We’ve seen it in romcoms many times. The harried bride-to-be, frantically trying to finish up a seating chart for 300 people, keeping in mind that you can’t put crazy Aunt Clara anywhere near Uncle Douglas and your cousin Staci is coming solo but she’ll literally kill you if you put her at a “singles table” and your best friend is mad at you because your mom made you ask your sister to be your maid of honor and the napkins don’t quite match the plates and what do hydrangeas even look like and…sheer panic.
“We should just elope!”
That doesn’t happen in real life though, right? Real couples don’t just decide to go to Vegas and get married by an Elvis impersonator in a drive-thru chapel, do they? Yes, they certainly do!
Lots of little girls (and some boys!) dream of the perfect wedding. By the age of 10, they essentially know what type of dress they want, what kind of flowers and whether it will be at a church or on the beach at sunrise. An elopement would mean giving up those dreams…or does it?
Why a Traditional Wedding is the Best Thing Ever
For many couples, the traditional wedding is the only viable option. Family and friends often play a big role in pushing (overtly or subtly) for that beautiful white wedding.
A chapel decked out in Forget-Me-Nots and Lillies fills up promptly with hundreds of guests. Adorable twins march to the front of the church, the ring bearer proudly holding his pillow and the flower girl carefully dropping petals as she goes. Four beaming bridesmaids strut down the aisle in gorgeous matching gowns. Friends and family rise in anticipation with the first few chords of The Wedding March and a collective “aahhhhhhh” sighs through the room as the bride steps into view. The groom’s face lights up while watching his beloved walk toward him. Her father kisses her cheek and steps away before his tears overflow. Perfect music, eloquent vows, and the promise of a lifetime of bliss make this the ideal ceremony.
After a brief interlude consisting of thousands of pictures being taken, it’s party time! An elegant meal, open bar and the perfect mix of mainstream pop and golden oldies set the tone for an evening to remember. Everyone leaves with the thought in their mind that they were just in the presence of true love. This is obviously the only way to get married.
Unless it Absolutely Isn’t
On the other hand, there is the ever-growing population of couples who just don’t want to do it that way. The connotation of elopement is vastly different now than it was years ago. It’s no longer always, or even usually, a matter of wanting to get married secretly so no one (ie, parents) can stop the couple.
The old-fashioned idea of elopement tends to be that of a couple sneaking off in the middle of the night or running to the courthouse. The notion is that it lacks romance and is something a couple will later regret. What a lot of people don’t know is that an elopement can be planned and there can be guests invited as well!
Opting out of the traditional wedding no longer means that your union will be devoid of personality or that the couple will not have the support of their family and friends. You can elope to Hawaii or invite your parents to a meeting with an officiant in a park. There is no reason why you can’t wear the most beautiful floor length gown to the courthouse or jean shorts to the cathedral.
There are just as many reasons people choose to elope as there are for deciding to go the conventional route. Anxiety at the thought of being the center of attention is a very common reason couples decide to run away and marry in secret. The cost of a traditional wedding plays a large part in the decision for many people. There’s also the excitement factor in doing something unconventional, especially pertaining to such an important part of your life.
Photography – Jo Donaldson Photography
Photography by Jose Villa
Which is Right for You?
Like most things, deciding on a church wedding or a spur of the moment bungee jumping marriage ceremony is a personal decision. If you’re terrified that you’ll have a wardrobe malfunction in front of everyone you know, you may not want a huge wedding. If you’ve dreamed for years of flipping back a long, pearled veil at the altar to kiss your husband for the very first time, the courthouse might not be the best choice. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you and your partner are both happy with the verdict. You don’t want your first married fight to be about how/where/when you got married!
Elopement announcement card: Love at every sight on etsy
Do you have a dream wedding planned in your head or does the thought drench you in a cold sweat? Have you ever been at a dream wedding that turned into a nightmare? Have you or any of your friends chosen to elope? I’d love to hear your stories!