Claire Mathieu and Adam Coughlan tied the knot on a private beach in Far North Queensland with just two witnesses and their young children in attendance.
They had been together for 13 years and engaged for three, but the wedding was planned in just four days.
“We always thought of doing an elopement and it was reinforced with COVID,” Ms Mathieu said.
“I fell pregnant with my son, so it was a bit of an engagement baby, so we had to postpone … then COVID-19 hit, then I fell pregnant again.
“Because we got delayed already, we didn’t want to wait much longer.”
It was a rush to organise and her dress didn’t arrive in time, but Ms Mathieu said the intimacy of an elopement far outweighed the benefit of a big ceremony.
“You can concentrate truly on your partner: just you and your partner and nothing else.”
Jessica Pynappels and her new husband Scott had a similar experience. They found the absence of guests meant the delivery of their vows was more intimate and special.
“I didn’t realise how intimate that moment would be, not having anyone else around. We were really in the moment,” she said.
The Gold Coast couple had planned for a big wedding, but border restrictions kept some of their guest list out of Queensland.
“We decided to cancel the wedding and elope instead,” Ms Pynappels said.
“It was not at all what we had planned.
“It was about getting married, it wasn’t about the big party. It was about him and me so it felt right to do.
“I would recommend it to everybody. It was so much more memorable.”
Ditching the big ceremony
Gold Coast wedding photographer Konrad Krynicki said that before the pandemic struck, one in six couples he photographed was eloping.
“Now it’s getting close to 40 or 50 per cent.”
Mr Krynicki said the pandemic had given couples a good excuse to get hitched without the fuss.
“Now it’s socially acceptable to elope, there’s tonnes of benefits to it,” he said.
“It’s less stressful because you’re doing it your way. It’s more intimate, more romantic.”
The wedding industry had taken a hit throughout the pandemic, as cancelled or rescheduled events resulted in vendors losing work.
For Mr Krynicki, photographing an elopement was the difference between a three-hour work day opposed to an eight-hour day.
Cairns-based marriage celebrant Tammy Barker said the trend had been tough on suppliers, but had many positives.
“When you have a small wedding or an elopement there’s a lot less waste, there’s a lot less travel, there’s a lot fewer purchases. From an eco point of view, that’s a brilliant thing,” Ms Barker said.
Are elopements here to stay?
While Ms Barker saw elopements skyrocket during the pandemic, she said big weddings would come back.
“I think this is a trend. Trends come and go within the wedding industry, elopements might just be based on the time,” she said.
“I think we’ll see it definitely for a few years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if big weddings come back thick and strong.”
Mr Krynicki said couples should do what suited them.
“If it’s always been your dream to have a huge, classical, elegant wedding, then go for it,” he said.
“Just because everyone is getting eloped doesn’t mean you have to do it.”