The past year has been full of so many ups and downs. New normals that nobody even saw coming. People had to cancel their vacation plans, weddings, birth babies in unthinkable circumstances. It truly has been a wild ride. That being said we have come full circle now, it’s been a whole year and we still can’t go inside stores without wearing face masks. It doesn’t matter where you stand on the wear your mask and quarantine principles anymore, it looks like this pandemic is here to stay. So if you are thinking of eloping this blog post is for you!
A lot of people have changed their way of thinking when it comes to having the big wedding with everyone they have known since birth attending. Rightly so, these crazy times require us to dig deep and think about what is really important in our lives. There has never been a better time in history to break traditions that no longer fit this changing world. That being said I am here to talk about new traditions and ways to honor yourself.
As a wedding/elopement photographer my job is to be your advocate to make sure that you get everything you could possibly want for your special day, and nothing that you don’t. Since the times have made us change it’s okay to dream big and come up with new ideas that fit us better than the options our ancestors had. So come take a walk with me while I explain just what eloping is and why you should consider it as one of your options.
Let’s take a look at where the wedding started and how far it has come in the last 100 years.
Marriage- A History
It used to be that elopements were specially reserved for people who got pregnant out of wedlock and basically any wedding that people would look down on and not support. In the beginning, people did not marry for love, they were lucky to end up with someone they could tolerate. People didn’t start even considering love until the 1920s. Here are just some of the reasons why they would marry; needed a goat, couldn’t feed themselves, brother needed a new wife and the list goes on. Procreation wasn’t even the main reason for marriage then, more like a side effect. Women had no rights and were considered property, they didn’t have a say in anything. They finally changed the law in the 13th century taking marriage rights from the parents and putting it into the hands of the people getting married. Even then there were allowed to be no public displays of affection, even hand-holding. The biggest downfall of people marrying for love was the divorce rates soared. In the 1800s it was so common the government opened an investigation stating that it would one day be obsolete.
The veil was originally used to cover the bride's face so that the groom could not see her until after they were already married. That way he couldn’t change his mind if he didn’t like the way she looked.
Since cakes represent fertility, Ancient Romans would bake wheat cakes and break them over the bride’s head. Soon it became customary to stack these wheat cakes one on top of the another, as tall as they could go. The bride and groom were challenged to kiss over the tower without knocking it over. If successful, they’d enjoy a lifetime of good fortune as a couple.
In Ancient Rome, the purpose of having bridesmaids at a wedding was to protect the bride. The bridesmaids would each wear the same dress as the bride in order to confuse the evil spirits and prevent them from finding her. As a result, the couple would avoid being cursed on their wedding day.
The first bridal bouquet was made out of aromatic bunches of herbs, garlic, and grains, which were ingredients that were believed to have the power of driving away evil spirits. Over time, the herb bouquet was gradually replaced by flowers that carry special meanings in different cultures around the world.
The wedding dress being white wasn’t a thing until 1840 when Queen Victoia started the trend with her spectacular white wedding dress.
In the 13th century, the Pope declared there would now be a waiting period in between the betrothal and the marriage. They would wear rings to signify their commitment to each other. When this stuck they also mandated that a wedding be held in a church by appropriate religious figures.
Around the 20th-century things started getting shaken up again. Gender roles were being switched around, people started using officiants and getting married in places other than churches, people wear wedding dresses that aren’t white, and same-sex marriages are now legal in all states.
You can see that the history and tradition of the wedding and marriage have been through a lot of changes over the years. As people grow and become different, so do their ideals and what they want. More and more people are realizing that these old traditions are just plain outdated. Now that the marriage is about love, the whole day should be about love.
Let me talk for a minute about what a wedding looks like today. A couple gets engaged and then starts the planning. It could be up to a year of planning. I am not sure if you have ever helped anyone plan a wedding but it is always pretty stressful. Things fall apart and then you have to make new plans, it’s hectic. When it’s all said and done the average wedding costs $30,000. That is the down payment on a house and not to mention more than some Americans make in a whole year. That is the most expensive party ever. That is basically what it is, a big party celebrating your love for each other. It might be time to reconsider some things and decide what is the most important to you.
I mean if you have been dreaming of your wedding day since you were a little girl and you know everything is planned down to the flowers and table ornaments then by all means go have your big wedding and enjoy the heck out of it. If however, you would rather make it all about you than everyone else I think that eloping could just be for you. Next, I want to talk about what elopements are and what they could look like for you.
Now, what is Eloping?
A very intimate ceremony that is intricately designed for the bride and groom to have everything they want on their special day and nothing that they don’t. This can take any form they want it to with a specific set of activities and locations. They can include a small number of family members (up to 10) at the ceremony or it can be just them on a cliffside. The possibilities are beautiful and endless. It throws away all the rules, gets rid of any production or performance. Literally the epitome of not being stressed,. Simply the beautiful connecting of two souls with no fuss. More flexibility with dates and times because you don’t have to book a venue, plus your photographer literally becomes your wedding planner. Just a custom fit experience to last a lifetime worth of memories. Isn’t that what it’s all about, It is your day after all.
Pros and Cons
Now that you know what eloping is I want to cover some of the pros and cons to help you consider whether a wedding or elopement might be right for you. For a wedding, you usually invite all your friends and family, even if they skip the ceremony they usually show up to the reception. At an elopement, you only invite those closest to you. If your friends are all wanting to celebrate you can always throw a reception-style party at a later date and time.
Weddings involve so many people and vendors to pull it all together, the planning, stress, money, etc. Elopements can be planned with just an officiant and your photographer. Cheaper, easier, and way less stressful.
Weddings generally happen in a church or building of some sort whereas elopements can happen wherever you want them to. Fancy a cliffside, secret winery, your favorite national park, all of those can become a reality for you. Weddings usually happen on the weekends because that is when people are off work and available. Also, that is when the venue is usually available. When you elope you can get married on any day you want. Bonus most places are less busy during the week so you could have the place all to yourself.
For both, you get to choose a beautiful dress of any color, style, and fabric you like. Both usually have bouquets as well. The groom usually has on a tux or nice suit for both of these styles as well.
Here is an example of a 14 hour day elopement…
All Day Elopement Experience 1: Landscape
Getting ready Location: Tent Mountaintop at Sunrise
Ceremony Location: Flattop Mountain at Grayson Highlands
Additional Portrait Location: Waterfall
Meal/Celebration Location: Meal at the campsite by fire
6:00- Wake up and pack up the tent, get dressed, and prepared
&:00- Take photos of all the preparation and details
8:00- Do first look and some more formal shots
9:00- Prepare to hike out and find the wild ponies
10:00- Stopping along the way for beautiful photo ops and sweet moments
11:00- Stopping for a packed lunch and snacks along the way (wine & cheese)
12:00- Finally making it to the flat top, doing the ceremony
1:00- Some seriously mushy photos
2:00- Hiking out to the waterfall
3:00- Getting set up at the waterfall and taking pictures
4:00- Hiking to the overnight camping spot
5:00- Setting up camp before it gets dark
6:00- Eating a specially prepared meal by the fire
7:00- Watching the sunset over the mountains
8:00- Taking some shots by the fire with nightclothes and smores
How to get started planning an elopement
The first step to planning an elopement is to figure out just what your dream day would look like. I suggest starting off with just the two of you sitting down together. That is what it’s all about after all. Both of you close your eyes, take a deep breath in and then out, and start picturing what your dream day would look like. The sky is literally the limit here so dream as big as you want to. Do you see yourself alone or with a small group of people? What does the background look and feel like? Are you tired from going on an exhilarating hike? Taking a stroll down a cobbled town street? Getting slightly misted from the waterfall next to you? Is it morning, evening, or both? What part of the ceremony is important to you both? Which parts do you feel like you can leave out? These are just some questions to get you started thinking about what you want. Remember no pressure or guilt, it is only about you.
After you develop a general image of what your day should look like you start to look for locations and photographers that cover that location. If you have a general idea of a location like a state or country you want to elope in that should help you to narrow down the photographers. Some will travel wherever you want to go so keep in mind if you see someone's work and you just love it, ask. You never know what the answer might be. If you pick a photographer who has been where you want to elope they should be able to help you deal with the rest of the details. You will need to find a local florist so your flowers are fresh. Research if you need a permit to shoot there. Pick a few spots to take some beautiful photos and relax. They can also help you create a timeline that includes a backup plan just in case mother nature doesn’t cooperate.
Really it’s not hard to do if you know where to start and have the right person to help you with the planning. You will need a few supporters standing in your corner in case of the naysayers who think elopements are crazy. I would be happy to be that person if you don’t have anyone.
Now you have all the facts and can truly decide if an elopement might be right for you. It really is all about the experience of sharing your love with your new forever love. At the end of the day what it really all comes down to is what you want your day to look like. Don’t give in to the pressure from the world and make decisions based on what they want. Close your eyes and picture your dream day, how you want it to look and feel. What do you want to do on your very special day that you will remember forever? That is what is important on YOUR SPECIAL DAY is you!
So there you have it in a nutshell. Everything to get you started thinking about an elopement ceremony. If you are ready to book or even just have more questions I would love to book a time to talk with you. Click on the schedule link below to find a time that works well for you! Here you can schedule a phone or Facetime conversation to ask questions, plan or just figure out what this could look like for you and your sweetheart.
History of Weddings: