What the Heck is an Elopement? Myth-Busting Common Misconceptions

Posted On | May 23, 2020

Gone are the days of “eloping” meaning going to Vegas and getting married by Elvis. If that’s what you want to do, then sweet! However, eloping today means so much more than that. So what the heck is an elopement?

An elopement can look like many things depending on the couple, but they all have a few things in common. Elopements center the couple every single time and celebrating the commitment that you’re making to your favorite person in the world. They take the pressure off to put on a performance, and instead get married in a way that feels authentic to you. Elopements allow you to say “no” to any tradition that doesn’t fit your relationship or your values, and invent new ones that reflect who you are and what you believe as a couple.

Elopements mean many things to different people, but at the end of the day, eloping is about making the brave choice to get married in a way that is true to you.

There are SO many myths and misconceptions around elopements, so let’s break them down!

bride and groom laughing and walking in the mountains during boulder colorado elopement

Myth: Elopements aren’t as important or special as a “real” wedding.

We think this is one of the most common myths I hear about elopements, and let me tell you, it couldn’t be further from the truth!

First of all, couples choosing to elope are absolutely still having a “real” wedding. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines wedding as “a marriage ceremony usually with its accompanying festivities; an act, process, or instance of joining in close association.” A couple choosing to hold their ceremony in a location that is special to them, whether surrounded by 100 people or just the two of them still meets that definition!

Elopements have the opportunity to be even more unique than a traditional wedding and every ounce as special. Instead of feeling pressured into performing traditions that you aren’t even sure how they came about (cake cutting and garter toss anyone?), couples have the opportunity to create a day that feels 100% them. It is still their wedding day, and they are sill saying “I do,” it just looks a bit different than in the movies!

couple sharing first dance next to lake during colorado elopement

Myth: Elopements deserve less time than a traditional wedding and is just a ceremony followed by a photoshoot.

We get requests all of the time for just an hour or two of coverage for someone’s elopement day.


This is your wedding day! We’ve established that it is every bit as special as a traditional wedding day, therefore your elopement deserves just as much documentation (if not more!) Most couples who elope rely on photos to share their wedding day with their friends and family who weren’t there. You deserve to have allllll of those significant moments from your wedding day documented. From getting ready to seeing each other for the first time, reading your vows, to the first kiss, and especially those first few hours as a married couple – it all is worthy of being captured!

groom spinning bride on rock in lake with mountain views during brainard lake elopement

Myth: Elopements are always last minute and require very little planning.

While some are last minute (which is totally fine!), most elopements receive just as much planning and attention to detail as a traditional wedding – it just looks a bit different! Instead of making decisions about seating charts and table decorations, eloping couples instead make decisions around what their perfect day would look like, and how to make it happen. We work closely with all of our eloping couples to put together location guides to choose their ideal spot to explore together, where to stop to say their vows, and where they want to celebrate after! We brainstorm what activities would be meaningful to them on their wedding day, and create a timeline that encompasses what memories they want to be able to look back on every anniversary.

bride and groom hiking down a trail for their boulder colorado elopement

Myth: Elopements have to be a secret and are only for people who don’t have their friends’ or family’s blessing.

While some people choose to keep their elopement secret until after they’re married, many couples share with their friends and family ahead of time! Couples who choose to elope decide to for many reasons, the majority of which have nothing to do with their families. Some couples do not like to be the center of attention, and the thought of standing in front of a room full of people to say their vows makes them feel nauseous. Some couples have seen how much a traditional wedding can cost and desire to spend that money on an epic adventure instead. Other couples have never felt like a traditional wedding fit their relationship or personalities and would rather create a day that feels authentic to who they are. There are so many reasons couples choose to elope!

bride and groom performing sand ceremony during their small wedding in estes park colorado

Myth: Elopements only involve the couple.

Some elopements only include the couple, but many include their close friends and family! Every single elopement is unique, and there are no rules to who can and cannot be there. Some couples want to create an intimate day with just the two of them to enter into their marriage intentionally. Other couples couldn’t image getting married without their best friend and their family by their side and choose to create an adventurous day that their families get to be a part of, whether it is for the entire day, or just a part! Couples have even eloped on their own, but watched videos or read letters from their loved ones after their ceremony to still feel like they were included!

Myth: Elopements take place in a courthouse.

While they can, the majority of elopements that I have been a part of don’t take place anywhere near a judge! In fact, in Colorado, couples can self-solemnize, which means they don’t even need an officiant or witnesses to make it legal. Think of how many options that opens up for where you can say “I do!”

bride and groom standing on peninsula in a lake at sunset in the mountains at the best location for a colorado elopement

Myth: Eloping is selfish.

No, nope, not even a little bit. You don’t owe anyone anything, especially on your wedding day. Yes, I’m sure your friends and your family are important, but this is one of the very rare days in your life that should be entirely about YOU. It is not selfish to want to enjoy your wedding day!

couple wearing headlamps at night with sunset and the stars in the mountains by colorado elopement photographer we the light photography

Myth: For an adventure elopement, I have to be ready to hike 20 miles with a backpack that weighs 100 pounds.

As rad as a 20-mile hike would be on your wedding day, we totally get that for most couples, that sounds like the opposite of what they would want to do. Adventure elopements simply mean creating a wedding day centered on getting married and exploring together. While hiking is definitely on the table (there’s some awesome locations that are less than a mile round trip, as well as some that take all day to get to!), so much more can go into an adventure elopement!

We ask couples to make a list of their favorite things to do together, and then we plan a day around those. We can rent a 4×4 vehicle and explore some mountain trails (awesome views with minimal walking!). We can take a ski lift up to the top of a mountain and soak in the views. We can visit your favorite brewery and you can play some card games over a cold one. We can go sightseeing in a new city, have a picnic in your favorite park, go kayaking, take a helicopter ride, or roast marshmallows around a campfire. There are so many options to what a day could look like, whether it includes hiking or not!

The whole point is that an elopement can look like anything you want it to, and we will be here every step of the way to help you craft a day that you will be excited to look back on every single anniversary.

Ready to start planning your elopement?

Meet Larissa + Bailey! As two born and raised Coloradoans who have photographed over 200+ couples in 100+ locations across Colorado, we specialize in creating a different kind of wedding day that is just as adventurous as you are. We use our experience and knowledge to craft a different kind of wedding day that feels completely authentic to you. Want to hike to a high alpine lake? We can give you trail options for that! Want to canoe along the banks of a mountain lake? We can tell you the best lakes to do it on! Want to watch the sunset from the top of the world? We’ll lead you to our favorite spots for sunset! Book your Boulder elopement photographer today!

In the meantime, be sure to check out our list of Best Places to Elope in Colorado, and our guide for How to Plan a Colorado Elopement!

Overwhelmed with How To Plan A Colorado Elopement?

Download Our Free Colorado Elopement Planning Guide & Checklist

40+ pages of ideas, tips, and a step-by-step checklist to make your dream elopement come to life.

wedding couple in the mountains on cover of We, The Light Photography's Colorado Elopement Planning Guide and Checklist

Are You Freakin’ REady?

We’re 100% here for whatever day you’re dreaming up. Fill out our contact form to start chatting.

Are You Freakin’ REady?

We’re 100% here for whatever day you’re dreaming up. Fill out our contact form to start chatting.

Comment Love

14 responses to “What the Heck is an Elopement? Myth-Busting Common Misconceptions”

  1. Vital

    Thanks for myth-busting on such an interesting topic! More and more people are switching to elopements from big traditional weddings, and your blog post is pure gold.

  2. Lynn

    This is so true!! And I love how unique each elopement is – from adventuring in the great outdoors to celebrating with an intimate group of loved ones, there are so many ways to elope!

  3. Traci

    Love busting myths about elopements, so much misinformation out there.

  4. Afton

    Agree with aaaallll of this!

  5. Ariel

    1000% love all of this information! So much misinformation out there about elopements!

  6. Adriana

    I LOVE this! Great way to educate couples and show them that each elopement can be unique and special and that there are no set rules!

  7. Sienna

    Love seeing this mindset more and more often. All about breaking the mold!

  8. Julia

    All of these myth busting answers are amazing! This is why I love elopements!!

  9. Traci

    Thanks for sharing so informative!

  10. Tom Zittergruen

    Love the visuals throughout the guide! Excellent work repping the elopement experience!!

  11. Alex & Kelly

    i love hearing myths being busted on elopements! such good info!

  12. Abbi Hearne

    Such a helpful blog post about elopements!

  13. Anna Bowser Clark

    YES YES AND YES! I love that you are busting these myths and providing gorgeous images to provide exampls!

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    […] would randomly say “marry me” all the time to Lindsay. Finally, Lindsay laid out the reality of eloping vs. having a big wedding and these two traveled from Missouri with their parents to elope in the […]

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