I’ve put this guide together of my Top 6 Reasons to Elope for couples not sure if it’s the right choice for them. Weddings can be overwhelming to many, and I am here to let you know that it doesn’t have to be that way. I have been fortunate enough to photograph all sorts of weddings, from intimate elopements of 2, to large weddings over 200. To mountain elopements, to large church weddings. The advice that has been included in this guide comes from my experience with the couples I have photographed, who chose to elope!
A little interesting fact about eloping, after the 1754 Marriage Act came into place in England and Wales ( meaning you had to be at least 21 years of age to marry without parental consent ) many young couples would adventure to Gretna Green in Scotland to elope in secret. It became somewhat of a haven for them. I am lucky to photograph elopements in Scotland quite often, ( I published a guide on how to Elope in Scotland here ) and I can’t help but think of this little snippet of history every time I visit. The history of eloping has long since changed from being something that couples do when they may not have approval of their families, not be of the consenting age to do so, or even some beliefs that the couple may not have the funds for a large wedding. All of that has changed.
Elopements are beautiful in their own right and can be incredibly personal. I love how the day is centered simply around the both of you. It gives you the freedom to adventure almost anywhere in the world. Your wedding should be an inI wanted to share some tips on why eloping might be the right choice for you!
A more intimate and personal experience
Eloping is a great option for couples who don’t feel like the big traditional wedding route is something that feels right and it really gives you the freedom to plan the day exactly how you envision it. Elopements can be magical, romantic, intimate and allows couples to create something special for themselves. For many of the couples I have photographed, the reasons they chose to elope weren’t always down to cost, or not wanting to have the family together. It really came down to wanting their day to be primarily focused on intimate and intentional moments with each other on their wedding day and felt that a big traditional might not be the right fit for staying true to that. Bigger, more traditional weddings have, well more people. And not that big weddings are anything short of amazing for moments, but it’s not always how every couple envisions their day. For the most part, during a big wedding, you’re being pulled in several different directions throughout the entire day so it’s sometimes it may feel impossible to find moments where you and your partner can soak in the day together.
Elopements can give you that freedom and opportunity for real intimacy without the fear of becoming steamrolled by the production that a large traditional wedding can become. When you choose to elope, you choose to be in the moment together. You are allowed to express your emotions because you are allowed to be present in those moments instead of the day passing you by in one big blur. You get the chance to slow down, soak it in and take your time with one another.
Another great reason to elope, is that a wedding is probably one of the biggest tasks couples will ever have to do. Pair that with over 150 people, with invites, table decor, venues, along with spending thousands of pounds and dealing with the opinions and stress of getting everything “right” it will no doubt cause anxiety, especially if it’s not really the wedding you see for yourself.
What I have seen in the past, are weddings that become such big productions, tight timelines, too many things to worry about that my couples end up not enjoying themselves. I have had happy to go lucky brides all the way up to the day, but when I have arrived the day of, they are an entirely different person, on the edge of a breakdown should anything go wrong and the environment becomes stressful. That is heartbreaking for many reasons, but primarily, you shouldn’t want your wedding day to end!
You should be able to choose the type of wedding that you want, that is going to bring you so much happiness and joy. With eloping, you don’t need to feel rushed, stressed and more importantly, you don’t need to fret over table decor and why the band is late. Eloping can allow you feel centered and present. You should have a day that allows you to fully enjoy your wedding and truly be there with your partner.
Not everyone is a natural planner, even the thought of having to go on Pinterest or choosing colour palettes is a nightmare. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by other weddings you have seen, or brides you may know who seem to be on top of of it all, and enjoy it. Just know that you don’t need to do it that way, this could be a great reason to elope. Planning a wedding can easily start out as being fun. You may have prepared for this day since you were a teenager, you may have an idea in your head of how you think it may unfold, that is until you get deep into the planning and suddenly you go from the fun things like choosing a wedding dress and planning a hen-do to trying to figure out who you can invite, who you don’t want to offend if you don’t, who’s dating who, what venues accommodate 100+, do you do a cash bar, what time should the band start, how much do we need to spend on flowers. It can all get out of hand really quickly.
Big traditional weddings can steamroll couples, very easily. It then starts to become more about the planning of the wedding, than the act of marriage itself! Many couples choose to elope because they simply want to eliminate as much planning as possible. And eloping makes it pretty easy, just think of it as planning an adventure and just adding a couple wedding details into it! You can put as little or as much planning into an elopement as you like. Really, all you need is your wedding attire, write some vows to one another, have the rings, and find a photographer who you absolutely love and believe can capture your day just how you imagine and a location that speaks to your desires.
You can also bring some friends or family along. Think about renting an AirBnb and either ordering pizza in, or going out to a local pub/restaurant for post adventure supper and drinks. The options are endless and you have the ability to create something unique to you both.
Being true to yourselves
It’s easy to be swayed by the images you see online and thinking there are certain expectations that need to go behind your wedding day. There are so many different ways to have a wedding and plan a wedding out, and what works for one couple, doesn’t always work for the next. And I am here to say, “THAT IS OKAY! Many of my couples haven’t thought twice about forgoing tradition and doing something that felt right to them. It’s okay to not want a wedding with a traditional ceremony, it’s okay if you have always envisioned running away to the mountains to say “I do” in private. There is no “right” or wrong way of doing this. And the worst thing I could ever hear from a client is “ I wish we did this the way we really wanted to” . Not every wedding is going to speak to you as an individual or as a couple. You want to choose something that feels right. Just like it might feel right to some people to have a big wedding. You are your own unique person with your own desires.
It’s okay to not be inspired by traditional weddings, instead you can create a day that is exactly right for you and eloping can be your blank canvas for that. Eloping can allow you to create your own traditions, maybe have a potluck instead of ordering food, or sing a song instead of vows. Create a day that is for you and how you want it to be remembered.
I always believe in couples doing things their own way. Please go with your gut. Go full steam ahead with what feels right and authentic to you as a couple. It’s okay to not want to be influenced by what other people are doing with their days. Choose to have a wedding that truly represents who you are. If you both love the outdoors, hiking and going on adventures, this may be something that feels authentic to you and there is no reason you can incorporate who you are into your elopement experience.
At the end of the day, your wedding is really about the both of you and the love you have for one another.
Investing in Experience
Plain and simple: Weddings can be expensive.
The Average price of a wedding in the UK in 2019 was £31,974. Divide that up into what is probably an 8 hour wedding day, you are looking at almost £4000 an hour! And all of that is primarily spent on decorations, center pieces, flatware, flowers, venues, food, drinks, party favours and gifts. When it comes down to it, weddings are full of things you can’t really take home with you, and it’s quite an expense to spend on things you can’t keep forever.
Most of my couples who have decided to elope said it was because they valued experiences and moments over materialistic items. They didn’t care too much about the frills of a full wedding day. Many of them wanted to simply have a wild adventure with the one they love and chose to plan their wedding day around it. They chose to invest in the experience instead of the details. Weddings can be quite wasteful when you think about it. Like I mentioned, you don’t really get to take much home with you after a wedding day, aside from maybe left over cake and some table details. Your photographs and memories are what you have that will last your lifetime. ( Also why I stress why your wedding photographs are so important!)
Eloping can give you the freedom of getting married without having to spend money on all these things you can’t take home, if that is what you prefer. A lot of couples choose to use the money they may have spent on a large wedding, and take an extended honeymoon, or choose to elope in an incredible destination instead that might have cost a bit more to get to. So if you aren’t really fussed about details and would rather invest in your overall experience than eloping might be something worth considering.
Say No to Family Drama
Lets be honest, no family is perfect, mine certainly isn’t and there are a lot of people who aren’t particularly close with their families. Not everyone has that close knit family dynamic, and that’s completely OK, same goes for if you have an incredibly close family. I understand that everyone is different.
For many couples choosing to elope, family drama isn’t always the reason, but it can be. A family dynamic can have complications on a wedding day, and for some, it’s something they rather avoid. The idea of a big traditional wedding with tons of family can be daunting for some couples especially if they don’t have the healthy relationships to allow the day to be as meaningful as they want. At the end of the day, it’s YOUR day. This is your opportunity to craft something that is authentically you. Many times couples plan weddings they aren’t truly connected with because they are pressured by family members to do so. Anything from the idea you can’t invite Harry, your 4th cousin twice removed because it’s preposterous, to choosing what flowers and colour palette you are going to have. It’s important that no matter what you decide to do, that you are planning the wedding that YOU want and you are in control of how it unfolds.
And let’s say you have a tight knit family, and your dynamic is amazing, but you still want to elope, that is okay too, because again, it’s what you want. Plan to have an amazing party when you return from your elopement. Family can always be included at some point, or even invite some along to join you ( You can even have a small elopement- 5 guests and under! )
Families can be complicated, but remember, your day is about you both and your love.
Eloping doesn’t mean not caring about a wedding day, it just means you may care about other things that are relative to you as a person. Everyone values things differently, but I always stress about the importance of wedding photographs as being something you definitely want to invest in.
Because elopements don’t have the usual pressures of a full on wedding day, it allows for the opportunity for your photographer to capture the real and genuine moments that unfold. It’s intimate, personal and naturally amazing. You have chosen to create a unique experience that is true to the both of you and it will be captured in a way you can look back at for years to come and know that you made the right choice in your plans. You aren’t restricted to the venue’s grounds, or the surrounding areas. You have chosen somewhere that means something to you, and your options are endless for exploration.
So are you ready to elope?
You’ve chosen your location, your photographer, you’ve kicked the big traditional wedding to the curb and all the stresses may have come along with it. You now get to go on this incredible adventure with your partner, your person, the one you have chosen to take this important step in life with. And you are getting to do it your way. <3