Gone are the days of eloping meaning that you’re running away from something…
Elopement as a Plan A in 2021
By: Sam Starns
2020 brought us a host of planning nightmares, and a group of people that can say they are right in the thick of their plans being put on hold, canceled, and rescheduled, often multiple times are couples getting married. Plans have been changed, changed again, canceled, resurrected, and more. And more people are turning to elopements as an alternative, due to gathering restrictions. As an adventure elopement photographer, I’ve had people come to me saying one of two things:
“We are just going to elope because we’re tired of changing our plans.”
I call these people Plan B Elopers. They’re resigned to an elopement and often are more focused on “just getting it done” than actually making it the celebration it deserves.
Then we have another type of couple that contacts me saying something along the lines of, “COVID was the perfect opportunity/excuse for us to do what we originally wanted to: elope!”
In contrast, these people are typically ready to make the day extra special, and are excited about the freedom it brings. This is how I encourage everyone to think when they’re met with the option of eloping.
Why? Because when you think of eloping as a “Plan B”, there is a sort of resignation present. As if the day won’t ever possibly measure up to what your original plan was. Plan Bs are often viewed as some sort of consolation prize, and eloping is not that at all. While eloping typically involves little to no people, and many see that as an indication it won’t be as special, I encourage you to see the world of opportunity and possibilities that open up when your guest list is cut. Because eloping can not only be as good as a traditional larger wedding, it can be even better.
It’s time to stop thinking about eloping as a Plan B. It’s time to think of eloping as your Plan A.
SHOULD YOU ELOPE?
If you’re thinking about planning your wedding with dread, or resignation, or on an uninspired auto-pilot, consider eloping. If you’ve never dreamed of your wedding day and weren’t the first to hop on the Pinterest wedding planning train, consider eloping. If a day filled with trying to make everyone happy, and saying your intimate, personal vows in front of 100 people doesn’t sound like your “best day ever”, consider eloping.
Eloping isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the days of eloping meaning that you’re running away from something, whether that’s shame, disapproval, or what have you. Now it means you’re running to something. You’re running to your relationship, yourself, and what truly speaks to you and your partner. If you dream of a whirlwind adventure doing the things you love or have always wanted to experience with your partner, eloping is likely the option for you. My couples get asked feedback from others considering eloping, and their resounding response is always along the lines of, “DO IT! If you’re even considering it, it means you should do it.” I have yet to work with a couple that thought it wasn’t worth it.
WHAT CAN AN ELOPEMENT DAY LOOK LIKE?
Think of the best day ever. Think of a day that you’d want to spend with your partner doing the things you love and the things you’ve always wanted to do. This shouldn’t be imagined as a wedding day, though. Think of it as a “best day ever” first and foremost. Something that represents the two of you. Then, add in wedding attire and committing yourselves to one another. Because if you’ve imagined your “best day ever” right, then that day represents you as a couple wholeheartedly. And I can’t think of a better day to say “I Do” than on a day like that.
Elopement couples have a wide range of adventures that span everything from a simple picnic and hike, to a dog sled ride in Alaska, to a sightseeing helicopter tour on a Hawaiian Island. Love Scotland? Trek across the Highlands on horseback (a personal bucket list item of mine). Have you always wanted to visit New Zealand? Explore Mordor and The Shire, along with other settings straight out of the Chronicles of Narnia. The sky’s the limit (literally in some cases, if you’re thinking of taking to the air on your elopement day).
LET’S TALK COVID-19
Despite COVID-19, you can still create plenty of amazing memories and experiences without going abroad (or really even traveling far from home at all), all while abiding by COVID-19 distancing regulations. Without guests, that worry is completely negated. The main thing couples should prioritize is safe travel. That might involve making sure masks are worn on flights, or getting a COVID-19 test before traveling to certain states, like an elopement couple of mine who traveled to Alaska this past summer. They said their I Do’s on top of a mountain after visiting a glacier and a reindeer farm. Having an outdoor adventure elopement is a great way to naturally be able to social distance and participate in activities that don’t require being inside, surrounded by a lot of people.
Be prepared to be flexible. As we’re seeing, restrictions are tightening down in many places. And because of this unprecedented event, travel/accommodation services are needing to be flexible with your bookings as well. We are all in this together, and in order to feel secure, lean on your vendors with COVID-19 rescheduling questions, and how you proceed if plans go awry.
COVID alternative with guests: Consider having a private ceremony with just the two of you, and throwing a larger shindig on your one-year anniversary! This is the perfect way to get the best of both worlds: an intimate, meaningful, and epic day AND the ability to boogie down on a dance floor. Your celebration won’t just be one day; it’ll be a celebration of your whole first year of marriage.
Eloping is rapidly becoming a popular and valid option for a wedding day. While COVID-19 has been a catalyst, elopements were already growing in popularity for the uniqueness and freedom they provide. No matter what you thought 2020 had in store for your life and wedding, consider eloping as a Plan A, and you’ll quickly see how so many doors open up even in this COVID-19 world we’re living in.
SAM STARNS is an elopement expert and movement leader in adventure elopement photography. After regretting her own wedding, she began her mission to empower individuals to become unapologetically themselves by creating a wedding day and life that they can be uniquely proud of. With nearly a decade of wedding experience, Starns has traveled to numerous states and countries for elopements to jumpstart the transformation for real change to encourage anyone to become their authentic self. With a passion for protecting our public lands and love for the outdoors, Starns donates a percentage of services including photography packages and book sales to a nonprofit dedicated to helping preserve public lands. Her most recent book, Elope Your Life: A Guide To Living Your Life Authentically and Unapologetically Starting With “I Do” is set for release November 2020