By Richard Bruinsma
Shhh! Don’t tell the parents of the happy couple, but that cheeky, daring and somewhat frowned-upon marital method known as eloping is now very much in fashion.
It was once the practice of the self-centred, of hippies, and those living life irresponsibly on the edge, but all that is fast changing.
The concept of running away to tie the knot with a loved one, without the spiralling cost and headaches of organising a full wedding, is proving more and more alluring for Australia’s young love birds.
Caption: Renee and Terry Wootton, who chose an “elopement” wedding for the convenience and affordability, with their children Isla and Nate, and pet dog Bear.
For Sunshine Coast couple Renee and Terry Wootton, a “more affordable” wedding in the Sunshine Coast hinterland suited them perfectly.
“We decided on the elopement package because we had been together for over seven years and have two beautiful children, so getting married was more about us as a family, not about how many guests we should have,” Mrs Wootton said.
“It was about uniting us as one – and who doesn’t want a no-stress, doesn’t-break-the-bank-account wedding?”
In a nod to the public acceptance of eloping, she assured they certainly weren’t motivated by a desire to rock any establishments.
“We definitely didn’t rebel – although a few people were annoyed – we only had us on our minds and what we wanted.”
Major media organisations are reporting similar spikes in elopements globally, fuelled mostly by couples being too busy to organise a full wedding and choosing to “go affordable” to meet tightening household budgets.
The term elopement has filtered over to now describe all sorts of small weddings — both impulsive and pre-planned.
Sunshine Coaster Kristen Jenner has captured this growing section of the wedding market by launching Pash & Dash, a business that specialises in wedding “packages” like elopements and small weddings for up to 20 guests.
She noted that many couples still wanted the “wedding experience” without having to spend “a house deposit” to achieve a memorable special day.
She describes her services as “affordable quality”.
“They want a lovely wedding experience without the unnecessary things,” Ms Jenner said.
“They like getting something affordable, but high end and stress free – because we organise everything.”
Pash & Dash was launched around 12 months ago. Since then it has continued to field growing demand for their wedding alternatives.
The services were on display at the sixth annual Hinterland Wedding Summer Showcase, at Maleny, in January 2016.
The event, which showcases the most up-to-date and inspiring options available for today’s weddings, is growing to become an unmissable expo for the would-be brides and grooms of South East Queensland.
The promotion of elopements is a very much accepted part of the industry.
“We didn’t want a big over-the-top wedding and the expense that goes with it,” Mrs Wootton said.
“It’s paid for and done with; it’s definitely a relief.
“We had both sets of parents at the ceremony – they thought it was lovely and were very happy for us.”
Among the modus operandi of the Pash & Dash small weddings is to host back-to-back ceremonies utilising the one set up, so that the overall cost can be shared with up to four couples.
“I would recommend this to other couples,” Mrs Wootton said.
“It was such an amazing experience and just a down right lovely time.”