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  • Lucy Farrington

For better or worse - to elope, or not to elope?

Is the idea of a big wedding just not your thing? The question of whether to elope or not should be weighed up with the pros and cons.


An elopement wedding is typically and historically thought of as running away and secretly getting married without inviting your friends or family and perhaps facing criticism. With the particular impact of the COVID-19 on weddings, this definition has evolved to an alternative meaning.


An elopement style wedding is now understood as meaning that you are getting married and celebrating with just yourselves, or else having a ceremony with a very small group of friends and relatives in a minimal, more casual fashion. But how do you decide what’s best for you? What do you miss out on by not having a big, traditional wedding? Is it for better or worse?


I caught up with my friend Mel and had a chat about her choice to have an elopement style wedding in Wanaka rather than a big traditional wedding. She elaborated on some of the following helpful factors to take into consideration…


1. A wider choice of locations

Elopements can pretty much take place anywhere and you are only limited to your imagination. You can get married at your favourite beach park, lake, forest or mountain top and the options are endless. You just need to bear in mind that you may still need to get permission from the council.


The more people involved, the more your options are greatly reduced. If trying to accommodate a large number of guests, you are limited to where the wedding can take place logistically and you may also have to deal with transport, parking, accommodation, children’s entertainment, access for the elderly, toilet facilities, and so on.


“We swapped the idea of a big traditional wedding with the decision to have a stunning heli wedding at the top of a Mount Roy at Lake Wanaka,” says Mel. “It suited our adventurous lifestyle and it was just magic for the two of us to be up there with the breathtaking scenery while we got married.”


2. A much friendlier price tag

Having fewer guests also automatically significantly reduces the cost of your wedding. There is no need to pay for a venue and for all your guests to have a three course meal with the drinks flowing. That said, you may perhaps decide to instead spend your dollars on something else that is important to you both such as staying at a luxury hotel, buying your dream wedding dress, an amazing honeymoon, or simply just saving the money for the future.


3. A smaller, simpler occasion

The legal marriage ceremony in an elopement is typically shorter and simpler. It still includes the normalities of exchanging of rings and your vows, but becomes less about a show for your guests with a full account of your love story as well as rituals, poems and readings, and will be a simpler format that is more focused on you and your relationship together.


You will most likely get married and then head off for your small and intimate celebration. There will be no big reception including speeches from the best man, maid of honour, father of the bride, father of the groom, the wedding couple and more. And you will also miss out on the cutting of the cake, the first dance, father and daughter dance, cutting of the cake, tossing the bouquet and possibly a big send off from everyone at the end!


“We are both originally from the northern hemisphere and although it was disappointing for our family and friends not to be involved, they fully respected our wishes to go have a simpler wedding that didn’t involve them or anyone else except us,” says Mel.


4. Quicker to organise

Legally speaking, in New Zealand, you need to arrange your marriage licence at least three working days before you get married. This means you can organise your elopement in less than a week if you want to get married on a whim!


A wedding can often take at least twelve months to plan and one of the major reasons for planning well in advance is that most weddings happen on a Saturday and wedding venues get booked out. Generally speaking, given that an elopement is a much smaller event, you will be able to organise it in a much shorter timeframe as there are fewer people involved, but you may still need to organise accommodation, a ceremony location and perhaps a photographer.


5. A more intimate time together

When you elope your will spend more time together and it will just be you sharing your precious moment without spectators. You will normally spend the night together, may even get ready together and will most likely spend the whole day and night together.


With a more traditional wedding, the couple often sleeps at separate locations and will spend the morning apart with their separate bridal parties. They see each other during the wedding ceremony but at the wedding reception, the focus is on talking to and celebrating with all their guests, rather than spending time together as newly-weds!


“Ultimately, what you decide to do is about your personal circumstances and arriving at a mutual decision with your partner based on where you both stand on a big wedding versus eloping,” says Mel.

It is also worth noting that it does not have to be all or nothing. Perhaps you could go for middle ground and have a small and intimate ceremony and then invite friends and family to have a party on another occasion.


If you have decided to just do it and elope, well done! Check out my “Essentials” wedding package and let’s talk.






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