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What is an elopement?

What Is An Elopement?

The terms "Elopement" and "Eloping" have a fascinating and interesting history. Elopements today are more popular than ever, and many couples are opting to elope instead of having a traditional wedding. As a Knoxville elopement photographer, we find elopements allow us to be slightly more creative than a typical wedding.

The Term “Elope”

The first known use of the term “Elope” dates back to 1593. Other popular words that have a first known use in the year 1593 are amazing, cash, descriptive, eyeglass, flashy, foulmouthed, hypothetically, moody, respectful, wishful, and more.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the exact definition of elope as “To run away secretly with the intention of getting married usually without parental consent”. The origin of the word elope came from “aloper”, which meant to leap. Today, many years have passed since 1593, wedding traditions as well and although there may be a few couples that choose to secretly run away and get married, most couples involve their parents in the wedding planning process, including the wedding itself.

History Of Eloping

Now that you understand the origins of the term elopement, let’s look at the history. As with many things, as history progresses so do the meaning of words.

The Fifteenth Century

In the 15th century, eloping typically entailed hastily and secretively swooping ones lover away from her residence, and getting married without parental consent. Why go through all this hassle one might ask? During the 15th century, when it came to marriage there were plenty of roadblocks one might encounter including religious objections, parental objections, social objections and more. Parents can object religiously because of differing religious denominations, or lack of faith in one partner. Parental objections can be because one or both parents simply don’t like their children's choice in partners. Social objections can be the cause of of differing social status also known as “marrying up” or “marrying down”. With all these potential objections looking over a could be beautiful marriage, it is easy to see why it might just be a better option to steal your lover away.

Great Depression

With the great depression, eloping become even more popular because of the lack of resources and with most couples not being able to afford a more traditional wedding. Eloping during the great depression allowed couples that that lacked resources, to quickly and inexpensively get married.


Throughout the 1960s elopements still occurred, although in a much smaller number than the traditional wedding. Elopements were often seen as a last resort due to familial objections. The 1960s brought the traditional wedding more into the spotlight including hair and makeup and a wedding photographer was often popular.


With the growing popularity and cost of the traditional wedding, 1980 became the grand entrance for elopements. Many couples simply didn’t want or couldn’t afford to have a lavish wedding that has been very popularized during this time.

2000s To Today

Elopements today are ever so popular with many couples ditching the traditional wedding and travelling to breathtaking locations in nature to have an intimate elopement with a few select family members.

Books Us For Your Elopement

If you are having an elopement, our studio would love to be considered to photograph it. Click the button below to tell us about your story!

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