What is an elopement?
In recent years the definition of elopement has been evolving, which might leave you wondering…. what is an elopement? It’s a fair question considering most people look at us like we have two heads when we say were elopement photographers. 😅 We get asked all the questions: What does it mean to elope? Are elopements real weddings? Is an elopement legal? Where can I elope? What do you do during an elopement? Like I said before, all fair questions.
Being an elopement photographer is a super niched market which leaves us to be experts in the subject. We photograph dozens of elopements each year, and not one of these elopement days looks the same as the other. Think of an elopement as a blank canvas, where you draw your relationship straight onto the crisp white paper. Let me explain. When you think of a traditional wedding day, what comes to mind? Think back to all the weddings you’ve been a part of, attended or even seen in movies and TV shows. I bet it doesn’t take more than a second to visualize a traditional wedding day. You have the bridal party, the color scheme, the venue, the creative seating chart, the guests, the cake cutting, wedding favors, the bouquet toss, in more recent years I’ve seen the shoe game, and the traditions go on and on. It also goes without saying that traditional weddings tend to be stressful, forgetful, and sometimes even feel like a high school reunion. Basically, you know what a traditional wedding will look like before even attending. The only thing that will be different, is the couple. Now imagine this: no rules, no traditions, no stress, just you and your partner picking what your wedding day will look like. Elopements are for couples who don’t want the venue or guest list. They imagine getting married in an environment and in a way that feels like them – that is meaningful to them, and a reflection of the relationship they’ve built together. They don’t care about the production that traditional weddings tend to become, in fact, they’d rather avoid it at all costs. So, I know I still haven’t answered your question, what is an elopement? So here goes.
Definition of Elopement
It’s no secret that the definition of eloping has greatly evolved over the years. In the past decade or so elopements have really turned into being a whole new way to get married. What once used to mean running away without parental consent has graduated into a whole new meaning. In my opinion, it’s been long overdue. Couples feel like they need to abide by the rules of the wedding industry. Book a venue, create a seating chart, hire a DJ, and you get where I’m going with this. Couples have always wanted a different way to get married – I just don’t think couples knew they could get married differently.
Modern Definition of Elopement
An elopement is a type of way to get married where two people escape the traditional wedding day and plan an intentionally intimate wedding experience where the sole focus is on the couple committing their lives to one another.
Old School Definition of Elopement
To run away secretly in order to get married, especially without parental consent.
Do elopements have guests?
Absolutely. It’s totally up to the couple if they would rather elope just the two of them (taking into consideration marriage laws i.e. number of witnesses needed, this varies by state), or have guests present. We here at In Love and Adventure don’t define an elopement based on the number of guests in attendance. We do believe however that the more guests you have, the harder it is to escape the traditional wedding day. Also, don’t forget about your furry friends as guests. 🐕
How do you plan an elopement?
Don’t stress yourself out by thinking of how you’re going to plan your elopement. Chances are your elopement photographer will do most of the heavy lifting for you. For us, we love taking on most of the planning tasks so our couples can head off into their elopement adventure with the peace of mind they’re looking for. We take care of things like finding a location, working out a timeline to ensure we have plenty of time to soak in the views and get to the best scenery during the perfect time for the best photos, getting the proper permits for that location, telling you exactly where you should go to get your marriage license, mapping out the terrain, and so much more. Why do we do this? Because when your elopement day, location, and timing come together perfectly, your photos will be incredible. It’s all apart of the experience when you work with us!
But there are just a few things that are required to put on an elopement. These things are the two of you, and your vows. Pretty simple, right? We like to keep things easy peezy around here. But of course, yes, 100 times yes, we will help you with whatever you need. Literally, there is no task that is out of our scope when it comes to helping you plan your day. Why? Because we also eloped, and we know how incredibly special it is to have a day you can look back on and be super proud of, and be super happy about. We’re talking no ragrets. Not even one letter.
Is an elopement legal? And are they legally binding?
Is an elopement a real marriage?
Yes! Just because there isn’t a room full of guests to witness two people saying their vows to one another doesn’t mean the marriage isn’t real. Couples who decide to elope don’t have marriages that are “less than”. Actually, quite the opposite could be argued! We won’t get into that though. 😉
Is an elopement a real wedding?
Abso-freakin-lutely, an elopement is a real wedding. Do two people sign a marriage license? Yes. Is that marriage license a legally binding agreement? Yes. Then elopements are real weddings, and if anyone else tells you otherwise, send them my way because I have 100+ wedding galleries to show them of real weddings that were elopements. 😊
What do you do during an elopement?
When you’re thinking about the question of what you do during an elopement, just remember to think of an elopement as a blank canvas, where you draw your relationship straight onto the crisp white paper. Eloping is all about escaping the traditions of a traditional wedding day. We have some advice for our couples when brainstorming what their elopement could/should look like. It’s about a 50/50 split between couples who come to us knowing exactly what they’re envisioning for their elopement, and couples who really don’t know, or maybe they’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options. Our biggest piece of advice is to do what we like to call the Random Memory Game. Essentially, you’re just looking back through memories the two of you had together and picking apart why they were so special and so meaningful. What did do during that time that made it the best day ever? Did you sleep in, or wake up early? Did you have a fantastic meal you can’t stop daydreaming about? What was the vibe of the day? Was it easygoing, or did you follow a schedule? What activities did the two of you do together? Did you experience something new, or were you doing something you’ve done dozens of times before together? Knowing the answers to these questions will be able to help you start to map out what your elopement should look like, and to make your day special. There are no right or wrong answers here. Escape the traditions, and create a day that is a representation of the relationship you’ve built.
Do I have to climb a mountain to elope? What if I’m not adventurous?
There are so many reasons why couples choose to elope, and we promise you only a handful of couples choose to elope because they want to climb a mountain on their wedding day. While we love waking up before the birds to summit a mountain or climb to an alpine lake, we understand that’s not everyone’s speed. Whether you want to have a hiking elopement, or you want to do something super mellow, we’ll customize your adventure to you. Like, the real you. If your’re planning on having an adventure hiking elopement, check out this blog on what to pack!
Where can I elope?
You can literally elope anywhere. Below we list a few places we love and think are perfect for adventurous couples looking to elope!
Colorado Elopement Locations
….. and so much more. Colorado is full of so much beauty, and literally has something for everyone. We’ll help you find the best place to elope in Colorado for you, depending on what you’re looking for!
Elopement Wedding Laws
While wedding laws vary from state to state, we don’t like to put any red tape on our couple’s elopement days. What do we mean by this? Well, have you ever seen the episode of Grey’s Anatomy where Meredith and Derek get married on a post-it note? No? Well, that’s ok. You don’t need to watch the episode to understand what I mean here! Your wedding vows and your commitment to your partner is so much more than a piece of paper, but to the government, it’s nothing more than a piece of paper. So what if you want to elope and can’t get the marriage license in time? Or what if you want to elope in Norway, and just don’t want to deal with the legality of it all, and would rather just sign a marriage license here in the US? Then, post it! Or as some people know it as a commitment ceremony. You two are still saying your vows to one another, that moment is what counts, not the red tape.
Elopement Wedding Laws for the State of Colorado
Did you know that you can marry yourself in Colorado? That’s right. It’s like this state was made for eloping couples! There is also no waiting period! Some states require you to have your marriage license for a certain amount of time before you can turn it back in signed, but not in Colorado. Walk into a clerk’s office, get your marriage license, walk out, sign the marriage license, turn around, hand it in, you’re married! No witnesses or officiants are needed. Pretty freakin’ neat, right? Now, that is the ultra-simple version, but technically that’s how easy it is! Sprinkle your day with a little bit of activity or sightseeing, and you’ve got yourself a proper Colorado elopement story! This whole process of marrying yourself in Colorado is a little lovely law called self-solemnizing.
Elopement Wedding Laws for the State of Utah
So, Utah marriage laws aren’t as lax when comparing them to Colorado marriage laws. In Utah’s defense, many states aren’t. While Utah is similar to Colorado in that there is no waiting period, they differ by requiring two witnesses and an officiant to legally solemnize your wedding.
Elopement Wedding Laws for the State of Washington
Again, Washington state marriage laws aren’t as lax when comparing them to either Colorado or Utah. In the state of Washington, it is required to have two witnesses, and an officiant to legally solemnize your wedding. The state of Washington also has a 3-day waiting period, meaning that you can obtain your marriage license, and then you have to wait 3 days before an officiant can sign off on the license.
Why do people elope?
People elope for all kinds of reasons but the #1 answer we always get when asking our couples why they’re considering eloping is a variation of this: we’re not big on to do’s, and we want our wedding day to be about us, and an unforgettable experience.
Below are a few answers that came straight from our couples on why they chose to elope:
-We prefer a private moment and experience.
-We began planning a wedding, but felt it was not the right fit for us, we want our wedding to be intimate and about us and our relationship.
-We want our day to actually be OUR day with the people who are closest to us!
-The only thing I have ever wanted for my wedding day is to be in the mountains with the people we love the most.
-We just want a day for us and our people to celebrate.
-We are private people who think our wedding day should be focused on us instead of managing our families and friends. I’m a high-stress person and would love for our day to be as stress-free as possible.
-We want an unforgettable wedding day.
-I have always dreamed of having an elopement somewhere beautiful. I love being outside and have had a deep love for the outdoors since I was a little girl. I have always dreamed of my wedding day, and my dreams included an elopement with the guy I love surrounded by incredible scenery. I can not wait to elope!
Is eloping cheaper?
It certainly can be! The average cost of a traditional wedding is $44k. So unless you’re planning on spending tens of thousands on your elopement, eloping is cheaper.
How much does it cost to elope?
The answer to this question will depend greatly on the couple and what matters most to them. On average couples will spend anywhere between $5k – $25k. Couples who are deciding to elope are eliminating the traditions like a venue, bridal party, food for a big number of guest, a DJ, and their spending their money on things they care about like traveling to a destination or participating in a new activity. Although the high end of $25k might seem like a lot of money, it’s really not when you look at the average cost of a traditional wedding, being $44k. What would you rather: spend tens of thousands on a day you likely won’t remember much of, not enjoying the majority of the planning, or experiencing the day. Or would you rather take that money and spend it on an incredible experience and come out of it with your favorite story to tell?
When calculating the cost for your elopement consider these options: traveling expenses, lodging, attire, activities, vendors. Below we break down the low end of elopement pricing and the high end of eloping pricing. Please keep in mind that your elopement experience and what you want out of your day may not look ANYTHING like what we’re listing below. Get in contact with us to see our elopement packages, or to get a bespoke elopement package quote.
Most Affordable Elopement Pricing
Mini Elopement – 4 hours of photography coverage $4,000
Wedding Day Attire $100
Marriage License $30
Travel expenses $600
More Luxurious Elopement Pricing
Two Day Elopement – 24 hours of photography coverage $10,500
Travel Expenses to Destination $5,000
Hair and Make-Up for a Sunrise Elopement $1,000
Wedding Day Attire for 2 Days (including outfit changes) $3,000
Activities (Renting a 4×4 vehicle, helicopter ride, etc.) $2,000
Private Chef $1,000
Marriage License $30
Who are elopements for?
Elopements aren’t for everyone (shocking, right?!). There are absolutely people in this world who dream of having their own traditional wedding day. There are also couples who cringe at the thought of a traditional wedding day and want no part in one. The couples we work with are down-to-earth, prefer to stay away from traditions, and focus on wholesome, unique experiences without any stress or pressure. For them, the experience is more important than anything material, and they want an amazing day for themselves.