Once upon a time, when you talked about couples eloping, it meant they were running away to get married in secret.
Now, an elopement can just mean a very small-scale wedding with perhaps, at most, the couple’s parents, siblings and closest friends in attendance.
A Queenstown wedding photographer says destination elopement’s a trend in the resort, and comprises more than half of her business.
“It’s definitely a trend that’s happening overseas, and I think it really suits Queenstown because it’s such a destination for a wedding,” Dawn Thomson says.
Thomson and her Queenstown friend, florist Gypsy West, recently even set up a collective, The Lovers Elopement Co, to take care of the total package for eloping couples.
“A lot of couples are thinking the tradition of the big elaborate wedding isn’t relevant these days – big tables full of people you don’t really know, and putting all your efforts in to place-setting.
“It takes a long time planning and it’s a lot of money.
“It’s a couple saying, ‘We don’t have $60,000 or $80,000 to throw at a wedding’.
“Couples are thinking, ‘let’s get back to the reason why we’re getting married – it’s just about you and me. Let’s keep the cost down, let’s not have the stress of a big wedding, and because of that it enables us to go somewhere beautiful and have a romantic ceremony on top of a mountain’.
“And then they tend to tack on a bit of a holiday at the end.”
Though the connotation of elopements is that they’re spur-of-the-moment, Thomson says they’re usually planned just as far ahead as traditional weddings.
“Just because they’re eloping doesn’t mean the bride still can’t organise a beautiful dress and have all the fun in the planning.”
Thomson says that, on the day, eloping couples “tend to be more connected and more emotional – they can be more present in the moment”.
They’re not pressed for time, or stressing about what everyone else is up to.
“You have more time, too, to go to amazing locations.”
She says for a photographer, elopement weddings are more fun.
“I quite often become almost part of the wedding party because it’s such an intimate day.”
Friends and family might miss the day, but she says elopement couples often organise a party for them after they go home.