What Is An Elopement?

What is an Elopement?

While originally, the term “to elope” meant literally “to run away”, it became connected to weddings when young couples would run away to get married in secret, usually because they didn’t have parental consent.  In modern times, the word elopement is more generally used for a non-formal wedding ceremony, typically with a simple exchange of vows, few, if any, guests, and none of normal trappings of formal ceremonies such as music, decorations, wedding parties etc.

Courthouse Weddings

The most common type of elopements are courthouse weddings.   The couple stands in front of the judge or court notary to exchange vows and fill out the legal paperwork, and they may or may not have brought a few witnesses.  While some courthouses are more decorative than others, the couple themselves brings no decorations and no music, there is no procession, no giving away of the bride, no unity ceremonies, or any of the other things traditional in a formal wedding.

Personalized Elopements

More personal elopements may be performed outside of the courthouse by ministers or notaries.  While these elopements may be located in pleasing surroundings, such as a local park, beach, or in a home, the service is still as simple as the courthouse variety, with no procession, no set up of decorations, no wedding party, few if any witnesses etc.  There may be some customization of the ceremony script, but it will still typically not include any lengthy readings or unity ceremonies, and can be completed in about 5-10 minutes.  Below you can see some examples.