This guide isn’t designed to sway you one way or another, but it is designed to explain what eloping is, discuss common reasons why people choose this option and explore what your elopement could look like! There are SO many unique, beautiful and perfect ways to celebrate your union! Hopefully by the end of this article you will feel more confident in your own wedding day decision, and also have some tools and references to help explain your decision (should you want to) to anyone who asks!
So to begin; What is Eloping?
Although each state or country has different requirements for what is required in order to officially be considered legally married; the most universal definition is: A very small, intimate ceremony.
To break this down further eloping is often a romantic, adventure filled and a really fun way to start your lives together as married! Traditionally it is done in secret, but more recently has become tied in with virtual weddings, micro weddings or destination weddings where the guest count is limited or a reception is expected later. The amount of people required to make your union official depends entirely on the laws within the final destination you pick (and I am happy to help you navigate what you will need!) Usually though, all that is needed is you two, an officiant and two witnesses (we are always happy to sign as your witnesses, and can even officiate in some states if you want to keep your elopement within the “just the two of you” realm!)
Do I have to go to the Court House?
One reason my husband and I decided to elope (besides a global pandemic) was because we could get married anywhere. Suddenly the planning process got 10 times less stressful because we weren’t tied down to the normal venue concept or large guest counts usually associated with a traditional western wedding. We could get married at almost any Portland State Park for a couple hundred dollars, or a beautiful Airbnb for about the same. Some locations didn’t even require a special permit because our total attendance (including us and our vendors) was lower than what they required.
Some of my favorite (and crazy affordable) Oregon Locations are:
Cathedral Park – Portland
Peninsula Park – Portland
International Rose Garden (Washington Park) – Portland
Hoyt Arboretum – Portland
Ecola State Park – Cannon Beach
NW Tuscan Retreat – Clackamas
It will save you money
On average weddings cost a couple over $30,000 and take about a 1 to 1.5 years to plan. For most adults, that number is nothing to sneeze at and can be a huge emotional and financial burden for some couples. After taking on multiple jobs my husband and I struggled immensely to try to save that kind of money. When we realized how much time it took away from us investing in our relationship and future the way that we wanted too; we decided it wasn’t feasible for us to do both. That doesn’t mean that an elopement is a cheapened alternative to a wedding; our investments were prioritized differently. By not investing in catering or a traditional venue we were able to save up a lot quicker for things like our rings, wedding day accessories, and our photographer and videographer.
The First Rule of Wedding Planning is, There are no Rules
At the end of the day, this is your moment. I remember being told that and feeling the pressure that comes from wanting to make everyone happy and meet the real (and let’s be real, often theoretical) expectations my guests would have. I was worried about it being too close to the holidays, being too far away for guests, being too traditional, being too alternative, being too boring and being too expensive. It was exhausting. Having gone through it though, I can attest that it is 100% true, there are no rules in wedding planning. Yes there are legalities that need to be followed in order to make your marriage official; but when it comes to how that day looks…that part is entirely up to you. I have witnessed couples get married from out of state at an Airbnb, in the woods during a Wiccan ceremony on Halloween and so many other completely unique and beautiful ways. Traditional, untraditional or just unique to you…just be yourselves and celebrate the way that makes the most sense to you.
Eloping is what you make it out to be
If you are planning your elopement as a way to save money, it will be that. If you are planning your elopement because your family life is complicated and your want a drama free celebration and start to your union, it will be that. If you are planning your elopement because it sounds romantic and you want to say I Do surrounded by one of the most beautiful natural venues anywhere in the world, then it will be that too. Whether extravagant or relaxed and intimate, this day will be what you wanted it to be.
So however you choose to celebrate your union, be it an intimate elopement or a Wedding with a rocking dance floor, I hope you feel empowered to know that it’s the right one. It’s going to be fantastic, and it’s going to be perfectly you.