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What is an Elopement?! Busting Myths + Clearing Up Confusion

If you’re considering eloping, you might be asking: what IS an elopement exactly?! What’s the difference between an elopement and a wedding? Does eloping mean we have to run away to Vegas in the middle of the night?? I’m here to tell you it means whatever you want it to mean, babe. Today I’m busting elopement myths + clearing up misconceptions!

elopement definition

Mel, what the heck is an elopement?!

When you think of eloping, you might think of running away to a courthouse, or to Vegas, rebelling against your loved ones who wanted a big wedding.

That is what it used to be – and hey, you can 1000% still do that if you want to, Girl! There’s nothin’ more fun than a spontaneous romp in Vegas, getting married to your love.

what is an elopement

But elopements have changed! Nowadays, elopements are basically defined as a way to create an intentional, meaningful wedding experience by not adhering to traditional wedding norms or expectations.

There’s no one true definition. It’s not “one size fits all!” And that, my friend, is the beauty of elopements. They’re flexible & unique to every single couple out there!

what is an elopement

Let’s Bust 5 Common Elopement Myths

1. Elopements never have guests

Eloping used to mean it was a super-secret and totallyyyy private celebration. But if you can’t imagine getting married without your parents or best friends, don’t worry! You can invite as MANY or as few guests as you want – there’s no clear-cut number that rules your celebration as an elopement or a wedding. Stop worrying about putting a label on your big day, because who cares?! As long as everything fits & feels like YOU, that’s all that matters!!

what is an elopement

Depending on the location restrictions, and most importantly, what you want, you can invite some of your closest loved ones to your elopement. There’s a whole dang lot to consider when planning an elopement, so make a list of your priorities and go from there!

Trust me, there are PLENTY of ways to have a unique, intimate elopement while still celebrating with your closest friends and family!

elopement definition

If you do want a private elopement ceremony, you could always plan a reception or party later on! Maybe plan a reception later in the day, or after your honeymoon. Or even on your first anniversary to celebrate a year of marriage!

Or, you can opt to enjoy the intimacy of a totally private celebration. I really can’t say it enough – this decision is about the two of you!

elopement definition

2. Elopements happen at one of two places: a local courthouse, or a chapel in Vegas

You can literally pick any location you want for your elopement! Brainstorm places you both love, have visited together, have always dreamed of visiting, the location of your first date, or a special spot you frequent! Some place that will give your day MEANING & create the atmosphere you’re going for.

what is an elopement

Elopement Location Ideas:

  • A National Park  

If you’re lookin’ for some jaw-dropping scenery to enjoy while you say your vows, you can’t go wrong with choosing basically any National Park and hopping on a plane!! Just be sure to apply for permits as far in advance as possible and follow the rules carefully!

  • A local park 

Look into local parks near one of your houses or close to your childhood home! Maybe you had your first date at a certain park, or got engaged there. Or maybe you just think it’s a beautiful spot! Find a park that’s special to you and see if wedding ceremonies are permitted to happen there.

elopement definition
  • An Airbnb

Rent a cozy place with a nice backyard or a deck for you to tie the knot on! This is a super fun option if you want to explore a new place while eloping, and you can even find a place big enough to fit your fam & your besties if you want. Check out Ashna & Ian’s Pre-Elopement Session at Sapphire Point Airbnb for the PERFECT example of how intimate & special photos in a comfy Airbnb can be!

  • A small venue 

Look into some local events or wedding venues near the location you want to go to! Some small venues have elopement packages that include food and drinks along with the space, which is perfect if you want to hold your celebration at an actual venue but doesn’t need everything that comes with a larger wedding (rentals, etc.).

elopement definition
  • In your backyard 

Make your elopement extra personal by having it in your own backyard! You can decorate however you want with zero restrictions – this is such a fun way to make the whole thing 1000% personalized to you!

For some elopement location inspo, check out this Sapphire Point elopement in Dillon, Colorado, or this Rocky Mountain National Park elopement

elopement definition

BONUS TIP: If you’re just looking to elope in a beautiful park or other outdoor location, it’s important to research if the area has any permit requirements for wedding ceremonies. It’s not as simple as showing up and saying “I do!” 

Here are 3 more important things to consider when planning your elopement, including obtaining permits!

what is an elopement

3. Elopements involve zero traditions

Typically, a couple chooses to elope because they don’t care about most typical wedding traditions, or they’re just not meaningful to them. Eloping is for couples who would rather do their own thing and create their own special traditions!

what is an elopement

But that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to involve traditions if you do want to! If you want to wear a white dress, have a first dance, cut a cake in front of your guests, freaking go for it. Make it your own – have a first dance inside your home, your backyard, on a beach in the evening with lamps surrounding you, etc. Make these traditions your own!!

elopement definition

4. Elopements only last a few hours

Elopements are no less special than weddings  – they deserve just as much time and photography coverage!

With an elopement, there’s way more time to be flexible and go with the flow! We have time to capture your love in different ways that a traditional wedding timeline might not allow.

elopement definition

If you guys want to plan different activities to celebrate, let’s freakin’ do it!

If you limit your elopement to just a few hours, you’ll have to cram things in, and it’ll be easy for things to get rushed; which means you won’t be able to make a full, enjoyable experience out of it!

what is an elopement

5. Elopements are always/have to be simple

Your elopement can be as simple or as intricate as you want, it’s just about what you prioritize! It can be as simple as a backyard ceremony or as thrilling as traveling across the country for a sunrise hike with a yummy picnic waiting for you at the top.

elopement definition

Are you passionate about details and flowers, and that would make your day meaningful? Do it! 

Would you rather put your money toward your photographer, videographer, and the activities you’ll be doing? Do that!

what is an elopement

Moral of the story: the world is your oyster. The options are limitless! Pick & choose what’s meaningful to you, whether that means it’s just the two of you eating a simple picnic for dinner, or hiring a private chef to serve you at a fully decorated table.

There are so many wedding traditions that are okay to break, and eloping is just one way to make your day truly all about you guys and your love story! When it comes to the definition of elopement, all that matters is that it’s what you want, Girl!

what is an elopement