What is an Elopement? | What Does it Mean to Elope in 2021

What is an Elopement? | What it means to elope in 2020 | Modern-day elopement meaning

What does it mean to elope in 2020

What is an elopement?

Sooooo many questions arise as couples start to navigate the unpaved path of an alternative wedding day. What is an elopement? Is eloping selfish? Can I invite anyone?

What does it mean to elope in 2020?

Don’t worry, it’s super common to not understand what a modern-day elopement really is or what one could look like for you! That’s why I’m giving you the lowdown on what all this elopement talk is truly about! Let’s dive in and start with your biggest question: What is an elopement?

Elopement Ceremony vows at Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, CA

What is an Elopement?

An elopement is just a different style of wedding where you pay close attention to who you genuinely want present and what you actually want to do with your life-altering day. An elopement could just be you two, include a few of your closest family or friends, or be a small affair with up to about 25 people (often referred to as an intimate wedding). You can hike, you can go to a brewery, you can swim in the ocean, you can really do whatever you want –the ONLY thing you have to do is get married! 

While eloping may at one time have had a negative connotation, the practice is now widely accepted as a wonderful and freeing experience — the kind of experience that couples who had a big wedding often wish they had chosen instead. Small weddings like this produce significantly less stress, give you the freedom to be your true selves, and ease your impact on the planet.

Elopement couple kissing in the forest of Yosemite National Park

Some common misconceptions

Is Eloping selfish?

Oh, this is a big one.

Is it selfish to elope without your family? Is it selfish to ask your friends to spend hundreds of dollars on travel and on a dress they’ll never wear again? Is it selfish to invite 300 guests to your wedding, knowing you won’t be able to even come say “hi” during that busy day? Is it selfish of your friends and family to insist on making decisions about your wedding day?

Some would say the answer is YES to all of them. No matter what you do in life, someone could tell you it’s selfish.

So, you know what? You just have to do what’s right for you!

Are elopements shameful or done in secret? Do you have to be alone in Vegas?

Nope, nope and nope!

Modern-day elopements are intentional choices made by a couple to enhance their wedding experience. An elopement brings out the true essence of a wedding and what’s really important — committing yourselves to one another for life. It implies nothing else! Couples can choose to share their plans or not, involve their family that day or not, and can pick any location that speaks to them.

Do you elope when you need to get married quickly or cheaply? Do they not care about their wedding?

Not the case all the time.

While some couples may choose to elope for these reasons, many do not! In my experience, couples plan their elopements between 3-16 months in advance (although I’ve also been a part of many under 2 weeks!) The length of time a couple chooses to plan their elopement does not indicate how much they care about their wedding. They are simply doing what is right for them and realistically looking at the time it would take to plan their best day ever (which is significantly easier to plan over a traditional wedding!)

Similarly, while couples will likely save money, it is usually not their main reason for eloping, but rather, a nice perk! Eloping couples are often highly invested in creating epic and personalized experiences for their wedding day.

Elopement couple Yosemite National Park

Some example elopement days:

Now that you’ve got your main question “What is an elopement?” answered, let’s look at what an elopement day can look like for YOU! I’ve listed a few sample elopement days below, but keep in mind that yours will be based on what you like to do together and which location fits your vision. I’d be happy to put together something magical for you!


a beachy adventure elopement

  • Surf together at sunrise or do a little yoga on the beach.
  • Help each other get ready at an Airbnb that gives you all the heart-eyes.
  • Grab tacos. because, duh.
  • Hand in hand, hike the beautiful trail your photographer picked out for you overlooking a rocky coastline. Stop every once in a while to take in the gorgeousness.
  • When you find a spot that just feels right, start your ceremony. It’s just the two of you amongst these stunning scenes, so let the emotions flow and really speak from the heart, unfiltered.
  • Pop a bottle of bubbly!
  • Dance in the light of the setting sun.
  • Get amazing, natural photos of the two of you to remember this absolutely incredible day and have a whole lotta fun while you’re at it!
  • Hike back out at dusk and head to the Airbnb where a private chef and dessert are waiting for you!


a mountain intimate wedding

  • Sleep in a little (hello, stress-free day!)
  • Join a small group of your closest family and friends for a brunch overlooking a beautiful mountain view.
  • Retreat to your rooms to get ready for the day and put on that dreamy boho gown you picked out for yourself months ago.
  • Walk along the lake to your ceremony site, where your fiancé and all your loved ones await you with a stunning mountain jutting up behind them.
  • Immerse yourself into one of the most unique, casual, and thoughtful ceremonies you’ve ever seen. Enjoy what each guest brings to this time because, with small groups, you can involve everyone.
  • Have a big group hug to celebrate (because they are the best).
  • Part ways to take a little joy ride as a freshly married couple. Stop for photos at all the most amazing spots! Have no direction in mind, just cruise and enjoy the sun setting over the mountains.
  • Meet back up for a candlelit dinner and toast over the magic of the day!


a boho desert elopement

  • Rent a vintage VW bus and head out to Joshua Tree National Park with your best man and maid of honor.
  • Camp under the stars.
  • Get ready on either side of the van (no peeking!!)
  • Have a big reveal (first look!) under an ancient Joshua Tree and let this moment with the love of your life last as long as possible. We are in no rush here.
  • Go out for vegan ice cream (because dessert should always come first on your wedding day!)
  • Adventure around the whole park, climbing rocks, following different trails, and stopping for a picnic in the van.
  • Enjoy the desert scene change as the sun sets over the land, creating a warm glow.
  • Put down a vintage rug and have your impromptu ceremony barefoot surrounded by all the wild cacti, your best buds, and the sun setting behind you.
  • End the night at a dance club and let the rest of the night take you where it might!
VW bus wedding pictures

So, to answer that big ole question…

What does it mean to elope in 2020?

Eloping might mean a lot of things.

It could mean you two care about your privacy, intentionality, and spending quality time with those you bring along. It could mean you both care about the earth and your impact on it. It could mean you enjoy the beauty of nature and being spontaneous.

But ultimately, it means you are brave enough to go against the grain and follow your heart. ❤️

Does this resonate with you? Does an elopement sound like the best fit for you and your fiance?

If so, contact me via the pink box below and tell me about your dream day!!

What is an elopement? | What does it mean to elope in 2020? | couple reading vows in Yosemite National Park

Interested in hearing more about elopements?
Check out:

5 Secret Benefits of Eloping

How to Elope in California

Top 20 Best Places to Elope in CA

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