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  • Writer's pictureCassandra Vagher

What Eloping means in 2020

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

How much do you think the average wedding cost in Colorado in 2019? Wedding Report estimated a total of 36,864 weddings in 2019, averaging $26,715 each! That's a lot of money! What was the most expensive item the splurged on for their big day? It was generally their food service, with an average of $4,653 and their event venue averaging $3,665. That's $8,318 that only gets to be enjoyed that one day. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with having a big wedding if that's what you want, it's still no wonder that millennial couples are turning to intimate weddings are elopements instead. Millennial couples are redefining what it means to "elope" in 2020, changing the wedding industry drastically!

What does eloping mean historically?

The origin of the word "elope" comes from the late 16th century and means to "run away secretly in order to get married." During this period, this was seen as shameful and potentially not even legal depending on the country. However, it's the 21st century, and thankfully the culture has changed; the view on marriage and the world is continuously more welcoming to eloping.

Why aren't couples having a big wedding?

What if I told you that couples that have a wedding that's over $20K are 46% more likely to end in divorce? A study out of Emory University by Dr. Hugo Mialon discovered that the more a couple spends on their wedding day, the more likely their marriage is going to end in divorce (ouch). Could it be because of the financial stress of loads of credit card debt after the wedding? That's one thought. However, this knowledge, along with the general anxiety that wedding planning causes are turning off millennials couples from the big wedding scene. One of the most googled terms about weddings is, "Wedding planning is stressful?" No wonder couples are opting for intimate weddings and elopements!

Beyond the stress and finances, many other couples choose not to have a traditional large wedding due to a variety of factors. It could be anything - family dynamics, religion, wanting an intimate experience, or even just the love of adventure over a party! You can also imagine that the current world circumstances also make couples turn towards something smaller as well.

What does eloping mean in 2020?

Eloping in 2020 is not what your great grandparents envisioned. It's not shameful. Instead, you could say it's smart financially, potentially more meaningful, definitely more intimate, possibly more adventurous, and it makes for epic memories and photos! Elopements have shifted from running away in secret to a variety of possibilities, like hiking in Yosemite, soaking in the sun in Santorini, Greece, or even as simple as your favorite local view and restaurant. They're tailored to the couple's interests and not focused on what their guests will think of their table clothes. Some elopements are under $500, others are in the $10k range but are more of a vacation. There is no wrong way to do them!

Modern-day elopements are an experience - and they're about strengthening the bond between you and your new spouse. They're genuinely centered about making the best possible adventure and memories for the two of you that will last a lifetime. They focus on the commitment you're making, they put your love first, and it's solely centered around what you want to build your marriage off of.

Eloping also no longer means you can't tell your family, it also doesn't mean you can't bring them! More often or not, couples decide to have a family member or all of their parents, or even siblings tag along for their ceremony. It's usually well planned, scripted (or sometimes not), and isn't a last-minute decision like the stigma suggests.

2020 Elopement Ideas

Your elopement is unique - so make it such! Do something that you both enjoy, and you're going to want to remember forever. Here are some ideas for activities or types of elopements:

  • Have a hiking elopement! Hire a photographer and officiant and hike to a gorgeous location. Make it an adventure near your home or travel somewhere far.

  • Have a destination elopement. Couples often think this only means mountain terrain and national parks. That's the furthest thing from the truth. Consider Greece or romantic Italy for your location, Florance, Venice, or Rome are all fantastic backdrops. Spend the rest of your time there as your honeymoon.

  • Do the intimate small elopement near your home. Consider using a nearby national park or other outdoor location with great views for exchanging your vows, and then have a reservation to your favorite restaurant.

  • Do the bed and breakfast thing! This sometimes gets overlooked; however, there are some great Bed and Breakfasts in Estes Park that have ceremony locations of their own, and they'll treat you like king and queen specifically during your stay. Some offer packages just for elopements!

  • Camp under the stars and make it dreamy! Consider somewhere like the sand dunes in Colorado and plan your trip around a new moon for epic astrophotography shots!

  • Visit a beach, and don't be afraid to get your dress wet!

  • Snowshoeing, skiing, or snowboarding - it may sound cold, but these options are an absolute blast!

  • Take a helicopter or private flight.

  • Go horseback riding - can you already envision the epic photos?

The reality is you can still do something fun and memorably, and it's most likely always going to be under $26,000, and you're not going to sprout grey hair because of it! Your wedding day shouldn't make you want to tear your hair out, and it shouldn't leave you in financial ruins. Instead, it should be a beautiful way to express your commitment to your new spouse and be a story you tell for a lifetime.


Are you debating between a wedding and an elopement in 2020 or 2021? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Let's get together and start to craft a spectacular experience that will express your love in the best way possible! I'm a Colorado mountain adventure elopement photographer helping curate experiences and creating bold imagery that captures your hearts. Check out my elopement and intimate wedding photography here.


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