What is an elopement?
And is eloping right for you?
We get asked all the time what an elopement wedding is, so we thought we’d take the time to explain our definition. The meaning of the word “elope” or “eloping” has changed over time and now means something different than it did just 50 years ago. It used to have negative connotations but that is no longer the case!
We’re going to walk you through the modern definition of “elopement”, some myths surrounding it, and the reasons people are choosing to elope these days.
Table of Contents
What is an elopement wedding?
An elopement wedding is simply a small, intimate wedding ceremony that takes place with just the bride, groom, their witnesses, and a few guests (if you choose to have guests). The ceremony is not meant to be a hugely popular event and is instead a very personal moment between a couple. While elopement weddings can technically be any size, we cap our elopements at 20 people including vendors. They are also gaining popularity as destination weddings, where the couple travel to have a small wedding ceremony.
The old meaning of elopement
Eloping used to mean to: “run away and get married”. It has been used in this context since the 17th century. Couples would do it for a number of reasons, but generally doing it was not well perceived by society. Back in the day, it was unthinkable to elope without the permission of one’s parents. If you eloped without their blessing, it was seen as a betrayal.
Luckily times have changed and society’s perception of eloping has improved. There’s no longer shame involved with getting eloped, and people are now celebrating elopements as a smarter alternative to a traditional wedding.
Traditional wedding vs. elopement wedding
If you are considering eloping your partner instead of having a big, traditional wedding, you should weigh up all of the differences that come along with it. We aren’t here to tell you one is better than the other. Both are beautiful in their own right but there are some key differences:
Elopements have a much smaller guest list
This is obvious but needs to be noted. If you are choosing to elope you need to think long and hard about who you want to be there when you get married. Will grandma be upset if she can’t be there? Can all of your friends be there if there’s a cap of 20?
This is why we encourage all couples to have multiple open discussions about what they want out of their wedding (see our guide on how to elope in Australia). We want any couples we work with to be 100% sure about eloping and communication is the only way to make that happen.
Elopements require less planning
This is probably the biggest reason elopements are becoming more popular. There’s a lot less stress and pressure when you elope as opposed to planning a traditional wedding. You don’t have to worry about finding the perfect venue, catering for a large crowd, or getting a band to play at the reception.
This means that elopement weddings can be planned within a far shorter timeframe than a traditional wedding. All Australian states require you to submit a Notice of Intended Marriage at least 30 days before your wedding, but that’s the only limitation. We can put together your elopement in two weeks. Traditional weddings need at least nine months of planning.
Elopements generally avoid the "wedding tax"
Usually, if you even whisper the word “wedding” around vendors, the price is automatically doubled. The Sydney Morning Herald found that there was a $19,000 difference in minimum spend for a venue if you told them it was a wedding vs. an engagement. Price gouging is one of the main reasons we started an elopement planning business. It’s getting out of hand in the wedding industry!
Having an elopement means you can avoid a ton of costs. You no longer need an expensive venue, DJ, catering, open bar, etc. Traditional weddings can be 70-80x more expensive with the wedding tax.
Myths surrounding elopements
Due to the negative connotations that surrounded the term “elopement” for centuries, there are some myths that are still get passed along. We’d just like to address a few of them and give our reasoning on why we think they no longer hold water:
1st Myth: Elopements are rushed and unplanned affairs
While some elopements are spur-of-the-moment decisions abroad (like in Las Vegas), this is rarely the case in Australia. All couples we have spoken with have thoroughly considered all options and have decided that eloping is the best decision for them as a couple.
Elopements still need quite a bit of planning to happen properly too. You still need to plan the location & permit, organize vendors, schedule the timeline, organize accommodations, etc. In Australia, you don’t decide to elope one day and get married the next.
2nd Myth: Couples that elope are cheap
We hate this myth and hear it every so often. We have a ton of couples that elope for reasons entirely separate from money. They may decide to elope because it’s more intimate or for a variety of other reasons.
Even the couples that elope because of financial reasons are not “cheap”. They are just efficient with their money and want to spend it on the things that matter most to them (like a down payment on a house). Times have changed and the majority of couples no longer have $50k from their family to put towards a big wedding. They’d rather invest wisely with their savings.
3rd Myth: Couples are running away from their problems
While this may have been the case for some eloping couples in the past, it is certainly not the case today. All of the couples we work with have chosen elopement as a way to celebrate their love and commitment to each other. They are not running away from anything!
In fact, eloping can be a way to solve problems in a relationship. By eloping, the couple is taking a proactive step to handle their wedding planning in a way that works for them. This can eliminate some of the stress and tension that can come from disagreements about wedding planning.
4th Myth: Couples can't get a big enough invite list together
We’ve heard this myth before and it’s absolute rubbish. We’ve heard every reason under the sun and nobody has said, “we’re eloping because we don’t have anyone to invite”. Usually, it’s the opposite and couples have too many people to invite so they want to avoid invitations altogether.
A wedding shouldn’t be a popularity contest anyway. Couples should elope if they want to elope! The beauty of elopement is that it can be as intimate and small as you want it to be.
Reasons couples choose to elope
Now that we’ve covered what an elopement wedding is, and debunked some of the myths, we want to share some of the top reasons we hear that couples choose to elope. There are many but these are some of the ones that we hear often when working with couples:
1. They want to get married in the location of their choosing
One of the best things about eloping is that you can get married anywhere in the world that you want. This could be a remote location or a location where you have always dreamed of getting married. Want wedding photos in Sydney in front of the Opera House? You can make it happen if you have an elopement. Doing something like that with a traditional wedding is pretty much unheard of unless you’re an A-list celebrity.
Eloping allows you to get married somewhere that’s meaningful to both of you. It means you’re more flexible and have a much smaller group of people to move around, which opens up many more locations than a traditional wedding.
2. They want to have an adventure elopement
Another great thing about eloping is that it can be an adventure elopement. This means that you and your spouse choose to elope in a fun and adventurous way. This could be anything from eloping in a hot air balloon, eloping on a mountain, or eloping during a hiking trip.
The great thing about this is that you get to create your own elopement story. Instead of telling people that you eloped because you couldn’t get along with your families or you eloped because it was more affordable, you can tell them that you eloped because you wanted an adventure together.
Adventure elopements aren’t for every couple, but they’re incredible when they are. The wedding photos you get from them can be mind-blowing.
3. They don't want to invite certain people
One of the best things about eloping is that you don’t have to invite anyone you don’t want to. This includes distant relatives, people who are difficult to get along with, or people who will just detract from your day. When eloping, you can focus on the people that really matter and make sure your day is exactly what you dreamed of.
Having a hard cap on the number of people that can come can be a blessing for some couples. It gives you an excuse to not invite anybody that’s not an immediate family member or very close friend.
4. They want to save money
A lot of couples these days are seeing the costs outweigh the benefits of having a traditional wedding. It’s only getting worse as weddings are seeing their costs get even more inflated going forward. Eloping can be a great way to avoid those costs (potentially tens of thousands of dollars), and it still leaves you with an incredible day that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
What we’re seeing many couples do is get eloped and then have a big party afterward where everyone covers their costs. This is the best of all worlds because you get your intimate ceremony but still get to celebrate with all of your loved ones while saving a ton of money.
We loved seeing newly eloped couples thrive with the money that they’ve saved. Maybe they’re having a child soon and need the money to support them. Or they want to put a down payment on a house. Or they just want to use the money to travel the world for the year. It’s amazing what you can do with the money when you don’t spend it all in a single day.
5. They want a romantic and intimate wedding day
Eloping can be a great way to have a romantic and intimate wedding day. This is because you don’t have the pressure of organizing and having a large wedding – There are so many fewer distractions! It means that you can focus on each other and spend your day enjoying every minute together.
We always recommend that couples book a mini-vacation when they get eloped. Schedule accommodation at a hotel or Airbnb nearby, book a nice dinner at a restaurant in town, and try and soak up every moment of being together.
Hopefully, this article helps you decide if an elopement wedding is right for you both as a couple. While we think traditional weddings certainly still have a place in society, we’re very excited that elopements are finally sharing the spotlight. Whatever your reason is that you’d like to elope, we’re here to help make your dreams a reality.