Elopements are gaining popularity among engaged couples with their romantic and intimate ceremonies, usually in destinations rather than hometowns. They can be as extravagant or as simple as the couple desires. Receptions for friends and families can still be held but elopements allow for flexibility in dates, locations, and budgets.
We asked local photographers of Fox and Owl Studio why they prefer shooting elopements over weddings and what makes them so desirable in the Smokies.
“Seeing our couples get married for the sole reason of love and happiness has brought out a vigor and excitement for us that has no name. We’ve been part of elopements that are simple AF and some that have a lot of details and moving parts. What we love is how each one is a perfect reflection of who we are shooting with. The best part of all is that they’re doing it for them, no one else.” – Shannon Horton of Fox & Owl Studio
Here are Fox and Owl’s 7 reasons why eloping is the bomb:
1. What pressure?
So often during our meetings leading up to the wedding day we’ll hear our couple’s say “ugh, I don’t want to do this but, my Mom wants it” or worse, on the wedding day we’ll hear them get stressed out about saying their vows in front of a ton of people they don’t know. One of the major differences we’ve seen during an elopement is the lack of pressure. Elopements are so free form and fluid, you can make it exactly what you want it to be. Have a handful of people there or just a trusted creative team. Elopements leave room to focus on what you want vs measuring up to what others want.
2. Focus on intention
This seems like a really elementary point, right? You’re doing all of this to get married, duh. But, that simple fact gets lost in the pomp and circumstance of a traditional wedding. Brides get hung on up on their pinterest boards, making sure every centerpiece is just right, keeping everyone happy – except themselves, etc. The idea of actually saying, “I do” tends to fall by the wayside. When you’re eloping, there isn’t any of that. You can focus on the intention of the day. Hike to your favorite place in the woods, stand in the mist of a waterfall, heck – go to your favorite brewery. The entire point of eloping is keeping it focused on choosing each other and committing to doing life together.
3. Being present
During a traditional wedding we (photographers) are super protective over two portions of the day – bridals + bride and groom portraits. Like, momma bear protective over them. Why? Because so much gets lost during a wedding day. The energy is high and fantastic, but the timeline is go go go. When we shoot a traditional wedding our clients often come back to us and say “thanks for carving that out in the timeline for us, that’s what we remember most.” It’s because they had space and permission to be present with each other. It’s so odd to be separated from your person on the day you’re committing yourselves to each other for life. What we love about elopements is the entire day is centered around being present. You’re spending time together driving to the site, you can get ready together (if you want to), you make it something that feels right to you. The bottom line is you’re able to be present with each other. There are minimal distractions and the best part is, you spend the day together.
4. Spend with purpose
When you elope you can use your budget where you find the most importance. Because you’re not spending a ton of cash on the venue or catering consider making it a destination elopement. Go somewhere you love (you know, like Haywood County or the NC Smokies so we can shoot it) or have always wanted to see and say “I do” there. You have the freedom to put your budget to good use by focusing on the experience you want to have vs all of the extras that go into a traditional wedding day. Eloping doesn’t mean cheap, it means investing with intention.
When you elope you’re not planning it for anyone but you and your fiance, so you can tailor it to your unique style. We’ve seen elopements with zero cake and decorations and we’ve seen elopements with a full spread – including two cakes. We always encourage our couples to think about including special touches in the ceremony or décor that reflect who they are as individuals and as a couple. Also, bringing your dog along is never a bad idea. Ever.
6. Make your own traditions
When Andrew and I decided to do the dang thing we knew we wanted to buck tradition and stay true to us. We thought about where we wanted to have our ceremony and we knew we wanted a few folks there that we loved. We chose to say our vows in my childhood woods, a place we both feel connected and in tune with. We hiked down the familiar trail together holding hands. Everyone stood around us in a circle as we said our trilingual one liner vow. My dad made my bouquet from native wildflowers. We had a potluck get together after the ceremony. It was entirely our own, something that felt right to us. One of our favorite parts of an elopement is seeing how our clients weave themselves into it. Something we always say is: if it feels good, do it. Whatever you choose to do should feel 100% good and honest.
7. Adventure awaits
Make your elopement your adventure. What does that word mean to you? For some it is a hike + camping trip or getting on a plane and going somewhere exotic or a bonfire with a few fast words of commitment. Decide what foot you want to start this big adventure off on and enjoy the heck out of it.
1. You spend the most time with your photographer and videographer on any wedding day. Make sure you’re hiring people you believe in and trust. You need to jive with them on a personal level in addition to loving their work. Don’t hire someone based on budget, hire them because you love them and their work resonates deeply with you. Think about how you feel when you see their photos or films. Make your choice based on those reasons instead of dollar signs. Good creatives are going to be charging what they’re worth.
2. A big concern we hear a lot is “my family and friends may feel left out.” Throw an after party either on the day or after the honeymoon or even a premier party once your photos and film are delivered. This way your loved ones can still celebrate with you; plus you can relive your day and watch as they see it for the first time. Consider ordering albums from your photographer for your loved ones and send them copies of your film also.
3. Consider hiring an all inclusive team – we are part of the Untamed Elopement Collective and we provide everything from creative styling to the officiant for your ceremony. We handle all of the planning, all you have to do is answer some questions that communicate your vision and we’ll take it from there. There are collectives similar to ours all over the globe, it’s something worth looking into if you want an all inclusive experience.
4. (and most important): Enjoy the ride.