Apr 12, 2019

Elopement Resources

the power of elopements

I believe in marriage, I believe in commitment, and I believe in empowerment. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: marriage is literally the coolest thing I have ever been a part of. I’m so insanely grateful for the journey of walking through life with my amazing husband. I’m grateful for the safe harbor he is, the inspiration he provides, and the reality checks he gives when I need them.

Marriage is not easy — but not because of the things people always say. Don’t get me wrong. We fight, we have hard days, but honestly, it’s not hard to love my husband. What’s hard is to understand why he loves me, why he is committed to the life we’re building when he could seemingly have so much more, and why on earth I was trusted with his heart. That’s what’s hard about marriage. The toughest thing is seeing yourself fail the person you love most — but it is more powerful than anything when they help pick you back up and say they love you anyway in spite of how you fail them. WHAT?! I told you — the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of.

While I love marriage, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around modern day 250 person weddings. Heck, I have a hard time understanding weddings of 150 people. I always thought about my wedding, but never really felt “connected” to it the way that the media made it seem like I should. When we knew we had found our person, and wanted to spend forever together, the idea of inviting so many people into that personal space to witness such personal vows, commitment, and love did not sound like fun at all. It sounded emotionally exhausting, distracting, and counter intuitive to the point of marriage: each other.

I believe that who we are changes based on who we are around, and I know for me at least, having a large wedding with so many guests to cater to would have had a negative impact on my authenticity. I mean, do you ever listen to people’s vows and notice the way they wrote them for an audience instead of the other person?

There is a fine line to walk between having people as your witnesses (I’m a firm believer in accountability) and having unnecessary noise on a very important day. I also think there are other ways to acknowledge and say thank you to the people who have helped you become who you are for each other, instead of hosting a massive wedding. As a society, we’ve shifted the focus from commitment to hosting a party out of expectation, because it’s “just what you do” and in the end, people aren’t really sure who they married or why they did it. It’s not true for everyone, but for a moment at the very least, most couples admit to a period of feeling “lost” in their wedding planning season. I’m in countless wedding groups on Facebook, where I watch brides spend months of their life stressing over a single day, fighting with their future spouse, and spending a small fortune on details that in 20 years just won’t matter.

To me, there was a clear solution for what we really wanted and how to accomplish it. I’m a pretty rational person though, and find it easy to separate my expectations and desires from what others might be expecting of me. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, and many have a hard time letting go of the “dream day” mentality that is placed around weddings.

If you’re struggling to feel confident in your choice to elope, this is for you. If you’re on the edge without a preference either way, this is for you. If you’ve got friends in these shoes — this is for you to pass along to them. Elopements provide so many powerful opportunities and I want to share them with the world, in hopes of bringing the focus back to why we even get married to begin with.

Let’s break this down. Here’s why I believe in elopements:

Firstly, I believe empowerment breeds empowerment.

What does that mean? Well. I think that empowerment is a cycle – that starts with someone saying YES to a challenge or something different and being encouraged by the people around them. Imagine this: instead of telling couples who get married young that they’ll never be happy because they’ll change and grow and evolve over the next 5 years, what if we told them that their commitment to another person was inspiring? What if we told them that their dedication to each other was remarkable? What if we told them that i’t’s okay to want to grow up together? Can you imagine the change that would take place in young marriages?

I was 21 when we got engaged, and while I am a very old soul internally, I cannot tell you how many bitter and unhappy people told me I was making a huge mistake. It was none of their business, and to be honest, their unsolicited advice only created negative energy within that season of me wanting to prove everyone wrong. My ego took over and I found myself angry in a season I should be seeking joy — and we’re not even talking about the way some people reacted to my planned elopement! I made it through just fine because I’m hard headed and as a couple, we always had our sights set on the goal. But what about the people who are more easily influenced? Who need more encouragement?

I look at elopements as an opportunity for myself (and other vendors and people close to eloping couples) to empower and encourage other couples to seek the wedding day of their dreams, whatever it looks like. Because, in spite of the people who thought it was necessary to talk down on my choice to be married at 21 and elope, there were people all around us who chose to encourage and empower us, and that made a bigger impression on me than they’ll ever know.

I cannot get into the minds of every outspoken person who has no business giving opinions to people who don’t ask, but I can take a stand where I am now and be at least one voice of encouragement, positivity and light.

Secondly, with empowerment comes the ability to be more intentional.

When your focus is shifted from making choices to please others (because you know they support you regardless) you can get back to the basics, and dive into why you’re here. For us, our elopement (albeit somewhat planned) was always about us, and what would be most authentic to our love story and commitment. We wrote our vows to be personal and honest, knowing that the people we invited as witnesses (our immediate family) would deeply appreciate the genuine commitment we were making. There were no jokes (maybe one by me, whoops) written for the audience, there were no overly poetic lines written to outshine the last set of vows our guests heard, it was just us, plain and simple. And it was beautiful.

I want to clarify: these things can be achieved without up and eloping. There are so many incredible intimate weddings out there that maintain these elements, and I’m so proud of the couples who fight for their right to these attributes during this season. But, I have seen first hand how much easier it is to get there when you cut out all of the noice that comes from unnecessary input.

Thirdly, once you’ve been empowered to be intentional, you will feel so energized and sparked with passion to give the same gift to someone else.

Whether it is someone who is eloping, as well, or someone who is trying to decide where to go to school, or someone considering a big life change. Whatever it is: you will feel inspired to pass on the empowerment that was bestowed upon you.


Because it is contagious. In a world where we are all encouraged to be our best selves, there is always a “but” at the end of every sentence that encourages us. We are taught to be our most authentic, true souls…and yet no one actually means it. We’re raised as children in a world of “chase your dreams” that as soon as we get to high school shifts to “do what’s practical by society’s standards.”

“Get married, but only when you’re 27, have gone to college, dated at least 3 people, and know who you are.” (ha)

When someone breaks the pattern (like our family did for us), you’ll feel so excited to do the same. You’ll feel the most alive, the most “you” you’ve ever felt, and you’ll long to share that with the people around you. You’ll share that with your siblings, your friends, your future children. And can you imagine what the world would look like full of imaginative, empowered kids in it?

I get chills when I think about the lasting implications of empowerment and discouragement.

They are big.

Elopements provide the opportunity to be empowered, inspire intentionality, and empower others. And that is why I believe in them, and always will.

If you’re needing a little bit of empowerment in your life, email me. I promise to respond, encourage you, and help you chase whatever dream it is you’re after.



Ruthanne is an Elopement Photographer & Expert based in Lake Tahoe, California. She specializes in elopements inspired by the beautify and elegance of the High Sierra mountains, but you can find her all over the west at any time. She lives in Truckee, California where she was born & raised, with her husband Demetri & Australian Shepherd, Sasha. 

  1. Yes, yes, yes! Such good wisdom and truth here Ruthanne!

  2. Shelby says:

    Beautiful work! Do you do any sort of mentorships??


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