May 20, 2024

Elopement Weddings: What Are They?

Weddings are traditionally thought of as big, elaborate affairs that take months of planning, thousands of pounds and a burgeoning guest list of all your nearest, dearest and probably a few others besides. But since the early 1300s (don’t worry, this isn’t about to turn into a history lesson), another, less talked-about option, has been floating around: the elopement wedding.

Lily Allen is known to have eloped with now-husband David Harbour, Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas also swiftly tied the knot in Las Vegas right after the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, and just in the last 12 months, Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, and Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have jetted off to Las Vegas on their own to take their vows in this less traditional way.

And it’s not only Hollywood who seem taken by this different style of wedding, elopement weddings are trending across social media too, with many uploading video clips an photos from their surprise big (little) day on TikTok.

In fact, the hashtag #elopement has been viewed almost 450 million times across the video sharing app.

The question is what actually are they, and why have they become so popular?

What is an elopement wedding?

An elopement wedding has been typically thought of as running away without telling friends or family, but that definition has changed over time. Now, an elopement wedding means that you are tying the knot and celebrating with just yourselves or a small gathering in a minimal, more casual fashion.

This can take place in a registry office, a meaningful place (maybe even your back garden? ) of your choice or perhaps the world’s most famous elopement destination, Las Vegas — where drive-up or drive-by wedding chapels, Elvis-themed or otherwise, can be found peppered around the city.

Why are elopement weddings trending?

Wedding planner Kirsty Lipton believes that the rise in popularity of the elopement wedding is down to a mix of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis. “Before the pandemic, the idea of eloping was often thought of as something that was done in a sort of ‘shameful way’,» she tells me. “If you think about literary references, lovers often elope when their relationship is forbidden, or if they have disgraced themselves in some way in society. It’s not the same now though.

“The pandemic introduced us to other ways of getting married, whereas before many couples felt bound to take a more traditional route for lack of other options available,” Kirsty says. “But smaller, last-minute, non-traditional weddings became more of a norm during the various stages of covid, as couples prioritised their relationship over waiting it out for a big, expensive wedding with all their loved ones. ”

As well as this, Kirsty — who has been a wedding and events planner for over 15 years — believes that the rising cost of living has forced couples to make choices between a lifestyle and a wedding. “The cost of a wedding might well be equivalent to the deposit for a flat, and lots of young people are choosing to prioritise setting up their lives rather than splashing it on a big party,” she explains.  “Plus, people are more wary about asking friends and family to spend money on their big day. It’s not cheap to be a wedding guest, there’s the outfit, the gift, the transport to the venue and plenty more besides, and some couples just don’t feel comfortable asking that of their loved ones during such difficult financial times. ”

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