History repeats itself, in ways both quiet and loud.
In the past 20 years or so, the requirements of a wedding day have been growing—snowballing even. Looking around, I don’t think it’s too far off to deem the current climate as an Industrial Revolution of marriage.
Now, I’ve always had a thing for idealizing rebels. This started as a teenage affinity for dog collars, underage drinking, and Incubus, but I’m proud to say it has evolved into an appreciation for the arts, literature, and hardly more than two glasses of wine. My parents were grateful for the transformation, as am I—the latter is still wrought with great music. It’s also a bit more inspired.
I’ve come to the realization that throughout history rebel souls seem to trend toward three types of people: humanitarians, artists, and intellects. These are the individuals taking their cues from intuition and heart in order to bring about change. I could give countless examples: Frida Kahlo, Picasso, Johannes Gutenberg, Galileo, Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Walt Whitman, and John Lennon.
The painters. The musicians. The poets.
The true role of these revolutionaries is to steer culture back to the spirit. How? Rebels express—they follow their unique inner compass to redirect norms. By departing from the status quo, they give others permission to do the same. To feel the same. To rebel the same.
The authors of the Romantic period used the tools at their disposal; they used words and art to shift the collective focus of man away from industry and back toward the unique, human individual. Romantics sought to understand humanity’s place in the universe by observing nature, rather than organized institutions, machinery, and architecture. Their art asserted that savage is beautiful and simple, outdoor beauty is sacred.
Here is why elopers are our modern-day romantics:
The business of wedding planning has grown into a wildly expensive, stress-provoking creature with limbs of invitation calligraphy, “repeat-after-me” vows, bridal party favors, and neon-lit reception halls. The average American wedding will run a tab of anywhere from 30-45 thousand dollars. Ballooning costs aside, my concern with these huge ceremonies is with whether or not the couple truly feels that their wedding day authentically reflects their values.
For many, I think the traditional church and reception hall venue may do the trick. For the rebels like my husband and I—or for the artists and intellectuals dancing to the beat of that far off drum rather than Canon in D—this will not do.
Fast-forward to the current situation: with things like travel bans and infectious disease, will a large wedding be plausible? COVID-19 has been derailing large wedding plans. It has been leaving couples wondering whether they need to opt for something more intimate or wait it out until a traditional wedding is a possibility again.
In this time of intersection, the crossroads between wedding planning websites and social distancing, a new undercurrent is forming. The subtle but sweeping riptide of the modern-day, romantic eloper.
I like to think of elopers as the romantics of the 21st century. Counterculture and peacefully irreverent, elopers challenge the status quo by binding themselves in a way that is understated, completely authentic, and ceremonious. This can mean with or without an officiant, with or without guests, with or without a building, a wedding dress, or floral arrangements.
When it comes to planning a wedding, I’m here to say that every single part is optional:
The officiant? Optional.
The shoes? Optional.
The floral arrangements? Optional.
The bridal party? Optional.
The venue, the reception, the cake, the catering?
The band, the dress, the rings, the finances?
Optional, optional, optional, optional.
If you can’t see yourself reflected in the traditional wedding, or if your large wedding plans have been derailed by CDC guidelines, or if you just crave something more simple like your feet rooted in dirt and hands in one another’s—this is the less trodden, soulful path of the rebel eloper.
And you are not alone.