Reasons to Elope during the COVID-19 Pandemic

A golden hour elopement at Sleeping Bear Dunes.

COVID-19 shook the world to the core last March, and almost a year later, is still largely prevalent. Because of the global pandemic, many couples have been left scrambling with what to do about their wedding. The wedding industry was met with a surge of couples canceling or postponing their weddings to 2021, even 2022. But for some, the idea of putting life and marriage on hold for a year or longer is unimaginable. So the decision to elope or have an intimate wedding has been growing more and more popular by the day. I put together this blog for ideas, alternatives and ways to elope that are just as special as your original plans.

ELOPE

/əˈlōp/ Verb

To run away with your lover, and create a meaningful wedding experience together.

Eloping back in the day meant “to run away with your lover, typically without parental consent.” But eloping today has evolved into something totally different and far more free. Eloping could be hiking a mountain and exchanging vows at sunset or having a ceremony in the middle of a forest just the two of you. Some people like to have a ceremony or mini celebration with the closest of family and friends, which we like to call an intimate wedding – or micro wedding. All of which are steadily becoming more and more popular.

The point of eloping nowadays is that you get to create an experience that is unique to you, and fits your relationship perfectly. Maybe traditions like a garter toss aren’t for you, or if you’re like me, being in large groups gives you anxiety. Regardless of what eloping could mean for you, at the end of the day the focus is on you two and your love for one another. And after all, isn’t that what marriage is all about anyway? Let’s look at the possibilities to get married during these crazy times and still maintain the thrill.

A moody elopement at Turkey Run State Park on a cool summer evening.

You can have a memorable adventure.

Lots of couples like the idea of adventuring together in lieu of a traditional wedding. It’s pretty common for a couple to legally get married on paper, but then elope by hiking in wedding attire in a setting they love. Some couples bring along an officiant (which could also be a family member or friend!) and are legally pronounced right there in the middle of a gorgeous forest.

Others share communion at sunset.

while some choose to do a first look before they start an adventure.

Others will have a picnic together and a first dance.

I’ve seen couples who share a beautiful worship session during their ceremony with three other friends, and I’ve photographed couples who hike the dunes to exchange vows and then hit up the nearby winery for first drinks and dinner together. The beauty of this is the ability to strip out what doesn’t fit you and keep what does. So you create a perfectly unique wedding experience that breathes your personalities and what’s important to you.

Bride and Groom's first dance on the beach of a lake. Their friends and family watched from a lantern lit deck.

Beginning your marriage shouldn’t wait because large gatherings aren’t allowed.

This past summer, Sara and Luke made the decision to hold off on a big wedding celebration. But that didn’t mean they had to wait to be married. They held an intimate ceremony at her grandmother’s lakehouse overlooking the waters. They shared drinks and cake afterwards with close friends and family. Then the following summer, they plan on having a big party with all their family and friends, and possibly bar hopping at the end of the night too. It is totally okay to get married now, whether it be just the two of you, or a few friends and family in witness, but still have your original celebration at a later date. And hey, who doesn’t love an excuse to wear your wedding attire again and dance till your feet hurt? Two wedding wedding experiences just means it will be double the fun when we can all celebrate safely in large groups again!

Exchanging rings during their lakeside backyard ceremony after a summer rain. The first moments of being husband and wife, during their intimate backyard wedding overlooking the lake.

Your friends and family will understand your decision to elope.

Not everyone is a big crowd and party person, and social anxiety is a real struggle. You would be surprised at how many couples have a traditional large wedding simply because they think they have to or that it is expected of them. Throw in global pandemic and plans can get sticky. Even if it isn’t their style, your friends and family will love and support you no matter what you choose to do. Eloping during a global pandemic is completely understandable, and choosing to elope or have a small intimate wedding to consider the safety of others is a very responsible choice. Plus it’s a perfect excuse to keep that guest list to a smaller number if you wanted to have an intimate wedding anyway. Be sure to check with your state’s guidelines and follow precautions including social distancing if you do decide to invite a few friends and family! You can find guidelines and resources on your state website – this is Indiana’s current info. – https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/

A boho sunset elopement at Saugaro Lake, Arizona overlooking the mountains.

You can elope and still have wedding elements.

Keeping it small or even just the two of you doesn’t mean it has to be any less of a wedding than what you originally planned. You can still have gorgeous florals and delicious cake while supporting local vendors and businesses. Having one pretty table and five people in attendance doesn’t make it any less of a celebration, and can still be a memorable experience. You can have that beautiful dinner and dessert amid a pretty tablescape and first dances under twinkly lights without an audience. Plus you’ll have your amazing photographer to capture all the beautiful details to remember and share.

Charcuterie boards for cocktail hour during an intimate wedding at golden hour. Boho place settings for a sweet lakeside intimate wedding with their close family and friends.

Eloping is infinitely more flexible than traditional weddings.

There are so many options to eloping or having an intimate wedding. You can do what my husband and I did and get married on a Monday. Getting married during the week opens up more dates and availability for vendors. You can also have your ceremony at sunrise or sunset, or even under the stars. Eloping opens up so many possibilities you otherwise wouldn’t have for a traditional wedding. Not to mention not having to pay an exorbitant amount of money per guest! You also will have more time for portraits, and infinitely more location options. The sky is the limit, and you can get married wherever and whenever you want. But don’t worry, if you don’t want to stray too far from home, be sure to look into gorgeous locations in your home state. If you’re an Indiana native like me, be sure to check out my recent blog post on gorgeous locations to elope in Indiana.

Bride and groom dancing in a golden flower field after a summer rain left behind a slight fog.Embracing during blue hour at Max Patch Mountain.

At the end of the day, you need to decide what is best for the two of you. Too many times I’ve heard exhausted couples utter the words “we can’t wait for this to be over with!” and it breaks my heart every time. No, your wedding shouldn’t be such a blur you don’t eat or dance. This is such a beautiful and unique season of life, and should be celebrated so, filled to the brim with all the good emotions and experiences.

Take a step back from expectations and original plans and shift your focus to what is important to you. Maybe you have anxiety, or feel pressure to make it “perfect.” Think about what a relaxing environment would be for both of you. Or what your dream day would look like. Talk these things over with your partner, and remember that your wedding should be a peaceful place for you to be fully present with each other and full of intentionality.


I’m a traveling elopement and intimate wedding photographer with a deep rooted desire to help couples craft a meaningful and intentional wedding experience. If you need help bringing your vision to life, or don’t know where to start, I would be so glad to help. I’m here to serve you however I can! Don’t hesitate to reach out and let’s plan the experience of your dreams.

Follow along with my adventures.