Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What does Elope mean?

So I was sitting at lunch a few days before Christmas with two old friends, and the talk turned to weddings. But they were two boys, so the wedding talk wasn't the usual shoesandflowersomg! We talked food and who from my high school I'm going to invite. Then I griped about weddings and made a comment about how we should just elope. P. says, "or just go to the Justice of the Peace." The other two of us just looked at him and said, "that is eloping." So then we got into a discussion of eloping. P. said he thought it meant you had to go somewhere, like Vegas, or Virginia and I said it just meant "fast, quiet, or small."

The reason that people think eloping means going away probably has to do with the waiting periods and other requirements for a marriage license required in certain states. For example, in DC, you need to get tested for STIs. In Maryland, you have to wait 3 days between a license and the ceremony. In Virginia, there is no waiting period, so people from this area frequently elope to Virginia and several Virginia hotels offer "elopement packages". Vegas is the same way, what with it's drive-thru chapels.

(I would elope here too!)
There is some discussion that we have "bastardized" elopement by creating elopement packages and selling elopement as not-just-city-hall, but I think that ignores the origins and intent of eloping. Some couples plan elaborate destination elopements, which take months of forethought. They simply don't want to deal with family drama, or they don't want to have a wedding. Some people elope because it is a way to separate the commitment you are making to another person from the party part of wedding planning, which is what causes the drama and the stress. I'm in favor of elopement for those that want/need it - and while I think that elopement packages might border on ridiculous, for people that want to avoid the stress, buying a package just makes the whole wedding thing go away. (Although having to book 6 months in advance does defeat the "fast" purpose of eloping.)

How do you define elopement?


  1. A fast, quiet marriage. I guess if one must label things, my marriage was an "elopement", but I don't really think of it as such. It was simply the act of marrying. My husband & I had practical reasons for getting hitched so "eloping" and planning the party for later was a lot easier than rushing the party planning and coordinating that with the legalities of marriage.

  2. *within the time frame we had, that is.

  3. I define elopement as a secret wedding that the couple only announces after the fact. Usually because family is not on board with it, or to save time and money. However, I feel like if you go to city hall for your ceremony and everyone knows you are going, it isn't really eloping.

  4. e- away
    -lope Run fast

    Unless you have something to run away frem you are not eloping

  5. I'd have to agree with lingismyname: a fast, quiet marriage. I don't think it requires a road trip, although if your state has a long period and you're really in a hurry it makes sense to go elsewhere. I think the downtown city hall in your own neck of the woods makes the marriage fit under the definition of "elopement". I just think, traditionally, going elsewhere is usually implied for people who say they eloped.