Couple has washington elopement at Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park with Outshined Photography

Considering an elopement this year? This guide answers the question “Why should we elope?” and helps you define an authentic ceremony experience ~

From the simplicity of the planning process to epic ceremony backdrops, one question I encounter regularly as an elopement photographer is this: “We know elopements have gained popularity in recent years. But why should we elope?”

Not only is this one of my favorite questions to answer, but I also believe it is a great question for couples to ask themselves as they begin to uncover what they want out of a marriage celebration! Whether you have been dreaming about an epic elopement adventure since you were young, or have recently found elopements on your radar, it is important that you and your partner choose a ceremony style that is authentic to your relationship. So, what is an elopement and why the surge in popularity? Or perhaps most importantly, how can elopements allow you and your partner to live out the ceremony of your dreams? Read on to find out!

Couple reads elopement vows to each other at Colchuck Lake with Outshined Photography

“Why Should We Elope?” Understanding What an Elopement Entails

Great news: elopements don’t need to be done in secret and are no longer a response to “forbidden love.” These days, elopements are more about adventure and authenticity than doing something without the knowledge of friends or family. So go ahead, tell your friends all about your elopement plans, and even let them throw in a few ideas (desserts, floral arrangements, and hair and makeup are always welcome at elopements!) This day isn’t about keeping a secret from relatives, it’s about hosting a celebration that magnifies your relationship and your love!

Understanding the Elopement Logistics

Elopements are legally binding marriage celebrations and generally take place with ten or fewer individuals. Couples choose to elope for a variety of reasons. Some prefer the flexibility a smaller group provides. (After all, some of the most inspiring off-the-grid locations aren’t equipped to handle large groups.) Other couples may choose to elope because they want to forgo wedding traditions that don’t resonate with them or want to add traditions that aren’t seen in larger ceremonies (cue snowshoeing to your ceremony location.)

When answering the question “Why should we elope,” and determining whether or not an elopement is for you, I encourage you to answer the following questions:

  • How many people are important to have at the actual ceremony?
  • What type of location would you like to say “I do”?
  • Is incorporating outdoor activities or experiences important to you on your big day?

Sit down with your partner and jot down a few reflections to these questions. Perhaps you never imagined an intimate setting for your ceremony, but the idea gives you goosebumps (the good kind!) Maybe the thought of outdoor activities after a first kiss sounds exhausting (but hiking to the ceremony location sounds kind of fun!) Having these answers in the back of your head will help you determine if this is the type of marriage celebration that checks all of your boxes and can create memories (and photos!) that you will never forget.

Couple elopes at Gold Creek Pond with family and dog

“Is an Elopement Right for Us?” How to Know if this type of Celebration is the best choice for YOU.

For some, a church or indoor ceremony surrounded by extended family and friends is the ideal way to share a love story. But there are other couples out there who thrive on adventure, define their relationship with natural beauty, and want to create a ceremony that reflects unique customs and traditions. Elopements are made for people like you. And 2023 may just be the year that elopements receive the awe and respect they deserve.

Here are a few of the top reasons people choose to elope. Who knows, after reading through this list you may just find yourself planning the Ultimate Elopement.

Couple reads vows to each other at Cape Flattery with Outshined Photography

“Why Should We Elope?”- Nature is Important to You and Your Partner

What do wildflowers, night skies, and romantic beaches all have in common? They can all be part of your elopement ceremony (if that’s what you choose!) While couples who elope come in all shapes and sizes, one characteristic that they all seemingly share is a profound love of nature.

If you and your partner have found that your love is best defined by cascading cliffs, misty waterfalls, and outdoor adventure, then an elopement may be exactly what you are looking for. With its small size and intimate nature, elopements allow the couple (and their daring photographer!) to choose some epic locations that would not be accessible to a larger group. (Pro tip: make sure your elopement photographer is comfortable with the activities you have planned! Bonus points if they can recommend locations with specific natural features in the area you are choosing to elope.)

Real Words from Eloping Couples:

“Stacy is all about doing what the couple wants to do, but she also has been to many places and is very aware of the ins-outs of trails/hikes/lodging and can give honest input in the planning process. We valued her guidance when selecting which hikes, how many, and what times, etc. Her photography skills are stunning. We selected her specifically for her abilities to do landscape and night photos, as well as her experience in shooting in the great outdoors.” – Nina M.

Couple has handfasting ceremony at Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park

“Why Should We Elope?”- Your Partnership Values Experiences

Are ready to savor each intentional detail of the day, and add customs and traditions that enhance the experience? Then an elopement is right up your alley. From your own custom decor to activities that encompass your personality, elopements are for those who embrace the power of experiences.

If you and your partner feel compelled to experience the day rather than check off rituals, traditions, and to-do lists that are commonly associated with weddings, then this style of celebration could be exactly what you are searching for.

Real Words from Eloping Couples:

“{Stacy} put us at ease and was so prepared it allowed us to fully embrace our wedding day. Her energy and enthusiasm made us feel right at home and the locations she suggested were exactly what we had envisioned for our elopement. She thought of ways to include the families that were not able to be present and created spaces for us to shine together on this special day and captured them without pressure or putting us on the spot.” – Kathryn H.

Couple elopes along river in washington state with outshined photography

“Why Should We Elope?”- Minimize Stress

Let’s face it, for some couples and their families, “wedding” is just another way to spell “drama.” If the answer to the question of “Why should we elope?” is simply to avoid stress, then it is still a perfectly legitimate reason to opt for an elopement over a traditional wedding.

Finding the right elopement planner and photographer is crucial to minimizing stress (and maximizing joy!) on your elopement day. The right individual will make the planning process smooth and seamless while striking the crucial balance between “sharing good ideas” and allowing you to create the day you have always imagined. Perhaps the most important job of an elopement planner and photographer? Reminding you to take in the little moments, appreciate the beauty, and soak in every moment.

Real Words from Eloping Couples:

“Eloping is definitely an interesting experience as you spend your wedding day not only with your partner but also with the photographer. It was important to us to find someone who we felt comfortable with and Stacy helped us to feel less stressed and more excited about our day, right away. She listened to how we wanted the day to go and was very easy to talk to throughout the whole experience. She tailored the day appropriately and we personally had to do very little planning.” – Christian H.

First Dance on Ruby Beach under the stars for your elopement day

Defining Your “Why”

At the end of the day, there are a wide variety of reasons people choose to elope. Whether your answer to “Why should we elope?” is because of the star-studded night skies as the backdrop for your first dance, or the simple fact that you don’t have an interest in planning a wedding, rest assured that your reasons are valid. Whatever your motivation for taking on this alternative marriage celebration, rest assured that your ceremony will be as creative, colorful, and fearless as your love.

“Why Should We Elope?” – Frequently Asked Questions about Elopement Ceremonies

The word “elopement” may be more commonplace in 2023, but there are still some looming questions that are left unanswered. If you and your love are starting to see the benefit of creating an elopement that reflects your wildest dreams, then you most likely have a few questions.

Check out these responses to common questions, and don’t forget, weddings may come with a list of “rights” and “wrongs”… but elopements don’t! So if your ceremony dreams include snow-capped peaks or the first kiss at blue hour, know that an elopement has room for all of it.

“I want an elopement ceremony, but also have always dreamed of a reception with friends and family. Can I do both?”

You sure can! In fact, many eloping couples choose to legally marry during their elopement and then have a big celebration with friends and family after the fact. Other couples have chosen to include a few special people in their ceremony (some states require witnesses at elopement ceremonies, and serving as a witness is a great way to get a special guest involved!) Others have found that the best balance is hosting a private ceremony in the morning, with a celebratory dinner in the afternoon that close friends and family can attend.

Envisioning an intimate day with just you and your partner? There are a wide variety of ways to get friends and family involved from afar. From letter writing to pre-recorded videos, together we can ensure that special people are involved exactly how you would like them to be.

“What are the biggest regrets of people who have eloped?”

This one is easy… not having a professional photographer to capture the special moments. Just because you are choosing to celebrate your love with fewer people present doesn’t mean you can’t hire a photographer so you can relive these special memories for years to come.

In fact, I may argue that those who are eloping have even more reason to hire a photographer – after all, they are choosing to tie the knot in some of the most gorgeous places on earth! So go ahead, invest in a flower crown, buy the special wedding cake and make sure your elopement photographer loves hiking. This is going to be a day you will never want to forget.

“I want to elope but my partner is on the fence. What should we do?”

Marriage celebrations, big and small, tend to bring up a bunch of big discussions for couples, including family, money, customs, and religion. (If you are in the process of planning a wedding ceremony, I’m sure this sounds familiar!)

Sit down and ask your partner about their concerns. Are they worried they will hurt the feelings of family members who aren’t invited? Is it important that they get married in the family church? Are they envisioning a big white dress, and feel it wouldn’t be attainable on an adventure elopement?

Understanding where your partner is coming from, or what they believe they would be forgoing by having an elopement celebration, can help you to get to the crux of the issue. Conversely, allowing them to ask the critical question “Why should we elope?” gives you the space to explain aspects of an elopement that you feel excited about. At the end of the day, there are numerous options for wedding celebrations, and it is my guess that you will be able to find a solution that fulfills both of your goals beautifully.

Washington Elopement Photographer

Are you Ready to Answer the Question – “Why should we elope?”

Whether you are drawn to the freedom of expression that elopements provide, are enthralled by the majesty of nature, or simply want to get married on your own terms with your own traditions and customs in place, elopements can provide a magical way to connect with your partner on a whole new level. If you are starting to understand your answer to the question “Why should we elope?” and would like to discuss more, then let’s connect!

From celebration timelines to elopement packing lists, there is nothing I love more than helping couples define their “why” for eloping and helping them to create the ceremony of their dreams.

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