• The Festival Celebrant

Everyone's eloping!

Updated: Oct 1

The romanticism of an elopement is undeniable and irresistible. Two lovers running away to be wed far from the scrutiny of the crowd. It might evoke a moonlit flight to some secret ruin where a sympathetic minister conducts the clandestine nuptials witnessed only by the Moon and the night creatures. Or you might imagine a jolly romp to Gretna Green and the blacksmith’s forge where your union will be sealed by the ring of the hammer on an iron-black anvil.


The history of elopement is full of stories of couples fleeing the disapproval of families or sundry authorities to join in magnificently defiant wedlock. Hurrah! Love is the Law, and sweeps all obstacles before it!


But there’s also a much darker history of elopement. Of desperate men - social outcasts, paupers, criminals, ‘the wrong types’ – seizing women and bearing them away to be ‘married’ against their will. The abductee's greedy parents might have set a bride price so high that her beau had no alternative but to abscond with her. She might even forgive him!


And people being the fabulously bonkers creatures they are, there’s also a tradition of ‘pretend’ bride kidnapping. A couple might conspire to fake a deliciously dramatic abduction for the sheer thrill of it. Everyone’s in on it and everyone has a thoroughly marvellous time. Hurrah!


But enough of the shenanigans! Eloping appeals because it's simple and direct. It’s just you and your beloved. No fuss, no logistical nightmare juggling family dynamics. You don't have to appease Aunt Flo with a chorus of “All things bright and beautiful” or making sure that strange cousin Steve doesn’t freak-out the bridesmaids.


And elopement gives you much more flexibility! There are all sorts of fabulous places you could have your ceremony if there’s only you (and your celebrant) to accommodate. Think of the quirky follies and moody ruins dotted all over the countryside. Think of the turf-springy hill tops with epic panoramas, the woodland glades dappled with sunlight or moonshine. The islet reflected in a still, black lake. A Victorian bandstand in the park! - who can resist a good bandstand?


A modern elopement won’t necessarily be totally spontaneous. You’ll have to arrange for a boat to get you to that islet. That fairy tale folly might belong to someone who’ll have an opinion about your plans for it. You may want to run away to your beach hut in Whitby but it’ll probably need a good clear out and perhaps a lick of paint (if you want to fill it with candles please have an extinguisher handy!). It'll still be far less fuss than agonising over who to invite and where to seat them. And cheaper! Even if you want something fairly lavish, with expensive props and do-dads, you’re only budgeting for two (and your celebrant of course!) so the money will go much further.


There’s no doubt that elopement is gaining in popularity. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many millennials planning to get married would seriously consider eloping. And many who are already married would elope if they could do it all again. Even the Covid pandemic has played a part. With thousands of wedding ceremonies cancelled or postponed, elopement has gained in popularity as an alternative. Some couples chose it as a 'place-keeper' until their big day can be rescheduled.


So what do you think about elopements? Is it something you’d consider? And if you have an idea for an elopement ceremony of your own get in touch; I’d love to discuss it with you.




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