Just Married and ‘Home by 5:30 P.M.': More Couples Turning To Elopements Over Weddings

Pandemic shutdowns and price surges have more couples turning to elopements over a traditional wedding ceremony and reception

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Back in the day, elopement was secretive and sometimes scandalous. But the pandemic restrictions made it practical, and high inflation rates will likely keep it that way. 

When the pandemic ended travel and large gatherings, couples pivoted and  downsized. And Boston wedding and elopement Photographer Lindsey "Lensy"  Michelle’s business boomed.

“During the course of the pandemic, I kind of became a wedding planner, elopement planner,  just out of necessity,” she said.  “Suddenly, like that meme, where everything just table flipped, like that is what happened to every single wedding.  And suddenly I was the problem solver for all of these things."

She even got ordained and followed couples to beaches, courthouses, gardens, front stoops, museums, rooftops  and even Fenway Park.

“We got married, whatever had lunch and then we were home by 5:30 p.m,” said Elijah Shorter, who eloped at Fenway Park in February.

"It was amazing,” his wife Kat Shorter added.

Kat and Elijah planned to elope at the Boston Public Garden. When a relative got them into Fenway Park at the last minute, the Sox fans hired a photographer,  and tied the knot on a Tuesday, 2/22/22, at a dream venue.

 “We couldn’t have made it any better,” said Elijah.

”Best day ever,” said Kat. "Get your florist, get your destination, get your husband and get your photographer. That's it. That's all you need!"

The Shorters want to buy a house this year, and elopement was, in part, an economical decision.

"We didn't think spending a lot of money on a wedding would be as important as our house or as our, you know, our life, you know, ten months down the road," said Elijah.

Kim Olsen is the co-founder of ArtofEloping.com, an online resource for couples.    She said cost is a major factor for couples and the average elopement runs about $5,000.  It is less stressful than planning a big wedding, but you need to do your homework.

"You need to check things like waiting periods in different states, how many witnesses you need," Olsen said. "I hear a lot from couples, they wanted to elope to New Orleans and they drove down on a whim, oh there’s a 48 hour waiting period."

"Couples should also know that some courthouses such as Las Vegas, you have to make an appointment, you can’t just walk in," she added.

You can personalize your elopement in ways you never could with a big wedding.

Adventure elopement photographers, like Kelsey Converse Photography in New Hampshire, specialize in documenting your big day in remote locations.

And many hotels are now offering elopement packages.

"Look at what matters to you most,” said Olsen.  "What locations matter to you most, where you had a first date, favorite foods, focus on those things and bring along the people who are going to be with you in the long run and you’ll have a fabulous elopement."    

"The pandemic has brought them into the spotlight," said Michelle. "People now see how cool they can be. This is not your grandma’s elopement. Like this is your wedding day.

"Take a look at my website and every single couple did something completely different.   And I think that's the trend is like, do what you want. Make it a fun day."

A weekday elopement could be the most economical option if you can swing it. Vendors are more likely to be available and you may be able to negotiate a cheaper rate.  And,  if you’re planning a destination elopement, airfare and  accommodations may also be cheaper during the week.

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