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Modern Elopements: What Are They & Why You Want to Choose To Elope


What is a Modern Elopement?

In 2023, it’s not your Grandmother’s Elopement anymore!!

Kelly Szott

You might be saying to yourself “what is a modern elopement? I see so many people eloping and all I can think of is the stories from my childhood of people sneaking off and coming home with rings on their fingers; they ran off to the court house or another city and secretly got married!”

Well in the 2000s elopements have taken on a different image, slightly different meaning, and the “rules”…well THERE ARE NONE! In today’s day and age Elopements are not necessarily about secrets and they definitely are not about courthouses (I think where I live in Calgary you can’t even go to the courthouse to get married anymore). Modern Elopements are all about ditching the “Norm” and doing whatever the heck you want! It’s been pretty much accepted under the term “elopement” to invite up to 20 guests and it typically means getting married anywhere but in a church or some formal traditional style! In 2023 eloping means:

  • throwing out traditions
  • not inviting 50-100+ people
  • finding a location you both love or want to explore
  • Choosing activities that you love to do or want to try together
  • including your dogs
  • Being present and making it all about you two
  • having an epic adventure with stories to tell
  • investing in photography to capture your love story
  • doing what you want – NOT what’s expected of you or what everyone else wants you to do!!

Why Should You Choose to Elope?

I hear Eloping is in!


#1 – Overall $$ Saver

Modern Elopements are simply easier on your bank account than any other wedding type. Your Photographer will be the priciest part, most likely and if you value quality, but that’s truly all you can take with you, besides your newly “married” title so that’s where you should be investing your money.

Traditional Weddings are big $$$ and a lot of people go into debt putting together a wedding which sets you up in an unfavorable financial situation from the start of your “official” life together. I think at the cost of weddings today, and I am speaking from a place of offering a wedding service lol, you could put a downpayment on a house, go on a big honeymoon, buy a new car, or whatever you want to do with 5-6 figures of cash! So if you are on a budget, don’t want to end up with debt your paying off for years, and you believe that the wedding is truly about the two of you and your love story, then an Elopement or even just an Intimate Micro Wedding with 10-30 people would be perfect and you will save a ton of money; even with hiring a damn good photographer in the mid-4 to low-5 figure range.

NOTE: You don’t even need a DJ if you have a few guests; invest in a streaming music subscription for less then $20 and buy a decent bluetooth speaker to play music from your phone. The bonus, you can even design your own playlist and not worry about a DJ playing stuff you don’t like.


When you have a big wedding it seems to become all about the guests and what they want, visiting with each of them, making sure no one is left out, and more. Modern Elopements are all about YOU and what YOU WANT to do!

Seventeen years ago I eloped to the Dominican with just our parents and siblings, but it was 11 people total and it still felt like too much. I truly wanted the wedding to be about my hubby and I; so that morning we left the resort without telling anyone and went in to town to spend a quiet morning together before the ceremony in the afternoon. I don’t regret it and I am grateful for that time.

When you Elope then it truly becomes about the two of you as a couple, and your love and commitment together. The vows can be more intimate and you can literally have a ceremony somewhere remote with no eyes on you but the officiant, your photographer and mother nature! It becomes about you two and the authentic experience, not what others want or recommend. Will you hurt some feelings? Probably. If they truly love you though, they will respect and understand your decision. You can always have a low key party with people at a later date if you want to include people that’s what I did ;).

#3 – Unique & Picturesque Locations

A lot of couples today are choosing to find somewhere new and unique to say “I Do” and they value experiences, memories, and adventure over materialistic things and experiences. I am not dissing those that choose a big traditional wedding; it’s all about priorities and if a generic ceremony location is not your jam then let’s find somewhere super cool that reflects your personalities and create the wedding experience you want, not what’s expected or the standard. When you choose a modern elopement you are choosing something completely tailored to you both and that is unique plus your options for incredible backdrops greatly increases without lots of people to accommodate.

We can find an adventure here in Alberta or British Columbia by climbing a mountain for sunrise nuptials, standing by a waterfall in Ya Ha Tinda, beside a lake in Banff, in a field surrounded by mountains, in the hoodoos of Drumheller, helicopter to the top of a mountain at sunset….whatever you can dream up!

The other option is we can grab our passports and find a waterfall or volcano in Iceland, a secret cove in Hawaii, a castle in Scotland, the Grand Canyon at sunset, an island in Italy, a beach in Greece…the world is your oyster! It can be just as expensive and even more complicated planning a wedding in a unique spot and trying to include guests, so you just do you and leave them at home! 😉

#4 – Less Planning, Which Means Less Stress

Planning a big wedding can be very overwhelming and completely out of your skill set or comfort zone. Many couples fight over budget, guest lists, venue, decor, etc. You can get advice and ideas from numerous people and Pinterest has literally a bazillion inspiration photos to the point that you can get frustrated and give up!

There’s so many decisions to be made: Open Bar or Cash Bar? Guest #? Kids or no Kids? Plated Dinner or Buffet? Do guests need transportation? How long can we have the venue? Wedding Favors, yes or no? Luxury decor or DIY? Ceremony Time? Reception Time? And a thousand more options to consider. Even with a wedding planner you still have to make all these decisions with them, they just get to do the leg work gathering everything before the wedding and putting it together and running your timeline.

However, a modern elopement is much easier to plan and you can still have your vision you’ve been saving on Pinterest, but with far less stress and arguments with your partner!

NOTE: If you hire me you get a planner to help you design your perfect elopement! Check it out and all I offer here!

#5 – Epic Portraits

When you think of your wedding, if you are all about the photos and the experience then a Modern Elopement is the way to go!! We can literally go anywhere and you have my undivided attention to create super incredible, emotional, fun and EPIC photos in the cool, unique place you chose to say your vows!!

If you want more photos and have them be super amazing, then choosing to elope allows you the freedom for that. Plus it’s easier to go to several locations after the vows to get romantic, intimate photos of you both with amazing backdrops and we are not stuck to a quick timeline because everyone is impatiently waiting for you to return so they can eat…honestly they are hungry and want their dinner…but who wants to rush back for them, when it’s supposed to be about you two!? 😉

You want legedndary photos then an Adventure Elopement is for you and you are my couple, hands down!!!

#6 – Quality Time with Guests

A Modern Elopement no longer means running away in the night to get married in front of the tackiest Elvis Impersonator on the Vegas Strip or in front of a judge at city hall; it has come to mean just you two in a fun, adventurous location, or just 5 guests (up to 20 or 30 guests).

At a big wedding I have found that most couples feel the pressure to go around and visit with every guest which can literally consume their whole reception after dinner. I rarely see them on the dance floor because they are busy attending to guests. It must be exhausting and honestly I find they say it went by in a blur or they see the photos and don’t even realize that uncle Joe was busting out his disco moves on the dancefloor or your best friend started a breakdancing competition while you were chatting with Grandma before she left for the night.

With only 20 guests in attendance you can not only find a more intimate venue for dinner, but you can actually easily visit and still feel like you are taking in the whole experience with those that are in attendance. If you are like me and only have a few close, quality friends rather than a large social circle then an Intimate Elopement with those closest to you is exactly what you might want!

#7 – Avoid Family Drama or Wedding Day Drama

You and your partner may be compatible, but it doesn’t always mean your families are and that can often create some tension or even heated drama around wedding planning and the day itself. Maybe your parents are divorced and don’t want to be in photos together or anywhere near each other causing you stress to organize and accommodate them (I went through that and almost called off my elopement abroad). Your family might be happy with a low key party and your partner’s family might be into the super luxurious; you are never going to please both. Maybe you have 6 close friends and a number of siblings and you don’t want 10 people standing up with you but fear hurting anyone’s feelings if you choose a smaller number. Also, your partner could only have 3 people they want in the bridal party and you hate the look of 10 on one side and 3 on the other. There’s all kinds of stress around accommodating others for a wedding when it should be all about you two!!

Eloping allows you to focus on what you both want and your day. A wedding is about the two of you, so if you fear the drama, hurt feelings, planning around people’s preferences or aversions, and more, then perhaps your best choice is to leave it to the two of you and then no one can even say you left them out because you left EVERYONE out!!

#8 – A Big Affair is Just Not You!

Maybe you or your partner don’t want a big event; standing in front of 120 people makes you want to throw up rather than be happy and excited about “tying the knot”.

Personally, I did not want a big wedding with 120 people. I actually don’t think I know enough people that I could create a guest list that big lol, but also I didn’t want all the focus on me! It’s crazy because I am a Leo, but I hate being the center of attention! It’s true.

If you are blending two different cultures or religions from your families it can very difficult to plan a wedding to encompass them both and not be offending or stepping on toes. Or maybe you and your partner are really just not into all the traditions and the societal norms for a wedding and you want to do your own thing; eloping is perfect for that!

Thinking outside the box and having a modern elopement can be such a creative fun way to express yourselves and your relationship. So if you want to say your vows in a hot air balloon, surrounded by the hoodoos of Alberta’s Badlands, skiing down a mountain, on a sled dog tour, on horseback in the mountains, or anything you can dream up then, DO IT! I promise you won’t regret the memories you will create and bringing your photographer along just means you will have those memories for years to come and even show grandchildren someday if you start a family.

#9 – Luxury Details become more Affordable/Budget Friendly

If you are saving on a ton of money for bar, food, decor, etc then you have more money to be able to afford the luxury items or activities you want for your wedding. Eloping means you can rent that fancy car that’s out of your budget or travel somewhere you couldn’t afford in your budget with a big wedding! Suddenly that $500 helicopter ride doesn’t feel so out of reach, or the vintage Rolls Royce from your grandparents era, or the hot air balloon ride, or whatever you have your heart set on.

So if you are going to spend money perhaps it should be about the two of you and the experience YOU want from your day!! Just Elope! 😉

#10 – Relaxed Instead of Burnt Out

So many couples focus on going through the motions and every piece of the big wedding, that I find most are exhausted by the end and completely burnt out the next day! It will go by in a blur and a whirlwind of people congratulating, telling you to go talk to this person, go thank this person, do this, do that and you may be so swept up in the chaos of a big wedding day that you don’t really relax, take it all in and enjoy the intimate special moments that a wedding should be about. With a modern elopement, you get to go slow, take in each moment, savour it, and really connect with your partner. A marriage is all about connection and intimacy so if you are like me then the wedding should be about that too and the easiest way to avoid the hustle of a big wedding is to plan an Elopement or Micro Wedding and truly breathe through the whole experience!


It really comes down to what is really important to you as a couple. Block out the noise of what you “should do” and what is “expected” of you by family and friends and ultimately do what suits you as a couple and your relationship!! Choose a modern elopement if you think it fits your love story!

So if you are travel junkies then hop on a plane and the world is yours (with covid fading out of the danger zone and borders are opening again), or get out a map of the mountains or trails in your area and plan to make your promises to each other in the quiet of a private ceremony on the edge of a cliff or canyon! Whatever you do, make it yours….AND BRING ME ALONG, my bags are packed and my passport is feeling lonely so I am READY FOR YOUR ADVENTURE!!

xo, kelly

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