• Vanessa Jeakins

What does it mean when you elope?

The meaning of the word elope has changed a lot over the years. The original definition has evolved from running away without parental consent for a secret ceremony, to more recently being a term given for a small destination wedding - or basically, a wedding where you're not spending all your time and money on things that don't matter to you.

In essence though, eloping still means 'to escape', but it's more an escape from the confines of the big productions that traditional weddings have become.

The wedding industry is changing and it's great!

Many couples just aren’t interested in a big traditional wedding and have never envisioned themselves having one. They're excited about starting their lives together, but find themselves dragging their feet when it comes to planning their big day.

Eloping is now the term being used in Canada and around the world, by those couples who still want an amazing and special day, but want to do it on their terms, in their own way. Using the term elopement is also a great way for photographers and other vendors to help differentiate themselves and let couples know that they are on the same page and are supportive of their choice to create a more intentionally intimate wedding day.

Do you think of a quick or unplanned event when you hear the word elopement?

Maybe you feel an elopement wouldn’t be considered as important, serious or committed as a more traditional wedding day?

Let me just say this... An elopement is still your wedding day.

The term is just being used as a way to let everyone know (including yourselves if you need the reminder) that on your wedding day, the focus is really and truly going to be about the two of you.

It’s about throwing off conventions and obligations and giving yourself the freedom to have a day that you really desire.

Here’s how I personally define an elopement: A day where two people express their love and commitment to each other with intention, and where the focus is on who they are as a couple and how they want to start off their life together.

Let’s break it down a little more….

What an Elopement is:

  • It’s still your wedding day. One of the most important days of your life. The day that will be your anniversary…every year. This will remain the same, whether you have a large traditional wedding, or a smaller, more intimate elopement day.

  • A day that is focused on two people committing themselves to each other.

  • A day that comes together from your vision of what a ‘perfect day’ looks like. Wherever that may be, whatever that may look like.

  • A day to express your love for each other in a way that is meaningful to you, and that makes you excited about your future.

  • An entire day (or two!) dedicated to just you and your person (like every wedding should actually be!).

What an elopement is not:

  • A random day where you get ‘hitched’ in secret, quickly and with no fanfare.

  • A day that involves stressful planning and worry.

  • A day that is dictated by traditions, family obligations or ‘social norms’ that don't work for you..

  • Doing things that you don’t vibe with.

  • A compromise on your vision for the day.

For an Elopement you can:

Decide to invest in the things that matter most to you. It might be paying for an amazing private chef for you and only 4 other loved ones as your guests, rather than for a one size fits all dinner for 200 people.

Decide you’d rather spend more on your absolute dream wedding dress rather than pay for single use favours, decor and florals.

Decide you’re going to travel to a place you’ve always dreamed of and combine your wedding day with your honeymoon.

Close your eyes...and dream. What does your perfect day look like?

Try starting with how you see yourself saying your vows. Would a private early morning ceremony before a day full of adventures match your personalities? Maybe you picture yourselves standing on top of a mountain, reading your vows as the sun goes down?

You could…

Read letters from loved ones in the morning over mimosas and a light breakfast while sitting on a balcony.

Toast with tequila shots post-ceremony!

Spend a week in your chosen location getting to know each other and the area with your guests before the big day.

Go to the courthouse and make it official before going out for a fun and adventurous day.

Spend part of the day with your closest friends and family and then set out on your own for a private rendezvous.

Go on a mini road trip somewhere beautiful and stop for photos wherever you feel like it along the way.

Say your vows barefoot, in the middle of a forest, surrounded by nature.

This isn’t about creating a list of things you ‘should do’, or even what you ‘can’t do’. It’s about getting excited at all the possibilities an elopement opens up for you. Elopements are about doing what you want to do on your wedding day, and leaving out the things you don’t. So just do you. No regrets.

Here’s just one example of what an Ontario elopement experience could look like in gorgeous Niagara-on-the-Lake:

~ Stay the night before at a beautiful B&B in Niagara-on-the-Lake, then wake up and enjoy a relaxing breakfast in the morning.

Photographer arrives and documents the two of you getting ready (in separate rooms so you can surprise each other with a first look!) and captures some of the special details you’ve chosen for the day such as outfits, flowers, vow booklets etc.

Meet outside in the garden of the B&B or at nearby area for first look photos.

Enjoy the short drive to the Niagara Botanical Gardens in a luxury car with a private driver, for an intimate and private ceremony among the foliage and flowers. Read your heartfelt vows to each other, then toast to the moment!

Head over to the Niagara Butterfly conservatory for more fun and photos.

Drive to a local winery for lunch and a tour - enjoying a relaxed walkabout with your photographer (and drink more wine!).

Head to Niagara Falls for the classic shot in front of the falls and take some photos in the beautiful gardens.

Head back to Niagara-on-the-Lake for dinner and a late-night walk.


Looking for more ideas? If you’re starting to get excited about all the possibilities and want to chat more about it, contact me here!

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