The formal definition of "elope" it to run away secretly to get married, especially without parental consent. But, I think it can mean many things. I think of it as a quick, romantic, short and sweet wedding. As a wedding officiant in Indianapolis, I love them. I think they are exciting and romantic.
I’ve listened to many elder Indiana couples, usually grandparents of couples I’m marrying, tell the stories of the day they got married 50+ years ago. One couple remembers going to a farm where the person marrying them lived. They were out working in the garden. They told them to wait 10 minutes and the officiant reappeared dressed in a suit and his wife in a dress. They got married in their living room. It took all of a few minutes. When the officiant was done he said “if that don’t stick Y’all come back and we’ll do it again!” I love that and I’ve said it more than once at the end of an appropriate ceremony. I definitely used it at the end of their granddaughter's wedding that day. It was a plain and simple wedding. It’s simply the way things were done then.
I’ve definitely had my share of secret weddings. Sometimes they just want to make it legal for now and they will have a big wedding later. There have been more than one religious couple that has come to get married very secretly before their pastor marries them later. And yes, it has been so they can consummate the marriage a little earlier than the actual wedding night. It’s not a bad idea if you think about it. There is a lot of stress on your white wedding day without being stressed out about the wedding night. Every couple has their own way of doing things. They have their own beliefs. We often say during a ceremony that a marriage is the most intimate of relationships. Marriage is when you share all of yourself. Over time, the sex part gives way to a strong, intimate bond. That bond can be based on any number of things. For many couples, it’s based on faith in a higher power. For others, it’s faith in each other and the life they are building and living together. Married couples share each other’s secrets and they are partners in the same crime. 20 years later they may tell their kids about it, maybe they won’t. But it will always be theirs together.
If you choose to get married or elope in secret it can be for all the right reasons. I don’t think there are many shotgun weddings these days or family feuds for that matter. But a wedding can be stressful. Families might have certain expectations. Disagreements over the church and the ceremony, the venue, the budget, bridesmaid drama. Things that might be everything wonderful about one couple’s wedding may be a nightmare for another couple. Maybe your mom wants you to have the wedding she dreams of having for you instead of the wedding you really want. Spending a year or more not having fun
planning a wedding you don’t really want can be a really bad way to start a marriage. Sometimes the wisest thing to do is make your own decision and go with it.
I have performed over 1000 quickie elopements. I’ve married several members of the same family. One day I had a mother come to get married. I had married her daughter a few months earlier. The mother was not shy to say that she stopped talking to her daughter when she found out she got married without her. But she also said, as soon as her grandson was born a few weeks afterward all was forgiven. The wedding was a matter of minutes. The grandson and the family will be forever.
Sometimes couples start planning a big wedding with the best of intentions but it just starts to fizzle. Their income has to go to pay for life instead of deposits and final payments on a big meal they know people probably won’t enjoy and half of their family might not even show up. They come and just “get it over with.” Usually, a couple has already been living together for quite some time before the wedding. It’s really not that big of a deal. But, the two of you can make it a big deal for you. You can be relaxed and in the moment when you share your vows with each other. You can take a trip or rent a fancy hotel room and have a fancy dinner.
One couple came down from northern Indiana to have a quickie. It was just the two of them and their 2 children. The bride’s brother surprised her with an overnight at the Conrad Hilton! They had planned an inexpensive motel and were surprised with an awesome gift. Their kids got to swim in the pool and enjoy the luxury. That can be the perfect wedding.
If you want to elope and that’s always been your plan go for it! If you resign to eloping make sure you make it special. I’ve had couples stop at the grocery store to pick up a cheap bunch of flowers and the florist was on duty and put together a quick bouquet free of charge. People on the street will rejoice with you. More than once we’ve had people stop and watch with enthusiasm and enjoyment a quick wedding on the canal. Sometimes, simple, intimate celebrations are the stuff that real memories are made of.