows you’re getting married.” These days, the definition has broadened to include “intimate weddings” from just a few people up to 20 or 30. The terms haven’t been firmly defined, and I’m cool with that. Who cares what other people call it? You do you, cupcake.
Disclaimer: I definitely vote for eloping. I’m a little bit biased because Duncan and I chose to elope too, and all the weddings I photograph are intimate, and I love these small weddings. Howmever (not a typo): as much as I want everyone to be aware that they can get married wherever and however they like–some people don’t realize they can!!–I am also a fierce advocate of personal choice. If you want a big wedding, you have a big wedding. But if you’re thinking about a more intimate wedding…here are some things to consider:
Traditions are the biggest barrier to eloping. Now, right off the bat, let me just say this: I’m not here to tell you to trash all your traditions. Far from it. I’m here to tell you to consider each of them. Keep the ones that truly matter to you, and feel free to let go of the ones that either mean nothing to you or feel wrong to you or whatever. I love unconventional weddings, but “small” and “unconventional” aren’t synonymous. It’s just easier to go small and elope when you focus on what’s really important to you rather than what everyone else tells you to do.
Cultural traditions are actually my favourite freaking thing. You want kilts and bagpipes? Yes. Tea ceremony? Yes. Guitarists, readings in other languages, dances… I’m here for all of it.
So go for it; incorporate things that mean something to you!
You also need to balance how important traditions are to your family, and by extension, how much your family’s wishes matter to you. If your grandparent really wants you to get married in a church, but you really don’t, how important is it to you that you honour their wishes? That’s a personal call that only you and your partner can make. If everyone around you has got an opinion and it’s doing your head in, give this a read.
So don’t look at this as black and white, as “keep the traditions or throw them out.” Keep the ones that mean something to you, and let go of the ones that don’t.
Planning an elopement doesn’t take nearly as long as planning a big wedding.
If you’re looking at a shorter engagement, you just want to get married, or you just don’t want to spend a lot of time planning, an elopement may be for you! All wedding planning comes with some stress (click over to this post if you want help managing it), but elopements can be put together much more quickly.
People book up to a year out to make sure they can get all their vendors available on the same date. I’ve been booked less than a month before a wedding, but honestly, if you want to elope next week and I happen to have the date available, I’m down. Smaller weddings often have fewer vendors or more wiggle room, so you can often book much closer to your wedding date.
…no guarantees though. Just saying.
Some people love planning big events, and that’s ok. Some people have the money and patience to hire a planner, and that’s ok too. But then some people (like me) get a little overwhelmed by having to constantly make decisions that they don’t actually care about.
Now. As someone who works in the wedding industry and knows exactly how much hard work and talent goes into everything involved, I am in no way trying to knock other vendors. But tiny weddings–especially elopements of just 2 people–tend to have way fewer vendors than big weddings. Fewer moving parts, fewer things to coordinate. If you aren’t interested in planning a huge event, you should elope!
Speaking both as someone who eloped and someone who’s photographed large and small weddings: you can’t get “small wedding intimacy” with a big wedding.
You just can’t.
Neither Duncan nor I enjoy being the center of attention. We didn’t want our wedding to be a show for other people, we wanted it to be about us. Rather than making time to talk with 100 different people, we wanted to spend as much time together as we could, just enjoying the day. We exchanged private vows before the ceremony, planned plenty of time to just be alone with our kickass photographer, and then enjoyed a cosy dinner at a restaurant with our families.
No matter what size your wedding is, everyone there wants a piece of you. They’re so excited! They want to congratulate you, hug you, and tell you how happy they are. But when the guest list grows, suddenly your obligation does too. You’ll spend half your day wondering where your new spouse is, while yet another well-wisher pulls you to one side.
You may have a totally different perspective, and that’s ok! Have your big wedding and socialize with everyone! But if you’re like me and you get tired just thinking about that… I seriously can’t recommend eloping enough. Just elope.
It’s a lot to think about! And there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
Give yourself time to take a break, think about what’s important to you, then make it happen. And when you’re ready, or if you just want to chat things through, I’m right here.