When and Why to Elope

There are a growing number of couples choosing to elope. Elopement used to mean sneaking away to get married without the parents knowing. It was secretive and hurried.  It didn’t have the best connotation. But today couples choose to elope for good reasons.

Some couples elope to avoid conflict. Family can be complicated. I recall one couple who had planned a nice backyard wedding at their home for their families and friends. It was a second marriage for both, and each one had several children. One day I received a call from them, asking if they could just come to my garden, just the two of them, and would I marry them. Well, of course you know I would. The drama had just become too much! So that’s what they did, and they were quite happy. Later, they told me, they had a party to celebrate – but eliminating the wedding part made things much easier. Somehow adding ‘wedding’ to ‘party’ makes people go crazy. It shouldn’t, but it does -sometimes. Elopement really does avoid a lot of stress.

A beautiful elopement at Harmony Gardens.

Another important reason to elope is the expense. If you cannot afford a lavish wedding you probably shouldn’t have one. Starting a marriage in debt for a party isn’t the best idea. Or maybe you can afford it, but you choose to use that money for something else – like the honeymoon trip of a lifetime, or a down payment on a home.

The elopement itself can be a romantic adventure and honeymoon rolled into one. I have friends who eloped in Mexico and had a blast. I have my own little ceremony garden (Harmony Gardens) here in the Poconos, and lots of couples come to elope here. I give them ideas for places to stay and things to do, and they create a mini-get-away. I’ve also had couples who just want to keep it really simple, I officiate a lovely little low-key ceremony, sign the marriage license, and off they go! Nothing fancy, but still meaningful. See, that’s the beauty of it – on your own terms.

Some of the couples I’ve married stay at any of several beautiful local resorts – places where other couples have large weddings. Instead, they ‘elopers’ enjoy the same amenities, from the hot-tubs and spa treatments, to gorgeous rooms and lovely meals, just keeping it all to themselves. Mountain Springs Lake has gorgeous private cabins, Skytop Lodge is romantic with lots of outdoor activities, Stroudsmoor Country Inn has great accommodations and a restaurant on site and the Shawnee Inn is right on the Delaware River.

When you elope you get to do so in your own style. Some women choose to wear a wedding gown, but others do not. You can be as casual or formal as you wish. There is no reason why you can’t have all the glamour: the dress, the flowers, the rings – just without the guests! And on the other hand, just something fun, funky or casual is fine.

With the baby, it still feels like elopement.

Keeping it simple is another motivation for elopement, especially if you are more laid-back, or even shy. If you don’t enjoy people making a fuss over you or being the center of attention a wedding can certainly create anxiety.

Planned elopements sometimes evolve into small weddings. Not that unusual. I get calls from couples who wonder if it would be ok to have a few people attend after all. You know the answer is yes! Somehow they realize they just don’t feel right depriving their parents or other important people the opportunity to be a part of this important milestone.

An example that comes to mind: two brides who, intending to be secretive, let the cat out of the bag. When their friends found out they were to be married they jokingly threatened to hide in the woods, if they couldn’t be there. The couple relented and everything turned out amazing. We’re talking about all of eight guests – but what fun!

An elopement is intimate and romantic.

So I write this today to encourage everyone to find the appropriate way to tie-the-knot. It’s your wedding and your marriage and your life. You need not force yourself into something that simply isn’t for you. Eloping could be the solution.

Inform your family with a photo!


  Thank you Garth Woods for the beautiful photos of Harmony Gardens.

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