The Different Styles of Eloping

There are options available if a traditional wedding isn't your style.

Though there is nothing wrong with a large wedding and a fun party that goes into the night, the popularity of making one’s nuptials as personal as possible means that more intimate celebrations are the right choice for many couples. Sometimes this simply means a traditional wedding with a smaller guest list, but elopements are also a great option for lovebirds. It can be viewed as a particularly romantic idea, not to mention it saves a lot of stress from wedding planning! Decades ago, eloping was usually something done when the pair of sweethearts were met with disapproval from their parents – perhaps due to age or cultural reasons. Now, however, it can simply be a preference. As a result, the term has evolved over the years and eloping can mean different things to different couples. If you’re considering an elopement yourself, read on to find out which is the right style for you. 

different types of elopement, should you elope?
Photo by Maya Myers Photography

The classic version of an elopement is the two of you going to city hall or a local courthouse. Some city hall buildings, such as the one in San Francisco, are truly stunning; so don’t feel like you have to sacrifice aesthetics when going for this route. How dressed up you get is really up to the two of you, as is really the case for any wedding. This is generally the best option for truly spontaneous elopements, but keep in mind the legality of waking up in the morning and deciding to get married that afternoon varies by state. Check your local laws first, but you can always book a flight to Las Vegas! However, you can certainly have a courthouse vow exchange planned as far in advance as you’d like. 

Destination elopements are an increasingly popular way to tie the knot. Many resorts have elopement packages, but you can still usually have an officiant in a beautiful spot with just the two of you. With stunning scenery, there is no reason to skip out on photography, and your loved ones may feel better about your decision if you have a plethora of pictures to show them. Plus, the photographer can act as your witness, should you be required to have one besides your officiant. 

Sometimes people can’t bear to exchange vows without those closest to them, but they still desire the no-fuss approach to wedding planning. Inviting your immediate family or even a few of your closest friends may have some quibbling that it is a small wedding, rather than an elopement. However, you can still go this route if it’s right for you, and may even notify everyone at the last minute – providing more of an elopement vibe. 

Discover five tips for hosting a reception after you've eloped, learn more about pop-up weddings, and take a look at this beautiful destination elopement

Authored by: Emily Lasnier