Elop: Not the Escape Weddings of the Past

Noemi J. Mullins

The year 2022 has changed almost everything we know about weddings. Three weddings were offered to me in 2022. All of them were cancelled or postponed by the pandemic. In the hope that next year would bring more normalcy, each couple chose to postpone or cancel their weddings. These were the only options available to couples. But is there another way?

Merissa, a dear friend, was visiting me recently. Merissa is a local photographer in Bozeman, Montana. She took photos of my family for our wedding and photographed some of our family photos. Merissa shared some changes in the wedding industry and how her business has changed due to this year’s trends. She is seeing two trends: 1) A new way to define elopements; 2) An increase in popularity of elopements.

What is an Elopement?

In recent years, the meaning of elopement has changed significantly due to the COVID epidemic. Merriam-Webster published an article, the Changing Meaning of “Elope.” It defined “elopement” as any marriage that is conducted without the knowledge or consent of the couple’s parents and family. Elopements used to be limited to a couple with several witnesses. There was no reception or celebration after the ceremony. Elopements were once considered taboo. However, couples are now defining elopement as something entirely different.

Elopement is a new trend

Sometimes, elopements can be held in special locations close to home or at destinations. Elopement is a common theme that is consistent with modern times. It means “escape.” This is not just about getting married without guests.

While COVID didn’t cause the growing trend of eloping, COVID is certainly magnifying a shift in how people marry. Today’s elopements have become intimate, and not couples running away to get married. Couples are turning to officiants and photographers for small, intimate weddings with fewer guests. These weddings often occur in remote areas with simple setups that provide unique experiences.

Why are more couples choosing to elope?

Today’s elopements have one common theme: the couples create a ceremony and journey about them, rather than focusing on their guests. Couples can “escape” traditional wedding expectations and social norms by making the event more couple-centric. Couples incorporate traditions and symbols that are most important to them in a way they feel honours their relationship while setting the tone for their marriage.

You can find countless articles online to help you plan your elopement. Couples are choosing intimate ceremonies over larger events this year. These intimate, private ceremonies are filled with meaning and high emotions for the couple. The prohibitive costs of weddings and Covid-19 restrictions at venues, such as the limit on guests and social distancing requirements, prompt a new generation in wedding ceremonies. Vendors and couples have the opportunity to explore new ways of thinking about weddings.

3 Tips for Planning an Elopement

This new approach to elopement may be a great choice for those who enjoy the modern idea. While elopements come with fewer strings attached to them, some details can still pose challenges. Let’s take a look at some of these common issues.

1: Friends and Family may have strong feelings and opinions

Elopements are against the grain of traditional wedding structures. Family members and friends may feel hurt if they are excluded from or denied participation in a wedding. People love parties and celebrations! Friends and family also love to honour those they love. The couple’s decisions and reasons may be confusing to them.

2: Unusual locations may not work for all vendors

Even though fewer people are to consider, vendors may have better ideas. Merissa enjoys the excitement and creativity associated with elopements. However, not all photographers feel the same.

3: Flexibility is a Must

The easier it is to plan a wedding and make the process flow smoothly. Many elopements revolve around beautiful natural backdrops and difficult-to-reach locations. An elopement offers flexibility because there are fewer moving parts. Small ceremonies are more flexible because there are fewer details to consider and can be moved around for the best weather. An elopement, a micro-wedding or a minimum (yes, that’s correct… part of the new trend) can all be beautiful, meaningful and unique.

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