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The Modern Definition of Eloping.

March 20, 2022

Couple on a Hiking Adventure Elopement with hiking backpacks and signs that say "Just" "Eloped"

Breaking thought barriers around small, intentional weddings and giving a new, modern definition to the term “eloping”.

This word, elope / eloping / elopement, is becoming more common in today’s modern wedding world. But how do we define it today? In the traditional sense, an elopement was thought of as a quickie marriage, one that was hurried and not well thought out. We definitely need a more modern definition of eloping. If you look up “elope” on the Merriam Webster Dictionary’s website, you get answers like:

/ to run away secretly with the intention of getting married, usually without parental consent.
 / to run away from one’s spouse with a lover
/ to slip away : ESCAPE

Those sound awful! Very negative and shameful; no wonder my Mother-in-law cringed when I said I wanted to elope for our wedding! We had very different definitions of the word. In the past, elopements used to be very taboo, but now that’s changing. Today’s wedding industry embraces the modern definition of eloping. Especially after the chaos and headaches the pandemic caused while planning events such as big weddings. 

Today, the meaning of elopement has transformed into a respectable option for couples that want a simpler, more intimate and intentional wedding day. It’s an experience that feels right for the two of them. And it can look different for every couple. Some may plan an epic adventure for just the two of them. Others may include a few close family and friends in their celebration. A big traditional wedding with 200+ guests where you’re pulled in different directions all day isn’t for everyone. Planning a traditional wedding isn’t for everyone. And it shouldn’t be the only option. 


An elopement is an intimate wedding day where two people plan an experience that speaks to the soul of their relationship. They keep everything close-knit with each element of the day personalized to what is most important to them.

It’s not based on traditional rules and expectations. Nothing is off-limits, nor too far off the beaten path to include in the day. It can take place in any location, or have any vibe. It’s designed to be anxiety-free, magical, and unapologetically catered to you.

The guest list can be just you and your partner having your best day ever or include a few of your closest family and friends, so long as the focus of the day stays intentionally on you and celebrating your commitment to one another. 

A few other terms considered different types of elopements you may have heard of like “intimate wedding”, “destination wedding”, or “micro wedding”, would all still be considered a type of elopement. (The differentiation between these is usually the guest count: an elopement would be 10 guests or fewer, an intimate wedding would be 11-25 guests, a micro wedding would be 26-50 guests, a traditional wedding would be 50+ guests, and a destination wedding would be far away from your hometown area. But no need to get that technical.)


When you’re not tethered to a venue, you have a lot more flexibility with your wedding day. The most popular places are National Parks or epic natural environments (my favorites, too!). It can be in a quaint park near your hometown, or a new wondrous location you both have always wanted to explore. It can be high mountaintops, a lush forest, or sandy beaches. The adventure is yours to craft. (Keep in mind parks and other nature areas often require permits to get married.) 


Anyone who tells you this is acting selfish. They are trying to manipulate you into having a wedding that is based on their expectations. They may worry that you won’t include them in your day. Be gentle and understanding of those feelings, while trying to help them paint a picture of your dream wedding day. If you and your partner make the decision to elope, and then you immediately feel relieved and excited, you know you’ve made the right choice. Don’t let anyone else influence your decision about the best way to spend your wedding day, much like I wouldn’t expect you to let anyone else influence how you live and experience your marriage.


When you involve so many people, drama is bound to occur at some point. Your people love you both a great deal, but sometimes they just clash. Whether in the planning process or on the actual wedding day. And in many cases, it may not have anything to do with you or your new spouse, but it will still affect you and add stress and tension to your day. It may even leave a little sting of resentment afterward. With an elopement, you get to choose who is there by your side, if anyone at all, and mitigate the level of drama to little or none. 


Experiences > Things. What stories do you want to tell when you look back on your wedding day? You have the freedom to create your wedding adventure. It could be hiking to your favorite mountaintop, taking a helicopter ride out to a glacier, kayaking a crystal clear lake, or watching the sunset in the desert. You get to be more present with your partner the entire day and create those memories together. 


The day you marry the love of your life is a big deal. It is a big freakin’ deal. And you deserve to have it documented. You deserve to print those pictures and display them proudly in your home. You deserve to have an album to help tell the story of your day. How it all began. An elopement doesn’t have to be a full day of nonstop picture-taking. It’s not you constantly posing and smiling for photos. But it’s capturing those moments of the two of you committing your lives to one another. Capturing the emotions and the experiences of the day. You deserve those photos. And in my opinion, photos from elopements are a work of art, not just a memory snapshot of your day. 


It’s no secret that weddings these days are hella expensive. While elopements aren’t cheap, you will likely spend less overall than you would on a traditional wedding. The reality is that for an elopement, you get to spend it on intentional items for you and your partner, like plane tickets and a catered picnic, rather than things like centerpieces or party favors that hardly anyone will remember to take. 


According to the Botanical Paperworks and the Green Bridal Guide, “the average wedding produces 400 lbs of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. With an estimated 2.5 million weddings per year, that is about 1 billion lbs of trash and as many emissions as approximately 4 people would produce in a year, in just one single day.” That is A LOT of waste! Just having a smaller intimate wedding can cut back a lot of the wasted food, flowers, trash, etc. Being a Leave No Trace aware photographer is important to me. I strive to respect our Earth anywhere I go, trying to leave it just as good, if not better, than when I arrived. I’m not perfect, but I try to make conscious decisions to respect the planet and continue to learn about new ways to preserve our environment.

Modern Elopement Wedding Stationary

If you and your partner are ready to forego the traditional expectations and rules of a big wedding and plan something more intentional, more fitting for just the two of you, then let’s chat. I can help you dream up your perfect wedding day and get started on the planning process.



  1. […] you’re looking for an amazing place to hold a destination wedding or elopement, it’s hard to find a more ideal spot than Florida. Florida has amazing weather, with some cities […]

  2. […] definition of an elopement has changed in the past few years, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. An elopement used to be a somewhat […]

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