Here you'll find actual elopements to inspire your own and resources to help you through the planning process. 

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About Venturing Vows

Actual Elopements

How to elope

About Venturing Vows

How to Elope

April 15, 2023

Everything You Need to Know About Eloping – Oregon Coast Elopement Photographer

All the information you need about eloping from what is an elopement to where can you elope to can you invite guests and so much more.

Oregon Coast elopement

Eloping has become a cool trendy word floating around the wedding industry. We’re also seeing new definitions coming up like minomies, micro-weddings, intimate weddings, and endless others. What even is eloping and since when did it move on from being secretive and shameful?

We have a new contender entering the wedding game: eloping. Eloping is an old concept that’s gotten a significant facelift in recent years. It’s been taking the wedding industry by storm, and for good reason too. Modern weddings often feel like they are about everyone but the people getting married. Elopements bring the focus of a wedding back to where it belongs: the couple. This progress appears to be accelerated as couples have to look into alternatives to getting married with large groups. 

Maybe this new version of elopements is new to you. Maybe you keep hearing about them but still don’t really get what they’re about. Maybe you’re just here because your carefully planned day has been upended. I want to use this as a chance to explain what eloping is and why it should be considered even beyond circumstances such as these.

I want to start off with how I personally define eloping:

Eloping focuses on the couple, their connection, and celebrating in a way that’s best for them. It disregards societal perceptions of weddings and only focuses on what the couple wants to do on their day with only the people they truly want present. All these new phrases and definitions coming along sum up to couples taking back their wedding days and defining them however they want.

Questions Covered in this Blog:

What is an elopement?

What’s the difference between a traditional wedding and an elopement?

Why are people deciding to elope instead of a traditional wedding?

Am I missing out if I elope instead of a traditional wedding?

Can I have guests at an elopement?

Why are there so few guests at elopements?

What do you do to fill the day when you elope?

Where can I elope?

How do you plan an elopement?

What is an elopement?

Redwood National Park elopement

I think this is a common question because its ambiguity is kinda the point. There’s no certain way to elope; you have total freedom and control over your special day. This concept stems from the fact eloping is customizing your wedding day to you and no one else. To elope is to pick what you want for your day above all else. You can’t find your perfect day on Pinterest? Then create a brand new version of an elopement that’s just for you. 

Generally speaking, elopements will have less than 20 guests and more personal elements incorporated. Sometimes those elements are similar to traditional weddings. Sometimes there’s not a single part of the day that resembles a typical wedding. The goal of eloping is to focus on what you want rather than conforming to a definition.

Want to see some real life elopements? Check out these blogs for full elopement stories!

Secret Beach Elopement in Brookings, OR

Oregon Coast Elopement

Olympic National Park Elopement

What’s the difference between an elopement and traditional wedding?

Oregon Coast elopement

The first thing you’ll notice is likely the guest count. There’s far fewer people which means the guest list is far more intentional. More on that later in this blog!

The second, the venue is likely going to look different. Elopements are less confined to wedding specific venues. Often, elopements are on public lands in places like national or state parks. They still can occur at more typical wedding venues but the lack of a crowd creates a lot more options for your venue.

The last thing is the layout of the day. There can be a wide range of events at an elopement where usually you have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen at a traditional wedding. Some elopements have a timeline very similar to a traditional wedding. There can be first dances, parents walking down the aisle, cake, a catered meal, and any other element of a traditional wedding. You’re also likely to see deviations from the usual. There may be a ceremony and nothing else is traditional. It may just be an awesome day of adventuring and love with no resemblance of a traditional wedding.

Why are people deciding to elope over a traditional wedding?

Oregon Coast elopement

There are so many reasons why eloping is becoming more popular. Most weddings are more about the guest experience than the couple themselves. Not that there is anything wrong with a traditional wedding! It’s a worthy investment if that’s truly the wedding you want, but there are many for whom that isn’t ideal. Eloping allows you to completely cater your day to you. 

Eloping is an especially good option for introverts or those who want to refocus their day on their relationship. Weddings can feel very restrictive to some couples and eloping frees them to make choices for themselves. 

While eloping isn’t necessarily the “cheap” option, it’s generally lower cost than a traditional wedding. Between a traditional venue, catering, etc., couples often pay far less for an elopement even when investing in their dream photographer, flying/traveling to their destination, and all other expenses.

Am I missing out if I elope instead of a big wedding?

Oregon Coast elopement

Most definitely not. If anything, your day is more complete. Rather than going through the motions and arbitrary traditions, you only do what matters to you. You get to 100% customize your day so each part is important and significant for you. You deserve the wedding of your dreams and if you get that, you can disregard what everyone else says.

I’ve photographed a LOT of elopements and I haven’t had a single person tell me they regret eloping. On the contrary, they gush about how glad they are that they eloped. I have had a lot of conversations about my job that lead to folks telling me how much they regret their traditional wedding.

If you need more reasons to elope (and some reassurance), check out this blog with 10 reasons to elope.

Can I have guests at an elopement?

Oregon Coast elopement in Oceanside, OR

Because eloping has a past reputation as a shameful way to get married, it’s often thought that you have to elope alone. Eloping alone is still a great option but you can also invite people. One of the goals of elopements with guests is to only invite people you truly want there. I often draw on my own experience eloping for examples. My husband and I are very close to our families and couldn’t elope without them present. It was a no-brainer to invite them. Just because you’re close with family also doesn’t mean you need to invite them. There’s lots of ways to include your family that don’t require their physical presence (think letters and video chat!). This eliminates the obligation to invite those you don’t actually want in attendance.

Check out this blog for information on how to include your loved ones in your elopement! This covers options both where they’re physically with you and ways for them to “join” from afar.

Why are there so few guests at elopements?

Oregon Coast elopement

Beyond the point mentioned above about inviting only guests of significance, there’s more to limiting the number of guests at an elopement. By keeping your group small, you keep the focus on the couple. Once there’s a bunch of people there, there’s more of a focus on taking care of the guests and being a good host. Limiting the number of guests allows you to keep the focus on what you want. 

When it comes to “uninviting” people to your elopement (often because they assume they have an invite by default), this blog is all about how to break the news. It even includes a sample script!

What do you do to fill the day when you elope?

Idaho kayaking elopement

Another common misconception about elopements is that it has to be just a ceremony and nothing else. Your elopement is just as much of a wedding day as a traditional wedding, and can be just as long. Eloping frees you from the obligation of traditional wedding events, but it doesn’t eliminate those options. Eloping opens up lots of options for what you can do, and you can pick events according to what’s important to you. 

For me, it was it was important to make sure I got to go hiking. I hiked before and after my ceremony. We had a pretty traditional wedding ceremony and had a family dinner together afterwards. There was no schedule after that and we simply enjoyed time together as a family. For us, that’s what mattered. Celebrating our commitment with each other and those who matter most to us. We could’ve kayaked, went to our favorite restaurant, had a picnic, or simply enjoyed each other’s company. Think about what you love doing with your significant other and try to incorporate that into your day. 

Check out this blog for more on how to schedule a full day elopement.

Where can I elope?

Oregon Coast elopement

Literally anywhere (provided you get proper permits and permissions). I personally focus on adventure elopements that involve some aspect of nature since that’s what I’m most passionate about. I’ve also seen stunning elopements in the bustle of New York City, the mountains of Patagonia, and even simple ceremonies in backyards. The common theme of elopements is customizing for what you want. You have the freedom to pick a place that has significance to you. 

I’m based in the Pacific Northwest so I’m a bit biased when I say it’s an amazing place to elope. This blog breaks down the top locations to elope in the Pacific Northwest and compares them side-by-side to help you find the best place for you.

How do you plan an elopement?

Oregon Coast elopement photographer - Venturing Vows

It’s exciting to have all these options until it comes down to actually planning the elopement. If anything is an option, where do you even start?! Simply think about what you enjoy doing as a couple. Try to craft your perfect day and add any wedding elements that are important to you. 

This blog will tell you how to elope in Oregon specifically.

This blog covers how to plan your Oregon Coast elopement.

And this blog covers how to elope in Olympic National Park (one of the best national parks ever).

A bonus tip: hire an elopement specific photographer. Just about every full time elopement photographer (including myself) I know fully plans on helping you pick your location, plan your timeline, and guide you through this whole process. If you feel stuck, find a great photographer who clearly demonstrates they can guide you through this process to your dream elopement. 

Check out these other resources to learn more about eloping!

How to Schedule a Full Day Elopement

Switching Your Traditional Wedding to an Elopement

Best Places to Elope in the Pacific Northwest