What is an elopement? A Deep Dive into Modern Elopements

Are you tired of traditional weddings and the stress that it brings? Do you just want to make it official with your significant other and do that in a more intimate and personal way? Look no further because an elopement is here to save the day!

In this blog post, we are going to give you an insight into the world of elopements and tell you what they are and why they’re becoming more and more popular. Whether you want an intimate ceremony or a whole adventure around your elopement ceremony, we’ve got all the information for you! We are here to help you make your day as unique and special as you and your lover are. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s get started!

The definition of an elopement | what does elope mean?

Elope: /ɪˈləʊp/. Verb. Gerund or present participle: eloping. Origin: Anglo-norman French (aloper) and English (leap), found in the late 16th century. In the general definition: run away secretly in order to get married, abscond, run away.

As you read above, the literal translation is ‘to run away’ and you read the word ‘secretly’ as well. But eloping has evolved itself: it is no longer just running away and not telling someone, it became a whole experience! Nowadays, you arrange a lot of activities around the ceremony and make the adventure unique and fitting to your wishes. Whether that is going far away to an island where you’ve never been, or going to a mountaintop with a couple of loved ones: it is special to you and reflects what you think is important.

Busting Elopement Myths

Elopements, while gaining popularity, are still surrounded by misconceptions. Let’s dive into these myths and uncover the truths behind them.

Myth 1: Eloping is Just Running Away

While the term “elope” historically meant “to run away,” modern elopements are far from secretive escapes.


Today, eloping is about intentionality, authenticity, and celebrating love in a way that feels right for the couple. It’s a conscious choice to have a more intimate celebration.

Myth 2: Eloping Means You’re Excluding Loved Ones

Elopements offer flexibility. Some couples choose to elope alone, while others invite a handful of close family and friends.


Many couples host post-elopement receptions to celebrate with a broader circle. It’s all about what feels right for the couple.

Myth 3: Elopements are Last-Minute Decisions

While some couples might decide to elope spontaneously, many elopements are planned months or even years in advance.


Just like traditional weddings, they involve careful consideration of details, from location to attire.

Myth 4: Eloping is a Cheap Way Out

While elopements can be more budget-friendly than traditional weddings, it’s not always about money.


Many couples invest significantly in their elopement, prioritizing experiences like travel or hiring top-notch photographers. The focus shifts from large-scale expenses to meaningful, personalized ones.

Myth 5: Elopements Aren’t as Meaningful as Traditional Weddings

The significance of a marriage ceremony isn’t determined by the number of guests or the scale of the event.


Elopements can be deeply personal, allowing couples to focus solely on their bond. For many, this intimate setting amplifies the meaning and emotion of the commitment.

Myth 6: You’ll Regret Not Having a “Real” Wedding

Every couple is unique, and what feels right for one might not for another.


Many couples who elope cherish the intimacy and authenticity of their experience. It’s essential to make choices aligned with your values and desires, not societal expectations.

Myth 7: Elopements are Only for the Adventurous

While some elopements take place on mountaintops or remote beaches, they can be as adventurous or as laid-back as you want.


From backyard ceremonies to city hall weddings, elopements come in all shapes and sizes.

Comparison of elopements and traditional weddings

An elopement is different from a traditional wedding. We wrote about it in this blog: eloping vs weddings: what are the differences? but will sum it up in short in this blog! We do recommend reading the blog above for more extensive information about this topic.

First of all, a traditional wedding is held at (often expensive) venues and it is a whirlwind of changing venues during the day. In the Netherlands, people often get ready at a hotel or at their own home, then they go to a civil ceremony, have a photoshoot, go to a different venue for cake and champagne, take group pictures, have dinner, go to church or to a venue for their party. That is not only expensive, but it is also a lot of transportation! Couples often wonder where their time went and what the F# happened because it was so much! It is SO BUSY!

Secondly, most of the time a lot of people attend the day. All those people need a chair, entertainment, food and drinks. That means you have to take a lot of decisions. And that you have to keep everyone’s wishes in mind. You wouldn’t be the first one aunt Karen tells that you should ABSOLUTELY do a buffet-style dinner which is catered by the aunt of an acquaintance who happens to cook sometimes and then uses only boxed mac ’n cheese. And that you TOTALLY should throw your expensive bouquet. And that their nephew is all ready invited by her and wants to propose to his girlfriend of 2 months. Long story short: people expect you to cater for them, instead of letting you choose what you want to do. But isn’t your wedding day about you two, and not the rest of the world?!

The cost of a wedding is also different, just as the time it takes to plan it. Eloping is made as expensive as you want it to be. The whole experience can be planned in a year, or in 24 hours!

Overview of the history of eloping

In history, elopements are often described as scandalous and they didn’t really have something to do with love. In recent years that image has changed, luckily!

The first use of the word ‘elopement’ dates back to the 13th century. It then was used when a wife ran away from her husband to be with her lover. Or, the husband would run away to secretly be with a teenage girl who could not get parental consent to get married. In that case, it even was criminal to elope. Men would be evicted to go to prison!

In the great depression, eloping was an adaptation to reality: there was no money to arrange a big wedding. We saw something similar happen during the years of the Covid-19 pandemic. People could not plan the big wedding they envisioned, so they decided to do it differently.

Gretna Green, on the border of Scotland and England, has always been an important village for eloping couples. Scotland had less strict laws when it came to marriage (and even has less strict ones nowadays) and it was the first village people would pass on their journeys. That made it an ideal place to elope! Nowadays, it is still a place where people want to elope or marry and the main place where that happens is booked years in advance! Maybe you’ve heard of the ‘Las Vegas across the pond’?

Did you know… William Shakespeare also wrote about eloping in the story of Romeo and Juliet? Let’s hope that present elopements end on a more positive note, though…

Types of Elopements | What is an elopement

Elopements truly came a long way, since the idea and execution of elopements were known as scandalous and punishable! Today you’ll have plenty of options to choose from if you are planning an elopement. From a traditional destination wedding to intimate micro- and small weddings to adventurous elopements and courthouse ceremonies: there are so many options! It will suit your unique style and preferences.

Explanation of different types of elopements

Traditional destination wedding

For this kind of wedding, you decide to travel to another country. We see that couples often tend to travel to Italy. That way they can soak up some sun and have a mini-vacation with family and friends. The disadvantage to this kind of wedding is that it is expensive (you need to accommodate a place to stay for your guests for multiple days and if you don’t decide to pay travel costs, you will impose the costs). The plus is that you still can have a more traditional way of your wedding and that you can enjoy the company of your loved ones.

Intimate or micro-wedding

As a smaller version of a traditional or destination wedding, this is ideal if you only want to take a few guests with you. It can be held in your home country or where ever in the world you want. It tends to take place in the official wedding venues, though.

Courthouse elopement

Whenever you only just want to get married and then head off to normal life (or on a trip around the world), a courthouse elopement or wedding would suit you. In some countries, you can even get married for free on certain days or times. You can perform this kind of wedding in the city where you live, or do it in a city abroad.

Traditional elopement

This kind of elopement is when a couple decides to get married at a location that is special for them. Think of places like beaches or cities. It typically doesn’t take a lot of effort to get to these places.

Adventure elopement

If you are an adventurous person, this is probably the best type of elopement! During this sort of elopement, you will go to more unique locations, such as national parks and mountain tops during (sometimes multiple days) hikes. It is even possible to get married UNDERWATER. Yes, you read that right 😉

We ourselves specialise in adventure elopements and intimate weddings.

Planning an Elopement | What is an elopement

It is our passion and profession to help you plan the most amazing elopement or intimate wedding! Below you will find short a list of what you will need to do for planning your elopement. We will write it more thoroughly in an upcoming blog though and if you book us as your photographer, we will help you every step of the way!

  • Determine what budget you’re working with. Elopements tend to be cheaper than a traditional wedding, but if you want luxury the price will increase. You can make it as crazy as you want!
  • Choose a wedding date. The most important thing! In some situations you may want to choose 2 or 3 days; if you want your elopement under the northern lights for instance.
  • Choose your location. Do you want to go far away to a country you both have never been to? Or do you have a special place, like the spot you got engaged or something else?
  • What kind of elopement do you want? Intimate, just the two of you or do you want to fly over your next of kin? Do you want to go on an adventure or do you want to go to a place that’s easier to reach?
  • Find out whether you want a symbolic ceremony during your elopement or a legal ceremony. With a symbolic ceremony, you marry in your home country and speak your vows during the elopement. You don’t have to worry about the legal things. Do you want to know more about symbolic ceremonies? Read this blog. In most countries, you can legally marry as a foreigner with your marriage also legal in your home country. But it does make things more complicated, you have to find out what requirements there are to make it legal.
  • You now want to arrange the professionals. Sometimes it is easier to reach out to a wedding planner from the area you want to go to. They can help sort all things out. Do book a photographer and/or videographer! You don’t want to forget all these experiences.
  • Plan the details. Now’s the time to plan everything! Yay! Think about ways to make your elopement unique and special: incorporate traditions, keepsakes of loved ones or shared interests.
  • Enjoy the process. We mean it! This is such a special time that will never come back. Make your elopement perfect. This is the moment to treat yourself and splurge: the memory will last for a lifetime!

The most difficult thing to do is probably telling your family and friends that you are eloping. Do you want to know more about how you can announce this? Read the blog on how to tell you are eloping.

Tips for planning an elopement

Are you excited yet?! If you want to ditch the traditional wedding, we’re all for it! If you are not using a wedding planner, it is your turn to find the best location, the right vendors and all the legal requirements. In the upcoming paragraphs, you will read some tips for planning that day to remember!

What do I need for my elopement?

  • Think about legal requirements. We wrote about it before. It can be a hard task to do so, but it is worth it! If we are your photographers, we will help you!
  • What clothing do you want to wear? Do you want to wear a full-fledged wedding dress and hiking shoes, or something else? A tux? Hiking clothes? This is your time to go shopping for these clothes. Especially wedding dresses tend to have a longer delivery time. In this blog, you can find the best wedding dresses for your elopement.
  • An officiant or celebrant. Do you want to have a humanist, a religious or a civil ceremony? Or something totally different? You will need an officiant or celebrant.
  • Witnesses. In most countries, you will need witnesses to make your marriage legal. If you want to elope with just the two of you and have booked us as your photographers, you can always ask us to be your witness! It is a great honour for us.
  • A wedding ring! Important and quite logical 😉
  • A photographer and videographer. You don’t want to forget these moments! Invest in someone who captures your day(s). We mean it!

Comparison of costs for different elements of an elopement

Below you will find a breakdown of the average expenses during weddings and elopements. We have taken the average cost of everything, your budget can be different. There are a lot of things you can save on. For the elopement you can make it as crazy as you want; if you want to wild camp and cook on a burner under the stars, you will save €500 for instance 😉


Wedding dress – €3000

MUAH – €300

Tuxedo/suit – €1000

Venue – €11.000

Transportation – €1000

Entertainment – €4000

Photographer – €3000

Videographer – €2000

Florist – €200

Wedding cake – €500

Catering – €75pp (+-50 people)

Wedding night – €250




Wedding dress – €3000

MUAH – €150

Tuxedo/suit – €1000

Transportation – €1200

Photographer – €3000

Videographer – €2000

Florist – €150

Food – €250

Wedding night – €250



As you see, eloping is most of the time cheaper than a full-fledged wedding.

Legal Considerations | What is an elopement

If you choose to elope, you have to keep in mind that it sometimes takes some effort to arrange all the legal stuff. Some people will decide to have a symbolic ceremony and to get married at home to dodge the difficult tangle of paperwork.

But if you do decide to arrange everything to get legally married during your elopement, it is worth the hassle!

Comparison of legal requirements in different locations

In every country, there will be different requirements for your elopement. If you are eloping to America, there will be different requirements for every state! Do your research, ask your photographer or take on a wedding planner. Elopement photographers and wedding planners have probably done this before, so they will have the knowledge!

If you are eloping in Europe, you often will have to give notice of your marriage a couple of months to weeks before the wedding day. Did you choose to elope in Las Vegas? You can assume the whole process is more relaxed. In our guides, you will find more precisely what you need to arrange. See the most popular guides in these links: Scotland, Iceland and the Dolomites.

Tips for navigating the legal process for elopements

Down below are our tips in short:

  • Know where you’re going for your elopement. Focus on the country first and then figure out which place you want to go to. Decide whether you want a symbolic or legal ceremony. Then start your quest to find what you need to arrange.
  • Decide whether or not you will make use of a wedding planner. Try to find someone who lives in the area you are eloping to, that makes the whole process easier. They will help you find out what paperwork you’ll need.
  • If you decided not to use a wedding planner, ask your photographer, your embassy or the council of the place you are eloping to.
  • Thoroughly search for whatever you need and when to hand in the paperwork!

Including family and friends | What is an elopement

This part is always a little sensitive. Of course, you want to have all your loved ones around you. Or sometimes you just don’t, but people will always assume you do want it. Therefore, they can be hurt if you tell them you’re eloping.

Always be honest about your decision. You don’t want to lie, that would hurt people more. Emphasise that eloping is important to you and your partner and that it (most of the time) has nothing to do with them. It may be helpful to think about including them in some way on your wedding day before you are telling them. Do you want to read some tips on how to tell this in the best way? Head over to our blog about this topic: click here to read it.

Tips for including family and friends in your elopement

Below you will find a couple of ideas on how you can include loved ones in your elopement:

  • FaceTime loved ones during the ceremony, or just after to celebrate at a distance
  • Livestream the ceremony; make a Facebook group where you add people who you want, start a Zoom or live stream on a private Youtube link
  • Plan a reception or party after you came back from the elopement
  • Share photos and videos after the elopement ceremony
  • If you choose to do a symbolic ceremony, you have to marry in your home country before you will have your elopement ceremony. Consider inviting loved ones to the civil ceremony

Ways to share the news of your elopement with loved ones

There are a couple of ways to share the news of your elopement:

  • Send a personalised gift such as a letter, card or email.
  • Do a phone or video call to share the news
  • Share a post on social media with a jaw-dropping image
  • Tell people in person. This is also a good way to answer questions
  • Throw a surprise party after you came back

The Pros and Cons of Eloping | What is an elopement


  • Your loved ones are most of the time not present at the elopement ceremony
  • It can be a disappointment for loved ones
  • Arranging all the paperwork can be dreading and complex


  • It’s a unique experience
  • You can personalise EVERYTHING: from the ceremony to where you want to go and more
  • Eloping is intimate and a moment to experience with the love of your life
  • It can be cheaper than a regular wedding
  • Travel after you got married and conquer the world!
  • If you don’t want a lot of stress during planning a wedding, this is perfect
  • Memorable moments you’ll never forget
  • Adventure assured!
  • Stunning and outstanding wedding photos

Quick Fun Facts: The Elopement Evolution!

  1. Rising Popularity: A staggering 62% of engaged U.S. couples are considering eloping. For females, this number jumps to 69%.
  2. Pinterest Proof: A whopping 128% increase in searches for elopement photography ideas on Pinterest showcases the growing allure of intimate weddings.
  3. Eco-Friendly Choice: Traditional weddings can produce up to 600 pounds of trash. Elopements? A sustainable celebration!
  4. Destination Elopements: Pinterest data reveals a 32% surge in searches for mountain destination weddings. City halls, forests, and even the Hawaiian archipelago are becoming popular elopement spots.
  5. Wedding Industry’s Worth: With the wedding industry valued at over £10 billion annually in the UK and rising costs, it’s no wonder couples are seeking budget-friendly alternatives.
  6. Mountain-Top I Dos: Many couples are swapping church bells for mountain yells, making their vows amidst nature’s grandeur.
  7. Elopement Packages: Searches for ‘elopement packages’ in the UK have risen by 120% over the past year, with companies offering bespoke elopement services in dreamy locations.
  8. Travel & Tie the Knot: Elopements often blend the wedding and honeymoon. One beautiful adventure!
  9. Epic Photo Ops: Unique elopement locales mean unforgettable wedding photos. Picture-perfect memories!
  10. Dodging the Drama: Elopements sidestep the potential family drama, focusing solely on the couple’s bond.
  11. Budget-Friendly: The average UK wedding in 2018 cost £30,355. Elopements offer a cost-effective alternative without compromising on the romance.
  12. Modern Take on Tradition: From exchanging vows in ancient cities like Bagan to personalized ceremonies, elopements today are as diverse as the couples themselves.

Final thoughts on the decision to elope

For us, it is a no-brainer: eloping is fantastic! Most of the cons you can work around and make easier. The unique experience, filled with adventure and lots of memories are things people often wish for. If this sounds like what you would love to do: take the leap! Eloping is amazing and so versatile, no experience created is the same!

Are you looking for a photographer for your elopement? Send us a message! In our elopement packages, we offer:

  • a personalised experience
  • Location advice
  • Vendor & accommodation recommendations
  • Custom timeline
  • Permit assistance (if needed)
  • Unlimited planning assistance
  • Adventure buddies and new friends!

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