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What Does Eloping Mean?

Updated on March 27, 2013
Parc del Labyrinth, from my planned elopement to Barcelona, Spain.
Parc del Labyrinth, from my planned elopement to Barcelona, Spain. | Source

The Definition of "Eloping"

Have you eloped, or are you considering eloping? According to, to elope is to "run off secretly to be married, usually without the consent or knowledge of one's parents."

Culturally, the traditional perception of eloping is a couple impulsively and hastily gets married (perhaps without thinking about long-term planning or consequences); it often has negative connotations, sometimes with images of an officiant dressed like Elvis in a Las Vegas chapel.

However, more and more couples are choosing to elope to avoid the staggering cost and the overwhelming stress of planning a traditional wedding--this new trend is a "planned elopement."

Read on for more information about how to prepare to elope, as well as how to tell family and friends you eloped.

When preparing to elope, check the state or country's marriage laws...or you may end up just on vacation, rather than married!
When preparing to elope, check the state or country's marriage laws...or you may end up just on vacation, rather than married! | Source

Would you consider eloping?

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How to Prepare to Elope

Even though eloping involves much less stress and planning than that which goes into a traditional wedding, there are still things you will have to do ahead of time, other than buying a plane ticket. When you decide to elope, you will first have to choose the place where you get married--it can be as simple as your local courthouse, or as exotic as a park in Europe.

It is imperative that you look up the marriage laws for wherever you are planning on getting married! Some states require blood tests, and some do not; some require a waiting period, and some do not. If you're going out of the country, things become even more complicated--many European nations require one of you to live in the country for a certain amount of time, publish banns, or meet other qualifications. You don't want to get to your destination only to find out that you won't be able to actually get married!

It is also a good choice to undergo premarital counseling even if you choose to elope--often your city or your church will offer such classes, covering topics such as children, money, and sharing responsibilities in the home. Going into a marriage aware of how you both stand on important issues is important whether you marry in front of only a judge, or in front of 200 people--you won't regret it.

Finally, before you elope you will have to decide whether or not to tell your family and friends. Think carefully about your reasons for eloping, and think about whether or not a decision not to tell family or friends would create friction in your relationships. Eloping may be the right decision for you, but it has the potential to be painful to those who care about you. It is perfectly acceptable to tell people of your plans beforehand, and perhaps plan a reception upon your return.

More Advice on Eloping

Dealing with Possible Fallout After Eloping

As we just discussed, eloping can be a very hurtful decision in the eyes of those who love you--in our society, weddings are an important ritual and rite of passage, and sharing the moment with loved ones is the norm (not to say that it's right or wrong--I myself eloped!).

To avoid hurt feelings, you can choose to tell those close to you before you elope--explain your decision, why you are making the decision, and perhaps plan a small reception or party upon your return. If they are hurt, re-emphasize the reasons behind your decision, and be firm--don't let anyone guilt you into expensive ceremony! They will eventually move on from their hurt, because your choice to get married is not about their feelings; it is about your future.

If you don't tell anyone before you elope, it can be difficult to break the news upon your return. If you know a particular person will be very upset, have the courtesy to tell that person alone; otherwise, hold a small dinner or get-together to share the joyful news before you post it on your Facebook or blog. Those in your life will probably be more hurt and upset if you don't tell them before you elope, so be sure to emphasize your happiness, and how you're sure they are happy for you!

Final Notes on Eloping

Are you thinking about eloping? I can speak from firsthand experience and say I have no regrets--I saved tens of thousands of dollars, was able to afford a fabulous honeymoon, and also was able to afford a home and other luxuries much more quickly than if I had splurged on a traditional wedding. It's all about weighing the pros and cons, and thinking about what best fits you and your goals.


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