bride and groom kiss on top of mountain as sunlight streams over them at Colorado elopement

What is an Elopement?

The evolving definition of what it means to elope

If you’re planning on eloping and told anyone who hasn’t done it your plans they’ve probably looked at you with a blank stare and said something to the effect of “You don’t PLAN an elopement”.

Sound familiar?

My guess is these people mean well but are completely clueless a to the fact that the modern definition of “elopement” is MUCH different than what it was in years past. Let’s talk about it!

My goal is to help clarify what it means to elope both for you … and for anyone who is confused about what the hell you are doing when you decide to get married this way! Feel free to share this article with anyone who needs to read it!

the historical definition of what it means to “elope”


Eloping used to mean running away, secretly to get married with just the two of you. Merriam Webster defines “elope” as “to run away secretly with the intention of getting married usually without parental consent”. Stereotypically these elopements happened at the courthouse (or somewhere in Vegas with Elvis as your witness). They were almost never planned in advance and very often were done without the couples’ friends and family having any idea of what the couple was dong.

Fast forward to today.

the modern definition of “elopement”

A lot has changed since those days of secretive courthouse elopements. The modern definition of eloping is much more broad and includes everything from well planned elopement with just the couple to tiny weddings with a handful of guests.

Generally speaking, as someone who live and breathes this stuff, I define an elopement as a small (often in a far off destination) with zero to a 15-ish guests.

But that’s just my definition, the truth is you can call it whatever you want!

can you have guests at an elopement?

Absolutely! The thing about elopements is that there are NO RULES which means you can do whatever you want! While some couples prefer the privacy of eloping with just the two of them (and maybe some dogs), others really want to have a handful of their friends and family there. And some choose to split the difference …. having a ceremony with JUST them and then celebrating later in the day with their people. How you do this is totally up to you!

what is an adventure elopement?

Adventure elopements are elopements and tiny weddings that happen somewhere in nature. While they sometimes involve long hikes or high adrenaline activities they absolutely DON’T have to! YOU get to define what “adventure” means to you. For some of my couples that means chartering a helicopter or climbing a mountain. For others it means renting a cozy cabin in the woods and spending their elopement day off the grid.

how do you plan an elopement?

Planning an elopement can feel a little overwhelming because, unlike with traditional weddings, there is NO script for this thing! The best advice I can give you is to work with an elopement photographer and expert who knows the ins and outs of planning and photographing epic elopements. They’ll have all kinds of ideas for you on locations, activities, timelines, vendors, and so much more!

I also have TONS of elopement resources to get you started!