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Hochzeitswissen / Wedding KnowHow

What's the meaning of "Elopement"?

What is it and do you really need that?

If you are concerned with weddings and marriages and occasionally hang around on the Internet, you will inevitably come across the English term "elopement" at some point.

Elopement? Do you need that or can it go away? And what is that anyway?

That much is clear, if I write about it here, then Elopements will definitely have something to do with weddings. But what exactly?

Bridal couple with mountain backdrop - Adventurous Elopement in Austria
Elopement in the Zillertal (Tyrol) - Wedding photos with mountain backdrop
Wedding Ceremony without wedding guests - Adventurous Elopement in Austria
Wedding Ceremony without wedding guests
Wedding celebrant on a rope bridge - Adventurous Elopement in Austria
Wedding celebrant on a rope bridge

Let's check Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the origin of the word. For the verb “to elope” it tells us the following:


Elopement in Irland, Brautpaar am Standing Stone


\ i-ˈlōp\
eloped; eloping
(intransitive verb)

1a : to run away secretly with the intention of getting married usually without parental consent
... Waterman was a peevish child who grew into a defiant teenager, eloped at 18 largely to shock his father, and then—far too young—was a father himself.— Elizabeth Gilbert
b : to run away from one's spouse with a lover
"... when they had been married nearly seven years, and were within a few weeks of the time when the brother's death would have adjusted all, she eloped with a younger man, and left him." — Charles Dickens

2a : to slip away : escape
"... might have mistaken him for … some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield." — Washington Irving
b : to leave a health-care or educational facility without permission or authorization
"... 10 suicidal patients deemed 'high risk for suicide' eloped from the Emergency Department from October 2014 and February 2015." — Charles S. Clark
"Police in Ohio said this week that they gave a nursing home resident a ride and dropped him off at a gas station without ever knowing he was a dementia patient who had eloped."
— Kimberly Marselas

Well okay, it's more or less about running away. Sounds a bit outlawed. With whom or why exactly is apparently not so clearly defined. That's going to be interesting ...

A Wedding as an Elopement

In the wedding context, however, elopements are actually quite harmless. Elopement does mean that a wedding wedding couple has their wedding ceremony with only few guests or even no guests at all. Spoken technically, this would include a civil wedding in the neighboring town, of which the couple doesn't tell anybody. Or, of course, a wedding ceremony under the spell of a global pandemic and a ban on contact.

While this all is correct and may make some sense in certain cases, the actual idea of an Elopement is a lot nicer:

It's finally about you!

Elopement in Ireland with free wedding ceremony - bridal couple with celebrant
Elopement in Ireland with free wedding ceremony
Traditional Handfasting as individual element of the ceremony - celebrant ties couple's hands together with wedding band
Traditional Handfasting as individual element of the ceremony

Eloping - where and how?

There is only one answer to where and how with an elopement: where and how you like it. Because that's actually the core of the story. You celebrate your wedding the way you like it - without the usual expectations and obligations. You decide what is important to you. What Elopements always have in common is that the ceremony is small and intimate - and very personal.

Whether you just whisper the wedding vow to each other quietly or whether you would like to involve a celebrant, that's completely up to you.

Do you want to be all alone or do you want to have your closest friends or family with you? Go ahead!
Should that happen in the local forest, on a suspension bridge in the Austrian mountains or on a beach on the Irish west coast? It is in your hands.

Of course, you save a lot of costs without the guests and so you can treat yourself with something special. But do never forget:

An Elopement means focusing on the most important part of a wedding - your love!

So, do you need an elopement? Or should you just forget about it? Well, after what I've already written here, I can't answer this question clearly. Everyone should celebrate their wedding as they want. And I am happy every time a couple does what they like and does not give in to any constraints. The most beautiful wedding are those at which the couples do not have to pretend anything and can just be themselves.

Elopements and wedding photography - a dream team

Of course, if you're eloping you decide whether you want to have a wedding photographer with you when eloping or not. But Elopements often offer unique motifs for your wedding photos. So it can be worthwhile to have your day recorded professionally - of course with the necessary restraint and respect for your togetherness.

So if you should decide for an elopment and if you opt to go with a wedding photographer, let me know!

Elopement in Irland - Brautpaar nur mit Eltern, Trauredner und Fotograf
Trauung in intimer Runde

Last but not least, a Disclaimer

I am not objective. I love elopements. Sorry. My own wedding took place on a lonely lake in Connemara Ireland. There was only a small group of confidants and our dog. And I would do it the same way over and over again.

If you also feel like an elopement, get in touch and tell me about your ideas!
For example if you are looking for a wedding photographer in Ireland - but of course wherever else you go. It is your wedding and you are making the rules. I would be happy to be there with you!

Elopement in Ireland with Saja Seus, Dirk Weber and Hugo the dog
Our own elopement in Connemara - with dog of course
(c) John Gillooley
Adventurous Elopement in the Zillertal with wedding ceremony on a rope-bridge with glacier and reservoir in the background
Elopement in the Zillertal with wedding ceremony on a rope-bridge with glacier and reservoir in the background

#elopementtime #yourweddingyourrules #celebrateasyoulike