Eloping. When you hear the word, does it bring up fear or excitement? With so many restrictions placed on traditional weddings due to the pandemic, from limits on guest numbers at the ceremony, no singing, no receptions, could eloping be the solution rather than postponement? Elopement usually refers to a marriage conducted quickly, often as a last-minute decision for the bride and groom, with the intent of keeping the wedding a secret as to simply enjoy it with just your loved one. In recent years though, there is a push towards elopement as a way to plan minimally, and maintain the secrecy of the wedding. If you are interested in having a semi-planned elopement, and you and your fiance are both great at keeping tight-lipped, consider some of the following ideas to make your day intimate and simple, without skipping all the details.
Decide on the budget
While eloping can be much less expensive than a traditional wedding, you’ll still need to discuss the boring topic of the budget of the elopement itself. Start by discussing the highest budget you’d be willing to spend and begin subtracting the “needs” of the wedding from the budget. There are some things you’ll still need, a marriage license and an officiant being the obvious aspects you can’t skip out on.
From there, you can expand. Eloping allows for a much more flexible budget. You can cut costs a lot easier, especially since there’s no established venue which often tacks on required amounts of catering costs and other fees. While you are eloping, it’s still necessary to be honest with what you want, and where you’re not willing to bend on the budget.
Figure out where you’ll be eloping
Booking a holiday is the simplest way to keep everyone out of your hair during your wedding day. Assuming of course there are no restrictions due to the pandemic at your chosen venue.
If you tend to be adventurous, you might want to choose a place you’ve never visited before. You can also think outside of the box. Simply because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you need to get married on a beach surrounded by ocean waves. If camping overnight. then hiking a mountain and saying “I do,” is more your speed, go for it. There’s nothing stopping you, besides making sure you find an athletic officiant.
Traditional weddings are traditional for a reason: when there are dozens or hundreds of guests, it can be hard to manage that many people and expectations. Tradition comes in to play because people know how to behave, what to expect, and as the bride, you know how much food to serve, and your DJ knows what songs to play to keep the crowd dancing. Those necessities fly out the window when you’re eloping though. Don’t be afraid to bypass tradition and opt for a location (or activity) that brings you both joy.
If the main reason you are choosing elopement over a traditional wedding is due to cost restraints, you don’t have to sacrifice enjoyment.
Do your research
If you are eloping out of the country you will want to do substantial research to ensure your wedding day is smooth. Some cities require multiple appointments, such as one for your marriage license and a separate for your ceremony. Others require more advanced notice to obtain your wedding license before you’re legally able to wed. Don’t forget to do your research; some places require premarital blood tests, while others require more strict documentation like divorce papers from previous marriages.
This is not the fun part of eloping, it’s true. On the other hand, your marriage license and ceremony is truly the only requirement, so make sure to cross your t’s and dot your i’s.
Consider less traditional attire
As a bride, you may be reluctant to buy a huge wedding gown that you’ll wear one time. Your wedding dress, should you elope, does not need to be dramatic. In fact, if you want to wear a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, go for it. More likely, you’ll want to wear something that reflects your chosen venue and ceremony, especially if you’re considering a wedding photographer. Not a fan of white? No biggie. a non traditional wedding offers more scope when it comes to choosing what to wear.
If you would like to celebrate your wedding by going jet skiing or snorkeling right after, you can probably skip the fancy hair and suit-and-tie. Be realistic; do you want to dress up for your wedding? Or would you rather wear something you feel nice in, but don’t want to overthink the outfit?
Choose a photographer
Whether you’re getting married in Italy or your home town, you will likely still want a handful of professional pictures from your elopement. If you are looking to elope, don’t assume you need to skip the wedding photographer. Many wedding photographers actually enjoy destination weddings if you have a specific one in mind. Others may be based in the area you intend on getting married, so you’ll want to seek that out before your elopement. Make sure to go with a photographer who understands that you are seeking a small, intimate wedding if you’re eloping. Being on the same page as your wedding photographer will ensure that you feel comfortable during the entire session, and that your photos will reflect how your wedding actually went.
Since the purpose of an elopement is typically to not deal with all the details of a wedding such as who to invite to your wedding, you can always mail a photo to close family and friends from your professional photos with a quick announcement that you are now legally wed.
Be intentional with your choice of a wedding photographer. With fewer details to keep track of, you can spend more time on each vendor you’ll be using. Make sure when you speak with your photographer that they can offer the same vision that you have for your wedding.
Other vendors you may want to consider when eloping may include the following:
- A bakery or cake maker. Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you can’t have dessert!
- An elopement planner. Yes, they do exist. If you’re eloping on short notice in the very traditional style of elopement, opt for a local elopement planner. They’re like a wedding planner but can help get you through all the minor details efficiently.
- A florist. If you are interested in carrying a bouquet or pinning on a boutonniere, you may want to use a florist. Try to contact the florist early on; they can usually offer discounts if you’re willing to use extra flowers left over from weddings on the same day if you aren’t picky.
Unfortunately there are likely to be some hurt feelings for those who want to share in the celebration of your love. Your friends and family may take it personally that they were not invited to watch you get married, but ultimately a marriage is more than just a one-day affair of a wedding. To reduce the hard feelings that some people may have, you’ll want to be intentional with how you announce you’ve tied the knot. Here is some advice for sharing your elopement news with friends and family:
- Tell your closest family and friends face-to-face. If you are eloping to keep the wedding small, but have no intention of keeping it a secret, you could even consider letting them know ahead of time. They may want to be involved even though they can’t physically attend.
- Be honest with why you eloped. Rather than explaining that you eloped and leave it at that, answer the “Why” before it’s asked. If your answer is as simple as, “We wanted it to just be us,” that is a good enough reason. The current situation with wedding restrictions makes it a more understandable solution for those who might otherwise be hurt by being excluded.
- If the price is right, consider throwing a dinner party after you’ve eloped. That way, they can still join in celebration.
- Those wedding photos that were mentioned earlier? They come in handy right about now. For your closest family, you may want to frame a photo of your intimate day when letting them know the news.
- For family and friends that you are not as close to, send out elopement announcements. Here’s a list of 15 ways to break the news with fun pictures from your elopement.
- Ultimately, remember why you eloped. If your friends or family are showing disappointed reactions, try to put yourself in their shoes. They are likely just sad that they were unable to share in your celebration of love, but a wedding is about you and your spouse. Don’t let others guilt-trip you into feeling otherwise.