What does Elope mean?

November 24, 2019

“What is the meaning of elope? What is an elopement? Is it something that may be better for us when it comes to marriage?”

This is a question I’ve heard more than a few times, and I’m here today to put this to rest to give you an idea of what the significant differences are between elopements and traditional weddings. I’ll also be telling you exactly what the meaning of elope is.

In this article I’m going to tell you:

  • The meaning of elope and what elopements are
  • How they differ from traditional weddings
  • Why an elopement may be perfect for you
  • How to organise an elopement

What does elope mean?

The term elopement doesn’t mean what it used to back 50 years ago. The meaning of eloping used to be running away and never coming back again with your lover, so you could live your days out on a beach sipping Cuba libra’s on the beach.

So what does elope mean? Well, the term means something a little differently now (saying that, the whole running away and sipping cocktails doesn’t sound bad, right?).

Let’s have a look at defining elope.

Eloping is traditionally defined as:

Run away secretly in order to get married, especially without parental consent.


However nowadays, the definition of eloping is slightly different:

Elope’s meaning is shifting towards “a small destination wedding” whereas it used to mean “to runaway and secretly get married,” and before that “for a married woman to runaway with a new lover,” and even before that it just meant “to escape or runaway” without the romantic context.


Instead, elopements nowadays, eloping means more about having a scaled back and person wedding that reflects you. This means that you aren’t having 200 guests because ‘your parents said so’, or going with the regular grain of what people do.

Eloping means nowadays that you’re simply deciding to have a more personal wedding experience, where you’re valuing experiences over things.

What are the significant differences between elopements and weddings?

Elopements are where the standards of traditional weddings are replaced with a more personalised and couple focused experience, without any of the loud sounds or show that you’d expect. This means you won’t have 200 guests watching your every move down the aisle. Instead of being stuck in one venue, you’d be experiencing epic scenery, and have a real adventure together.

It is a real departure from the norm, and I absolutely love elopements.

So elopements are different from weddings, but what are the most significant differences?

Elopements focus on the experience rather than the things

Elopements are valued in the personalised experience that you both have the memories you create and commemorate together on them.

A lot of weddings these days will rack up an insane amount of vendors for everything from napkins to personalised invitations. The average cost of a wedding is $31,310AUD. This is a significant investment for many couples, especially couples who are younger and facing the different economic climate that boomers once faced.

The expense of weddings comes from the need for ‘things’. It ends up more times than not being a show, rather than genuine love and desire of what is at the wedding.

Elopements instead forsake large amounts of unnecessary items and instead has a focus on your big day and celebration being defined by experience.

Elopements allow you to have a personalised adventure

You can have a real focus on you both having a gnarly and awesome experience to commemorate the next part of your life together. This is the magic of an elopement.

Instead of having a wedding that can easily be railroaded into ‘following the rules’, your elopement can be a whole day of whatever you’d like!

Maybe you’d love to start the day with a sunrise walk to a kick-ass lookout with champagne and pastries, followed by going canyoning at lunchtime. Then you can have your ceremony being at sunset overlooking a vast valley full of the rainforest.

Or perhaps you love the idea of waking up and doing a 3-hour hike up one of New Zealand’s epic mountains. So that as you read your vows to each other, the sun will be rising, right before cracking open your favourite locally brewed beers. The evening could be filled with you both going horseback riding under the stars to polish your day off.

There really is no limit to what you can do for your elopement. Let your imagination and wanderlust run wild.

Elopements are more intimate with less pressure

Traditional weddings can be a day and experience full of high stress and lofty expectations. This means that you will need to make sure that everyone is well-fed, happy, and comfortable.

The only thing is that this is your day.

Weddings can leave couples feeling the pressure, resulting in the day being a bit of a stressed blur, rather than a non-stop epic celebration of their story.

There can also be a significant tendency with weddings to be a considerable timekeeping nightmare, with many tightly timed events delayed. This results in the day being more a grapple to make sure everyone is in the right place at the right time. This yet again means more pressure and less ‘living in the moment’.

Elopements instead revolve entirely around you. This means that if you want to sleep in until 10am, hell, you can do it. Maybe you want to just ‘go with the flow’ for the afternoon after having your ceremony in the morning? Why not!

While you can elope with guests, a lot of couples also prefer for it just to be them on their own. This means that you won’t be left trying to sort out how Aunt Gladys hasn’t received her vegetarian meal yet.

Elopements will result in a lot less stress, meaning you’ll be enjoying living in the moment rather than the worries of the day.

Elopements are perfect for couples who want to try something new

In your time together, you’ve no doubt experienced many new things. Maybe one of you hated pineapple on pizza and now look at you. Perhaps the other one couldn’t stand horror films, but now is the first one to book tickets when the latest Halloween slasher is out.

New experiences in life are what pushes us out of our comfort zone and thrill us. Elopements are the perfect opportunity to expand your horizons and try something new.

Many couples love the idea of exploring a new country, or even a whole new sport or activity. My sister decided to elope in an Ice Hotel in Northern Sweden, in minus 22 degrees cold, and see the northern lights. Pretty different right?

Maybe you’ve both always wanted to go to Japan and do a hot spring tour? Here’s your chance. How about going to Tasmania and renting a camper van to travel around? Well, what better time is there than when you’re eloping!

Elopements give you more control over your day

As mentioned above, traditional weddings can so quickly turn into a game of cat and mouse, with the photographer and bridal party respectively. However, you didn’t want a wedding because you fancied playing ‘timekeeping with James (that’s me)’.

Elopements allow you to have your own timeline crafted, where you can do whatever you’d like on your wedding day. Elopements revolve around you. All you have to do is think about what you’d like to do on the day.

Why an elopement may be perfect for you

If you’ve read the above and thought “holy shit, that sounds like everything I’ve wanted in a day, but I didn’t know what it was called”, then you’re perfect for elopements.

Typically couples who enjoy elopements:

  • Have a more significant value placed on the experience rather than the collection of material objects
  • Can be introverted, and prefer to have a more personalised and private experience shared together
  • Don’t want the big show and production of a big wedding, and would rather have a more personalised experience that sums them up
  • Love the idea of trying something new to celebrate themselves

How to organise an elopement

Basic planning

You’re most likely wondering how on earth you even start with planning your day out with so many ideas and opportunities? Well, the great thing is that your elopement photographer (hey, that’s me) should be very adept at crafting the perfect timeline for you. I have crafted a lot of these, and the whole process of finding the ideal timeline for you is fun, and a breeze.

Here are some handy steps to get you started with working out a basic idea of what you’d love to do for your elopement:

  1. Think about what country you’d like to visit
  2. Think about which season you’d enjoy most there
  3. Write down 2 activities that you’d love to do most while over there

With these three ideas, you’ll be able to get a rough idea of what you may like to do for your elopement.

Hire an elopement photographer

Eloping can be a daunting idea that a lot of couples will think of, and be tempted to say “we couldn’t do that, we wouldn’t know where to start”.

This is where having an experienced elopement photographer and guide is essential if you want to do it right. Here are five reasons why hiring an elopement photographer like myself will help you with the perfect elopement. Elopement photographers are experienced at:

  • Capturing you both and creating kick-ass images that authentically reflect who you are, without the pressure of ‘traditional’ poses.
  • Creating and crafting a day for you, which truly reflects who you are.
  • Scouting for locations that would be suitable and awesome for your day.
  • Understanding the local VISA and travel limitations with the area.

The other huge benefit is to have your experienced captured. My style of photography is candid, emotive, and fun, with minimal posing. This means that instead of being some bossy bloke barking orders at you, I’m like your own travel guide instead. I’ll help you create and craft the perfect adventure but leave the moments that reflect you to yourselves, capturing them instead.

Why I love elopements

I’ve never been one for traditions. My parents never had a big wedding, and I spend most of the time out with couples exploring the lands, doing adventure portraits. The only difference between my adventure portraits and elopements is that elopements can last a bit longer, and you end up getting hitched!

I find it so easy to write about elopements because, in all honesty, they are one of my biggest passions.

Elopements allow you both to experience an epic adventure and do something that truly represents you, instead of having to appease a large group of people who you felt like you had to invite.

In summary

Elopements are perfect for couples that:

  • Hate the pressure and idea of a traditional wedding
  • Want to try something new and exciting that celebrates themselves.
  • Are introverted and don’t want a big song and dance about them both

Let’s chat about designing your dream elopement!

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