Eloping can be an attractive option for couples for many reasons, but investigating places to elope can make the decision to get married in this unusual way a bit more challenging.
Eloping vs. Destination Weddings
Before a couple chooses to elope, they first have to decide if eloping is truly for them or if they are more interested in a destination wedding.Eloping is generally a very small, simple ceremony with few or no witnesses other than what may be required by law. The ceremony is less lavish than a traditional wedding but may incorporate some wedding-like elements such as a wedding dress, professional photography, or a wedding cake, but these details are usually on a smaller scale than for a traditional celebration. Furthermore, the decision to elope and the actual ceremony is often a surprise to many friends and family members, even if the couple has actually been planning it for some time.
Couples may choose to elope for several reasons, such as:
- Financial: Depending on where the couple chooses to elope and how much detail they incorporate into the event, eloping is generally far less expensive than even a small traditional wedding.
- Time: Couples with time constraints on their courtship - because of military deployment, tax purposes, health, or other matters - may choose to elope locally because an elopement can be put together more quickly than a full celebration.
- Stress: Couples with family conflicts, job stress, and other difficulties may appreciate the simplicity of eloping instead of adding more stress with elaborate wedding plans.
- Personal Preference: Many couples choose to elope simply because they prefer to spend that single day together with their beloved rather than entertaining hundreds of guests. The private aspect of an elopement can be just as romantic and beautiful as the most carefully crafted celebration.
Destination weddings, on the other hand, are similar to elopements but require more elaborate planning and preparations. A destination wedding typically has all the traditional wedding elements - formal attire, guests, invitations, catering, music, etc. - though there may be fewer people in attendance. A destination wedding gives a couple the chance to have a more traditional celebration in an exotic location, often combining the wedding and honeymoon into one event.
Types of Places to Elope
Once a couple understands what an elopement means and has decided that it will be the best option for their impending nuptials, they need to decide where to share their vows. Because elopements are less elaborate than full weddings, there are many options open to eloping couples that might not be feasible for larger celebrations. Popular places to elope include:
- Courthouses for civil ceremonies conducted by a judge or justice of the peace
- Cruise ships, particularly to include the honeymoon
- Resorts for a luxury getaway - beaches, mountains, tropical islands, and other vacation spots often have dozens of resorts that can help coordinate an elopement
- Gardens or other scenic spots such as cliffs, jungles, or parks
- Bed and breakfast inns or other small scale getaways
- Famous eloping destinations such as Las Vegas or Niagara Falls
- Exotic foreign countries - Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean are particularly popular places to elope
Finding Your Best Eloping Destination
There is no one best spot for an elopement and each couple should choose the best place for them personally to exchange their vows. Consider the following factors when choosing an eloping destination:
- Can key members of your family still attend if they want to?
- Is the destination affordable, including travel costs?
- What will the climate be like at the time of your elopement?
- What are the residency, blood test, and waiting period requirements for a legal marriage?
- Can the destination help arrange legal applications, photography, and other details?
- Is this destination special for us as a couple?
- Can we include honeymoon arrangements?
The decision to elope is not an easy one, and choosing between different places to elope can also be difficult. In the end, however, if the couple can remember why they are eloping as well as why they want to get married, they will have a happy wedding day no matter where they are.