When you hear the word “elope,” do you think of two people running away to get married in secret? That’s not really the case anymore, says Kate Faoro Wright, founder and creative director of Tapestry Event Company.

“I think the idea that an elopement has to be rushed or has to be a short timeline is a misconception that’s carried over from the previous notions and stigmas that have come with the word elopement. That’s no longer the case,” she explains. “We’ve had a lot more couples who have discovered what I’ve been calling the ‘new school of elopement.’”

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, smaller weddings and elopements have been steadily increasing in popularity. In 2019, for instance, over 2,000 couples eloped, according to Simply Eloped’s latest Elopement and Microwedding Report. Last year, searches for elopement photography ideas also increased by 128% on Pinterest.

One of the major drivers behind this rise in elopements is couples’ desire to keep the day's focus on themselves rather than pleasing their guests.

“When there are more people involved in your day, the focus shifts to being a good host to them while also celebrating your love. Whereas with elopements, it really does get to be about the two of you, how you want to spend the day and what you want to spend your money on,” says Wright.

So, with the focus just on the two of you, here are a few ideas from Wright for making your elopement a little extra special.

1. Have an outdoor adventure

A traditional wedding makes tying the knot behind a waterfall or deep in the forest logistically challenging – but not an elopement.

“In our case with where we live, we have a natural wealth of outdoor beauty, especially in the late spring and summer and then early fall months. Where I live, we tend to have a lot of interest in going up onto a mountain or going deep into a forest and being able to say your ‘I dos’ there. If you love the outdoors, lean into that,” says Wright.

2. Turn it into a trip

Another way to make your elopement memorable is to combine it with your honeymoon and turn it into a week-long (or more) vacation. You can even continue to stay socially distant by building a national park road-trip around the big day, renting a cool van and camping out under the stars, suggests Wright.

3. Check something off your bucket list

“My best general advice is just to embrace what you love when you’re eloping. I think that the most wonderful elopements come in the form of doing things that the two of you already enjoy doing or doing things that the two of you have wanted to try for a really long time and haven’t carved out the time or space to do,” advises Wright.

Maybe that’s watching the sunset from a hot air balloon, or perhaps you’ve both always wanted to stay in an Irish castle. Nothing is too big or too small – as long as it’s something you both love.

4. Capture the moments

One of the best ways to remember your elopement is by committing it to film – or at least digital images. Even though you might not have the traditional wedding party photos to take, you should still consider hiring a photographer specializing in elopements to capture your big day. That way, you have something to share from your wedding with friends and family for years to come.

5. Get your loved ones involved

Just because your loved ones aren’t attending your wedding in person doesn’t mean they can’t be involved altogether. For instance, you could have your nearest and dearest write letters with well-wishes and advice that you open in the days leading up to the wedding, suggests Wright.

Overall, keep in mind that there’s “no one way to do an elopement,” says Wright. “There are also people out here to help them navigate some of those questions and those thoughts. It’s a really robust community that’s specifically really passionate about having elopements and hosting elopements. There are tons of people and resources out there to help you find your way. So, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask, too.”

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