In May of 2018, my husband and I got married on top of a mountain in Colorado and brought along a few close family members and friends. We got “eloped” and it was awesome!
If you are in the midst of wedding planning, you are probably stressed beyond your mind, trying to find venues, trying to make everyone happy, and trying to not spend a fortune on your wedding (not to mention the pressure of dealing with COVID!). Well that’s what pushed us to elope. We finally realized that no venue was “us”, that we couldn’t make everyone happy, and that we didn’t want to spend a fortune on a wedding when we needed to save for our honeymoon and starting a life together. After months of searching, I finally caved and found the company Simply Eloped. After looking at a few pictures I knew within seconds I found our venue because we love the outdoors, hiking and the mountains. It was the first venue that looked like “us”. The only problem was that it was an elopement company, so I feared how my family and friends would react. I mean running to Colorado (from Nashville) to get married on a mountain sounded a little crazy for a traditional family. However, I made some decisions that really made this “elopement” a lot more inclusive and made both my husband and I, as well as our loved ones, feel happy and included. Here are some things we did.
I call this a “modern elopement”. This is because we didn’t just run into a courthouse to get married, we invited about 10 people, I got my white dress, had my hair and makeup done, invited bridesmaids, got a bouquet and big epic veil, even had a violinist on the mountain and we got married the way that felt right to us. Simply Eloped planned everything for us, from our photographer, videographer, violinist, location, hair and makeup, which took away some major stressors. I think I had maybe three emails back and forth and the wedding was completely planned! This freed up time for me to get creative on how to celebrate with all our extended loved ones. In addition, the total cost of the elopement was about 75% lower than the cost of other options back home, which allowed us to pay for some hotel rooms and flights for our guests coming to Colorado. Lastly, thanks to the low cost of the ceremony, we were able to have a big party back home in Nashville at a brewery for all our extended friends and family a few weeks later. This was the perfect stress-free, “us” wedding we could have ever imagined. Let’s discuss some more helpful tips and pros and cons of modern eloping.
All photos in this blog are credited to Austin Drawhorn, I highly recommend this Colorado Elopement photographer/officiant duo!
Location: 3M Curve in Estes Park, Colorado
Family hike idea: Bear Lake Trail
Small group dinner after the elopement: Dao House
Check out our feature on the Simply Eloped Blog here
Why you should elope… kinda
Here’s the thing, this elopement thing may not be for everyone, but if you are on the fence about it, then I don’t think you will regret it. I recommend doing the modern elopement avenue where you still get the white dress, you still invite some loved ones and get a photographer. I have heard people regretting the courthouse version one. You need to follow your gut on your wedding and assure you are communicating openly to your loved ones about your decision. Due to COVID, you also may not have much of an option for getting married the traditional way. I am here to tell you that modern eloping may be an even better option than the big dream wedding you had.
Tips to elope the right way, the modern way
- Invite at least a small group of people – It makes it more special to at least have a couple people there to support and celebrate you, not just the two of you.
- Dress up – Get your white dress and feel fancy! Not getting a wedding dress was the number one regret I read from women who had eloped the traditional way.
- Do everything you want to do – Get a videographer, learn a wedding dance, have a bridal group, invite your dog, wear hiking boots, there are no rules, do you!
- Have a celebratory party after your elopement – We found a brewery for cheap and were able to have a big party to include all of our loved ones a couple weeks after the elopement. This really helped include everyone, do some speeches, have a wedding dance and even share some photos from our big day. I was so thankful we ended up doing this!
- Make a weekend of it – Because you are in a fun destination with a small group of people, create some group events. We ended up making a whole weekend of family hiking and it created memories we will cherish forever.
Cons to modern eloping:
- Feelings could be hurt – Not being able to invite lots of people can leave some people feeling excluded from your intimate ceremony. This will be a tricky charade, but they will understand once you give them time and help them understand. Try to have some kind of big celebration event so they can still feel a part of your special day (even if it’s virtual or a live stream).
- Communication is key – It can be a strange concept for more traditional family members to understand your decision. Find ways to communicate often and early and make sure to have them feel included and important.
- Travel can be tricky – We ended up travelling for our elopement wedding, this can be an additional cost for your small group of wedding attendees. You may want to consider covering some hotel/airfare/rental cars costs for your attendees. In addition, travelling with your wedding dress, scheduling airport pickups, planning for weather, and carpooling agendas can be a little stressful.
- Venue challenges – Having an outdoor wedding in a very popular national park (Estes Park) means you can’t exactly foresee some challenges both weather and tourist wise. The park was packed for the memorial day weekend we got married, which led to some long lines heading into the park. The great thing about eloping is it’s completely flexible. If it starts late, who cares!?
Pros to modern eloping:
- Affordable – We had an officiant, venue permit, hair and makeup, bouquet and boutonniere, photographer, videographer, violinist, and some champagne… I think it came to about $3,000. Like, whoa! I couldn’t even see some of the venues in Nashville without a spending limit of $10,000.
- Less stressful – My elopement planning took a whole maybe three emails, and it was done! This was in big part due to the awesome company I worked with, Simple Eloped. Once I booked it, I felt a wave of relief!
- Flexible – We were able to change some details up to the last minute and start the ceremony practically whenever we needed to. The day can be as flexible as you need!
- Locations that are YOU – I never grew up with a dream wedding, no dream venue or church. So when I got engaged, I panicked. I started looking at barns around Nashville (cause they were all the rage), and that could not be further from the person I am. I mean, me… on a farm? With a small elopement wedding party you can actually go wherever, fairly easy! You should be able to look back at your wedding photos and think “wow, that was so us!” whether it’s a beach, a mountain, a cozy church or a forest, go do you and you can’t regret it.
- You will actually remember it and have time to eat – I hear too many brides tell stories of barely remembering their wedding day, trying to talk to every relative, posing for pictures left and right, not eating. Not only do I have an epic wedding day to remember, but during our “Reception” party back home I actually got to enjoy seeing everyone and not be stressed about all the wedding details (plus I got to wear my dress twice!).
- Have a truly intimate moment with your spouse – I didn’t want a big crowd for my ceremony, it gave me panic attacks just thinking about it. I loved the idea of being outside on a mountain with a small group of people to share our personal vows.
- Unforgettable pictures and memories – I mean have you seen the pictures!? I couldn’t believe how beautiful they turned out. Not only beautiful, but so “us”, I mean my aisle was a hiking trail!
If you are on the fence for eloping I hope this gave you insights on some other options for your big day. Make sure your day is something both you and your partner are looking forward to, but also plan events that allow your family and friends to feel involved, they want to celebrate you too!
What questions or fears do you have about eloping?
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