A couple laughing and cuddling in front of a cabin on their elopement day. Photographing elopements in Ontario
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What are elopements?

Elopements: What are they?

Elopements are all about having a wedding day that is about you, as the couple. Elopements typically have fewer guests or none at all, there is no hard rule about the exact number of guests, I would say an average is under 50 guests.

Elopements are breaking from the traditional ideas of what a wedding ‘should’ look like. It doesn’t mean they are unplanned, or not well thought out. It doesn’t make them any less meaningful than traditional weddings. Deciding to elope means deciding what vital to you as a couple, and planning one of the most important days to be about the two of you and your love and commitment to each other.

Some venues have elopement specific packages with smaller rooms. Elopements can happen at city hall, small venues, at a cottage or cabin, in a rented Airbnb (if you have permission). Or they can take place outside at a provincial or national park or conservation area. Make sure to look up the rules for outdoor spaces especially if they require permits. Elopements tend to be more relaxed, intimate and only include the wedding day traditions that you want to be included.

Elopements: How have elopements changed over time

Elopements used to mean running away, getting married in secret often without family consent or approval. Not exactly a heartwarming definition. But in recent years, the meaning behind elopements are changing. Elopements no longer have that shameful connotation to it. So while elopements can still include escaping, it doesn’t have to be from friends and family, it is more about escaping societal pressure about what a wedding ‘should be’.

For some people, that means a destination elopement, for others eloping means having a small wedding that leaves out the traditional elements that they don’t connect with. Some couples elope with their closest family and/or friends. Some people don’t have a relationship with their family, so they elope by themselves or with close friends.

The point is eloping doesn’t mean fitting into a particular definition assigned by society about what your wedding should include (or not) to make it acceptable. Eloping is all about celebrating your love and commitment to each other in a way that is important to you as individuals and as a couple. So dig deep and think about how you want to remember your wedding day because you deserve a wedding that you revel in.

Elopements: How do you know if you should elope?

This is super personal to you as individuals and as a couple BUT here are some questions I would think about.

What are the big moments that are important to you when you think about your wedding day? Do you think about writing your vows? Are you hesitant about sharing those vows with everyone? How do you feel about big groups of people? How do you feel about being the centre of attention? Are those traditional wedding day customs important to you? When you dream of the perfect wedding day for you, what do you see?

I want to preface this by saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting and planning a big traditional wedding. If that is truly what you desire for your wedding day DO IT. Be happy and celebrate your wedding in style, and exactly the way you want to.


If you aren’t a big fan of crowds, if you want to keep your vows private, if being around large amounts of people for hours on end sounds stressful for you then think about having a small wedding elopement. Eloping is a very personal decision and one that only you can make as a couple but I have seen the difference in my couples who have the wedding that they want.

Elopements: Can family/friends be involved in an elopement?

Yes! If you want your friends and family involved in your elopement day that’s possible. You get to decide how you want them involved. They can attend the elopement itself, or you can decide to have a small reception that they attend (or both). You can involve them in the planning details, like helping you decide where you should elope if it’s a destination elopement. You can have them help you pick out your wedding day outfits. The point is your elopement is completely up to you, so you get to decide how many people are in attendance and how involved the guest are if there are any guests at all.

In the past, I have seen clients have immediate family only come to the ceremony, or have a small backyard wedding that included a dinner and dance. Clients have booked a destination wedding at a resort and invited their closest family and friends to attend. Couples have also kept their elopement small and eloped by themselves in a place that’s meaningful to them.

I want to stress that it is totally up to you. If having family involved is going to be a trigger or take away from the intention of your wedding day to be about you and your love than don’t invite them. It can be hard to set boundaries but I support couples having a wedding that is about them. So whatever you decide, you got this!

Urban/city elopements

There are so many options for urban elopements, you can get married at city hall and walk around the city, those cityscape wedding photos are amazing. Celebrate getting married at your favourite cafe, brewery or restaurant, some allow you to get married on-site, other times they will allow you to take some wedding photos on site.

You can have a mix of cityscapes and outdoor landscape photos by visiting a local city park. Walking around the park, maybe packing a picnic to eat in the park to celebrate your elopement.

If you love the idea of old European cities as the backdrop to your elopement day, Europe is always an option but you can find some cities within Canada that look like old European cities. Montreal is a prime example of a Canadian city that looks like you are walking around Europe. Cambridge Ontario is another one, it has this beautiful old town architecture and is the backdrop to many tv shows and movies. Niagara on the Lake Ontario is another great option that gives you told town feels while being close to beaches, water and wine country.

Outdoor nature elopements

Outdoor elopements are all about you and nature. Elopements can take place in your backyard, at the beach, at a conservation area or if you love wine country why not a vineyard. Both Niagara on the Lake and Prince Edward County in Ontario have great vineyards, towns and are surrounded by beautiful landscapes.

I have seen people get married in provincial and national parks across Ontario, Banff and Canada. From getting photos at a touristy destination, they are popular for a reason, to finding those hidden gems that allow you time and space to get married in private. You don’t need to hike long distances if you don’t want to. There are plenty of options with short walks or even areas you can drive to. It’s all about scouting the right location for what you want in your wedding photos.

Adventure elopements

If you want to hike to your elopement location, something a little more challenging and don’t mind changing outside, an adventure elopement is something to consider. You can get married in the mountains, take a helicopter tour, go cliff jumping or get photos taken underwater. There are so many options for you if adventure is more your style. It is all about the location, what kind of adventure you want and the time of year you want to get married. Maybe you have something specific in mind? Or are you a free spirit who wants to see what your options are?

Destinations/Travel elopements

Destination elopements are weddings that involve travel for you or both of us. Some couples want to combine their elopement with their honeymoon and get married somewhere that is exotic to them. Are you a Canadian that is trying to escape the cold winter? You could look at eloping somewhere warm, like an island in the Caribbean or Central and South America. You can work arrange things through a resort or find a cool Airbnb island rental. Married on a beach, with a great view and the ability to go swimming asap.

Mountains are a popular choice for an elopement location. There is something majestic about the mountains. Plus most mountainous areas have a mix between views you can drive to, have a short hike, or hike a couple of hours to even overnight options.

Is there a special place you met while travelling, or somewhere you travelled together that has an important place in your hearts and relationship? You can always return to that spot to elope.

There are so many options when thinking about a destination elopement. My advice? Think about what kind of backdrop you want for your elopement. What time of year are you eloping? How much time do you have for your trip? Do you have any restrictions physically? Or food allergies that could affect travel? Are you getting married legally where you live before or after? These are all things that I can help you with, I help my clients decide on an elopement location. Something to be aware of is the legalities of travelling and eloping and making sure everything is done with the proper permits and visas.

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