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A humorous, staged photograph (circa 1904) depicting an attempted elopement with clichéd ladder to the prospective bride's upstairs bedroom. The bride has fallen down the ladder, knocking over her beau and waking her father.
A humorous, staged photograph (circa 1904) depicting an attempted elopement with clichéd ladder to the prospective bride's upstairs bedroom. The bride has fallen down the ladder, knocking over her beau and waking her father.

Elopement refers to a marriage conducted in sudden and secretive fashion, usually involving a hurried flight away from one's place of residence together with one's beloved with the intention of getting married without parental approval. Elopement is contrasted with abduction (e.g., bride kidnapping) in which there is no consent from the bride or groom.[1]

The term is sometimes used in its original, more general sense of escape or flight (e.g., from a psychiatric institution). Controversially, in modern times "elopement" is sometimes applied to any small, inexpensive wedding, even when performed with parental foreknowledge.[2]


Today the term "elopement" is colloquially used for any marriage performed in haste, with a limited public engagement period or without a public engagement period. Some couples elope because they wish to avoid parental or religious objections. In addition, the term elopement is used in psychiatric hospitals to refer to a patient leaving the psychiatric unit without authorization.[3]

In some modern cases, the couple collude together to elope under the guise of a bride kidnapping, presenting their parents with a fait accompli. In most cases, however, the men who resort to capturing a wife are often of lower social status, because of poverty, disease, poor character or criminality.[4] They are sometimes deterred from legitimately seeking a wife because of the payment the woman's family expects, the bride price (not to be confused with a dowry, paid by the woman's family).[5]


United Kingdom

In England, a prerequisite of Christian marriage is the "reading of the banns"—for any three Sundays in the three months prior to the intended date of the ceremony, the names of every couple intending marriage has to be read aloud by the priest(s) of their parish(es) of residence, or the posting of a 'Notice of Intent to Marry' in the registry office for civil ceremonies. The intention of this is to prevent bigamy or other unlawful marriages by giving fair warning to anybody who might have a legal right to object. In practice, however, it also gives warning to the couples' parents, who sometimes objected on purely personal grounds. To work around this, it is necessary to get a special licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury—or to flee somewhere the law did not apply.

For civil marriages notices must be posted for 28 clear days, at the appropriate register office.[6]


In the Philippines, elopement is called "tanan". Tanan is a long-standing practice in Filipino culture when a woman leaves her home without her parents' permission to live a life with her partner. Usually she will elope during the nighttime hours and is awaited by her lover nearby, who then takes her away to a location not of her origin. The next morning, the distraught parents are clueless to the whereabouts of their daughter. Tanan often occurs as a result of an impending arranged marriage or in defiance to parents' dislike of a preferred suitor.


In Indonesia, an elopement is considered as "kawin lari" or in literal translation, marriage on a run ("kawin", means marriage (slang), "lari" means running/fleeing). This happens if the groom or the bride didn't get the permission to get married with each other. As Indonesia is a religiously strict country, a couple couldn't get married without parent's (or next closest living relative) consent, hence, it is rarely practiced. Thus, most Indonesian couples who engage in elopement often end up marrying without their marriage recognized/registered by the government.


Similar to Indonesia, an elopement in Malaysia is considered as "kahwin lari" or marriage on a run. This mostly occurs when either or both couple's family does not approve the relationship or the marriages involving foreign men.[7] Additionally, the reason of elopement could happen when the court does not give permission for polygamy or the man wants to keep the next marriage secret from the knowledge of the first wife or even both. The elope couple also may get married outside the border (e.g Pattani,Golok) when the dowry amount is too high placed by the family next to the woman causing them to be desperate to run away. Elopement or marriage on a run outside the country is valid according to certain law but link to some issue such as inheritance, performing umrah/hajj and so on. [8]

West Asia

In Assyrian society, elopement ("Jelawta" or "Jenawta") against parental request is very disreputable, and is rarely practised.[9] In the 19th and early 20th century, Assyrians had heavily guarded their females from abduction and also consensual elopement, when it came to their neighbours such as Kurds, Azeris and Turks, who would abduct Assyrian women and marry them, in some cases forcefully, where they would convert them to Islam.[10]

United States

In popular culture

The relationship between Helen and Paris of Troy is sometimes depicted as an elopement instead of an abduction.

Searches for elopement photography ideas on Pinterest increased by 128 percent in 2019, with other related terms like "elopements at city halls" and "elopements in forests" also seeing increases in volume.[11]

In Contract Bridge, an Elopement play is a form of trump coup that enables a smaller card to score a trick if it is lying over the higher card of an opponent. If the rank of the card does not matter, it is known as a "pure" elopement, if the rank does matter it is known as a "rank" elopement.

See also


  1. ^ Ayres, Barbara "Bride Theft and Raiding for Wives in Cross-Cultural Perspective", Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 3, Kidnapping and Elopement as Alternative Systems of Marriage (Special Issue) (July 1974), p. 245
  2. ^ "The Changing Meaning of 'Elope'".
  3. ^ Psychiatric Elopement: Using Evidence to Examine Causative Factors and Preventative Measures [1]
  4. ^ See Stross, Tzeltal Marriage by Capture (Tzeltal culture); Scott, George (1986). The Migrants Without Mountains: The Sociocultural Adjustment Among the Lao Hmong Refugees In San Diego (PhD). University of California, San Diego. pp. 82–85. OCLC 34162755. (Hmong culture); Alex Rodriguez, Kidnapping a Bride Practice Embraced in Kyrgyzstan, Augusta Chronicle, 24 July 2005 (Kyrgyz culture);
  5. ^ See Stross, Tzeltal Marriage by Capture, pp. 342–343; Smith, Craig S. (30 April 2005). "Abduction, Often Violent, a Kyrgyz Wedding Rite". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Giving notice of marriage or civil partnership,
  7. ^ Nasohah, Z, (2014). Prospek Hukuman Alternatif di Mahkamah Syariah Untuk Kes-kes Kesalahan Nikah Tanpa Kebenaran Melibatkan Lelaki Warga Asing. [online] Available at: <>
  8. ^ "Suka duka kahwin lari di sempadan". 10 November 2017.
  9. ^ Assyrian Rituals of Life-Cycle Events by Yoab Benjamin
  10. ^ Hannibal Travis (20 July 2017). The Assyrian Genocide: Cultural and Political Legacies. Taylor & Francis. pp. 165–. ISBN 978-1-351-98025-8.
  11. ^ Alexander, Ella (2019-04-05). "Elopements are on the rise: why modern couples are running away from lavish weddings". Brides. Hearst Communications. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
This page was last edited on 25 November 2021, at 13:24
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