What Does it Mean to Elope? (And How to Know if it’s Right for You)

A young bride and groom running in front of an old building.

Many people dream of a big, beautiful wedding. There’s something appealing about the idea of a massive party, filled with food and music and loved ones, all revolving around the love you and your partner share.

Yet weddings can be overwhelming. It’s a high-pressure time for any couple. And in the more stressful moments of wedding planning—such as family drama, budget woes, and overwhelming logistics—you might even be fantasizing about an elopement scenario.

In this article, we’ll uncover what exactly an elopement is, how it works, and how to know if it’s the right option for you.

What is an elopement?

When you think about elopement, you might imagine the Hollywood stereotype of couples running away to get married in secret. The actual definition of elopement is something much less dramatic. Eloping simply means that you forego a formal wedding and experience a private, intimate ceremony to tie the knot.

You don’t have to be on the outs with your family to elope. You don’t even have to elope in secret (unless you want to). As weddings evolve in modern times, elopement is an excellent choice for many.

How does elopement work?

A bride and groom wearing bohemian clothes and hats.

Just because you’re eloping, doesn’t mean you can avoid planning altogether. In order to be wed, you’ll still need an officiant, a witness, and a marriage license. Make sure to plan for these details in advance. If your elopement is taking place at a city hall, you’ll need to make an appointment. Consider whether this will be a true elopement (just you, your partner, the officiant, and a witness if necessary), or whether you will be inviting a small gathering of loved ones as well. Oh, and you’ll likely still want to book a photographer and/or videographer to capture those beautiful moments of your elopement ceremony. Here are some reasons why you and your partner might consider eloping.

You Have Strict Budget Restraints

Weddings can be expensive. Like, very expensive. There are certainly ways to have a formal wedding ceremony that doesn’t break the bank, but elopement is a great option for couples who don’t want to deal with the stress of planning venue, food, entertainment, decorations, and bridal party details on a tight budget.

You Want a Destination Wedding Without the Price Tag

A bride and groom a their elopement standing by the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Perhaps you dream of making your vows on a beach in the Bahamas, or on the moors in Scotland, or some other faraway destination that has the potential to strain your wallet. This is a great reason to consider eloping. You’ll get to experience the destination wedding you’re dreaming of, without causing too much of a hit to your budget.

You Would Rather Focus on Post-Wedding Celebrations

The cost of a wedding ceremony (florists, musicians, and a venue) can add up quickly without even taking a reception into account. If you want to save the bulk of your wedding budget for a reception that wows, eloping is a great way to save some cash. That way, you can get married privately and celebrate with a huge party for your friends and family afterward.

You’d Simply Prefer to Avoid the Stress of a Wedding

A bride and groom wearing casual wedding clothes and holding hands.

We at Weddingbee know that weddings are lovely and meaningful events. But we also recognize that they can sometimes be petri dishes for stress. The drama of wedding planning can even drive a wedge between couples. If the anxiety of wedding planning is beginning to eclipse the fun of wedding planning, that might be a good sign to consider elopement.

You’re Looking to Tie the Knot Quickly

There are many reasons why you might not want to wait months or years to get married. For example, maybe you or your partner is in the armed services and will be deployed soon. In cases like these, elopement is a great option that ensures you can get married more quickly.

The idea of elopement doesn’t carry the scandalous implications it once did. In fact, it’s a lovely and intimate way to begin your new life as a married couple.

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