The term “eloping” has taken on a new meaning in modern years, and certainly even more so since 2020. More and more couples are turning to eloping as an alternative to a traditional ceremony and reception. If you are getting married in 2021 or the years to follow, eloping can be a great option for your wedding. But what does elopement really mean? Let’s dive in.

The meaning of elopement

For most couples, the concept of eloping has evolved a bit from its original definition. Historically, eloping meant to “run off secretly to be married, usually without the consent or knowledge of one’s parents.” However, the modern “elopement” has become more congruent with other terms that have increased in popularity since the start of the pandemic. (“Microwedding” and “minimony”, anyone??)

Eloping can still be just the two of you of course. But nowadays, elopements are most likely at the very least done with the knowledge of parents 😉

What is eloping for modern couples?

For the couples of today, eloping can take on a variety of different forms. Sometimes, this means a small beachside exchange of vows with just the bride and groom. Often, this is followed up with future plans of a reception on the one year anniversary. Other times, the elopement can include a handful of close family and friends in a park. Typically, this moves into and dinner reservations afterwards a favorite restaurant or backyard patio. In all cases, there is a lot of flexibility, based on what the idea of eloping means to you.

eloping couple standing between spraying fountain jets

Why consider an elopement?

A large wedding can be a beautiful occasion. However, there are many reasons to elope or have a small wedding. For example, taking charge of your day by scaling it back brings a certain amount of freedom. It allows an intimacy that isn’t always obtainable with a larger wedding. Many couples cite wanting to keep the day feeling more authentic as their main inspiration for staying small.

Guest Count

In some instances, a big wedding party can be a lot of fun. However, having fewer guests refocuses the attention. One of the main reasons to elope is that it centers the day uniquely around you as a couple. It creates a clearer view of the reason you’re getting married to begin with. This is true whether it’s just the two of you or you include your immediate family and closest friends. With a small wedding, the entire day is focused on the love you share and the very important step you are taking together.

When the guest list goes up, so does the list of responsibilities to said guests. Suddenly you are considering menus, types of music, and travel plans for out of towners. Eloping avoids all this and lets you build the day around your own ideas and priorities.

eloping couple smiling under decorative umbrellas

Low Stress

Other couples opt for eloping or having a small wedding to eliminate the stress of planning a wedding. This is because putting together any large scale event involves a lot of decision making and deadlines. Also, it is a significant time commitment. Then, factor in the opinions (sometimes solicited, sometimes not!) that come from family and well-meaning friends. Mix in the financial implications, travel coordination, and it starts to snowball. Suddenly, the scale of the day can grow very quickly. A “simple” traditional wedding is no longer so simple.

A good reason to elope is that it involves fewer people. As such, tricky decisions are often easier to make, or even eliminated altogether. For example, there is no complex reception seating chart to plan. No block of rooms to arrange with a hotel. And no guest list management to decide who to include. Instead, the end result is a low key day that makes the two of you happy.

eloping couple at San Diego social distance backyard wedding

The eloping experience

Many couples actually prefer the experience of an elopement or small wedding, and the freedom it allows. For example, a destination elopement brings an array of options as vast as the planet. If you want, you can get married with your toes in the sand at sunset. Or, you can tie the knot in a national park at sunrise. Or, you can start your lives together in a remote quaint town. Whatever your version is of an epic adventure, we say go for it!

Your elopement experience might just consist of the two of you, an officiant, and your photographer. To note, your photographer can also double as your witness for the marriage license. Alternatively, you may want to involve your immediate families and a few of your closest friends in some way. If they are empowered to play a role, it can add to the celebratory feel, while still keeping it simple.

Having an adventurous elopement or small wedding can allow you to really embrace your personalities. It creates a truly unique story around one of the most significant days of your lives.

eloping bride popping champagne top at harbor

Practical reasons to elope or have a small wedding

Of course, there are also practical reasons for having a scaled-back wedding. Starting a year ago, the biggest biggest practical reason is everything that is going on in the world. Life currently holds a certain level of uncertainty. Because of this, many couples have decided to re-envision their wedding. We think that’s a beautiful thing! A simple exchange of vows at your local courthouse is still a joyous occasion 🙂 From there, the celebration can be marked with photos and video, and then perhaps a nice dinner with a champagne toast. And wait – don’t forget the cake! 😉

Options outside the courthouse

An elopement doesn’t have to be limited to the courthouse. Do you like the idea of keeping it small and close, but still want your day to be unique? Consider an intimate exchange of vows in a hot air balloon, flying high with the Pacific Ocean in the background. Or on a sailing yacht cruising around San Diego Harbor with unparalleled views of the skyline. Or, get married in the very spot where the two of you became engaged. Then, celebrate your elopement afterwards with drinks where you had your first date. This will add extra sentimentality to your day.

Another nostalgic option is tying the knot at your alma mater, on the campus where you met. We encourage you to think outside the box, and make the day your own!

eloping dramatic photo with couple in standing window frame

Eloping may be the right choice for you

Chances are if a huge celebration with your family and friends has been a dream of yours, you may not have considered an elopement or small wedding. But to quote a bride of ours from this past year: “I never knew a microwedding was exactly what I wanted until I had it!” Whichever your flavor of elopement or whatever your reason for having a small wedding, creating a new way forward for your wedding day can be a lovely way to start the rest of your lives together in San Diego.