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What Is An Elopement and How Is It Different From A Wedding?

The wedding industry, like many other industries, goes through trends. Buzzwords, popular themes, and all sorts of aspects are constantly cycling through the wedding community. A popular trend in recent years that you’ve no doubt come across, is elopements. So what is the meaning of “elopement” and how is it different from a wedding? Let’s talk about an elopement vs. wedding, and what all the differences are.

A History of Elopements

The idea of eloping isn’t a new one and has been around for centuries. Back in the 1700s in England, when people under the age of 21 wanted to wed but needed parental approval, couples would sneak away to Scotland to wed. And prior to England’s strict parental approval laws, as early as the 1300’s the word “elope” was associated with a married woman running away from her husband to marry her lover.

By the time the Great Depression rolled around, eloping had become a popular choice because people didn’t have the resources to throw a big wedding. Back then, however, eloping still didn’t have a positive reputation. It was something done out of necessity and not a preference.

valley of fire wedding photos bride and groom embracing on red rock looking out at desert scenery.

What is an Elopement Today?

Nowadays, couples still sneak off to get married, but the term has completely shed any negative connotation and has become a sought-after option for couples looking to do something different, or who are looking to have a destination wedding without the huge amount of planning and cost that would come with a full-sized traditional destination wedding. The new, modern elopement has made a name for itself in today’s wedding market.

When couples want an elopement, they are looking to have a small ceremony, usually with no guests (or very few guests consisting of their closest family and friends), and are more interested in investing in the experience of their wedding day, rather than on traditional expenses like reception halls or catering. 

Elopements are Versatile 

Another appeal of eloping is that the options are basically endless. Couples may choose to invest in a far-off destination for their elopement, or a picturesque location nearby where a large wedding would not be viable. The soon-to-be-wed may instead invest heavily in their photography, or a trip, over having to spend money on aspects of their wedding that they don’t necessarily want, but know they need.

Couples may not even need to invest in a traditional venue. Elopements allow for couples, their guests, the officiant, and their photographer to meet in an outdoor location for a ceremony, with little to no cost associated.

Take eloping to Las Vegas, for example. A trip to Las Vegas, booking an officiant, a photographer, hair and makeup, and transportation can cost as little as $5,000. This is an attractive option, particularly because the average full-wedding cost is somewhere around $33,000 (yikes). This is a much more affordable option than opting for a traditional wedding, but is not perceived as “cheap” or “budget-minded”.

Having an elopement means you can still plan your wedding, invest in areas you’re most interested in (travel, photos, florals, hair and makeup, location, etc.), and have the wedding day of your dreams. The trend of eloping is here to stay, and that’s totally fine by me.

Some Elopement Examples

For inspiration, here are a few images of elopements from the past few years.

neon museum wedding photos bride and groom pose in front of lady luck sign
downtown las vegas wedding photos bride and groom kiss under lights
valley of fire wedding photos bride and groom looking at camera
rustic las vegas wedding photos bride and groom pose in barn
las vegas desert elopement bride and groom pose

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