What is a Modern Elopement?

March 17, 2020

Photo by: Wayne La


If you look up the definition of “elope” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you’ll find a plethora of meanings making it quite clear how polarizing the word has become, and how it has transformed and evolved with the passage of time and even personal preference.

Photo by: Matt Theilen, California, United States


To some degree, it seems that the word “elope” has become shorthand for “small destination wedding” (Merriam-Webster), a trend that has become rather popular these days. But how might a word that originally meant something to the effect of running away to get married (usually without parental consent) have transformed so much?

Perhaps the modern shift lies somewhere in the sentiment of “slipping away” undetected. After all, what could be more intimate than spending your wedding day with your other half, the person who made you want to get married in the first place? It seems that this idea of running away to get married unseen has metamorphosized into the more intimate concept we have of elopement today, as a private getaway for two people to spend their special day together far away from any other concerns in a place they find suits them both perfectly.


The Merriam-Webster dictionary has also made reference to elopement as a “wedding that is not financially insane.” Where some people might be in favor of a large, extravagant wedding, for others on a tighter budget, it makes much more sense to marry quietly and instead put their money towards starting their lives together.

Photo by: Leonard Walpot, Utrecht, Netherlands

It’s no secret that weddings cost more than ever, and so it also doesn’t seem ridiculous to think that a couple would prefer not to spend all their savings on something that will be a one-day event. While some may revel in saving wedding gowns, boutonnieres, bouquets, and other trinkets of the day, other couples may see financial insanity in spending money on items they will only use one time, preferring instead, perhaps, to simply commemorate the day with photographs they can look back through forever.


One major concern when planning a wedding is, of course, the invitations. Maybe there are some family and friends you’d like to invite, but not others. But won’t Aunt Martha be offended if you invite her sister but not her? Or maybe your mother is insisting that you must invite all of your cousins, and that you certainly can’t invite none of them or, worse, just some of them?

Photo by: Lauren Lindley, California, United States

Elopement also seems to have allowed couples “to not invite all the people we would rather not invite” (Merriam-Webster). Yet another new definition of the word, elopement has evolved into a concept of privacy and peace from any potential drama which may arise between warring family members, or could simply even save the couple from those awkward encounters with invitees they don’t actually know very well.

All in all, while couples may not necessarily be running away in secret anymore, the concept of elopement seems to hold great importance, especially for those who wish to have a day away from it all, including financial concerns or any other distractions, so that they can focus solely on themselves and their moment together on this singular day.