Busting Elopement Myths in 2024

You’ve probably heard a lot of stuff about elopements, whether from your mates, colleagues, or even Tik Tok. Elopements are not a new thing by any stretch, but they feel new. Why is this? Well, while what an elopement is at its core hasn’t changed, what it is as an experience has drastically evolved in recent years. Unlike traditional weddings which we see on TV, in movies, and have probably attended a bunch personally. Many people have never seen an elopement. This is where you get a bunch of elopement myths that creep in and confuse people as to exactly what is going on.

Some of the most common questions I get are things like “is eloping selfish?” or “Is eloping bad?” Inevitably people will tell me “I’m planning to elope because my parents will try to hijack my wedding…am I being inconsiderate?”

So let me set the record straight for you, and bust some of the most typical elopement myths floating about in 2024.

Elopement Myth #1 – You can’t have any guests

This is wildly untrue. But before I go into it, let’s back up and see where this myth comes from. The earliest ever recorded elopement was all the way back in 1338, and the term was designated to refer to a woman who ‘ran away from her husband with her lover’. As a result, I’m sure you can guess why there were no guests, right? Fast forward to the 1930’s and elopements were becoming more popular due to poverty. In order to keep costs down, guests were not invited, makes sense, yes?

Since Instagram has been around, people have been sharing only the coolest and most epic photos, for obvious reasons. You’ll never see the elopement pic of someone getting hitched in their backyard with their family present. You won’t see the shot of the couple at the courthouse with a couple mates. What you will see, is the couple on their own, having flown to a cave in Iceland, getting hitched behind an ice waterfall! Just know that this is not the standard, as much as we love this kind of stuff.

I would say 70% of elopements would have some guests. And contrary to popular opinion, elopements don’t have to be under 5 guests, or under 10 guests. The best way to look at it is, if I invite 20 guests, will the focus be shifting from us as a couple to our guests? If the answer is yes, it’s now a traditional wedding, not an elopement. The whole purpose of the modern elopement is that the focus is solely on the couple, it is intimate and authentic. You don’t have to make any compromises on an elopement day.

But if you were wondering, I don’t often see elopements with more than 15 guests. If you are wanting to know how to include guests in your elopement, I’ve got a step by step guide that will show you how! But if you’re wondering if choosing to elope is selfish, then just know, it absolutely is not. I’ve even got a guide of how to have a full day elopement without guests, so check that out!

Myth about eloping #2 – It has to be an adventure

This elopement myth comes off the back of what we just discussed. Because all we see on Instagram is the most epic of epic, we come to assume that’s just standard. Once people start to think this, they assume they must do this if they wish to elope.

Don’t get me wrong, I love an epic helicopter elopement, and if you love that too, go for it! But if you aren’t an adventurer, or not into these types of activities…that’s ok. An elopement is supposed to focus solely on you, with no compromises. If you want to elope in your backyard, you can. If you’re more into cafes and bars, why not go on a café and bar hopping date in Melbourne? Or get hitched at a local café you love? Perhaps you’re really into painting? So get out your overalls, and while you paint up a storm in your studio, get hitched!

There are no hard and fast rules in eloping. The only rule I force my couples to stick to is that they stay true to themselves when planning out their elopement with me.

Elopement Myth #3 – It’s just an elopement, nothing special

This is something I hear quite a lot, especially on my socials. People assume, that since they’re eloping and not having a traditional wedding, that the day isn’t special and nothing to make a big deal about.

Obviously this could not be more wrong, but that’s obvious maybe to me, but not to you. So let’s quickly break down why an elopement is just as special as any wedding.

One of the major reasons I recommend people elope is that it is a more true reflection of who they are as a couple. This isn’t to say that weddings are not, rather it suggests that when you elope, you need make no compromises about your day. You don’t need to worry about reception and kitchen timelines. Because of this you have as much time in the day as there is sun, to do whatever you want. When I work with couples I always help them to fill this time in a way that makes them smile, so that their entire day is full of laughter and good times. Time spent together, not time spent shaking hands and thanking people for coming out.

Another thing that people need to remember is this…why is your day any less special, simply because you’re having less guests (or no guests)? This premise, if we take it on face value would indicate that a wedding is only special because of the guests, not because of the couple. Is a wedding with 500 guests more special than a wedding with 350? Clearly we know that’s not true, so why do people assume it about elopements? Your lack of guests, or limited number of guests has no bearing on how important your day is. This is the day you become a family, it’s the only time in your life you’ll do it. It’s every bit as important to you as a wedding is to the next person.

Myth about eloping # 4 – You elope to save money

This one is for couples, probably the most common elopement myth, and piggy backs off what I just discussed. Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first, yes, elopements are typically less costly than weddings. That’s no lie. Elopements can become more expensive of course, if you want to fly in a private chopper to a mountain in Sweden with a crew of vendors, it’s going to blow out of course, but typically, they are less expensive. If you want to know how much does it cost to elope, you can click here to use my interactive calculator and see how much YOUR elopement will cost!

The myth I want to bust here, is that the only reason to elope is to save money. This should be a part of a host of reasons you choose to elope. Spending a more intimate and real day with your partners. Doing things on your terms, and starting your family life the right way. These should be at the forefront of why you choose to elope. The fact you’ll save some money is a nice added bonus. If you want to know roughly how much does an elopement cost, click the link and use my pricing calculator!

Elopement Myth #5 – Eloping is selfish

I don’t want to spend too much time on this one because honestly, it’s frustrating to hear. How on earth is eloping selfish? How could prioritising yourselves on your wedding day be selfish? I just don’t get it. It’s the one day in your life where you get to celebrate your love coming together to form a new family. I say do it unapologetically, be selfish if you want to be. So I guess this is a bit of a counterintuitive one. I’m almost contradicting myself here by the sounds of it.

Eloping is not in itself selfish, because it’s your love. Celebrate it how you see fit, but in doing that I am encouraging you to be selfish! Whatever, you do you, you won’t regret it, trust me.

Myth about eloping #6 – We just need a few photos

Another thing I hear a lot from people contemplating eloping. As a photographer, I can tell you that it is impossible to capture your love, and tell your story in an hour or 2. All this is going to achieve is a few moments in time to look at in the future, it will not take you back to your day and let you relive it.

Couple embrace with the sun setting behind the 12 apostles on the great ocean road in Melbourne Australia. Beautiful elopement ceremony, crushing elopement myth one by one.

This is where having a professional elopement photographer in your corner really helps. A lot of people cannot see the potential they have for their day. They assume it’s got to have a ceremony (which is basically true), and some portraits. Most of my couples could not see past that. Not because they weren’t smart, but because they’ve never done this before. Once you discuss this with an elopement photographer, all the possibilities start to come up. You realise you could easily make a full day of this. Remember, even though you aren’t having a wedding per se, this date moving forward will be your anniversary, and you will want to relive it. You will want it to have told your story, and captured who you are.

Groom is twirling bride in a flowy dress underneath the mountains in Quueenstown NZ after their elopement ceremony at Moke Lake. Breaking down elopement myth.

Elopement Myth #7 – We don’t need a video

This is not limited just to eloping. But a commonly held belief with couples is that “we don’t need a video since we have such an awesome photographer”.

Sadly, I know about this decision all too well. My wife and I opted against a video because we had an epic photographer. 5 years later and I am still kicking myself over my stupidity.

Consider this example for a second. You take your partner to an amazing restaurant for their birthday, and you order an unreal bottle of wine. This bottle is $250, so it’s pretty *chefs kiss*, right? When the waiter comes over to take your food order, you turn to them and say “we don’t need food thanks, we’ve got an amazing wine so we should be fine”. That’s what people are doing when they opt against a video because they have a photographer.

The two are not the same. They are complimentary, they go well together to create an overall product for you. Remember, most of your friends and family (or maybe all of them), will miss your big day, and you will want to show them later on. Nothing beats a good video in my opinion.

Myth about eloping #8 – You can’t have any traditions

I won’t lie, I actually used to believe this myth pretty strongly. I thought eloping was only for people who were anti-tradition. That people who believed in tradition could not elope. I was so wrong. You absolutely have the choice to do whatever traditions you want for your elopement.

So if you always dreamed about having your father walk you down the aisle (even if it is only in front of 10 guests), then do it. Maybe you always dreamed of a first dance, but you’ve got no guests. So what, do it. I will help you find a way to make it magical. When we get into the planning process I will run through all the wedding traditions, and you can simply give me a YES or a NO to what you want included in your day.

Bride and grrom hand in hand jumping at Earnslaw Burn in NZ after getting some snow portraits taken. Breaking down elopement myths
Bride and groom embracing as the groom kisses bride on the forehead. This happened right after their ceremony down in Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne at sunset. Breaking down myths about eloping.

Elopement myth #9 – Eloping is a last minute decision made in secret

Obviously this elopement myth stems from the old days, when an elopement was conducted in secret. Usually it was a runaway bride, often pregnant, who wanted to get married without the parents being aware of the decision. But things have changed.

Elopements can be spur of the moment decisions. For example, in NZ you can elope on 3 days notice (for more information on how to elope in NZ, click here), whereas in NSW, Australia, you need 30 days. On average though, most people plan their elopements out over 6-12 months with my help. Whether or not they tell anyone, usually depends on if they are having guests or not.

Myth about eloping #10 – All elopements are destination elopements

If you’ve made it this far, you know this one is also wrong, and you know why. But let me recap. An elopement is a wedding, done your way. It is intimate and authentic, and requires no compromises. There is nothing in there about “an elopement requires a 9 hour flight and 20km hike” and so on.

You can elope in your living room. You could elope in a bar. If you wanted too you could elope while scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Are most elopements destinations of sorts (that is to say, do they require the couple to travel away from home, even if only a few hours)? Yes, majority of elopements do require some travel, but often, so do weddings. This is nothing new. So whether you want to travel or not, eloping could well be for you.

This image is a bride and groom, eloping in the valley of Glenorchy NZ during a rainy day. Breaking down myth about eloping.

Let’s talk about your elopement?

Frequently asked questions about eloping

  1. Is eloping selfish?
    Absolutely not. Eloping is about doing what feels right for you. It is about being intimate and true to you and your partner. If this is how you want to start your lives together, then do it! If you only get one day in your life to make all about yourself, make it this one.
  2. Is eloping bad?
    No. Simple answer on that one, eloping is brilliant. It, for me, is a much more genuine way to marry your partner.
  3. I’m planning to elope because my parents won’t stop interjecting in my wedding plans. Will I regret it?
    That’s hard to say. If this is the only reason you are eloping, I think telling your parents to ease off first would probably be a good idea. But if you’ve been thinking about eloping for a while, and this has tipped you over the edge, then go for it. I’m yet to work with anyone who has ever regretted it.
  4. What are the consequences of eloping?
    There are none, other than the fact you will save money, spend more time with your partner on your wedding day, have more fun, and end up married…
  5. Has anyone regretted eloping?
    I assume so, worldwide it would be insane to say everyone loved their decision. But, in my experience, I’ve never met anyone who regretted it, but I have met many, many people who regretted not eloping.

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