Elopement might be the solution to your wedding plans which were ruined by the current state of the world.
Elopement is not what you think it is and is a wonderful option for those looking for a more personal experience in their wedding.
I started to write this blog post last summer, but kept getting side tracked with other projects and ideas. Right now with the current state of the world being in lock down and many people having to reschedule their weddings which they have already invested quite a bit of money into, I think it is a good time to address this subject. The solution to having to cancel elaborate weddings might be smaller, much more personable weddings, otherwise known as elopements. Elopement is not what you think it is and is a wonderful option for those looking for a more personal experience in their wedding.
By no means am I an expert in the subject of elopement photography. What I am is an experienced portrait and event photographer who has recently taken an interest in elopement photography because it often includes two things which I completely love: adventure in the outdoors and photography.
Growing up the word elopement was considered a negative thing and something that was often said with hushed tones, under ones breath and not something that was looked highly upon. The term conjured up ideas of couples hastily running away to Las Vegas on the spur of the moment and getting married in a wedding chapel, only to regret the decision years later and ultimately end in a divorce. Even the thought of getting married by a Justice of the Peace was frowned upon as the only proper way to marry was to have a large traditional wedding that would cost as much as your car and which would be over with in a few hours. Thankfully, times have changed.
There is a growing trend among couples to chose the route of an intimate elopement wedding instead of the traditional route of a large wedding, but for very different reasons than one might think. The immediate thought that might come to mind when a person thinks of a couple eloping is the cost. However, in a survey done by elopement photographers who are highly experienced in the area, cost was actually quite low on the top ten list for reasons to elope! On the contrary, many of the couples who elope are not only willing to spend money on their wedding, but they often go to great expense to make sure their wedding day is amazing and that they get amazing photographs of their experience!
Before I get in to the reasons why couples elope, and why this may be a good idea for any couple that is engaged to seriously consider, let me overcome one major objection that I can already hear some of my friends and family thinking: religion. If you are Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic or any other of a number of religions, your religion requires you to be married in a religious ceremony which is officiated by your priest/minister/holy man, etc. This can not be denied. However, what your faith does not require is a large elaborate ceremony! For both of my marriages the priest made it clear that the wedding service did not need to be elaborate or with a
bunch of guests present. The elaborate trappings of the wedding service were all the doing of my fiancee and I. A religious service can be very simple and done without much cost or planning at all. The rest of what you see go on during the traditional church wedding is all the doing of the bride and groom! The photo to the left was an intimate Hindu wedding which I photographed which had a total of 10 people present, and this included me doing photography and the videographer! From talking to the bride and groom before the service, I know as a fact the wedding did not take months to plan and the couple did not spend a large sum on the wedding. I have good news for you! If you are of a religious faith which requires you and your fiance to be married by the religion, you can do that in a small, private ceremony and still plan the type of elopement which has become very popular among many of today’s couples!
Why do today’s couples choose to elope? For an in depth discussion of the reasons to elope, I suggest reading the blog post on adventureinstead.com which has a top 10 list they created based upon a survey they did of over 200 couples who eloped. Before we discuss the reasons for elopement, first we need to define what it means. Quoting adventureinstead.com, since they put it so eloquently: “AN ELOPEMENT IS AN INTENTIONALLY SMALL, INTIMATE, MEANINGFUL, AND AUTHENTIC WEDDING EXPERIENCE THAT IS A TRUE REFLECTION OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP WHERE THE FOCUS OF THE DAY IS REALLY ABOUT YOU TWO.”
I want to preface my discussion with the statement that I have NOTHING against large traditional weddings. I enjoy photographing weddings and events. IF that is your thing, then so be it! However, I see so many things about the planning and execution of large traditional weddings which help me to understand exactly why many couples do not chose to go that route!
The first reason comes from my own experience, having been married twice: all of the planning of the event is either to live up to perceived expectations or for the benefit of the guests. I see so many posts by future brides asking: does x need to be done at x time even if I do not want to? What song do I need to have for what dance? Do I need to invite X to my wedding even if they have not spoken to me in so many years. Etc! Almost everything is about the perceived expectations of the guests and what the bride and groom THINK must be done. My response to these questions when I do answer is always the same: you do what you want to do and unless someone is paying for a large portion of your wedding, their opinion does not matter! With a few small exceptions, I do not remember the details of either of my wedding receptions because my wife and I were too busy doing the wedding things: the first dance, the cutting of the cake, walking around saying hi to the guests (each of whom we might have had a half minute to say hi to), etc. Most of what goes on at a wedding reception is all about the guests seeing the couple do things that are expected of them instead of the couple doing what they want to do. The number one reason on the survey hints at this when it says the couple wants a “just us experience.” The number two reason flows right in line with this: the couple wants authenticity.
Another related issue with elaborate wedding receptions is the amount of material stuff that is bought to decorate the reception, things which are useful for one day only. On the local wedding planning site which I frequent I can’t tell you how many posts I see selling all of the “stuff” that is accumulated for a wedding and is no longer needed after the wedding is done. All of this stuff is very expensive and is used for one day only! This is why elopements are attractive to many young couples. It is not that they do not want to spend the money on their wedding, it is that they want to spend the money on an experience that actually matters to them and which is enjoyable. Instead of spending a small fortune on the “stuff” of a wedding, they chose to spend their money on what matters: a personal, intimate day together which they will enjoy.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my essay, I am seeing quite a few people have to cancel their large elaborate weddings which they have been planning for a year or two due to the current state of the world being in lock down. The solution for many of these couples might be a smaller, more intimate elopement wedding on or near their original date. Then if they later want to have a larger vowel renewal ceremony with family and friends once the world stabilizes they can plan that as well.
For those whose wedding plans have been forced to change due to the current state of the world, you have my sympathies. You have invested much time and energy into planning your event only to have uncontrollable circumstances change those plans. If I can be of any assistance to you in helping you with your photography needs for either large elaborate weddings or a smaller, more intimate elopement please feel free to reach out to me at www.michaelgoltzphotography.com