By Ken Hegan for MSN

Gorge-wedding-day-2-81Wedding season’s coming up fast. Haven’t received any invitations yet. But maybe I’ll bump into some friends as they elope in some secret hideaway.

Notice how many hotels are promoting elopement packages this spring? I guess they’re aimed at criminal couples on the lam who want to tie the knot in a place where nobody knows or cares about their past.

The Carlton in New York City, for example, is offering an Elope to New York Package. For a mere $2,279 + tax (about a tenth the cost of an average Canadian wedding), you and your outlaw sweetie get:

  • 3 nights at the Carlton Hotel
  • Bottle of bubbly
  • Rose bouquet (for the bride)
  • 3-hour limo service to escort you to your wedding venue
  • 2 hour photo shoot with a pro NYC photographer and the resulting disk of photos, none of which contain your many friends or family members who don’t approve of your special union

You can also customize this package to include whatever you want. Like you could pay extra for a dozen increasingly braggy tweets, written by the hotel staff, that let all your ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends know what they’re missing out on, and how you are SO, TOTALLY, OVER THEM.

The Long Beach Lodge, a beautiful oceanfront resort in Tofino, BC is currently promoting “Vancouver Island’s Ultimate Elopement” which I guess is a good thing because ‘ultimate’ means ‘last’. Their elopement package varies in price from $1,393.60 to $1,681.48 but goes even further than the Carlton’s package.

Elope in Tofino and you’ll get dinner, accommodations, and flowers, plus:

  • 2-tier wedding cake
  • signing table and chair with white linen (to borrow, not keep)
  • marriage commissioner fees, and
  • “a special Long Beach Lodge keepsake,” which is sort of like being deluged with wedding gifts except you don’t get deluged with wedding gifts other than maybe an ashtray made of shells, or two matching killer whale sweatshirts

Two elopement packages could be a coincidence. But three is a family-snubbing trend.

Case in point: the luxurious Columbia Cliff Villas Hotel in Hood River, Oregon, about an hour (97 kilometers) east of Portland.

The Columbia Cliff Villas Hotel is a “luxury condominium hotel” perched on the precipice of a 64-meter cliff in the Columbia River Gorge.


With its remote and spectacular view, it’s the perfect place to celebrate your renegade nuptials. ‘Remote’ means you’ll need less bodyguards to keep your family at bay, and ‘spectacular view’ means you’ll have high ground which is strategic in warfare to see and destroy your enemy (rival suitors/jealous ex-boyfriends).

On their website, the Columbia Cliff Villas touts their 1 to 3-bedroom villas with the headline, “VISIT FOR A NIGHT, AND YOU MAY STAY FOR THE LIFESTYLE.” The rooms boast of “grand living areas,” “balconies,” and “panoramic views of mountains, forests, valleys, cliffs and/or rivers.”

Known as the windsurfing capital of the world (though there are many contenders for this title), Hood River also offers kiteboarding, stand-up paddle boarding, mountain and road biking, hiking, golfing, whitewater kayaking and rafting, fishing, skiing, snowboarding, tubing, sledding, snowshoeing, and their Blossom Fest in late April.

Any of which may inspire you to grab your lover and make a sudden romantic/‘You’re pregnant?!’ marriage proposal.

If she says yes, the Villas would love to celebrate with you, just as long as you pop the question during their off season between November and April. Their elopement package ranges from $795 (midweek) to $995 (weekends) and includes:

  • 2-night stay
  • in-suite massage for 2
  • Hors d’ Oeurve Reception for up to 20 guests
  • bottle of sparkling wine OR champagne toast for up to 20 guests

Plus the bride gets to wear a fascinator like the Duchess of Cambridge…


…and chug an Oregon craft microbrew while watching trees grow big and tall.

Then you’ll ride off to marital bliss in a Bonnie and Clyde gangster car that nobody’s throwing annoying rice at.


What do you think are the benefits to eloping instead of a traditional wedding?

— Ken Hegan


Read more of Ken’s travel stories here

Twitter: @KenHegan 

Photos courtesy the Columbia Cliff Villas

For more info on how to escape in Oregon, visit