A small but growing Boise company has seized the opportunity in this cultural change. Simply Eloped, operated by Janessa White and Matt Dalley, creates elopement packages for couples who want to get married on the fly and on their own terms. The lineup includes an approved officiant, photographer, and floral designers, and assistance with permits. The basic elopement package includes a bottle of champagne and help with writing vows.
Right now, Simply Eloped offers these services in New York and New Orleans, two elopement hot spots, said White, who is often asked if she plans to elope with Matt when the time comes (she said they’re too busy to marry now, but eventually envision a ceremony at Redfish Lake). Simply Eloped is expanding to Denver this month, White said.
Simply Eloped got its start when Dalley, a public relations and marketing professional, was in New York City in 2015 on a business trip. He happened to strike up a conversation with a marriage officiant in Central Park who was having trouble finding couples who needed his services. Dalley did some research, White said, and learned that there wasn’t an effective central online service for connecting would-be elopers and the services they needed. Simply Eloped was born in June 2016. White, a former manager at the State & Lemp restaurant, and Dalley bootstrapped the business. White works with it full-time, and Dalley also manages a band and runs a PR consultancy.
Local business consultant Jeff Reynolds has been advising them. He said the company grows every month.
“They’re really impressive entrepreneurs,” Reynolds said. “I give them advice and they go out and make it happen.”
Dalley and White are working with developers on software that will allow their customers to design their own elopement packages. The software “will give them superpowers,” Reynolds said. “The software backs the humans” who offer elopement advice, he noted – it doesn’t replace them.
Elopement has been around in one form or another since the beginning of time, though the formal wedding – with an average cost of $30,000 – is still the norm. But Reynolds and White said millennial elopers are upending the notion that a traditional wedding is somehow preferable.
“Elopement is no longer this idea of running away and not telling everybody and coming back and everyone is mad,” White said. “People are going to lakes and streams and cities and deserts and doing it their own way.”
The most basic Central Park elopement with Simply Eloped costs $1,199, which includes the services of vendors that Dalley and White work with closely and know well. For more money, there are add-ons such as hair and makeup services and videography. White said lining up an officiant and a photographer, buying flowers, and obtaining the necessary permits for a Central Park wedding separately would likely cost elopers more than the package on their own. Half of the company’s customers come from Australia, the U.K., and Ireland.
Reynolds credited some of Simply Eloped’s rapid growth to creative methods of finding customers online. He wouldn’t divulge them.
“We have some trade secrets around that,” he said. “They’re really clever and unique.”
Reynolds, who married in 1996, feels the millennials are shedding expectations that had been hanging around far too long.
“When I got married in ’96, we created a wedding for my mother-in-law,” he said. “I wasn’t even aware at the time; I would never have thought we could do whatever we wanted, which sounds weird. We followed a script and expectations.
“The millennials are carving a new path, and elopement is just part of it.”
Anne Wallace Allen is the editor of the Idaho Business Review.