Elopement: First choice or last resort?

A couple kisses after getting married in Gretna Green, Scotland, famous for elopements performed by "blacksmith priests" since the 1700s.  See more pictures of potential elopement destinations.
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A lot of harried couples planning a wedding simply joke about running away to marry in secret. For others, it's a very real option. When a couple decides to elope, they head to a courthouse or romantic locale where they can tie the knot in peace and forego the trappings that have become part-and-parcel of a traditional wedding. The often-spontaneous decision to elope has been around for decades -- since the days of 18th century England, certainly, when a law was passed that couples under 21 needed parental permission for marriage. This prompted young lovers to head for Scotland where no such law existed. Many times a blacksmith performed the wedding in lieu of a priest and were called "anvil priests." Even today, elopements continue to be popular with brides and grooms alike.

While there are no clear-cut statistics about how most U.S. marriages begin, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence to indicate more couples are opting to elope than ever before. An increasing number of popular wedding destinations now offer "elopement packages" at a fraction of the cost of a traditional ceremony. Plus, a private or civil ceremony foregoes the often-complicated family dynamics many brides and grooms bring to the table. After all, the whole idea of eloping is to launch your new life as a couple as fast, fun and carefree as possible. Looking for a few more good reasons? Then, you'll want to read the next page.