I love the very idea of eloping! The idea of tossing the guest list, the budget spreadsheets, the piles of sticky notes, and running off with your love somewhere exciting to say your vows, just the two of you. So romantic! But even if you're opting for a no frills wedding, planning your elopement still deserves a little thought. Even if you’re just going to the courthouse, you need an appointment & there’s the paperwork to fill out. You need to consider where to do it, what to wear (important!), how to make it special, and what to do afterwards - plus handling all the emotions that come with it - not to mention how to tell your parents and your BFF.
So, if you're thinking of making a run for it, and planning a wedding with just the two of you, we've put together a list on how to elope - the must-dos, and the most definitely don'ts to get you started...
1. Do It For the Right Reasons
Eloping can be something of a statement in itself, so if you're planning to get married without your friends and family, make sure it's something you really want and that you're doing it for the right reasons. Saving money, avoiding fuss, keeping things intimate and personal, or avoiding family drama, are all completely valid reasons to elope - just make sure you've thought a lot about your decision, and you're sure it's what you both want.
2. Don't Feel Bad About It
There can be a lot of guilt associated with elopements so this might be easier said than done, but try not to feel bad about your decision - you don't have to justify it to anyone. Your marriage is going to be about YOU, so your wedding should too! Of course some friends and family might be initially disappointed not to be sharing your day with you, but once they get over the shock, but chances are, they'll be nothing but thrilled for you. I think the adage of “prepare yourself for the worst but expect the best” is key for this, hopefully everyone will be cheering for you, but try not to be upset if a couple of people aren't as excited about your news as you'd hoped.
3. Do Have a Reveal Plan
You might want to throw a big party when you get back, and let everyone know you've eloped, you may want to send out announcements, or perhaps you want to quietly tell your nearest and dearest about your good news and leave it at that. However you let people know about your elopement, have a plan. When it comes to parents, siblings and close friends, it's important that they hear the news from you, ideally in person, and not through the grapevine or worse, on Facebook! Save the relationship status updates until after you've told your family. Have a script ready to go - as I said, you don't need to explain yourself - but you both need to be on the same page when it comes to letting friends and family in on your big surprise.
4. Don't Dismiss the Legalities
Make sure you read up on the legalities of where you're getting married; how long you need to have your license in advance, what ID and paperwork you need to bring, and whether the marriage will be valid back home. We all have a romantic notion of an impromptu wedding where you just book your flights and say 'I Do', but sadly, even the most fanciful gestures take some logistics. Oh, and don't forget to collect your certified marriage copies before you fly home!
5. Do Think About the Destination
Do you want a chic city elopement, a sunset ceremony on a cliff overlooking the river, or would you prefer to say your vows next to a lake or waterfall? Once you've decided where you want to go, and the feel you want from your elopement, you can start building a plan from there. It's not a bad idea to hire in a local elopement planner who will not only advise you on the legalities, but can also set you up with an Officiant, photographer, and any other vendors you might want, as well as arranging on the day transport and dining. They'll also know some quiet locations for your vows or photo session, so take advantage of their insider know-how, rather than spending your trip running around looking for a florist and booking taxis.
Don’t burden yourself with the stress of planning. Just because you are eloping doesn’t mean you have to do all your own wedding planning.
6. Don't Forget To Book a Photographer
We always think booking a photographer is sound investment for your wedding day, and even more-so if you're eloping. Having pictures to show your friends and family will make them feel part of your day. Plus you'll have keepsakes of your day to keep the memories alive!
7. Do Make It Special
Just because you don't have 120 guests to wine, dine and entertain doesn't mean your elopement shouldn't be special. Whether it's writing personalized vows, hiring out on a fancy limousine, eating wedding cake for breakfast, or going to a five star restaurant for dinner - do whatever it is that will make your wedding day feel special and truly memorable to YOU. The best thing about eloping is that you can do whatever you want - so make sure you do!
8. Do Rock Something Gorgeous
It doesn't have to be white or formal. It doesn't have to be a dress or a suit. And it certainly doesn't have to be “wedding appropriate”. But do make sure you wear something special to you on your wedding day, whether it's a sequin bridal jumpsuit, a little white dress, your granny's pearl necklace, your favorite t- shirt, or full formal wedding day attire. Have some fun with your look and make sure you feel fabulous on your wedding day, even if you're only dressing up for yourself and your other half.
9. Don't Dismiss a Wedding Day Timeline
You might not think you need one; after all, eloping is about throwing out the rule book, right? But thinking about the structure of your day is the best way to make the most of it. If the ceremony takes 15 minutes, and dinner takes two hours, there's still a lot of day to fill on your wedding day. Take time with your hair and make-up, have a leisurely breakfast or pre-ceremony lunch, have a couples' massage, or go all out with your photography session - just make sure there is a flow to your day so you can keep up the excitement and momentum.
10. Do Expect Some Costs
A lot of couples will plan an elopement to save on the expense of a big wedding, but that doesn't mean there won't be some costs. Your marriage license, bridal bouquet, outfits, hair, make-up and Officiant will all cost the same, no matter how many guests you have - though do ask your planner and photographer if they offer elopement rates, as you may require less of their time on the day. That said, if you can afford it, it's no harm upgrading to a fancy hotel or a plush suite on your wedding night, treating yourself to a fabulous meal or going all out on a fancy bottle of Champagne - what's the point in eloping if you can't indulge a little!
11. Don't Book a Package Without Looking It Over
Lots of resorts, and some planners, offer all-inclusive elopement packages. These often include the ceremony, an in house photographer, local flowers and decorations, sometimes along with cake & champagne. These packages can be handy, and cost effective, especially if you're not really into the details, but make sure you're happy with all the elements before you book.
Do you think Eloping is for you? Give us a call to discuss your wedding day. We'd love to be the professionals you choose to be by your side on your big day!
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