Not a downgrade – Elopement options during Coronavirus

COVID19 has shaken up the entire world and put a stop on all non-essential businesses, especially any industry based around gatherings of large groups together. AKA weddings lol.

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced the postponement of any gatherings with 10+ people and restricted air travel, which makes planning a wedding during these times even more difficult.

What does planning a wedding during Covid-19 look like?

In discussing with my couples what the future holds for their wedding plans, one subject that keeps getting brought up is whether or not to have an elopement.

It’s a question definitely worth exploring. If your wedding was scheduled for March, April or May, I’m assuming that you’ve had to sadly postpone and are now faced with the challenge of rescheduling. Even newly engaged couples wanting to start to start their wedding plans for fall/winter or 2021 are facing a challenge. The challenge of not knowing what the coming weeks, months and even year will look like. When will the stay-home orders be lifted? How long will travel, nationally and internationally, be restricted? Will the stay-home orders be lifted but mass gathering still be prohibited? Will it be safe enough for more vulnerable family members to attend the wedding, especially if they have to travel? When will it be safe for everyone to gather in groups of 50 or more?

With so much uncertainty and all these questions lingering, many couples are left wondering exactly what to do.

Eloping offers a solution both to couples that had to postpone their wedding and couples looking to get married in a world post-quarantine but still recovering from coronavirus.

Depending on how you’ve planned or visualized your future wedding, an elopement might sound like a downgrade. And I totally get it. Unless you were already planning to elope, for you this is a second choice, a plan B, forced upon you by a microscopic foe. I completely understand why eloping feels like a downgrade. At first.

But I think you’ll find, when you finally make the decision “ok, I’m going to elope”– you will feel a weight lifted off your shoulders and maybe even a sense of excitement. What I want to offer you here is my professional opinion on why eloping in general is an amazing option and, especially in these uncertain times, the right one. It’s an option in which you can safely get married in the coming months, you still get amazing photos and video if you choose to have your vendors there (which I’d argue will most likely turn out more badass than they would at a big wedding with time restraints and minimal time with good, natural lighting) and, if you want to, you still have your kick-ass party, celebrating with all your friends and family at a later date. Plus, you can go for that second dress/outfit that you wished you had the guts to wear to the big wedding 😉


Hear Me Out

First, let’s talk about what I mean by an elopement. Traditionally, eloping meant when a couple, against an authority figure’s will, would run off and get married on their own. These couples were so madly in love that they were not going to let anyone stand in their way of being married to each other, or they simply couldn’t wait and planning a big wedding was going to take too long.

So, traditionally, it was done in secret. Just the two of them.

However, in these modern times, what is now typically referred to as an elopement is a wedding that could take place anywhere, no venue required, because it’s only the couple, an officiant and maybe a handful of guests.

The term eloping is no longer reserved for those running off in secret. It simply means getting married without all the formal extras.

The important thing is that: Whatever you want to call it, you’re still getting married.

Yes, it might look different from what you originally had planned. Yes, it’s unfair that you are being forced to consider a plan b. Yes, it sucks that not all your loved ones will be there to celebrate with you the first time you both say “I Do.” It’s okay to feel sad and mourn what was supposed to be.

But an elopement still means that you’re marrying the love of your life.

Privacy = More Intimate

In my years as a wedding photographer, I’ve been blessed to have witnessed hundreds of weddings. This is not to take anything away from big ceremonies but from my experience, I’ve noticed something more intimate and personal with elopements (or smaller weddings.)  And what I’ve picked up on within the wedding industry is that most vendors agree with me.

To me, there’s just something so intimate and romantic about two people saying their vows, making their promises to love and care for each other forever, and binding those promises in a private setting.

Wedding days can get chaotic, that’s no secret. Most newlyweds can be quoted saying “I barely remember a thing that happened!” Which is totally reasonable considering you just made a huge life change in front of 100+ family members and friends, some that you maybe havent seen in a while, and definitely never all at the same time. It’s a lot! Which, of course, is why you have an amazing photographer/videographer team to capture it for you.

Imagine the most romantic day you can picture with the love of your life. You are going to get dressed up, go somewhere beautiful and declare vows that will entwine you forever. Now imagine getting to spend the entire day with that person (+ the few loved ones that you trust with your most intimate moments.) Yeah, it’s pretty magical!

As a bonus, because there are little-to-no guests, this private ceremony can take place almost anywhere, allowing you to say “I do” somewhere that’s meaningful and personal to you both, and/or with a gorgeous view. I have photographed elopements in places like Harry Potter World in Universal Studios, in gorgeous Airbnb’s and on the side of the East River with nothing but the New York City skyline as a backdrop. If you can dream it up, you can probably elope there (and usually for free!)


You Can Still Have Your Cake and Party Too

Having an elopement does not mean you won’t get to celebrate with your friends and family. It only means that your ceremony will be more private (and in the age of Coronavirus, safer.) You can have your elopement and then plan a celebration at a later date.

I would recommend hiring a photographer and (arguably, more importantly,) a videographer to film your elopement ceremony. This video can then be debuted at your party, allowing all your loved ones to witness your union. And even though they weren’t there when you exchanged your vows, this moment can be just as meaningful or even more so.

In closing –

Personally, I love elopements. I love the intimacy of them. I love how intimate the ceremony feels because it’s just the two of you marrying each other for no other reason than to get married. Don’t get me wrong, I still love big weddings and seeing all the of the couple’s loved ones celebrating in one place. I’m only trying to make the case that, although you might not have originally wanted a small wedding, an elopement does not have to be looked at as a downgrade. It’s just an alternative to the end goal of being married to the love of your life.

I feel like even when the country opens back up, the threat of COVID-19 will not be going away anytime soon. Even if businesses are open and we’re allowed to gather and socialize again, the threat of a vulnerable friend or family member catching this virus will still be there. And I’m sure you are having the same thoughts or at least taking into consideration the possibilities of what this might mean for your wedding. Estimates say it might be over a year before this threat goes away completely. Having to wait a year or more to marry your partner when it was supposed to be in the next few months does not have to be your only option.

Get married sooner with an elopement and a smaller guest count, hire a great photographer and videographer to document it properly, plan a party for later when it’s safe, and let the celebration keep going.

Please continue to monitor the CDC recommendations and White House Guidelines. Also please check out more of my thoughts and opinions regarding COVID-19 and your wedding.

Stay safe and healthy. 💫