Documenting all love stories near or far

Shelby Jane

February 8, 2022

What Is An Elopement?

FILED IN: Advice, Elopement

If you know anything about me, you know that elopements are my jam. As an elopement photographer, I’ve developed a passion for intimate, intentional weddings. I always encourage couples to skip tradition and focus on what they truly want! But if you’re newly engaged (or even if you’re knee deep in wedding planning), the thought of eloping might have crossed your mind a time or two. But what is an elopement, really? What’s considered a modern day elopement? And does eloping mean you have to keep your friends and family out of the loop? Whatever questions you have about eloping, I’m here to answer them for you. 

What is an elopement?

What is considered an elopement?

If you’ve googled “What is an elopement?,” you probably came across the Wikipedia definition that’s a little on the traditional side. In the wedding industry, an elopement is a very small, intimate wedding. Most of the time, it’s where just you and your partner are present! In short, it’s you and your boo saying “hell nah” to tradition, and marry each other in whatever way YOU want to.

Not to mention, eloping is the most stress-free way to marry your person. And if you’re on a budget, eloping would most definitely be the way to go. Or even if you would rather spend the money for a traditional wedding on your honeymoon or on an experience instead!

What is a modern day elopement?

For some people, when they hear the word “elope,” they think of running away to Vegas and gettin’ hitched on a whim. While you can still absolutely do this if that’s what you and your boo want, that’s not the only option! A modern day elopement can be something like getting married surrounded by Mother Nature’s greatest creations like Kate & Kevin. Or catching a flight to Chicago and saying “I do” at City Hall like Bianca & Iris. I’ve had the honor of photographing so many different types of elopements. And couples are always the happiest when they decide to create the elopement of their dreams! 

PS – If this is the first time you’re being introduced to the idea of eloping, you’re not alone. It can be freeing yet a little overwhelming thinking of all the possibilities you have without the precedent of tradition! If you ever need a lil’ guidance on how to plan your elopement, I would be 100% down to brainstorm ideas with you, just sayin’. 

What is an elopement?

Can you still include family for your elopement?

One of the most common misconceptions about elopements is that your friends and family can’t be involved period. I’m here to totally debunk that for you! There are so many ways to still incorporate your loved ones on your special day. You could even have a few close friends and/or family present for your elopement, as long as it stays pretty intimate. Still like the idea of it just being you and your partner there? Here are a few ways to still include your peeps:

  • Have them write letters to you and your honey to read before or after your elopement 
  • Let them help you choose wedding attire 
  • Have a gathering the day after your elopement to celebrate getting married 
  • Stream your elopement via Zoom or Facetime 
What is an elopement?

Where can you elope?

Let me tell you: the world is your oyster when it comes to eloping. The options are truly endless, and it all depends on what you and your partner want! If you’re adventurous, the idea of eloping at a national park might be appealing to you. And I’m not just saying that because of my love for US national parks, I promise! You could elope in your own backyard if you wanted to, just like Courtney & Travis did. Is there a place that holds a lot of sentiment or nostalgia for you and your partner? Your favorite place to travel? Your first vacation together? One of your favorite date spots? Those are great places to start. Or if you want to experience an entirely new place together and check something off your bucket list, let’s do it!! 

What is an elopement?

Are there any rules for eloping?

Short answer: no. The only “rule” for elopements is that they’re usually under 10 or so people in attendance. Any more than that might be considered a microwedding or intimate wedding. But if you’re having trouble narrowing down the guest count, intimate weddings can still be just as meaningful! There just might have to be a little more thought that goes into the planning process the more people you have in attendance. Couples who elope with just the two of them are usually doing so intentionally, and want to make their day all about them. And if there’s gonna be one day to do whatever the hell you want, it should most definitely be your wedding day!

What is an elopement?

My favorite elopement locations

Remember when I said I would be down to help you plan your elopement? Well, if you’re looking for a place to start, here are some of my top elopement location recommendations! 

  • Anchorage, Alaska – Tons of people decide to get married in the spring/summertime, but have you ever thought about having an Alaskan sunrise winter elopement? Think snow, mountains, and the most beautiful views you’ve ever seen.
  • Big Sur, California – The amazing thing about Big Sur is that it’s beautiful all year round, and there are so many different scenery options within the park. And of course, who wouldn’t love a trip to California?? 
  • Zion National Park – This one is a no-brainer because Zion is one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen. Honestly, almost anywhere in Utah would be a great elopement destination, so you definitely have options there!
  • Upper Peninsula/Northern Michigan – If you love the outdoors, the UP is one of the hidden gems of Michigan. There are so many different landscapes to choose from in Northern Michigan, so I do recommend checking it out if you’re interested!
  • The Oregon Coast – Ugh, who doesn’t love a good ol’ PNW elopement? The moody, beachy vibes that the Oregon Coast has to offer are truly unmatched, so don’t overlook the OC when brainstorming elopement locations.
  • Upstate New York – NYC is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US, but have you ever thought about saying “I do” in any of the mountain regions or state parks that Upstate NY has to offer? ‘Cause let me tell you, I’ll buy my plane ticket in a heartbeat! 
What is an elopement?

Now that you know everything you possibly could about eloping, I hope this article has given you a few ideas if you’re leaning towards ditching tradition and doing things your own way. And if you’re ready to say “hell yes!” to planning your dream elopement, I’m only an email away! To get in touch with me, you can fill out my contact form and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I can’t wait to start planning with you!