What Does “Elope” Mean? The Modern Definition.


If that’s the only thing you get from reading this blog post, that’ll be okay.

Elopements have a real Public Relations problem.

For years, eloping carried the stigma of shame, of being cheap or tacky. Couples who eloped were thought to either be too broke for a traditional wedding or be hiding from something — they must be ashamed, or others must be ashamed of them.

And then in recent years, there has been an explosion of high-dollar destination elopements seemingly reserved for the rich and sexy. Celebrities jet off to Iceland, or some white sand beach or mountain ski resort for an intimate, Instagram-worthy ceremony. Suddenly, eloping is glamorous, perhaps too glamorous for you.

Caught between two extremes, no one is really sure if eloping is really an option for them.

Let me just clear this up right quick. Eloping is an option for you.

You deserve to have a wedding day that makes you feel alive, and loved, and seen.

A day that is centered around you and your partner and the awesome commitment you’re making to one another. You deserve a wedding that is authentic to who you really are.

One thing I realized during my time photographing bigger, traditional weddings is that that feeling of really being seen and valued can be hard to come by in a room with 100+ other people.

The truth of the matter is that those big celebrations are ultimately about the experience of the guests and not the experience of the couple getting married.

It broke my heart how many times I heard couples say, “We just can’t wait for this all to be over.”

My goal is to help you change that to, “We never want today to end.”

Okay, so what does it even mean to elope, other than just not having a big wedding?

my definition of elope

To elope is to escape — to escape from the expectations and pressure to celebrate your wedding day in any way that isn’t entirely authentic to who you are.

To escape from going into debt as the average cost of weddings continues to climb.

To escape from those feelings of guilt or obligation.

To elope is to have an intimate, intentional, fearless, and affirming wedding day experience.

Some might call that an “intimate wedding” or a “micro wedding”. I’m more attached to the experience than I am to what you call it.

At the end of the day, it’s about giving yourself permission to do things your own way.

Are you interested in eloping in Virginia? Check out this step-by-step guide.

Worried that you’ll regret the decision to elope? Here’s the research on the subject.

Should You Elope?

Meet The Author

Leah is an elopement photographer based in Richmond, Virginia. Her goal is to help couples shake off all the pressure and expectations and celebrate their wedding day in a way that is authentic to who they are and what they value.

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  1. I absolutely love your description of an elopement. It sounds like it would be the perfect fit for anyone that wants something different than a traditional wedding! Thanks for sharing this awesome perspective!

  2. Genessa Jakab says:

    100% agree with you. Eloping isn’t a shameful way to get married, it’s the most authentic way! Love your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Genessa Jakab says:

    100% agree with you. Eloping isn’t a shameful way to marry, it’s the most authentic way to! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Mathilde Hennighausen says:

    What a great post! And yes, eloping is all about having a fantastic experience. I love that you separate that concept from the actual terminology used.

  5. Kostas Petsas says:

    Yes! Elopements are the most personalized and tailor made ceremonies where the couple can focus in what matters the most: their relationship, their story and their connection. Great post and valuable informations for the couples here. Well done

  6. Shanmari Shehaj says:

    Love the definition you have for eloping! It truly is about the couple and about the experience they have and the memories they make. Great post!

  7. This is short & sweet, and literally a perfect way to talk about elopements. I am so happy more people are realizing the old definition doesn’t have much meaning anymore when it comes to elopements now!

  8. I hear this question all the time whats the difference between an elopement and a small wedding. Thanks for educating.

  9. This was short and sweet and really well written. Elopements really are the best way to get married!

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