Lou O’Brien from Images by Lou O’Brien was voted best photographer at the Brides Choice Awards. Picture: Supplied
Lou O’Brien from Images by Lou O’Brien was voted best photographer at the Brides Choice Awards. Picture: Supplied

’Let’s elope’: Weddings on the fly keep industry afloat

A top Sunshine Coast wedding photographer and videographer says elopements have helped the industry through a very tough year.

Coronavirus left many scratching their heads at how to navigate a wedding.

It also left many wedding vendors fearing their bills wouldn't get paid.

Popular wedding destination Maleny Manor held only seven weddings in six months, when they would usually book from Thursday through Sunday each week.

But elopements proved a saviour for Bride's Choice Awards winners wedding photographer Lou O'Brien and videographer Ashlee Jensen.

The pair partnered to create an elopement package last year saying if it wasn't for the couples who changed their plans and eloped, their businesses wouldn't have survived the year.

"There's been a huge jump in the number of elopements and it's all due to COVID," Ms O'Brien said.

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The full-time wedding photographer at Images by Lou O'Brien typically shoots about 35 weddings a year.

This year was poised to be her most successful with 40 bookings as of January.

After losing most of her overseas, interstate and local bookings when COVID hit, Ms O'Brien turned to elopements.

She has shot more than 20 so far.

"(They've) been a great alternative for couples getting married in 2020," she said.

"And if it weren't for them a lot of wedding businesses, including myself, wouldn't have survived."

Ms Jensen agreed.

The Jensen and Young videographer has won the Bride's Choice Awards three years in a row.

She said the change in the industry had been significant, with many of her clients choosing to elope this year and celebrate next year.

"After the initial fear, stress and heartache from COVID, elopements were almost like this rebirth, a new way of marrying someone you love," she said.

She said elopements accounted for about 90 per cent of her work this year compared for about 20 per cent last year.

Ms Jensen shot nine weddings in the past fortnight and all but one were elopements.

"It's important to acknowledge and be thankful for the couples that have been open minded to other ways to marry the one that they love, because without them trusting us and being open to something different to what they planned we wouldn't be doing what we're doing," she said.

It came as a relax in coronavirus restrictions gave another shot of confidence to the industry.

Weddings can now have 40 people take the dance floor as of 4pm last Friday.