I have been helping couples to plan their small wedding in Central Park or elopement since I founded this business back in 2012. All of the weddings I work on are small and intimate by traditional standards, and many of them are elopements. In recent times, with the popularization of this type of wedding, some people have referred to a small wedding with just a few guests in a destination that’s not home as an elopement. That’s the most common type of wedding we do here at Wed in Central Park, so I wouldn’t call that an elopement. When I use the term elopement, I mean it in the old-fashioned way; it’s just the couple – no guests at all.
I wrote a blog post on the pros and cons of an elopement versus inviting a few guests along, but this post is a pure and simple argument in favor of eloping. I offer a range of wedding packages that might suit an eloping couple, and also a specific elopement package aimed at a small, low-key event.
One major advantage to eloping is that it’s the easiest option. If the plans just involve the two of you then that can solve a lot of problems. Some of our eloping couples get married in secret and don’t tell anyone about it until afterwards. Some of our eloping couples decide to get married almost on the spur of the moment. Many of our eloping couples already had a trip to New York booked and then decided to get married while they were there!
Wendy and Craig eloped from their home in Queensland, Australia to get married in Central Park in September of 2018 at the beginning of their retirement. They knew an elopement was right for them. “at our age, and having been married before, and having had big weddings, this time we wanted our wedding to be about us and what we wanted to do,” explained Wendy. “Our families are so spread across Australia, trying to get everyone together was going to be a challenge, so we decided to elope,” she said. “Eloping allowed us to be relaxed and have the day exactly how we wanted it.”
Jacqueline and Jonathan, who live in Brooklyn, who had planned to elope to Amsterdam in 2020 but had to cancel their travel plans due to Covid 19 decided to get married in Wagner Cove. Their original plan was to elope just the two of them anyway, so they were happy to have their wedding closer to home with just the two of them; it suited them. “It was just us. We wanted it to be romantic and intimate. It was a wonderful choice,” she told me. “So much less stress and so very intimate” Jacqueline said. I asked Jacqueline if she had any regrets about not having a big “traditional” wedding. “ABSOLUTELY not. I’d do it all over in a heartbeat,” she said.
Alwena and Amanda came over to New York from their home in England with their close friend Keith to get married in Central Park in December 2019. Since they had just one guest and we planned the wedding in a little over a week I’m still counting this as an elopement! I asked if they had any regrets about not having a big, traditional wedding close to home. They said no. “Get married where you want, live the dream and no hassle of inviting people you don’t like!” said Alwena. I can’t argue with any of that! I asked Alwena if she had any advice for other couples considering a wedding in Central Park. She said, “do it.” That’s great advice.
Gemma and Dean came over to New York from their home in Falkirk, Scotland to get married on Gapstow Bridge in June 2018. Their wedding was almost an elopement – two of their friends witnessed the wedding. “We looked at local options but decided that it would be easier to go to New York and do it on our own,” said Gemma. They preferred a marriage without the stress of a big party. “We missed our family but it was the best option for us,” said Gemma. “Our wedding was so relaxed and laid back, it was brilliant,” she added.
Stephanie and Jack eloped to New York to get married in Central Park in July 2019. Stephanie is from Dublin, Ireland and Jack is from London, UK. They live in Dublin with their two year old son, Kai. Stephanie had always said that she wanted to have a destination wedding and get married in somewhere like Hawaii or Bali but Jack was adamant that he wanted a big, traditional wedding, “so we just sort of parked wedding discussions and said we would come back to it after about five or six years,” said Stephanie. They had planned their trip to New York for just the two of them that year when Stephanie spontaneously suggested to Jack that they get married in New York and to her surprise he straight away said yes. “To us, a wedding should be about the two people getting married and a traditional wedding can be too much about other people,” explained Stephanie, “and weddings nowadays have lost a bit of romance which is why we decided against going that route,” she added.
The couples I have worked with who have eloped to New York have been able to spend the whole day together and really focus on each other in a way that’s just not possible with a traditional wedding with lots of friends, family and acquaintances to deal with on the day.
I asked Carly, elopement planner and blogger at Epic Elopement what people have said to her about their experiences of eloping. “Over the past five years of blogging I have interviewed and spoke with hundreds of couples about their elopement experiences. Not a single couple have told me they regret their decision,” she told me. “Every couple has said that, even if they were reluctant at first, they loved the intimacy and the time it gave them to contemplate the start of their marriage together. No distractions, very little stress and easy to organise and execute, even with minor inconveniences along the way,” she said. She also pointed out; “anecdotally those marriages seem to be outlasting their counterparts who opted for big celebrations.”
Kailey, one half of the photography team The Foxes Photography, who specialize in elopement photography, based in the Pacific Northwest of the USA told me; “for many of our couples, they love the stress-free day that’s all about them. Instead of deciding what kinds of napkins to get for the reception, they’re deciding which trail they want to hike for sunset. They love making an adventurous experience out of their day as they start the next big adventure together in their relationship. It’s just a really fun and intimate way to get married.”
Yana, European destination elopement planner at Peach Perfect Weddings said, “for destination elopement planners like us, an elopement is all about the couple going for what they really want without any pressure from those around them.” She added “weddings are always associated with stress, a big crowd, and expensive and stressful preparation. This has always been the case pre-pandemic. These things shift the focus from the couple’s dreams and desires to what ‘others’ want for them. We’ve always thought there has to be a better way. Fast forward to today, many of our couples confessed that they went for a destination elopement in a beautiful European country because they wanted a stress-free wedding that is truly about them, not anyone else.” That sounds lovely. She also advises that “couples who want the focus of their wedding day to be on them and their desires should definitely go for an elopement.”
Tori, an elopement photographer who works with Adventure Instead, who specialize in elopement weddings, said “choosing to elope rather than have a big wedding doesn’t mean you are opting for “less” or that your day is any less important than someone choosing to celebrate it with two hundred other people. If anything, I find that couples that choose to elope care even more about their experience. They want to have the very best day imaginable together and don’t let anything get in the way of that. Imagine your very best day together. One where you are completely relaxed and stress free, where you get to see something new, try an activity you’ve always wanted to try for the first time, enjoy an amazing meal together, and truly be 100% your authentic selves. That’s what an elopement is. A wedding is for everyone else. An elopement is just for you. A wedding is a performance you are putting on, a show, for a group of people who will judge you at some point (i.e. the food wasn’t great, their table decor was ehh, the ceremony was too long). An elopement is a day purely for you two with no judgement, restrictions, must-dos, or rules to follow.” I would add that the wedding is the first day of your marriage, which is of course about the two of you and your relationship, not what everyone else thinks.
Amber, also a photographer with elopement specialists Adventure Instead said, “eloping is empowering to any couple who imagines a laid-back wedding experience, where they can actually slow down and spend quality time together, celebrating their love in their own unique way. Elopement days lend themselves to couples who don’t enjoy being the center of attention or “put on display”, especially for such an intimate occasion. Eloping doesn’t mean you can’t involve your loved ones—that’s a common misconception! It does however allow couples to forget all the silly expectations and traditions that they don’t connect with, and have a wedding day focused on their love and relationship. In current times, it helps to keep others safe too.” What she says is reflected in what so many of my clients tell me – they really don’t like the idea of following traditions for the show and display of the ritual, so they choose to go their own way instead!
I would add that whenever I ask couples for feedback soon after their wedding in Central Park, they always tell me that they have no regrets about choosing a smaller wedding or elopement. I’ve planned a few last-minute scaled down weddings this year for couples whose original plan for their wedding was a big event, but Covid 19 has ruined their plans. Even those who didn’t originally plan to have a very small wedding have told me that this option was so easy, fun and relaxed and they’re so glad they chose it! Ultimately a wedding day is the first day of your marriage, and the marriage is about the two of you – nobody else, and that’s a great argument for the wedding day to be for just you two! If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding or elopement, either with or without guests, visit our website. Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest. I’d love to hear from others who have eloped, wherever you eloped to!