The Meaning Behind Eloping: Elopement Definition, Types + Examples

couple kissing during their adventure elopement

The Meaning Behind Eloping: Elopement Definition, Types + Examples

Elopements are a great way to get married without the stress of a traditional wedding, but not every couple knows the definition of an elopement or the different types. Some common misconceptions about eloping are that you have to run away to get married or that it's only for couples who are spontaneous or have a small wedding budget. Eloping can be the perfect solution for couples who want to get married without all the hassle of planning, or for those that want to incorporate their honeymoon and wedding into one. There truly is no right or wrong way to elope, as long as you feel that it is right for you!

What does eloping mean?

An elopement is not what it used to be. Despite the old idea that eloping meant you were running off in secret to get married in Vegas or a little white chapel in Idaho, the meaning has changed. 

Definition of eloping

The meaning behind an elopement is plain and simple and can be summed up like this: Getting married in a way that is meaningful, intentional, and intimate.

Elopement Types

Like I said earlier, an elopement can mean anything you want. This includes getting married where or how you want. Luckily, there are many different types of elopements and the great thing about eloping instead is that you can really focus your energy on the most important aspects of your wedding day and decide which is best for you.

Adventure Elopement

 If you are the adventurous type:  you might consider a hiking elopement, where you can hike to your favorite viewpoint or location and exchange your vows. 

City Elopement

If you are the city type: You can have an elopement on the rooftop in a busy downtown overlooking the city and spend the day at your favorite spots. Whether it be getting pizza by the slice or visiting your favorite art museum.

Traditional Wedding, Micro-wedding, Intimate Wedding, Elopement... What do they all mean?

Think of the term Wedding as a giant umbrella. The only difference between all the terms is the size of celebration and how you celebrate. Some of the reasons why an elopement may seem so different, is because when you celebrate with less guests; some of the more traditional aspects of a wedding are typically excluded. But at the end of the day, it's all about you- so fill your day with the things that matter most; traditional or not 😉 

For measurements sake: An elopement would typically be 20 guests or less, whereas an intimate or micro-wedding would be about 40 or less. Terms can be used interchangeably and really there are no “defining” limits in terms of size.

What does an elopement look like?

Having an elopement can look like anything. Before elopements started becoming more popular, many couples would plan destination weddings (which are totally a type of elopement). For example: Getting married with your closest friends and family on the beach in Hawaii. 

The great thing about having an elopement is that you can make it whatever you want. It can mean just you and your partner or it can include your best friends, your parents,  or your immediate friends and family. It’s your day and totally up to you on how you spend it!

How to decide if an elopement is for you

With elopements becoming more popular, if you're considering eloping instead- it's important you know how to decide if an elopement is for you. Deciding on if you should elope can be daunting and many couples wonder if they’ll regret their decision later on. Choosing to have an elopement over the more traditional wedding is not for everyone, although there are so many ways you can elope and still have many of the traditional aspects that a larger wedding has. I've included a list of things to keep in mind when deciding on if an elopement is for you.

Why you shouldn't elope

Something to help you decide if an elopement is for you is to ask yourself this: what aspects of your wedding day matter most to you?  Do you thrive on large-filled parties and lots of guests? Do you like all of the big decor and the idea of something traditional? Do you see your day having many of the traditions a larger wedding would have-- such as a garter or bouquet toss? 

If your answer to these is mostly yes, then an elopement might not be the best fit for you. 

Choosing to have an elopement is about setting the intention behind your wedding day and celebrating in a way that is more intimate.

 Don’t get me wrong, if you are a total outdoors person and you want to exchange your vows in the outdoors but you’re the type that thrives in a  high-energy environment filled with all your friends and family, you might want to consider a larger destination wedding. Many resorts offer large-scale weddings where you can get married in a location that totally speaks to you and still have the large guest list and type of environment you thrive in.

This doesn’t mean that a larger wedding isn’t meaningful, it just means that your personality and relationship find connection and value in an environment that is larger and more social.

 Why you should elope

There are many reasons why someone may choose to elope instead. Here are just a few things to consider in helping you decide if an elopement might be a good fit for you. Choosing to elope instead might be for you if…

  • You would rather celebrate with your closest friends than everyone you know. 
  • You prefer to invest your time, finances, and energy into experiences over material things. 
  • You want to get married in a unique way that reflects who you both are as individuals.
  • You want your wedding day to be stress-free and about your commitment to one another.
  • You don’t want to spend the day going table to table making small talk. 
  • You value the intimacy of small groups over large groups. 
  • You want a wedding day filled with things that matter most to you. 
  • You might not care about the bouquet or garter toss, or some other aspects that a more traditional day has. 
  • You care more about the quality of the relationships in your life and not the quantity. 
  • You would rather spend your money on traveling and experiences than having a big celebration.

How to plan your elopement

Deciding on how to plan your elopement can seem challenging but really it’s quite easy. There’s a lot less involvement with vendors and chances are the vendors that you do decide to work with can help steer you in the right direction. 

Most often, the first person you will want to hire is your photographer. Many photographers specialize and focus on elopements so they are the experts when it comes to planning, providing resources and making sure your day is what you envision it to be.  Depending on your elopement location and how many guests you are planning on inviting, some couples may choose to hire a planner! Just because you’re having a more intimate ceremony, doesn’t mean you can’t spend your money on the parts that matter most. 

For example: As an elopement photographer & guide, my goal is not only to capture my couples wedding day but to also guide them through the planning process. I do all the location scouting to help my couples find their perfect location, assist with vendor recommendations, help with creating the day of schedule, providing resources such as what kind of equipment will be needed (for hiking elopements), and even help decide on elopement dates and what type of the year is best for their dream location.

Where should you elope?

Deciding on an elopement location can be one of the most exciting parts of planning your day! There are several things you'll want to think about when it comes to picking the perfect location to elope. You'll want to consider, weather, accessibility, time of year, season, and whether or not you want to include guests. Checkout this resource on How to Pick an Elopement Location for help when deciding where to elope, and this guide to discover the best locations to elope.

How many people should you invite to your elopement

A lot of people think that an elopement means just the two of you. When deciding on how many people to invite, think of the people that you want to be a part of it. It’s okay if you decide that you want your parents present, or if you don’t. At the end of the day, it’s your wedding day and you should celebrate the way you want. Some people prefer to plan their elopement and honeymoon all in one, and that’s totally okay! 

Where do you start with planning an elopement?

First off, heck yeah! I am super excited that you two have decided on the best way to celebrate your commitment to one another. To start planning your elopement, I recommend finding a photographer who you vibe with and start thinking of what you envision for your wedding day. Once you find your photographer, they should be able to help you start drafting ideas on location, dates, and all of the details. To learn more about my packages and the elopement experience, contact me today!


Share this story

let's chat about your elopement!

contact me