What is an Elopement? What do you think of when you say the word Elopement? Maybe some TV epidsode where the characters run off to Vegas and get hitched with an Elvis impersonator or the bride and groom run off to get married in secrecy because their family doesn’t approve?
A lot of people still view elopements as last-minute, unplanned, and less than pretty “secret” operation that are clouded in shame. BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT ELOPING MEANS ANYMORE!
Here is the updated definition of an Elopement. An intentionally small, intimate, beautiful, meaningful and authentic wedding experience that is a true reflection of your relationship, where the focus of the day is really about you two and your love for one another.
Elopements can take place anywhere, any day of the week. Eloping takes away the pressure, anxiety or obligation that may weigh you down in planning a wedding that pleases everyone. Instead, an elopement grants you two the freedom to commit to your partner however, wherever and whenever you choose—exactly the way you want it to be.
My 5 big reasons we chose an elopement vs. a big wedding.
Technically we had two elopements. (Covid didn’t allow us to legally get married in California so we had to do it here in Virginia). So our first “elopement” was un-planned to some extent, but we had already booked and paid for our California elopement—so we knew we were going to get married already. When Jacob and I first started talking about getting married, which for us happened very early on into dating, we discussed what we wanted our wedding to look like. I’ve been married before, and I didn’t want to have a wedding—last time around there was a lot of conflict and trying to please everyone… this time around I wanted it to just be about our love and commitment for each other, not about anyone else’s hopes and dreams of what they wanted the wedding to look like. Jacob agreed 100%, he wanted that day to be intimate and meaningful, with just us (and maybe a few friends during the un-planned backyard wedding).
Planning a full wedding takes time. We knew we wanted to get married, and we didn’t want to wait. We had already paid for and booked our California Elopement before we were engaged. (We’re also from very Christian family backgrounds which plays a big part in getting married quickly vs. being together for years beforehand). I don’t believe there is a right or wrong time limit on meeting someone and getting married—they only things that matter, are if both people are ready for marriage or not, and if you know 1000% that you want to marry that person and commit to them for life. Jacob and I had a lot of conversations about when we should get married, at first I wanted to wait until next year, but the more we talked about it we didn’t want to wait. We ordered a really helpful book called … all the questions to ask each other before marriage… and that was a good read as we planned our elopement.
This one is similar to reason 1. For me, All I wanted was to marry Jacob with a beautiful dress, in a beautiful location with a photographer whose work I loved to document the day. I already knew exactly what I wanted for my ring, dress, and photographer—Jacob was the harder person to shop for, he took such a long time picking his wedding band, and actually the first one we got he didn’t like so we had to find another which is the ring he has now. As a photographer, I see photos as so incredibly special, they are able to relive memories and feelings when seeing them again, and it was so important that we found someone whose work I LOVED. I had been following Tessa Tadlock for years on Instagram, her tones are GORGEOUS, and elopements are her jam (and mine too!). When Jacob and I were planning our wedding, she was the first and only photographer I inquired with! The biggest selling point for us what that she offered an All Inclusive Package that included the photography, a bouquet and boutonniere, a hair and makeup artist and an officiant! Tessa is also super down to earth and she truly loves her job and capturing her clients love stories!
Not only was our elopement a wedding ceremony, but it was a vacation and adventure as well. We chose to elope in San Luis Obispo, California which is where Tessa is based. Some other places we were considering were Greece (before travel was fully closed), Yosemite, Washington State, Zions National Park, or Colorado. In the end we chose SLO because of the all inclusive package—it was the most cost effective for our budget.
The average cost of a traditional wedding is about 33k. Because we eloped, it was not only a one day event, but an extended vacation/honeymoon. And since Jacob and I paid for our wedding ourselves we were conscious about spending money. I will say, it still cost us a good chunk of change, but we also planned, booked and spent it within just a few months—if planning an elopement over a longer period of time buying rings, a dress, a suit, booking a photographer, etc would be very manageable. Here is a little estimated breakdown of what we spent on everything.
Rings – $1300 | My Dress + Alterations – $1625 | Jacob’s Suit – $650 | All Inclusive Package – $5,000 | Flights – $400 ($200 for each of us) | Airbnb – $500 | Car Rental – $275 |
Ways we saved money – not buying diamonds. The diamond industry is a bunch of nonsense and they are wayyy overpriced. We bought both of our rings from Etsy – my ring – his ring . Instead of a diamond, I have a moissanite center stone. My dress was used, and I found it through a Facebook wedding buy and sell group! I was also looking at dresses on the website/app called StillWhite which sells used designer wedding gowns. We spent money on what mattered to us — and the most important and expensive part was the photographer.
We plan to have 2 parties/receptions in 2021. One here in Virginia and one in Utah where my family is from. Both will be super DIY wedding receptions, but the goal is that they are still pretty and that they’re a lot of fun!
Here are some of my favorite photos from our Elopement!