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How to Plan an Elopement

Figuring Out the Who, When, Where, What, and How to Plan an Elopement 

In older, past days, elopements were often a thing of shame, sometimes chosen as the result of an unexpected pregnancy, a forbidden relationship, or parental disapproval. They were secretive and carried the weight of societal judgment. But today, we’ve completely shifted the perception, meaning, and significance of an elopement. 

Today, eloping is a beautiful and meaningful way to express ardent and feverous love for your partner. It’s a way of making your love about you two and you two alone. It’s an alternative way to get married that excites couples as they live their life outside the “norm”.

In fact, eloping isn’t even against the norm! The past few years have seen tremendous surges in couples wanting to elope rather than engage in what’s long been seen as the traditional wedding. Eloping is a romantic gesture. It’s a way to make your wedding just about you and your spouse. It’s a way to eliminate all the noise and pressure of a full-blown wedding. It allows you to save tens of thousands of dollars that can be used toward other, more important things than a single-day event. You don’t even need to have a reason to justify it- if you want to elope, then elope! 

If you’re thinking about eloping with your significant other, here are some questions to ask, things to consider, and a few details to plan ahead on. 

Who do you want to attend, and who will know? 

When it comes to planning your own elopement ceremony, you have the freedom of deciding if you want to just you two, just close family, one best friend each, parents only, etc. It’s your choice who you want to invite and be present for the actual ceremony. 

Some couples plan to tell a few close friends and family; some prefer to keep it fully secretive until after the deed is done, while others post the entire thing to social media to bring people in on the fun. It’s entirely up to you. A few considerations, though – the more people you invite, the more complicated it becomes. Elopements are best kept small. If you choose not to invite anyone else, you can keep it as simple as the officiant and a photographer so you can share the incredible moment with everyone after the fact. 

When and where do you want to elope? 

Deciding when and where to elope can come down to a few details: scheduling, financials, personal preference, and availability. When it comes to eloping, some couples prefer not to have to do a lot of planning, as the spontaneous nature can be all the more exciting and romantic. However, if you’re planning to elope in certain locations, like a national park, for example, you need to have reservations set in advance. 

Do you plan on flying somewhere to elope? Do you have a budget for taking a trip? It can get complicated real quick, so focus on the following to help you decide: 

  • Location: Pick a location that is affordable and within your budget, yet special. You don’t want to end up regretting the location. Heading out of state or out of the country can mean different things. Eloping doesn’t just mean a quick trip to Vegas for the weekend anymore, as there are tons of options to pick where you want to elope. 
  • Date and Time: If you plan to elope somewhere that you need to reserve, check the calendar in advance. Contact someone who can help you reserve a place, and if one isn’t available soon enough, find alternative locations. 
  • Budget: You can do a quick one-day getaway, or you can make it into a couples trip, book hotels, spa treatments, fun excursions, and make your elopement into a bit of a honeymoon. This depends on your budget as well as the when/where you decide on. 

What, if any, of the more “traditional” wedding features do you want to include? 

Eloping means you don’t have to plan nearly as much as you would have if you were hosting an entire wedding ceremony. However, to make the day memorable and special, you might still want to consider key elements to make your day still feel iconic, solidifying, and romantic. 

  • Officiant: Somebody needs to marry you, so whether that be a religious figure, a courthouse representative, a close friend who became an officiant, figure how you want to make it official. 
  • Photography: Beautiful and exquisite photography doesn’t only happen with gigantic wedding ceremonies. Incredible photographers are available for small, intimate elopement ceremonies, which also offers you a way to save the experience to share with loved ones after the fact. 
  • Celebrations: Some couples prefer to head out of town to elope and then engage in a small reception-type ceremony after the fact with friends or family. Some prefer to invite a very small group of close, intimate friends and relations to engage in the actual ceremony together. 
  • Clothing: Does she want to wear a dress? Does he want to wear a suit? It’s entirely up to both of you, and there are plenty of ways to keep it affordable and low-key, or exuberant and flashy, whichever is your style. 

How do you want to share the news with friends and family?

Depending on the type of family you come from, deciding to elope might not mean much, but it might also mean a lot of difficult conversations. While this is your day and meant to be about you and your partner, it can be especially important to find the right way to tell each person’s closest family and friends. Here are a few tips for best approaching that: 

  • Consider parents, grandparents, and siblings first, especially if you are particularly close or they’re under the impression you might be having a formal ceremony. While surprises are nice, they might be upsetting if your mother has been planning your wedding since the day you were born! 
  • Be honest and understanding, and open when you share your reasons with wanting to elope. Family and friends will be happy for you because they love you. A ceremony is simply that- ceremonial. It doesn’t exclusively represent love, romance, and partnership. The closer family and friends will probably prefer to hear from you in person.
  • Be proud and excited when you share the news. This is a huge moment! You deserve to feel the love and warmth and joy from your family and friends when you share the  news. 
  • Consider a somewhat formal notice across social media to share with those you’re less close with. It’s an easy and convenient way to let others share in your joy. While closest friends and families will prefer to hear in person, this is a great way to get the news out there and can be especially powerful if you’ve hired photographers to capture the day. 

Elopements are fast becoming part of the new norm. They’re an exciting, spontaneous, and romantic way to solidify your relationship, and it’s all about you and your partner. You don’t need a reason to elope, but a little consideration on how to plan an elopement before you take the leap will go a long way! 

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