What Is Eloping & Is It Right For You?

What is eloping?

Traditionally, eloping was known to be something couples only considered if religious, cultural, or other restrictions prevented them from getting married to the person they truly loved. These couples, typically young, would make plans to skip town, only to return once it was too late for anyone else to intervene. Some chose never to return home at all, and instead began the foundations of a new life with their spouse.

Today, eloping is connected to a much sexier reality: Getting away to an obscure, exotic destination, with no one else but the person you can’t wait to spend the rest of your life with. All the while sharing the most intimate experiences, and romance in its purest form. People choose to elope for many reasons, and do it in many unique ways, so within this article we will share some of the most important things you should know before eloping.

In this article on the Sandals Blog:

The most common reasons to elope
Eloping vs traditional wedding
Planned vs spontaneous eloping
Eloping with friends
Elopement with baby / kids
Small wedding or elopement?
Destination wedding vs courthouse wedding
Is an elopement wedding right for you?


Elopement location ideas
Things to keep in mind
Elopement etiquette

The most common reasons for couples to elope

Secret weddings are alluring, but they don’t always come out of the blue. Most couples who decide to elope are led to their decision for a number of reasons. From conflicting cultural backgrounds, to the need for flexibility and control, here are some of the most common reasons couples tend to go for elopement weddings.

Lack of family approval

Most people like to know that their parents are on board before deciding to get married. This isn’t always possible, as some parents, and even extended family may not agree with your choice regarding the person that you wish to marry. In this case, it is true what they say – you really can’t please everyone. Decide for yourself what you really want, and who you want to spend your life with. Only then will you both be able to decide whether an elopement wedding is right for you.

The high costs of a traditional wedding

From wedding day attire and décor, to renting out a location and arranging catering, traditional weddings can be costly. In some cultures, the parents of the bride or groom contribute to wedding expenses. Some may even cover the cost of the entire wedding. For couples who may not have that option, the cost of a traditional wedding falls squarely on their shoulders. If you prefer not to break the bank for the sake of your happily-ever-after, an elopement wedding might just be on the cards.

Difference in culture or religion

Varied cultural or religious backgrounds rarely stand in the way of love, but this is definitely something to consider as it relates to wedding themes. Some couples prefer not to mix up cultures and themes, but instead choose to embark upon a no frills elopement wedding. It’s a bit of a compromise, but this decision tends to cancel out possible friction between families before it happens.

Pregnant bride

Some couples who are expecting prefer to tie the knot before the arrival of their new baby. This may be for religious reasons, or due to pressure from either side of the family, but often this is solely the decision of the couple, who prefer to start their family on a more traditional note. In this case, elopement weddings are a perfect choice.

Preferring an intimate wedding

As magical as weddings often are, the planning can sometimes be a hassle. Some couples prefer to skip all the theatrics, and head to the main event. This often leads them in the direction of an elopement wedding, which involves less fuss, and more intimacy.

Reduced stress

In a perfect world, ‘weddings’ and ‘stress’ would never fall in the same category; after all, your wedding is supposed to be the most wonderful day of your life. Reality tends to set in quickly when you start trying to plan an actual wedding. Bells and whistles can amount to stress and anxiety if not properly managed. To avoid all the necessary work that goes into traditional weddings, some couples choose to elope instead.

Flexible options when it comes to the location

For any type of wedding, it is important to consider your guest list before deciding on a location. This is especially so with traditional weddings, as there are various factors to be considered including whether the venue is big enough to accommodate your guest list, whether guests are able to get to this location with ease, and whether there is proper parking. With elopement weddings, most of these details are thrown out the window as the only people you need to be concerned about is yourself, and your soon to be spouse.

Environmentally friendly

If you are interested in planning an eco-wedding you may want to look in the direction of an elopement wedding. You can promote environmental awareness through your wedding, or simply conserve enough by skimping out on some aspects of the traditional wedding, including save the dates cards, flowers, and excessive amounts of food. There are many other ways to be kind to the environment on your wedding day, which you’ll be happy to discover just as soon as you start planning your elopement wedding!

Eloping versus a traditional wedding

For some people, a traditional wedding is a dream that must be fulfilled at all costs. To them, the wedding is just as important, if not more important than the marriage itself, in that it sets the tone for what life will be like as a family.

Half the fun for people who opt for the traditional wedding is planning, which can allow family and friends to get involved. At the same time, there can be external pressure from family and friends who wish to influence certain details about the wedding; like who to invite, who will sit where, and what food will be served. Some couples feel the need to consider the input of others; particularly parents who might help fund their wedding. Traditional weddings are often more rigid than elopement weddings because there is a lot to keep in mind before making adjustments.

Elopement weddings on the other hand are less common but are gaining popularity. It is an alternative to the traditional wedding, and these days, it is no longer taboo. The options are endless when it comes to elopement weddings as you can choose to go anywhere you want to tie the knot. All decisions concerning the wedding are left up to you and your partner, and there is no added stress of having to cater to the needs of others.

Here are some pros and cons…

Elopement wedding

Pros of an elopement wedding

Easy to organise and flexible

All aspects of wedding are in your control

Opportunity to write nontraditional vows

More private and intimate

Less people equals less nerves

Spontaneous and adventurous

Cons of an elopement wedding

No bridesmaids or groomsmen to help with small tasks

Less gifts as most couples who elope don’t sign up for a gift registry

Leaving people out might cause drama

You might miss your family

Your wedding may be more understated as less people are around to share in the excitement

Traditional Wedding

Pros of a traditional wedding

Great family event

Super fun in a party scene

More structured

More gifts

Family photos

Cons of a traditional wedding

Can be more expensive

May have conflict from family and friends who want to add input

More planning time and focus on trivial details

About everyone else

Tip: Weigh your options, and give yourself time to decide if an elopement wedding is right for you.

Planned eloping versus spontaneous eloping

There are two different types of eloping. Planned eloping would mean that a conscious decision is made for you and your partner to get married, but you keep your plans between the two of you. This would include plans for the actual wedding, considerations for the future, and how to handle the reactions of family and friends once you get back. Planned elopement weddings can either be low budget, or luxurious. The sky's the limit!

Spontaneous eloping is not planned, and a little riskier in that not as much thought goes into it, which means small details can be overlooked. There are some pluses though to setting off at a moment’s notice to marry the love of your life. You’ll sail past wedding planning stresses, and enjoy an unpredictable adventure, which is good if you enjoy a little mystery. Sometimes spontaneous elopement weddings happen when the bride is expecting, and the couple wishes to get married before the baby is born. This of course is a joyous occasion but needn’t be the only time when couples consider eloping.

Eloping wedding with friends

It is not uncommon for couples to invite friends to their elopement wedding. Not all people choose to go this route, but those who do often invite a couple of close friends to witness their wedding. This is similar to a destination wedding concept, with the exception that family members are often not included.

Elopement with a baby / kids

It’s a little more difficult to get away at a moment’s notice if you are a parent. There are several things you need to consider. Will you bring the kids with you, or leave them with family until you get back? How much will it cost to bring them with you, and is it really worth the expense? Most people who elope do so because they do not want the hassle or expense of a big wedding. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave the kids behind. All-inclusive resorts like Beaches in the Caribbean are child friendly, so you and your spouse can get away for a romantic wedding, while the kids are tended to by professional caregivers.

Small wedding or elopement?

Usually those who choose an elopement wedding are looking for a quiet ceremony that is different from the norm. There is of course, the option of having a small wedding, which would be a similar choice. Both elopement weddings and small wedding can be cost effective, intimate, and relaxed, though elopement weddings up the romance factor by making the entire occasion about just you and your partner with little to no invited guests.

Destination wedding vs quick courthouse wedding

Courthouse weddings are a budget friendly option. They are different from destination weddings as they take away some of the romance and excitement. They are, however, quick and convenient. One of the main differences between destination weddings and court house weddings is that you will need at least one witness to get married in most courthouses. Couples who choose courthouse weddings do so because there is a shorter engagement, less stress, and no frills. They can also get to the honeymoon aspect a lot quicker. Destination weddings, however, remain the more adventurous, stress-free option. Go for what suits you.

Picture: Overwater wedding chapel.

Available at Sandals South Coast (Jamaica), Sandals Ochi (Jamaica), Sandals Montego Bay (Jamaica) and Sandals Grande St. Lucian (Saint Lucia).

Is an elopement wedding right for you?

Getting married is one of the most important decisions of your life. It is the ‘big day’, so you should be certain about what you’d like to happen. If you’re considering an elopement wedding, it will be just you and your partner every step of the way. There will be no fanfare from family and friends, unless of course you decide to bring some close friends along for the magical ride. There are no bridesmaids or groomsmen, which means you’re more or less on your own to face any issues that might arise. On the upside though, some resorts catering to destination weddings offer wedding planners who are on hand to ensure that you have a seamless wedding. If you decide to stay at one of those resorts, rest assured, you’re in good hands!

Bonus: Elopement location ideas

There are tons of options when it comes to selecting locations for your elopement wedding. Here are some of the most popular.

1. Forest wedding

Enchanted forest weddings are a new trend for couples who want to be at one with nature. There are quite a few destinations to choose from with cottages that are a great and comfortable escape for love birds. Forest weddings have a bit of a Twilight feel to them, but Bella and Edward are love goals, so that works out perfectly!

2. Cliff wedding

Elopement weddings open the doorway to more unique wedding location options, including cliff-side weddings with stunning views. The better the backdrop, the better the photos! Consult with friends and family, or your wedding planner to find a location that suits you.

3. Beautiful resort wedding

Picture: Overwater Love Nest Suites in Sandals South Coast, Jamaica

The Caribbean is home to some of the most luxurious adult-only resorts in the world. Eloping to a resort destination is one of the top five options because some resorts help with wedding planning, which removes most of the organisational pressure, and still allows privacy for your elopement wedding. At a resort destination, you can elope and have a wedding and honeymoon in one, since you’ll already be in a romantic destination with the love of your life! Resorts like Sandals offer wedding and honeymoon packages that cater to your every need.

4. A wedding in the ruins


Photo credit: Globe Guide Media Inc/Shutterstock.com

How about a wedding in the ruins? One Caribbean island offers this option, in addition to other interesting locations. The ‘Ruins’, are located within Saint Lucia’s Pigeon Island National Landmark and are a great backdrop for weddings. It is one of many interesting locations to explore in Saint Lucia.

Tip: Be sure to check out the Sandals Grande Saint Lucian Beach Resort & Spa in Saint Lucia which is located a two minute walk away from the Pigeon Island National Landmark.

5. Beach wedding

How about a beach wedding? There are loads of destinations to choose from, but none stand out quite like the Bahamas. The islands of the Bahamas are known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This island destination is perfect for couples opting for a sunny beach wedding with pink sand beaches on some islands to boot!

Things to keep in mind for your elopement wedding

There’s hardly anything more romantic than an elopement wedding, but there are some things that are important to take note of.

1. Plan your elopement announcement wisely

Some couples wait until they return from their trip to tell family and friends about their elopement. Often, this results in negative reactions from friends and family who might feel excluded. There is another option though. Some people tell their loved ones in advance, and plan activities before leaving, or once they’re back to include everyone. Consider this, as it tends to help with hurt feelings!

2. Think photography

Hire a good photographer or videographer – the memories are worth it. It’s a good idea to look into photographers before you get to your destination so you’re not left scrambling to find one once you get there. This can help you share the experience with family and friends after the fact.

3. Don’t forget the small details

Having an elopement wedding doesn’t mean you need to skimp on the details. Plan early to ensure your wedding lives up to your expectations. Decide things like whether you want a wedding cake, so arrangements can be made in advance. Make arrangements for your bouquet if you plan on having one, and ensure your dress and suit fit properly before heading off. Depending on the destination you choose, it may be difficult to find a seamstress or tailor.

Elopement etiquette: how to react to an elopement?

A friend who has decided to elope may have still registered for gifts. If they have not, it might be a good idea to ask if there is anything they need or want ahead of their new adventure. Send a card to express your good wishes. Even though you won’t be attending a wedding, this is still a nice practice and allows you to extend warm thoughts to them.

For better or worse

When it comes to getting married, there is no right and wrong way. The same goes for eloping. Take all things into consideration, and make a decision, without the added pressure. Love is a personal feeling, related to the two people involved. Follow your heart and whatever you decide, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

Read More Travel Guides

Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Born on the tropical island that is Saint Lucia affords a never-ending source of inspiration. In the past 13 years, Kylie loved to work with various newspapers, magazines and blogs in the Caribbean.

View Comments