Elopement Weddings

Opportunities for venues to cater for small but beautiful wedding celebrations.

Married couple by a riverOften when we think of weddings we imagine large, formal celebrations with extended family and friends gathering to witness the union of their loved ones and a fabulous party afterwards. However for some couples the thought of this can be overwhelming or might just not feel right.

To alleviate stress and avoid their wedding becoming a drama, couples are increasingly considering the option of elopement. Elopement can bring connotations of young couples running away for a shotgun wedding at the local registry office, Elvis officiating a rock ‘n’ roll style nuptial event in Las Vegas or an ‘Anvil Wedding’ at Gretna Green. But times and weddings have changed and couples are becoming ever more mindful of their own wellbeing and personal preferences.

Couples are investing more time and thought into planning a meaningful wedding day that is intimate, romantic, sustainable and authentic to them rather than a wedding simply based on tradition or their family and friends’ expectations.

Small is beautiful
This trend for more intimate and personal weddings has created some amazing opportunities for venues with smaller spaces to offer elopement packages. Couples looking to elope are looking for something extraordinary; a romantic, meaningful location that offers privacy and intimacy.

Elopement doesn’t have to mean cheap. This is still a very special day and couples are willing to invest to make their wedding day memorable. They are looking for attention to detail and want to be delighted for the whole day. Venues that can offer something unique and extraordinary are particularly attractive to eloping couples. An unusual space or a surprising place which evokes romance and adventure.

Planning an elopement
There is still plenty to think about when planning an elopement. Most of the usual elements still apply – what to wear, rings to buy, food to eat, drinks to toast, a ceremony and a venue. All that has changed is that the couples will be choosing for themselves rather than thinking of looking after their guests. Couples planning to elope will often still have significant budgets. This is an important day and they want it to be memorable. What they save on catering for a large crowd they may choose to spend on making their elopement an extra special experience just for them.

For seasoned wedding planners, elopements delight us. Keeping a small group of guests very happy is far easier than managing the experience of a large group. You become more of a personal butler rather than a maître d’. Your attention will be absolutely focused on the couple’s needs without the distraction of their family and friends. Time becomes less pressured. Less guests means more time for degustation, time for a memorable experience, time for the photographer to capture those intimate moments, time with each other. Small weddings also mean no unruly partygoers at the end of the evening reluctant to go home to their beds.

Elopement destinations
Elopements may mean travel further afield. Couples will likely be looking for destination venues that can offer escapism away from their everyday lives, where they can extend their wedding into a minimoon. Intimate venues that can offer accommodation for an extended stay in a destination which offers other nearby attractions are popular with eloping couples. This also creates an opportunity for repeat business for venues as couples are more likely to revisit their elopement destination on their anniversary to remember their wedding day.

Table set for a meal in a forestOpportunities for venues
I have spoken to venue owners who view elopements as less financially rewarding. Of course they do need a different pricing strategy to larger weddings however there are still financial opportunities for venues that can attract elopement weddings.

Elopements are more likely to happen on weekdays and in low season, which are often times harder to sell for larger weddings. They are also likely to have shorter lead times. With less financial pressure, less guests to accommodate and less to plan, couples can be more spontaneous.

With less time to plan, couples may be looking for exciting venue elopement packages that offer all the essential elements needed for their wedding but perhaps with the flexibility to add a few of their own personal touches. An outdoor wedding ceremony followed by a fine dining experience in a dramatic setting. A photographer on hand to capture all those intimate moments, a stunning bouquet and buttonhole to complement the couple’s outfits, flowers for the dining table, live music for the first dance and a cake to cut. Work with hand-picked suppliers who you know and trust to pull out all the stops to make the experience extra special.

Upsell additional adventurous experiences that add value to the elopement and revenue for you. A morning surf, a mountain walk, a river swim or a moorland horse ride. Animal lovers love a furry or feathery encounter. Foodies might like to watch their banquet being prepared by a top-class chef. Drink connoisseurs might enjoy a cocktail masterclass. On-site or nearby overnight accommodation for the happy couple is also ideal. Think a well-appointed honeymoon suite with breakfast in bed, an exceptional glamping experience or luxury transport to a local boutique hotel.

Sustainable elopements
Of course smaller means greener too. Less consumption of food, energy and materials makes for a much more affordable and sustainable wedding and something which educated couples are becoming increasingly mindful of when planning. Elopement weddings are therefore definitely something to be considered by all venue owners when planning their future business strategy.


About the Author

Charlotte Winship has over 20 years’ experience transforming good wedding and events venues into great ones. She is an expert in helping venues reach their ideal customers, maximise sales opportunities, increase profitability, establish effective teams and streamline venue operations. 07493 350303 / charlotte@charlottewinship.com / www.charlottewinship.com

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