Why elopements are awesome, cheap, and seriously the coolest

Guest post by Maggie Winters

Maggie Winters is a wedding photographer and half of the Pop! Wed Co team, so she knows all about weddings and elopements, and she's sharing her insider insights with us.

All photos by Maggie Winters.
All photos by Maggie Winters.

A long, long time ago, in a land very far away, “elopements” meant couples traveling long distances to marry in Elvis-themed wedding chapels. Today, that is still awesome. But the term “elopement” is evolving into a much more inclusive, plan-able, customizable, amazing way to have a tiny wedding.

I'm half of Pop! Wed Co, where we plan elopement weddings for couples from all over the world — but I'm also half of the humans Steven and Maggie, planning our own elopement wedding with all sorts of awesome. In my experience, elopement weddings are at once amazing, full of awe and love, affordable, and totally relaxing — yet incredibly thrilling all at once.

When you don't belong to the “my wedding is a party” club, you might feel like you're missing out on some of the cool wedding stuff — centerpieces, decorations, venues, et cetera. But that feeling will last for about four seconds.

On the fifth second, you'll realize that elopement weddings can have as much or as little detail as you want. They can happen ANYWHERE, including awesome rainbow art galleries and even local vintage shops. You can put up a wedding backdrop or use your venue as its own backdrop. If you're a centerpiece aficionado, you can make centerpieces for your elopement, and they'll look rad on a picnic table/playground/anyplace you put them.

elopement location

You can even invite absolutely anyone! For our wedding, we're inviting our parents, Steven's brother, and our three best friends. But we didn't want to leave anyone out, so we're going to see our favorite band that evening and everyone's invited. It won't be a party or reception, no fuss, just an awesome ska show (because there is nothing more fun on the whole planet!).

Plus, you'll save a metric shit ton of money by eloping. The trick to an elopement is that it's still a wedding, but without all the venue-music-guests-chairs-aisle-microphone-tables-food-etc. So you'll save a ton, because what vendors provide for elopements aren't generally the same services they provide for event-type weddings.

Like, you want wedding flowers, but there are no tables to put them on? Awesome: a bouquet or two is way cheaper than a whole set of wedding flowers. Looking for a venue? If your group is small you can get married just about anywhere. Just show up and go for it. Catering? Use a service like Postmates, pack a fancy picnic basket, head over to your favorite restaurant, or hey, why not order food delivery by drone.

We priced out our whole wedding budget and were really generous — including a $4,000 photographer (no surprise what our wedding priorities are) — and the whole thing came to $8690. That's with a $500 GoPro bouquet, $1000 for awesome outfits, and tons of other little goodies. Our wedding is going to be insanely awesome, filled with things that will make it special for us. And since we're not feeding 200 people or renting out a giant piece of land, it's laughably affordable (the average DC wedding is $30-35,000).

With elopements, you can take the most important parts of a traditional wedding and incorporate them into your own celebration, totally catered to the two of you. No guests to worry about, no stress about being on time, no rushing to say thank you to everyone who has to leave before nine to catch the shuttle.

elopements are awesome

And the photos are triple the awesome.

photography: Maggie Winters Photography

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Comments on Why elopements are awesome, cheap, and seriously the coolest

  1. I always wonder why are elopements losing the element of it just being the couple at the ceremony? They reason I say this is because if you invite people to it isn’t just wedding with small attendance? Maybe, I’m thinking to much about it but I love the elopements that only involve the bride and groom because that’s what I want. However hardly anyone posts that type of wedding.

    • I wonder if maybe it’s time to create a new word to describe these types of events.

      Edit for you: A friend of mine and her husband did a “true elopement” several years back. They picked a date without telling anyone, got married with just them and the JP and sent out announcements afterward. He wore a decent pair of pants and shirt, she had a LBD. It was so simple, I don’t really have anything else to share with you, but since you mentioned that it was the kind of thing you wanted to see, thought I’d add it =)

      • Agreed on the need for a new word for very small and/or semi-spontaneous weddings. When I tell people that we eloped, then describe the events of the day I frequently get the, “Oh, you mean you ELOPED eloped.” The hubs actually sort of takes offense when people apply the term to destination weddings or small nuptials. Not super offended, just more of a, “Hey, that’s not what that word means.”
        What would be a good new term? Demilopement? Semilopement?

        Best of luck to you Poeticplatypus. A ceremony with just you and your intended can be such an amazing thing.

      • I call it a faux-lopement (for faux elopement) whenever I get tired of all the pressure and suggest to my fiance that we faux-lope at the planetarium and anyone who wants to witness it can go. 🙂

      • I call my wedding a microwedding. It was just us and two sets of bio-parents. They had about a month and a half notice, so that they could buy plane tickets. No one else knew though, so we sent out announcements afterward.

    • My legal wedding was just me, my groom, the two required witnesses and a wedding commissioner. Oh, and about the dozen or so passers-by on the beach where we got married. It was AWESOME!! We bought a bottle of (duty free) scotch (from the boat-ride to Victoria) and toasted on the beach. The woman doing yoga nearby stopped for a few min to watch. There were others, on the bluff above us, also watching. Perfect. And the only folks we invited were those two witnesses and the commissioner.

  2. I love everything about this post!!! My sweetie and I are secretly eloping just the two of us to a nearby bed & breakfast next month for our 10-year anniversary, and we couldn’t be more happy about the decision. It will be stress-free, laid back, affordable, and one of the best things we’ve ever done. 🙂 We do plan on sharing the news right afterwards and having a get-together with our friends and families at some point in the near future, so that everyone can celebrate with us. All of the elopement posts that I’ve read on OBB have brought so much comfort and joy to this girl’s heart. Yay for elopements!!!

  3. We had a semi-lopement too! We had a small (13 guests) Saturday-morning wedding two months after we got engaged. Then we all went out to lunch, went home for a nap, then met up with our friends at the bar that night. Two months later, we had a reception party (wedding announcements doubled as invitations), but our sweet little ceremony was all I needed.

  4. Initially, I wanted this. But the company never responded to my e-mail in June. Planned a big costume party instead. Oh well!

  5. I love this. we’re doing a “Faux-lopement” with just parents, siblings, and grandparents. The rest of my family is livid but we’re sticking to our guns. We like that our wedding isn’t being overshadowed by stressing about flowers, cakes, napkins, etc. Although I’m all for the big wedding parties (we’re going to one this weekend and it’s going to be awesome!) but that’s just not our style. I like that these small weddings/elopements are becoming more common again!

  6. I love this post and this service! It’s really nice to be able to have a company that arranges microweddings (awesome term for it, Whitney!)

    Of course, be careful about just showing up somewhere for a wedding though. While lots of people are flattered their location was chosen for a wedding, not everyone is. While the cops breaking up your wedding makes for a fun story later on, it’s probably not as fun in the moment.

  7. My husband and I did a planned elopement. It was just the two of us. We took off for a couple days and came back married. But we told people we were doing it ahead of time. Some coworkers even gave me a little bridal shower. I love that we eloped. No complications, no financial worries, no stress. Instead we got to just focus on each other and our commitment. It felt really romantic and right for us.

    We went to a hotel that offered an elopement package. They provided a justice of the peace, a fancy dinner, a mini cake, a suite to stay in. We also chose to hire a local photographer for just an hour. He wore a suit and I wore a black lace cocktail dress. I had a bouquet of four white roses and he had a single rose boutonniere. We took a little boom box and played a CD of music we wanted to hear during the short JP ceremony. And because it was planned, I asked my mother, sister and dearest girlfriends to lend me a special piece of jewelry, which I carried in a little beaded purse so that I had a little piece of them with me for the event.

    It was perfect, for us.

  8. I am seriously considering an elopement. We’re not engaged yet, but we’ve been talking about it a lot. I have had serious problems with most of his friends (they are younger than me & think it’s perfectly fine to insult our relationship & ridicule me in public). I can’t bear the idea of them being present at our wedding. But if I put my foot down & say they can’t come ( they have no right to since they don’t respect our relationship) he will have no friends there at all. He’s also nervous at being centre of attention. I would miss not having family & friends there, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna spend my wedding day feeling ostracised by his friends & having low self esteem.

    • If his friends dis you now, won’t it be the same after you are married? Does he defend you/insist they treat you with respect? Hoping for your happiness.

  9. Where is that beautifully painted church located that is in your second photo? It is AMAZING!!

  10. I thought eloping was just the bride and groom…no witnesses that you know, either….available at the marriage site (???). My fiancé and I want to elope but “eloping packages” we’ve seen are for micro weddings. That’s not eloping in my book. We’ve both been married and had huge weddings. We don’t want that again. I cant seem to find a package that has everything that we want just for us within reason. I guess I will need to organize it all my self if we want it done our way.We may decide on having a costume party down the road and announce it then. I really wish someone out there would organize quickie, eloping marriage packages that don’t cost thousands of dollars.

  11. My husband came back fresh out of Basic Training and after 2 days of us talking about getting married and realizing the weekend coming up, his parents will be driving to NY( where he grew up as well as his parents as well) from Massachusetts, I told Dan it wouldn’t be fair for my parents if his parents witness us getting married and my parents couldn’t make it in such short notice ( My parents and Ii are from Massachusetts), So Monday morning we woke up and still laying in bed, he turned and looked at me and says ”Fuck it! Let’s elope! So we went to the Justice of the piece, grabbed my husband’s childhood best friend and best friend’s wife for witnesses and went to Emery park which my husband grew up down the street from the same park, which parts of the park was sold to the town from his dad’s side of the family. My husband wore his crinkly textured botton down collared shirt, his black boots and black jeans, I wore my simple green velevet long medieval dress, with yellow material draped from my shoulder, that has a loop for my finger to go through so they would look like wings, on a Thursday at 4pm at a Grove. My husband’s grandmother took the 4 of us and went to a nice resturaunt not far and had a nice dinner. That weekend, when his parents and two sisters came over we told them by showing our rings, they were happy for us but admit later on that they were a tiny bit disappointment that they weren’t there. My mom, I called her to tell her the news and she was very disappointed, but she came through in a couple of days. I find out years later, that she told my dad, he was shocked but not pissed and he told me one on one and my husband one on one and us together in 3 different occasions that he was very proud of us for eloping and he understood why we did it.
    Hubby was fresh out of Basic Training and we eloped before we took off to his first duty station, but we also knew he was going to be shipped overseas within a few months, cause it was August of 2002! we walked in the recruiting office of January of 2002, 3 months after the 9/11 attacks!! It made sense for us to get married in case heaven forbid something happened to him. Been married for 15 and half years, 2 kids, and we’re living in the 5th state during our marriage as a Army Couple!! It only cost us $50.00 bucks for the J.P. AND that’s it!!!! Also our honeymoon was us driving cross country from NY to Colorado with my Pontiac Sunfire, our clothes important papers, his orders, our Box T.V, VHS Tapes, VHS player, CD’s, and CD Player!

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