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How To Elope: Planning an Elopement

For some couples, the stress of planning a wedding is too much. If you want a marriage, but not an elaborate wedding, an elopement may be the right choice for you.

Learn how to elope so that you can marry your favorite person sooner!

So, You Want to Elope?

Are you and the love of your life the more spontaneous type? Does the thought of planning a huge wedding for months on end make you shudder? Do you wish to just grab your partner’s hand and ride off into the sunset and get married? Eloping might be the answer to all your problems.

What even is elopement? Eloping is a small, simple wedding where the couple discreetly ties the knot, usually without either sides family or friends knowledge. Now, this might seem a little extreme for many couples. Typically, there are no guests, no reception,  and the whole ordeal may occur on a spur of the moment whim.

Is Eloping Really for You?

Elopements may not be for everyone. It’s important to really think if this is the right option for both partners. Be prepared for a potential backlash from family and friends. Parents are usually more affected by not seeing their children get married, but others may be cool with it. It’s really all about the relationship between family and friends, which obviously varies from couple to couple.

A huge wedding bash may not be your cup of tea, but maybe a small intimate wedding with just the closest family and friends would suffice. Regret is the last thing you want to be associated with your wedding, so if you know you will be missing your family and friends while you say I do, maybe opt for something else.

Now, if you and your partner have exhausted all other options, then read on and find out some tips, do’s and don’ts, and best places to elope!

How To Elope

couple eloping

With your decision made, follow these steps to plan your elopement!

Discuss What You’re Looking For

There are lots of ways to elope. You can ride off to Las Vegas and get married by Elvis in a chapel, you can get married in your favorite park, you can book a small venue – the opportunities truly are endless.

Discuss with your fiancee what you want your wedding day to look like. Just because you aren’t holding a traditional wedding doesn’t mean that you can’t make your day special, so make your elopement whatever you want!

Figure out what’s important to you and what you want at your elopement. Ask yourselves questions like:

  • Where do we want to get married?
  • Do we want to get married in a public space, or do we want privacy?
  • Will we get married indoors or outdoors?
  • What day do we want to get married?
  • Will we invite any guests? How many?
  • What will we wear? Will we dress up or keep it casual?

There’s plenty to consider. Sit down with your significant other and discuss what you’re both looking for out of an elopement.

Set a Budget

Choosing to elope means you’ll save money, as traditional weddings are generally very expensive. There are still expenses to consider, however, when you elope.

What kind of elopement you plan will affect budget, so the cost of an elopement can range drastically. Some common costs for eloping include money spent on:

  • Travel costs
  • Venue fees
  • Officiant costs
  • Marriage licensing fees
  • Rings
  • Clothing
  • Photography
  • Food and drink
  • Hair and makeup
  • Flowers

Not every couple that elopes will spend money on each of these items. For example, if you don’t travel far for your wedding day, you won’t have to worry so much about travel and hotel costs. If you get married outdoors, you can cut the cost of a venue.

These prices can also change based on what you want to spend – it’s possible to create a beautiful elopement with any budget. While you may still want to buy your dream wedding dress, you may be happy with a simple, white dress, or a dress that’s already in your closet!

Once you know what’s important to have at your elopement, you can set a budget for whatever costs you expect to come up.

Book Vendors 

At the very least, you will need to book an officiant for your elopement. If you’re asking a friend or family member to officiate, this may be even easier.

Otherwise, book any vendors that you want present at your wedding. We recommend hiring a photographer – even if it’s just a friend with a nice camera, you’ll probably want photos from your wedding day. Some brides who elope still get professional hair and makeup done for a complete bridal look.

If you want to book a small venue, be sure to do that early as well, and consider if you want to provide food and drinks to whatever limited guests you have. If your guest list is very tiny, you could also make reservations at a nice restaurant for a meal post-ceremony.

Get a Marriage License 

If you want to get legally married, you will need a marriage certificate and license for your state. Depending on your state laws, these can take days or even weeks to obtain, so be sure to look into licensing in advance of your elopement.

If you plan to elope to a different state or even a different country, figure out how to get a marriage certificate from your home state even earlier so that you don’t face any issues. There may be special documents or forms you need for an out-of-state marriage.

Another option is to do all the legal paperwork and get your license at a courthouse, and then elope for a symbolic ceremony once the legal matters are handled.

Make Your Day Special

No matter how small or how casual your elopement is, make your wedding day special. Even without the fanfare of friends and family present, this is an important day in your life. Give it the credit it deserves and try to make it as special as possible.

“Special” means different things to different couples. When you elope, it’s all about you, so do whatever makes you happy.

Inform Loved Ones

Once you’re married, it’s time to inform your friends and family. Some close family members or your closest friends might have already known about your plans, but be sure to let others know about your elopement.

Share as much as you want publicly. If you don’t want to share photos on social media, you can keep them private to friends and family. Your family will very likely want to see pictures, however, and they may have hurt feelings over the elopement, so try to be kind.

Some loved ones may be upset or feel offended that they weren’t included in your big day. Try to be patient and explain why it was important for your wedding to be private.

Your family may want to host a small party to celebrate your marriage after the fact. If you are strongly against something like this, you can hold firm. Otherwise, try to understand where your parents or other loved ones might be coming from. If you want to avoid large parties, ask to celebrate in smaller groups instead.

At the end of the day, your loved ones will be happy that you’re happy.

Eloping Do’s

small elopement

  • Prepare yourself for the reactions from family and friends. This might come as a complete shock to most of them, especially mom and dad. This might be the hardest part of deciding whether or not to elope, considering you are both close with your family. But, if you know that eloping is the way you want to get married, don’t sweat it. Ultimately, this is a special day to start the rest of your life with the one you love the most.
  • Consider hiring a planner, photographer, or videographer. Just because elopement is just the two of you and there is no reception is being held, doesn’t mean you have to skip out on beautiful wedding photos or videos to remember that special day! Hiring a wedding planner may alleviate some added stress of things like finding a great location. Since you’re not planning a huge expensive wedding, spend a little extra on documenting your wedding day.
  • Inform friends and family. Once you say I do, it’s best to let people know you got hitched. This is a great opportunity to share that beautiful wedding video or photos. Plus, many probably already know about your engagement, so why leave them wondering?
  • Determine a budget. Depending on where you’re tying the knot, an elopement could still get pricey. Things like vendors, travel, attire, and rings are all things to consider when planning to elope.

Eloping Don’ts

  • Don’t forget to follow all the necessary legal obligations. Just because you’re not celebrating your wedding as an event, you still need to legally officiate the marriage. An officiant and 2 witnesses are to be present during the signing of the marriage license. If you plan to get legally married abroad, this is super important to have the license first, or else getting married in Europe will be a little difficult. 
  • Don’t downplay your elopement. Just because this isn’t the typical wedding with 200+ guests, doesn’t make this day any less special. The main reason for having a wedding is to marry the love of your life, and if you feel more fulfilled to do that between the two of you, then more props to you! You’re allowed to get an expensive wedding dress, flowers, cake, or whatever you want. There are no restrictions when you decide to elope.   

Best Places to Elope 

Choosing a destination is probably the most important thing when planning your elopement. If money is no object and saying your nuptials in a beautiful, scenic place is at utmost importance, then look no further.

Hawaii

Hawaiian beach

Anywhere in the beautiful state of Hawaii is the perfect place to elope. With pristine beaches, weather, and perfect backdrops for wedding photos, you can’t go wrong with this destination. Plus, you can double this as a place to have a makeshift “honeymoon” to celebrate the marriage.

Utah

Utah red rock formations

If you’re less into the beach and more fascinated with getting married near massive and beautiful red rock formations in the desert, Utah may be the place for you! Capturing breathtaking wedding photos is a given. Utah offers many amazing national parks like Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park where you can say I do discreetly.

San Francisco

golden gate bridge

San Francisco is another great destination to elope! This place combines the fast-paced nature of a city, yet the beauty and serenity of the bay. City Hall in San Francisco happens to be a gorgeous building, which would be the perfect backdrop to say I do. But City Hall wouldn’t be the only place to take some beautiful wedding photos. Popular spots like the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Street are also amazing opportunities for a photo op!

Conclusion

No matter what you decide to do when eloping, just know that at the end of the day, you’re going to be married to the love of your life. There may be many factors or circumstances that will get in your way, but if eloping is what you both think is best, then just do it!

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