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  • Writer's picturePetite Weddings

What’s the difference between eloping and marrying?

Fallen Angel, Cornwall

In essence an elopement is just one of the many ways that couples choose to marry in the UK.


Traditionally a wedding involves a wedding ceremony where friends and family of the couple join together to witness the couple exchange their marriage vows, i.e. the promises that they make to one another. This tends to happen in a registry office or religious setting, or alternatively legal paperwork can be done separately in a Statutory Meeting at a Registrars’ Office and the wedding ceremony itself can be led by a celebrant and take place anywhere.


An elopement is a much more personal, romantic alternative for couples who want their wedding day to be focused on the two of them without having to please or appease family and friends.


What’s an elopement wedding like?


The differences between a traditional larger wedding and an elopement start with the cost. The average cost of an elopement s around 20% of that of the average wedding – that’s a saving of 80%!


What’s more, because it is just the two of your or two and a few, your plans are on a smaller scale and far les complex. This allows you to enjoy your wedding planning journey rather than stressing about it. Sure, you will still have pre-wedding nerves, but these will come from a place of love rather than a place of anxiety caused by expensive, overly complicated plans that sadly do not always work out the way couples want. What you are also guaranteed of is no interference from family or friends who have set ideas as to how you should be marrying and what your wedding day should look like.


The best news is that your elopement wedding can be exactly as the two of you wish, a real celebration of your relationship including everything you love and nothing you don’t. You can choose somewhere romantic to stay for a few days extending your wedding bubble into a minimoon. You can wear what you want, get married where you want, have a romantic- wedding meal eating all your favourite food alongside your tipples of choice. Add spa services, spend your wedding night toasting marshmallows by the firepit, eat wedding cake for breakfast, have a wedding day run or surf or SUP, bring your dog and have them as a ring bearer….the list is endless with the only limits being your imagination.



Is an elopement legal?

An elopement conducted by a registrar and held in an approved premises or registry office in England and Wales, or a celebrant in Scotland at any location is legally binding. There is often some confusion as elopements originated from the concept of a couple running away to get married without their parent’s consent. Although this wasn’t illegal, it certainly broke social convention of the time.


Another way of ensuring your elopement is legal is by de-coupling the process. Your legal paper work can be completed at a Statuatory Meeting with the Registrar and your actual elopement wedding ceremony can then be led by a celebrant in a mutually agreed location. This option is popular with couples who want a unique outdoors location e.g. woodlands, clifftop, beach rather than being restricted to approved legal wedding ceremony locations.


Tremenheere, Cornwall

How do you know if an elopement is right for you?

An elopement experience is super special for the two of you with the whole plan woven around your style and preferences.


Specific benefits of an elopement wedding include:


-       Saving money without diluting your wedding experience

-       Avoiding any of the parts of a traditional wedding that couples can sometimes dread e.g. getting up and speaking in front of lots of people

-       You can enjoy the process from start to finish without financial and logistical stress that can go with a larger wedding

-       Getting do things your way without having to please or appease others

-       Choosing to get married when and where you want

-       Creating your own unique experience based around your relationship

-       Wear what you want

-       Disregard some of the wedding traditions that don’t fit with your ethos


Disadvantage to bear in mind


-       Some family and friends may take offense. Our view is that if you feel this is a risk you should explain your choice and rationale to them up front and find ways to involve them in your celebrations separately e.g. have a celebration meal/party when you get back, get a video taken of your day to share with those you care about, bring home a layer of your wedding cake to distribute to those you wish.

Find your perfect elopement

Petite Weddings specialises in helping couples find their perfect elopement venue and elopement services to bring their elopement wedding dreams to life. You can more here.





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