Why more Brits are eloping than ever before

A whimsical cardboard sign reading 'Just Eloped' lies on stone steps, surrounded by a scattering of pink and red confetti, hinting at a spontaneous wedding celebration
Elopement weddings were once considered unconventional, but have been rising in popularity. (Getty Images)

British couples are increasingly thinking about ditching the big white wedding for a more unconventional way of getting hitched - eloping.

Google searches for elopement weddings have soared by more than 80% over the past year, while interest in elopement wedding packages in the UK have also increased by 85%. More people are also becoming interested in smaller, more intimate weddings, with searches growing by 89%.

The surge in interest in elopements comes after a number of high-profile celebrities revealed they also got married in secret. Most recently, Furiosa star Anya Taylor-Joy revealed she eloped in New Orleans with her now-husband Malcolm McRae.

Other celebrities who have eloped in recent years include Chris Evans and Alba Baptista; Naomi Watts and Billy Crudup; Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck; and Lily Allen and David Harbour.

A new survey by wedding decoration experts Ginger Ray explores the reasons behind why so many engaged couples are choosing to slip away to get married without all the fuss.

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The main driver behind elopement weddings is the cost of living crisis, the survey found. More than a third (32%) of respondents said financial constraints were the primary factor that steered them away from a traditional wedding ceremony and reception.

This was echoed in research by The Wedding Travel Company, which commissioned a survey involving 2,000 UK adults and found that 81% of Brits believe the cost of living crisis impacted the amount of money they’d be able to spend on a wedding in the next two years.

Data from Hitched.co.uk shows that the average cost of a wedding has increased to £20,700, a major increase from £17,300 in 2021. With so many couples worrying about finances, it is perhaps little surprise that more people are eloping to avoid the high cost of a wedding.

It’s not all doom and gloom that is leading Britons to elope. Ginger Ray’s survey found that 31% of engaged couples said they wanted to incorporate adventure and exploration into the occasion.

The company added that this finding “underscores the burgeoning interest in unconventional travel among contemporary couples”.

A separate report by The Wedding Travel Company highlighted that 33% of Brits would prefer to get married abroad, with 59% saying that better weather was a reason for getting married outside of the UK.

A radiant couple in wedding attire laugh and hold hands against the grand columns of a city building, their joy palpable in the golden sunlight.
Eloping comes with a sense of adventure and excitement. (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, 46% said they liked being able to combine their wedding with a holiday, while 41% said there is better scenery abroad. More than half (56%) also said it was more affordable to get married abroad than in the UK, with the average cost of a wedding in Cyprus with 25 guests reaching around £7,000.

Luke Nathan, co-founder of The Wedding Travel Company, said: "Couples are facing balancing having the wedding they want, with being strict on the guest list based on what they can afford.

"Typically people who have weddings abroad invite less people, but they reap the benefits like better weather and cheaper costs. Or, they’re choosing to elope to locations like Las Vegas."

But despite this, Ginger Ray’s research found that a significant proportion (77%) of British couples are planning to elope within the UK, with Wales being the top choice, followed by London and Scotland.

Some couples are simply keen to step away from tradition by choosing an elopement instead. 28% of respondents who are planning to slope said they were doing so purely to deviate from customary norms and expectations.

This trend is particularly popular among Generation X couples, which Ginger Ray says “mirrors their inclination towards individualism and self-expression”.

Other ways that couples are going against tradition include where gifts are concerned, according to Hitched.co.uk. The wedding experts found that 80% of people said asking for cash as a wedding gift is acceptable, and that 50% of guests would prefer to give the couple cash.

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