New way to wed: Engaged couples opt for help from elopement planners

The Elopement Co. helps couples simplify their weddings.

ByABC News
August 2, 2017, 2:01 PM

— -- Some engaged couples who feel overwhelmed or disenchanted by the cost and stress of a traditional wedding are opting to elope and are turning to experts for help.

This new style of elopement may have less in common with what the term has traditionally meant — running away in secret to marry — and more with just a small, simple wedding with minimal emotional baggage.

Lorie Smith and John Tremaine had a change of heart about their dream wedding after they began planning the ceremony and saw the likely price tag.

"I'm looking at 'weddings on a budget,' and they're like, 'Have a wedding for $10,000,' and that was a small wedding. And I was like, 'Oh, whoa, no,'" Smith told ABC News. "We just decided, 'Let's just elope.'"

The couple came across The Elopement Co., based in Charlotte, North Carolina, which specializes in helping plan what may be actual elopements or just simple weddings, including at courthouses.

Charity Parrish, the company's founder and creative coordinator, organized Smith and Tremaine's nuptials in three days. She told ABC News that her company provides a service similar to traditional wedding planning but on a "much smaller scale."

"I don't have to think of things like caterers and a band and a dance floor and linens on a table," she said. "Most of it is stuff that I can handle by myself. I bring the cupcakes. I bring the officiant. I make the flowers myself. I put it all together. I work with amazing people in town to get dresses and locations."

Parrish worked with Smith and Tremaine to help make their ceremony at McGill Rose Garden in Charlotte stress-free and celebratory.

"We didn't have to do anything," Tremaine said.

"I didn't have to worry about a bridesmaid and what they were going to wear and what this person was going to think if I didn't ask that person and all that stuff," Smith said.

Parrish believes she has found a niche market for people who would rather spend less money on a wedding but still want to mark their union in a festive way.

"I think a lot of couples these days are trying to be really smart about their decisions. And instead of spending [$20,000] to $30,000 on a wedding, they're putting that money toward a house, a car, having a child, going on a great vacation," she said.

Smith's dressmaker and makeup artist for the big day said they have noticed an influx of interest in eloping or having scaled-down weddings.

Smith's dressmaker and makeup artist for her big day said they also noticed an influx of interest in eloping or having scaled-down weddings.

"A lot of our newer clients are from brides eloping," Erin Foley, a dressmaker for RCB Fashion, told ABC News. "It's gotten to the point where we almost have to turn down work. We're so busy,"

"I'm seeing more clients who are eloping," said Lindsay Pizzuti, the bride's makeup artist. "To me, it totally makes sense, especially for people who are more laid back and nontraditional."

While running away to Las Vegas may never be out of fashion, Smith said she would recommend planned elopement to others.

"Eloping was really fun," she said of her and Tremaine's midweek marriage ceremony. "Everyone else is at work, and we got to run off and get married."