I know you’ve thought of it. Maybe there was some drama. Maybe someone made a fuss about how they weren’t invited. Or how they weren’t invited to bring a guest. Maybe a parent-in-law is really pushy. Maybe you can’t settle on the guy’s shoes, or the dress, or the cutlery. Or the literally endless things that “maybe you’re forgetting”. In the emotional heat of the moment, you thought it, just for a second: “What if.. we just eloped?”
Maybe you took that thought and turned to your fiancé and had a frank open discussion about it. Maybe you didn’t and instead just suppressed that thought and immediately started giving reasons to yourself about why an elopement was off the table. They’re all maybes. I don’t know you, I don’t know your journey. I don’t know any of that. But I do know that by the time some of you call me, based on what you say, I wish it wasn’t too late to advocate for this idea.
Frankly, elopements get a bad name. They’re wrapped up with people’s ideas of quick, poorly thought out weddings, between people who don’t know each well enough yet. Your friend tells you they’re eloping and you start imagining the shallow glitz of Las Vegas’ main strip. But that’s not fair and it’s not representative of reality. That’s just what TV and movies show us when they need to make a wedding happen fast.
You know what though, I’ve never shot an elopement like that. I don’t know anyone who has. But I have shot quite a few elopements. So what gives?
The first elopement I photographed was in Gatlinburg Tennessee. Gatlinburg is a place with a kitschy vegas-ism, and lots of wedding chapels. But this couple wasn’t there getting drunk and decided to get married. Rather, they deliberately went to Gatlinburg to do it. They deliberately included their closest friends and family. And they deliberately asked me to come along to take photos. They had a beautiful, short wedding and an amazing brunch reception, and they left Gatlinburg very happy. And they are still happily married today, almost a decade later.
Every wedding day is what you make of it. It’s possible to be unhappy or pissed off on your wedding day regardless of how much money you spent on it, because how you feel on that day has less to do with what that day is like and a whole lot more to do with what your values are surrounding this event. You know who’s unhappy on their wedding day? People who value flatware, tablecloths, DJ’s, runners, photo booths, centerpieces, ballrooms, flowers and dresses, enough that they think they are capable of ruining a wedding day.
On the other hand, you know who’s going to love their wedding day regardless of what it was like? The people who value the foundational principles they are building upon: Love, commitment, family, friends.
Look, I’m not saying you should elope. I’m saying some of you should elope. And if you’re one of those people, it would be a real shame for you to get bullied into throwing an event that could have put your first child through college, when all you really needed were the people you love there to put their arms around you and say how excited they are for you.
When you find yourself inevitably thinking, “we should just elope”, lay back and let that thought unfold. You don’t have to actually do it if you don’t want to. But don’t shut it down and don’t jump right into trying to talk yourself out of it. Instead, be mindful and give yourself the space to discover whether that actually might be what you really do want to do.
Elopements don’t just happen in Vegas or Gatlinburg. Sometimes they happen in a courthouse. But they can happen anywhere. Just go out and hire an officiant, and you could be married in a park you love, a restaurant, a museum, at work, on the roof of a building, in a garden, in the back of a limo, on a bridge. Anywhere. You’ll have a short ceremony with the people you love the most, and then it’s up to you.
Give it some serious consideration, and if you decide against an elopement, you’ll be even more confident that the wedding you’re having is the one you should be having. And if you do decide to elope, we recommend DC Elopements, they can help you get it all sorted out. And if you’re interested in learning about our elopement photography packages, don’t hesitate to get in touch!