The phrase, “elopement wedding” is often portrayed as a spur-of-the-moment, “run away and secretly get married” type of affair. But, in my experience, couples who choose an epic adventure elopement aren’t running away from something. They’re walking into something. Towards a future they are excited about and have crafted based on their values and ideals.
Here’s my definition: an elopement is an intimate, intentional wedding focused on you and your partner’s interests. And in my five years as a wedding photographer, I’ve seen this definition come to life first-hand. I’ve had the unique pleasure of photographing both traditional and elopement weddings, and I’ve learned a few things about why couples elope…reasons I’d thought I’d share with you below.
1. Intimate and Intentional
Who says your BIG day has to literally be BIG? If you’re anything like me, being at the center of attention in a room of one hundred plus people is… less than ideal. Eloping is the perfect way to invite a small, intentional amount of people and not feel the pressure of trying to please your partner’s second cousin-in-law’s plus-one. Plus, you get to focus on the traditions and values you want and get rid of any standard wedding games or procedures you don’t. It’s just you. Your favorite person. And maybe a couple of your closest supporters.
2. For Adventurous Hearts
You and your partner have always craved adventure. And today is no different. What memories do you want to keep from this day? Where do you want to say, “I do”? Eloping means you get to craft your ideal day — you get to have an experience rather than just a moment. You can hike to an epic overlook, take a private plane ride to a remote location, kayak with manatees, ride horses on the beach, or off-road in Jeeps. This big, beautiful world has a lot to offer and your wedding day should undoubtedly be your best adventure yet.
3. Customize Your Day
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too? You’re a custom duo and you deserve a custom wedding day. Make it as weird, wild, or romantic as you want! Nothing is off-limits and there are no expectations. One time, I saw a couple jump off a cliff into a lake in their wedding clothes. I wasn’t their photographer, but they looked so carefree, I knew they were living their day by their own rules.
4. Less Drama. Less Stress. Less Anxiety.
I believe your day should be designed to be anxiety-free, authentic, and speak to the soul of your relationship. You and your partner chose an intimate elopement because you wanted more flexibility to be in the moment, with less planning and decisions to make. Plus, with fewer people, there’s less room for drama. And because you most likely won’t have a seating chart, you don’t have to worry about sitting your Uncle Bill next to Uncle Rob who have hated each other since that one Halloween nobody talks about.
5. Focus on You and Your Marriage
Everyone always says your wedding day is about you, but then they push their own agenda and opinions on how the day should go. I believe your wedding day should be a reflection of your relationship and not a compilation of what others around you expect. Eloping allows you and your partner to focus on yourselves, your day, and your marriage. No expectations except your own.
6. More Time Together
In traditional weddings, the couple rarely has a private moment alone. But, when eloping, you make the rules. You can get dressed together (if you want). You can pick out your outfits together (if you want). Plan as much or as little face-to-face time as you want during your day.
7. Leave No Trace (LNT)
Big weddings produce a lot of waste. And I don’t mean empty beer cans and wine bottles kind of waste. I’m talking about a massive 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2 kind of waste. The good news is, we have control over how much waste we produce and the key to minimizing our waste is often to keep things simple. Elopement weddings are more eco-friendly because they’re typically smaller and in more natural venues (beaches, mountains, forests, etc.). One of my core principles when using public land is to always leave the site exactly how I found it, if not better. That’s why I got my certification as a “Leave No Trace Aware Photographer” in 2020, pledging to care about the environment and protect our big, beautiful planet.
8. Save Money
The traditional wedding isn’t cheap. According to Busines Insider, the average wedding in 2018 cost almost $34,000. But, in 2020, wedding costs decreased to $19,000. The biggest contribution being COVID restrictions. Fewer guests = less money. But, with an elopement wedding, you get fewer guests, a smaller venue, less catering, less planning fees…you get the picture. Plus, most elopements I’ve been a part of are in beautiful surroundings (beach, mountains, woods), so spending a lot of money on decorations or flowers isn’t needed. But, like any big occasion or adventure, you still need to carve out a budget. Expect to pay for your outfits, a good photographer (hit me up), permits for a small location or venue, and any flowers/experiences/food/drinks you may want.
9. Epic Photos
In my opinion, wedding photography is more genuine when it’s less posed and rushed. With minimal expectations and a whole lot of adventure, your elopement photos will be full of just one thing: love. You and your partner get to be your truest selves, totally in your element and interacting naturally. And that will show in your wedding photos. Not to mention, the beautiful scenery of elopement weddings is the perfect backdrop for any photo op. Check out my gallery of previous elopements here.
10. COVID Friendly
As mentioned before, fewer guests mean less cost and less risk of exposure when trying to navigate a wedding during COVID times. Plus, as an added bonus, outdoor weddings in a secluded, intimate place help alleviate any concern of spreading the virus. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate your greatest adventure and stay COVID cautious, elopement is a great solution!
It takes courage to go against the grain and create a wedding day that is authentic to you. A day that’s different than anyone else could imagine. But, if you’re ready to ditch the rulebook and plan your wildest elopement day, I’d love to help. Reach out to me here and I’ll get back to you within two business days. Let the planning begin!