As weddings have become more extravagant throughout the years, the popularity of elopements has grown too. Some brides and grooms choose to run away and get married because they want their wedding to be intimate and simple, while others really just want to get married in the location of their dreams and can’t pull off (for any number of reasons) a full-size wedding at that destination. It’s also become acceptable to bring just a few of your closest friends or family along and still call it an “elopement,” although it no longer fits the strictest definition of the word.
Eloping no longer holds the singular association of running off to Las Vegas, as it once did. It’s not the last resort of accidentally-pregnant couples, or brides and grooms whose families object to their union. There is no stigma attached. Just the opposite, in fact. Eloping has become a popular wedding trend in a world where the opposite end of the spectrum is an over-the-top, multi-day event that some brides and grooms just can’t even contemplate tackling in their already stressful and busy lives. Not to mention the expense.
Now there are endless options for brides and grooms – they can elope anywhere for any reason and they don’t really HAVE TO explain to anyone, unless they want to share their reasoning. It doesn’t change the focus: The life commitment that brides and grooms have decided to make.
Whether the decision to elope was made for financial or personal reasons is irrelevant. But here are some ideas for getting the most out of your special day:
1.) Enjoy Your Destination
Many brides and grooms choose to elope far away from home. For some, their destination holds significant meaning and memories for them as a couple. For others, it may be a place the couple has always wanted to visit. They figure what better way to create an amazing memory than to get married there. Whether they venture off to a place they’ve travelled many times, or wander somewhere new, they can explore and learn about this special place together, and it will always be somewhere that will hold a significant meaning to them for the rest of their lives.
Eloping doesn’t mean couples can’t have a proper wedding celebration at their destination. We’ve had couples jump on a helicopter after they say “I do” and explore the Caribbean islands nearby from the sky. Another couples sailed away from their ceremony on a beautiful boat. Plenty go out and about in their wedding finery, stopping for celebratory drinks in the town’s bars before their actual wedding dinner. Everybody loves a bride and groom, and plenty of people will be happy to snap pictures for them – and buy them drinks! Getting wonderful pictures and congratulations from strangers who recognize the significance of the day is a lot of fun. So is running around in a wedding gown with a bouquet – everybody who sees the couple will smile.
2.) Have a Happily Ever After Party
Many couples fear hurting their friends’ and families’ feelings by not including them in their special day. However, there is a way to make everyone happy with a low-key reception at home when they return. This can be called “a happily ever after party,” if they want to be cute about it. Some just refer to it as a reception. It’s a great chance to show off their wedding pictures too.
For couples who wish to maintain the smaller and more intimate feel of an elopement, while also appeasing to their loved ones at home, having a destination elopement and a party later on may be a great way to accomplish both goals. Not only do they get the wedding they have always dreamed of, while keeping everybody happy, but a bride also gets to wear her dress TWICE… something that not many brides have the luxury of doing! This type of wedding plan can be the best of both worlds if, in the end, everybody feels included.
3.) Eloping at Home
An elopement doesn’t have to mean winging away to a far-off destination. Many couples choose to stay near home, finding the nearest Justice of the Peace to say “I do.” As Carrie and Big learned in “Sex in the City,” a City Hall ceremony can often be as beautiful, and more significant, than an extravagant metropolitan affair.
Recently, brides and grooms have been choosing to tie the knot at City Hall with different kinds of twists. Keeping it simple doesn’t mean it can’t be creative. They may choose a specific City Hall with gorgeous architecture. A great example is San Francisco, where City Hall can make for a quick ceremony and stunning pictures as well. And don’t forget to save the ticket required to get in line to get married as it will serve as a memorable keepsake for the wedding album!
If they’ve hired a professional photographer (which is a great idea!), brides and grooms may want to run around the city, choosing different landmarks that have held certain memories for their relationship. These photographs will make for a wonderful storybook or photo album that the couple will look back on for years to come. Many say “home is where the heart is” – there’s nothing wrong with eloping in the place you know best!
Eloping means many different things today – and it can be interpreted differently by every set of brides and grooms who choose this route. In the end, what this whole thing really comes down to is the commitment that brides and groom have decided to make together. Whether they choose to say “I Do” at the Ritz in front of hundreds of guests, or alone on a beach in the Caribbean, the vows they make to one another will, in fact, remain the same and have the same meaning for the rest of their lives.
Elizabeth Cooney, Intern at Weddings in Vieques