Donna Marie

PHOTO CO.

Busting Elopement Myths

Busting Elopement Myths

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Eloping is no longer the clandestine, running off in secret kind of affair that many still think it is. We’re gonna be busting elopement myths today.

In fact, eloping, in my opinion, is WAYYY better than your traditional wedding ordeal.

Let’s start with my definition of the term elope.

Elope

/əˈlōp/
(verb)

an intentional and authentic wedding experience with a focus on you, your partner, and your love story. Stress free and intimate in nature while throwing the rules of a traditional wedding out the window to emphasize living in the moment during your wedding day.

Elopement Myth #1 — Eloping is for hikers

Bzzt. Nope. Eloping in Upstate New York doesn’t automatically mean you have to run to Lake Placid and hike for them mountain views. There are some STUNNING places within an hour drive if that’s your vibe. You absolutely can still elope without having to hike because eloping means creating a day that focuses on what YOU want for your wedding day. Elopements aren’t reserved for the hiking type!

Yes. Let me show you how.

Imagine your perfect, fun-filled day with your partner. What does that look like? Now add in a moment to exchange vows in a place that means something to you or that you both love. Whether that be lake side on Lake Ontario, in the middle of the Square in Downtown Watertown, or at your favorite local brewery — your day can involve anyone you want, and include any place you want. Want to binge on pizza and wings with 15 of your closest friends or family? Want to have your first dance in the arcade where you met? Would you rather have a quiet evening adventuring with your 5 member party in Dungeons & Dragons? Do it. That’s an elopement.

And there’s nothing stopping you from having it other than dusty old tradition.

Newly eloped couple dancing in the forest together

Elopement Myth #2 — Elopements are a glorified photoshoot

When you opt to elope, you free yourself from the restraints of a typical wedding. No rushed timeline to make it to the church on time, or need to navigate all those conversations with 100+ guests out of obligation. But that does not mean that your wedding day should only have 2-4 hours of coverage. Just because you chose to do something “unconventional” to celebrate your union, doesn’t mean you should shaft yourself and not book full day photography coverage. You deserve to be able to look back on your full wedding day, period.

That means that you should book your photographer for the full-day, just as you would for a traditional wedding.

A full-day elopement shares some of the same elements of a traditional wedding: getting ready, first look, vow exchange, newlywed portraits and more (like cake cutting) should you so desire. Those things are impossible to cover in 2 hours, and really restraining to cover in 4. Your wedding should be crafted with the INTENTION of doing things at your pace and letting the day unfold naturally around a few key points (such as the ceremony and dinner, for example).

Your wedding day should include everything that you want, and nothing that you don’t.

For those of you still wondering what a full-day elopement would look like, take a gander at this example timeline that I’ve constructed that details an 8.5 hour wedding day.

EXAMPLE FULL-DAY ELOPEMENT TIMELINE:

1pm — Arrive at Elena + Damon’s hotel/AirBnB
– getting ready shots
– detail shots
– first look in a nearby location

2:30pm — pick up food, small details, and necessities for a picnic lake side

3:00pm — head to lake, have picnic
– detail shots of picnic set up
– couple enjoys picnic
– take some lake side portraits

4:30pm — Intimate ceremony with just the two of them (and an officiant) on Lake Ontario

5:30 — Couple heads to town, meets with 15 closest family + friends at local Roller-Skating Rink
– have first skate (dance) together
– party/reception portraits
– enjoy brews + pizza/wings

7:30pm — Couple adventures around downtown Watertown with stops for portraits along the way
– candids
– potential Ice Cream Shoppe/Smoothie Shoppe stop
– Parking garage top portraits at sunset

8:30pm — Hit up the local arcade + have fun as a newlywed couple
– candids
– give the couple space

9:30pm — Photography coverage ends

Elopement Myth #3 — People who elope are just trying to save money

Nah, friend. An elopement (or intimate wedding for that matter) gives you the chance to experience things in a fashion that can be as elaborate or as simple as you’d like. With a traditional wedding you may feel obligated to invite 150+ guests which can get really expensive really quickly. With an elopement, a lot of my couples spend the morning together with just themselves doing things they love, have a private ceremony, and then invite 10-15 of their closest friends and family for an evening dinner. They choose to use the budget that they would have spent on a traditional wedding to craft a pretty damn memorable day.

Elopements can still have all the same elements of a traditional wedding if you want them. I’ve said this before, and I’m gonna say it again: When you decide to elope, you take back control over your wedding day. You call the shots, and you include everything you want and nothing you don’t.

By choosing to elope you’re placing experience over everything else, and why not? You’re about to dedicate the rest of your life to your partner. Make your wedding an experience, not just an expense. That 15k you were gonna drop on a wedding venue would make one hell of a honeymoon or vacation with your partner. Experience a whole wedding week if you’d like where you do things together that you love, versus remembering the stress you felt trying to construct a seating chart and schedule events into a 10-12 hour wedding day.

Couple sharing a first look on their elopement day

Elopement Myth #4 — You’re selfish for eloping

No. NO. Absolutely not. This whole misconception about eloping being “selfish” needs to be put to rest already.

If you want a big wedding, and that’s what you’ve dreamed of, that’s great! But what about us introverts? Or those of us who aren’t close with family? Or maybe aren’t close to home for family to attend? Or maybe you just have never really walked along side tradition? You have options, my friend.

Your wedding is about YOU. Not your long-lost cousins, your great aunt Hilda, or anyone else OUTSIDE of your relationship. You deserve the day YOU and YOUR PARTNER want, regardless of what others have to say about it. Making the day reflect who you are as a couple is not selfish. Please don’t fall into the trap of believing your wedding day is a pomp and circumstance to be put on display for 150+ guests you’ve barely talked to in the last decade. Because it’s not. Truly.

Why make yourself uncomfortable on what is supposed to be an intimate, meaningful day? A day where you vow to spend the rest of your life with your partner—where you should be vulnerable, open, and present in the moment with your partner. It can be difficult to really live in the moments throughout your wedding day when you have a group of spectators.

Let go of expectation and be true to yourselves.

Elopement Myth #5 — Eloping isn’t as special as a traditional wedding

Bzzt. Wrong again. I’d argue that eloping is MORE special versus a traditional wedding because you’re less likely to get caught up in the schedule, and more apt to enjoy the day as it unfolds. You’re taking the day at your own pace with very little time restrictions in place. Things are much more flexible, and the stress, basically non-existent. You get to enjoy moments of privacy with your partner where you can really be yourself, and not have to worry about 150+ pairs of eyes on you (it stresses me out just thinking about that tbh).

Elopement Myth #6 — An elopement has to be just the two of you

This last one, I get why people think this. Because when you see gorgeous elopement photos, it usually just features the newlyweds. But an elopement can seriously be anything you want it to be. If you want to include a small number of people who matter to you in your elopement day, then by all means do it. Most times this kind of gathering is referred to as an intimate wedding, and the terms elopement and intimate wedding can be used interchangeably. In my own personal definition, 15 or less guests constitutes an elopement and 50 or fewer guests constitutes an intimate wedding.

Now that we’ve finished busting elopement myths are you ready to start planning your own elopement? Let’s talk!

Need more elopement planning resources? I’ve gotchu!

The Elopement Planning Checklist
Best places for your Syracuse Elopement

Hello there

I'm donna marie

An adventurous destination wedding and elopement photographer livin' in upstate New York. I'm here to empower all couples to create an intentional wedding day that focuses on the experience and the feels.

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