When you hear the word “elopement,” what comes to mind? For many people, eloping conjures up images of spontaneous weddings in far-flung locales with only a few close friends or family members in attendance. While that may be one type of elopement, it’s certainly not the only way to go about it.
In recent years, elopements have become more and more popular as couples look for ways to simplify their wedding day and focus on what matters most: their love for each other. If you’re considering eloping, this elopement guide is for you. We’ll cover everything you need to know about planning an elopement and give you a run down of what an elopement might look like for you.
There are many misconceptions about elopements, so let’s start by clarifying what an elopement is (and what it isn’t). Elopement weddings are simply weddings with a smaller guest list. It can be held anywhere, from your backyard to the top of a mountain. And while there are no hard and fast rules, most elopements involve just the couple and their immediate family or closest friends.
Here are some key traits of an elopement:
1. Intimate guest list: As we mentioned, elopements typically involve a smaller guest list. This could be just the couple and their witnesses or a handful of close family and friends.
2. Budget flexibility: An elopement is often more budget-friendly then traditional weddings since you’re not paying for a large venue, catering, or other big wedding related costs. Or you can choose to spend the big money on what matters most to you. You are not locked in a predetermined budget.
3. Focus on the couple: One of the best things about eloping is that it allows you to focus on your relationship matters most. With a smaller guest list and a more intimate setting, you can savor your wedding day and spend quality time with your spouse.
Classical weddings, however, tend to be larger affairs with 100+ guests. They often take place in formal venues like banquet halls or churches. They are planned well in advance and can take months (or even years) to prepare for.
There are many reasons why couples might choose to elope:
For many couples, planning a big wedding can seem like a production. Eloping might be the perfect solution if you’d prefer a more intimate setting. For instance, you might only invite your parents and siblings to witness your ceremony. Or, if you have a large family but still want to keep things small, you could invite your parents and grandparents but forgo inviting any cousins or other extended family members.
If you and your partner love travel, why not incorporate your wedding into your next adventure? Eloping in a new or exotic location can make for an unforgettable experience. For example, you could elope in the desert, on a remote beach, or even in a national park. Or spend days exploring a big city. Could be Copenhagen.
With so many moving parts, weddings can be stressful affairs. Elopement weddings may be the way to go if you’re looking to streamline your day and focus on what’s important. If you elope, you don’t have to worry about catering, decor, or rental fees. All you need is a marriage license and an officiant, and you’re good to go!
Wedding costs can quickly spiral out of control. If you’re looking to save money, eloping is a great option. Classical weddings often come with a hefty price tag, so you can avoid many associated costs by eloping. As per SimplyEloped, average elopement weddings costs well below €5.000, while traditional weddings easily costs over €25,000.
Every couple is not blessed with a supportive and close-knit family. At times, your family might make planning your wedding more complicated than it needs to be. If you elope, you can avoid any potential family drama and focus on enjoying your big day. For instance, you won’t have to deal with your family disapproving of your spouse.
Now that you know why couples elope let’s discuss how you can go about planning elopement weddings. Below are a few tips to get you started:
Step 1: Choose your location
The first step is to choose the perfect spot for your elopement. This might be somewhere special to you and your partner or a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting. Once you’ve zeroed in on a location, start researching the best time of year to visit. You’ll also want to consider weather conditions and permits (more on that later).
Step 2: Get your marriage license
The next step is to obtain a marriage license. This will likely involve going to your local courthouse and filling out an application. Be sure to bring any required documentation, such as your birth certificate. Once you have your license, you’ll need to wait a few days for it to become official.
Step 3: Hire an officiant
Once you have your marriage license, it’s time to find an officiant. If you have a friend or family member ordained, they can officiate your ceremony. If not, you can easily find a local officiant online. Just be sure to interview them beforehand to ensure they’re a good fit for you and your partner. For instance, if you are an LBGT couple, you’ll want to ensure that the officiant is supportive of your relationship.
Step 4: Obtain permits
You’ll need to obtain a permit if you’re planning on eloping in a national park or another public space. This is usually a simple process, but it’s essential to do your research ahead of time. For instance, you’ll need to find out how many people are allowed in the space and if there are any restrictions on things like amplification.
Step 5: Prepare your ceremony
The last step is to prepare your ceremony. This might involve writing your vows or choosing readings that are special to you. Be sure to pack the basics, such as your marriage license, a change of clothes, and your officiant’s contact information. You might also want to bring a few snacks and drinks if you get hungry during the ceremony. Also, if you’re eloping in a remote location, you might consider how you’ll transport your officiant and any other necessary supplies. For instance, you might need to rent a vehicle if you’re eloping to a desert.
Now that you know how to elope let’s discuss a few dos and don’ts.
While eloping might be a simple process in some states, others have more restrictions. For instance, some states require that you have a witness present during your ceremony. Be sure to do your research ahead of time to avoid any legal complications down the road.
While you might be tempted to run off and elope without telling your families, it’s crucial to have a discussion beforehand. After all, they are likely to find out eventually. It’s best to be upfront with them from the start so that there are no hard feelings later.
Your elopement should be about you and your partner, so choose a location that is meaningful to the two of you. This might be somewhere you went on your first date or a place you always dreamed of visiting together.
One of the best things about eloping is that it can be very affordable. You don’t need to spend too much money on an extravagant ceremony or reception. Just focus on the important things to you and your partner, and everything else will fall into place.
Even if you tell your families ahead of time, they might still be surprised by your decision to elope. Be prepared for their reactions and try to have a discussion beforehand so everyone is on the same page. For instance, you might want to explain why you’re choosing to elope and what it means to you.
While you might be tempted to play down your elopement wedding, it’s important to remember that this is a big decision. This is your wedding day, so don’t be afraid to let your excitement show. Embrace the fact that you’re eloping and enjoy every minute of it!
Unlike common conception, eloping doesn’t have to be a spur-of-the-moment decision. On the contrary, they are for you who want a different experience. You don’t care for the traditional and you do not like to be told, what you are supposed to do. You don’t care much for designer stuff or expensive cutlery and you would rather spend the day hiking mountains, relaxing in a hammock by the beach, experience the Northern Lights, go to cafés or visit food markets. (See ideas on creating timelines and activities to do on your elopement)
Copyright Kim Kjærgaard Sørensen
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