By Jennifer Claire
Whether you’re newly engaged, have had to postpone your wedding or are in the throes of planning your big day, perhaps you are starting to wonder what you actually want.
More and more couples are turning their backs on what is sometimes seen as the archaic formula of a big white wedding and the stress it often brings, planning elopements instead. This could be the ultimate New Year’s resolution.
Okay, so you may be thinking ‘well that’s young couples sneaking off to marry at Gretna Green, that doesn’t apply to me’. Yes, traditionally couples ran off to get married, away from disapproving parents; in fact, the dictionary definition is to ‘run away secretly in order to get married’ but modern couples are realising this is outdated and it can be so much more.
What is an Elopement?
An elopement is an adventure! Nowadays they tend to happen outdoors and that means embracing the weather, no matter what it might be. Think of the backdrop you could have – a sparkling blue lake, windswept moor, dramatic clifftop, beach at sunrise or your local pub’s garden. Like with anything that involves a celebrant, it can be anywhere, inside or outside, at any time.
When you strip it back, elopements are about the pure and simple act of two people in love making a commitment to each other. It can still be dramatic and outrageous. It may be the two of you jumping on a motorbike and driving into the wilderness. Wind, rain or shine, elopements are about you getting married and the story of that moment. If that includes rain, that makes it even more epic.
Of course, I am talking about symbolic elopements. You can choose to legally contract your marriage where you live with a symbolic ceremony in the place of your choosing afterwards, or depending on your destination, you may be able to conduct the legal paperwork there.
Celebrants love elopements. In fact, there are some out there that market themselves as elopement specialists. They can guide you through how you can make your intimate ceremony perfect for you both.
What’s the difference between an elopement and a micro-wedding?
The main difference is who attends. An elopement is generally just the two of you, or perhaps with children or two friends. Minimum guests, minimum stress and fuss. Micro weddings have up to 20 guests and tend to follow some sort of format. So, there will be formalities such as family photos or speeches or cake cutting or first dance.
These points aren’t exclusive to elopements but generally:
- The couple gets ready together or in the same place.
- With a celebrant performing the ceremony, it will be personalised, speaking directly to the couple.
- The couple usually write their own vows or write letters to each other to read aloud.
- Many couples choose to exchange vows at sunrise or sunset for maximum romance and effect.
- No formal wedding breakfast, perhaps a picnic or cocktails in a local bar or hotel.
How exciting is the idea of creating your own elopement style! Throw the rule book out. An elopement can be just the two of you, a celebrant and a photographer or you could invite two or three close friends.
Planning a wedding can be overwhelming. As soon as you get engaged or even hint to friends and family there may be a wedding in the future the pressure starts. For many couples the idea of standing up in front of everyone makes them feel uncomfortable and nervous but the thought of disappointing family and friends stops them from following their hearts. The ‘traditional’ ways are talked about as if they are compulsory, not choices to be made.
Choosing an elopement-style ceremony opens up a world of ideas and choices.
Your budget can go so much further or be cut drastically. Perhaps you have always wanted to head abroad to get married, you can have the most amazing romantic and personal ceremonies in the destination of your choosing. Are you real foodies? Then why not save your hard-earned cash on the size of ceremony and celebrate with a meal at a Michelin star restaurant drinking the finest champagne. Or perhaps you have always fancied three weeks travelling the islands of French Polynesia but never dreamt you could afford it.
Now is the time to prioritise what you both want rather than what is expected.
Will we upset our family and friends?
It is easy to get caught up in wondering what your friends and family will think. A modern elopement is not about running away, it’s about allowing yourself the freedom to share an intense, romantic and personal moment in a location that embodies your wishes and dreams.
Your loved ones will understand that you wanted to share this moment just the two of you, creating a moment in time that you will always remember. It doesn’t have to be a secret either. Let people know what you are planning and explain you can’t wait to share your excitement at a party in the future. Perhaps hire a videographer so you can reveal an edited version (or the whole thing!) with your nearest and dearest.
Like I’ve said, this is your adventure so take ownership and make up your own rules. If you want to take your parents and siblings, or your best mates on the journey with you go for it. Just make it one to remember!
If there is one thing we have learnt from the last couple of years, it is life is for living. You never know what is around the corner to stop you in your tracks.
If you are thinking ‘we need to find ourselves a celebrant right now’ then check out www.thecelebrantdirectory.com to search who is in your local area. Most celebrants will travel nationally and internationally so search for the type of celebrant who fits you, be it alternative, completely wacky, traditional or anything in between! For more unique wedding inspiration, browse Outrageous Bride magazine for free
Jennifer Claire is a lover of all things celebration. The founder of The Celebrant Directory, she believes that every ceremony should be full to the brim with personality and works with couples and celebrants to add that extra spark into getting hitched.
Image by Nisha Haq Photography