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The Changing Definition of "Elope" + Some Destination Ideas

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Can I fill you in on something? You may know this, and you may not. Here it is...

The definition of "eloping" has changed. It no longer has to mean running off and getting married secretly or against the wishes of parents. So what does it mean?

Merriam-Webster online says, "Elope's meaning is shifting towards 'a small destination wedding' whereas it used to mean 'to runaway and secretly get married.'" If Merriam-Webster is talking about it, there's got to be some legitimacy to it, right?

Adventure Instead, a company who specializes in adventure elopements says this:


So with this definition in mind, an elopement can look, well, however you want it to look! Here is an example I found on Green Wedding Shoes blog to spark your imagination for what an elopement could look like.

As you can see, there aren't a lot of rules here. And "eloping" or having a smaller, more intimate wedding, can actually be a less expensive way to get married. Because a wedding is just that - the start of a marriage. The point is that you get married, so do that in whatever way works best for you! No pressure to break the bank. No pressure to have the best dress. No pressure to do the big meal and party like everyone else did. I've heard of couples planning out their wedding day in an awesome location. Your agenda might look something like: starting the day getting ready, heading to a pretty

mountain view with your pastor/officiant, photographer, and close family/friends, saying vows to each other surrounded by beautiful scenery, having a laid-back favorite meal together, and ending the day with sunset pictures.

"Let the service and the Word and the vows and the Lord and the love be the main thing." - John Piper

Places to Elope

Since there aren't a ton of rules here, and you can start your marriage in all kinds of beautiful places, mind if I share some of my destination ideas for your small wedding/elopement? I'm going for it.

  • North Carolina - In the Western part of the state, you'll find the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountain National Park that offer gorgeous landscapes for an elopement.

  • Utah - With 5 national parks and the out-of-this-world Bonneville Salt Flats, you have plenty of options to make your elopement equally adventurous and beautiful.

  • Oregon - Epic waterfalls, lush landscapes, and the stunning Oregon Coast, enough said.

  • California - Big Sur, the Redwoods, Yosemite, and the list could go on and on for this state.

  • Montana - Glacier National Park

  • Kauai, Hawaii - a tropical luscious mountainous dream

Is Eloping Legal?

Yes, if you go about it the right way! Depending on what state you decide to elope in, different things may be required. The main things you'll want to check on are officiant/witness requirements and permits for the specific location you choose.


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