Elopement: what does it mean exactly?
Elopement is a word with a wide range of different meanings. Elopement conveys the idea of running away, freedom, and getting married at the same time. It is often associated with rushed, last minute decisions and to many people sounds like something to be ashamed of. Not anymore!
An elopement is basically an intimate wedding, a private ceremony with just the basic participants, and witnesses. In some cases, parents and close friends. No more than twenty, thirty guests.
Here in Italy elopement is not popular at all: we value family so much, it seems like a terrible, disruptive idea not to invite the customary 100/200 relatives and friends. But Italy is the land of elopement and destination wedding for a lot of people coming mostly from the US, Asia and northern Europe. According to a study published by The Knot, 21% of US weddings in 2019 were celebrated abroad.
How to organize an elopement
An elopement has no strict rules: it is modeled on the wishes and personality of the couple getting married. If you like trekking, you can take a night walk and have a small intimate ceremony, at dawn, in the most perfect silence, with an incredible view. If you love the sea, why not celebrate on a sailing boat, overlooking Venice, or Amalfi, or any place that holds a meaning for you? Each elopement is unique.
Organizing an elopement means choosing a place that feels right, that makes sense to you. A day to celebrate love and commit to each other, and a day to do something new, exciting and unforgettable. A helicopter ride on the Dolomites, a private tour on a historic boat in the Venice Lagoon, a day in Bali in search of the most spectacular waterfalls, sunrise under the Eiffel Tower…
It is a dream come true for me: being able to help couples imagine and organize their day, making this day unique. Italy offers so many wedding destinations, and when you elope any place can be a wedding venue! Medieval towns, beaches, remote islands, fancy mountain resorts, or little huts at the end of the most amazing hiking trails. There are endless locations to choose from, either well known or totally hidden to the tourist masses. I can also suggest so many other destinations that I have already explored in Europe and the world, that are perfect for an elopement.
Looking for a more authentic wedding experience
For the generation of millennials (mine, and most likely yours too), the idea of organizing a lavish wedding with hundreds of guests seems less and less attractive. Apparently, even Prince Harry wanted to elope with Meghan Markle, before changing his mind and opting for a traditional wedding. For him, as for many thirty-year-olds, an intimate wedding represents a more authentic way of celebrating love.
I photograph so many couples every year, who choose Venice to get engaged or plan a destination wedding. I have noticed that many of them, much more than I thought, are not looking forward to organize the actual wedding! If they can, they delegate to parents or a wedding planner.
It’s not like millenials don’t want to get married
I can talk about my personal experience: I find it so hard to imagine myself in a traditional wedding. For four years I have photographed traditional weddings, in Italy and around the world. But I couldn’t imagine this as the only possibility. Was it possible to have a marriage that really represented me, that was mine and mine alone? How to find a compromise?
I found out I’m not alone. Like so many other people, I can’t stand the idea of having to spend a year preparing a party that will last no more than 12 hours. I hate to think about the amount of waste that this party would produce. For those who care about the environment, it is really difficult to reconcile their values with the reality of a traditional wedding.
And then there is the problem of having to decide who to invite, according to budget, and make a ranking of who matters and how much … that’s all very stressful to me. According to Samantha Burns, a couple therapist, the wedding list ends up triggering more anxiety and quarrels than anything else. And the relationship ends up being last in all lists.
An intimate wedding is for everyone
Elopement is an escape, by definition, but an escape in the most beautiful way: an escape from social obligations, from waste, from those things that “must be done” but are not of important to you, from family tensions, from useless discussions with your partner.
This is even more important for those couples who are not religious, or who are part of the LGBTQ world. Some traditions will have to be created and adapted. Elopements and intimate weddings can include any kind of ritual, and you can really get creative! This is perfect for those who want to build a ceremony that is truly personal and unique.
I saw so many elopements now, as a photographer in Venice and throughout Italy. I saw that an intimate wedding can be exactly how you want it. Elopements and intimate weddings are inclusive, always different, just like we all are.