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The dictionary definition to elope is 

“to run away secretly in order to get married”

In 2005, my partner and I, did indeed elope in this ‘traditional’ sense.  

Well, the ‘ran away’ part is questionable. We were two adults who booked our own flights, with our joint bank account, to Las Vegas as it was technically on the way to Canada!

We’re not convinced that this is the REAL Elvis! Photo – Viva Les Vegas Wedding Chapel

It was a sweltering hot July day in Las Vegas with a VERY sweaty Elvis as the person who married* us and we have the pre-digital photos to as ‘proof’. 

There was definitely a thrill to planning and pulling off a secret like this one. 


However, it was a different time different attitudes prevalent and we’ve since combined this celebration with large and small gatherings with our favourite people. 

In 2023 the term elopement is used often when really, we are actually talking about Small Weddings. Micro Weddings. Weddings with same, but not ALL of the  (delightful, yet can be stressful and expensive) fuss. 

Chiara and Fab chose to ride their bikes to their favourite spot along one of Melbourne’s creeks and eloped. They celebrated with coffee beforehand and cake afterwards.
Photographer: Howlett Photography Weddings

It was only a few years ago when to have a small wedding without inviting entire families, school mates and work buddies was thought of as in the same whispered tones as a ‘shotgun wedding’ or secret elopement. 

The pandemic, with its restrictions and forever-changing rules changed how we feel about smaller, more intimate, more affordable and for some people, far more preferable, small weddings. 

I think couples now feel so much more comfortable in embracing smaller weddings. 

The scope for creating your very own ideal smaller wedding is endless. 

Get married in jeans in your backyard…

Wear your pjs at your kitchen table…

Or your bathers at the beach! 

Candice and Tom hired out a beautiful Air BNB and treated their favourite people to a decadent weekend celebrating their wedding. Photographer: Anikakafcaloudis

However, you can also hold a small wedding that includes fabulous outfits. Spectacular floral arrangements.  Decadent food and wine. An amazing photographer to capture it all. And cake! 

What YOUR small wedding looks like is only limited by your imagination, preferences and yes, budget. 

So, if you need it, THIS is your permission to gather 2, 22, or 42 of your favourite people and plan the small wedding of your dreams. 

Book out your favourite restaurant and host a fabulous wedding dinner. 

That being said, we also know that a smaller wedding is not for everyone. 

If you find yourselves being drawn to a smaller wedding, even running away to elope, but feel compelled to have a wedding with ALL of your people and at your favourite venue…..maybe consider the elements of the elopement or small wedding that you can incorporate into your wedding. 

Getting ready together creates a more intimate and relaxed vibe to your day. 

Elopements can be private, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a fabulous photographer on hand to capture it all! Steph and Clare got married in their favourite park with their favorite people, Champagne and cake and then walked to their favourite restaurant. Photographer: Valley Peak

Maybe your Wedding Party or Best People, are there to get ready with you over a glass of bubbles, but are not dressed in matching outfits.  Maybe, they are sitting amongst the guests instead of standing at the front with you. 

If sharing your personal vows in front of your guests is intimidating, consider sharing your vows, privately, just the two of you and your photographer, before your ceremony.

Can you hold your wedding at your favourite pub or restaurant? Create even more memories in a space that you already love. 

Your favourite people, the two of you and many a glass of Champagne to celebrate!
Photographer: Blueton Studio

Talk to your celebrant about your ceremony. Obviously, the legal components can not be eliminated, but everything else is up for discussion. 

TCS Celebrants love getting creative with a ceremony that reflects you as a couple and the type of celebration that you are creating. 

In so many ways, the rules and the ‘must dos’ with weddings are being turned inside out to create more personalised, more authentically YOU and far more fun celebrations.

So, what does YOUR small wedding look like….?

*to be clear, our wedding was not a legally recognised marriage, but it is to us!  

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Author Bio

Dee Wild

Dee Wild is a member of the queer community, a maker of dresses and a lover of Prosecco.
Dee is also a Melbourne based Marriage Celebrant and a Local Leader for The Celebrant Society for the state of Victoria.

Melbourne’s northern suburbs are where she calls home, with her lovely English partner and two rather large dogs. When not hanging out with her couples in local bars, creating ceremonies and helping loved up couples get married, Dee loves exploring local cafes, handmade markets, vintage stores, restaurants and craft beer establishments.