Anecdotally speaking, wedding professionals say more and more people are eloping. They would know, because boutique companies offering elopement packages are popping up like tulips in the spring. Why the escalation in elopements? Let’s break it down.
Do the math. It’s estimated that a traditional wedding costs $20,000 to $35,000. When you consider that more 30-year-old couples are marrying for the first time, and their average incomes range from $30,000 to $40,000 a year, it’s hard to justify spending nearly a year’s salary for just one day! Instead, couples are choosing to save that money for a house or spend it on a dream honeymoon vacation.
As one bride explained, “we didn’t want our love and commitment to each other to get lost in the pageantry… and family expectations… and big crowds. Our commitment to each other is deeply personal. We felt that to keep the focus on each other meant to go minimal. We wanted to create a day that was simply about us being together and making that promise to each other.”
With only the two of you, you are able to disregard the timeline guideline, such as Save the Date at six months, or invitations at three. Alternatively, for a beach wedding, a couple can wait for a long stretch of 70 degree days to choose a date, or walk the shore to find the perfect location. So long as they have a JP with some flexibility, no other calendars need to be checked.
In our April blog, Family Matters, we discussed handling the conflicting opinions of loved ones when planning a wedding. In elopement, there are none. It’s your day, your way. Wear a simple dress or a traditional gown. Hire a photographer, bring a friend to snap some pictures, or simply take some selfies. Order flowers or pick them from your garden. Whatever makes you happy is the answer. As one couple put it, “We don’t like all the hub-bub of a big wedding. We are best friends and simply want to be married…”
A family tradition, that is! Recently, a bride shared that it ‘felt right’ to elope because her parents eloped, her fiancé’s parents eloped, and her sister-in-law eloped. What are the odds? Well, with the rising trend of elopement, this may become more common than we think!
Tips for a Successful Elopement
- Expect that some people may be hurt or sad that you are eloping. They may unintentionally say things that indicate their disappointment at what should be happy news. “Why do you need an expensive wedding dress when no one will be there to see you?” “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Understand where they are coming from and respond kindly, but be true to your own wishes. It’s your day.
- Allow yourself time to plan if you want it. Eloping doesn’t need to mean spontaneously running to the town hall on a whim. Have a cake tasting, go dress shopping, plan a trip to a spa, and take time to write vows if you want to.
- If you feel a sense of loss, embrace it and then let it go. There are some things you will need to give up in order to elope: your father walking you down the aisle, friends doing readings at the ceremony, your first dance. Even though you may be sure about your decision to elope, recognize and appreciate that you are forgoing the traditional wedding.
- Try to find ways to get your family involved. Ask them to write notes you can read during your ceremony; plan an after-party on your return from your honeymoon; ask your JP to gather family’s input when writing the ceremony, or invite them to dinner when your pictures are ready for viewing.
Elopement creates opportunities. It can reduce some of the chaos experienced with a larger wedding, so you can really focus on what is important to you. If you are still unsure whether or not to elope, let your JP know. Together you can discuss the pros and cons of each type of wedding, and make the best decision for you.
Find your perfect JP at findaJP.com
Cindy Dumont is a Justice of the Peace in North Hampton, New Hampshire.