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How to plan an elopement: Tips & tricks

minute read

    You've found the love of your life and decided you want to get married, but without the hassle and stress of a wedding. Why not elope?

    In this article, learn about:

    • Why couples elope
    • How to elope
    • How to prepare your family and friends for your elopement

    Why do couples elope?

    A study done by Helzberg Diamonds showed that 62% of couples have considered eloping rather than having a traditional wedding. This seems to be a common and ever-increasing trend, but why?

    Couples tend to elope for a number of personal reasons. Perhaps the couple does not want a lot of outside attention or run the risk of triggering a larger personal issue within the family. An elopement can allow a couple to get married without the gravitas and involvement of so many others.

    How to elope

    If you and your loved one are thinking about eloping, you may want to consider a few main factors. These include:

    • Choosing a location
    • Checking on local laws
    • Booking travel
    • Planning the ceremony

    Choose a location

    Wherever you decide to elope — whether that’s spontaneously in Las Vegas or a courthouse in your hometown — make sure to follow the rules and laws around marriage in that location. For example, you could have a courthouse wedding where you have witnesses and signed documents, or you may have a destination elopement, which could cost more and require more logistical planning.

    Check any local laws

    Elopement — just like a traditional wedding ceremony — still requires a degree of planning ahead. You may need to get access to a marriage license which can take time to process before the date of your elopement. Additionally, if you are having a friend or family officiate your wedding, they may need to receive a certification that allows them to marry you. Check with your specific location’s laws to ensure that you can have a seamless elopement.

    Book travel and find necessary vendors

    Unless you’re doing a spontaneous elopement somewhere, you’ll want to start prepping for travel earlier on. If your elopement is taking place across the country or somewhere abroad, be sure to purchase your flights and make hotel reservations for yourself and cherished guests.

    If you are looking to celebrate after the elopement, book reservations for dining or party rooms well in advance so that you don’t have to scramble to find something last-minute. Bonus tip: Consider asking vendors if they have any specific deals or offers for newlyweds.

    Plan your ceremony

    An elopement generally tends to be smaller and less intense than a traditional wedding ceremony. However, it’s still important to prepare ahead of time. To help plan your ceremony, you may want to consider the following:

    • Who you want to have present at the ceremony
    • How long you want the ceremony to be
    • Where you want the ceremony or festivities to take place (for example, a courthouse ceremony with a dinner involving more people after)

    As with anything, hiccups could arise—perhaps the weather prevents some guests from arriving or maybe you have to wait longer than expected at the courthouse. Preparing what you can ahead of time can help you manage expectations.

    How to prepare your family and friends for your elopement

    Elopements aren’t for everyone, and not everyone may agree with your decision. However, at the end of the day, this is a choice you and your partner are making together. Regardless of what others think, your elopement should be a choice that the two of you make together because you want to.

    If you wish to keep it a private event without additional celebrations or gifts, you do not need to invite friends or family. In fact, you can inform them after the elopement (more on this later).

    If you decide to invite them to the elopement, keep it simple. Send invitations to attend the ceremony to those you wish to attend and provide any necessary details as you make bookings.

    Planning an elopement can be emotional and stressful, and pressures coming from friends or family can make it even harder to manage. That’s why it’s essential to do your best to maintain your self-care routines and check in on your mental health. Take breaks when you need them and break down your tasks bit by bit.

    Send a marriage announcement

    In the same way couples may send a “save the date” for an upcoming wedding, you may want to consider sending a marriage announcement. This is what you would send to your friends and family after you’ve already eloped as a way to spread the happy news about your marriage.

    In summary

    Don’t downplay your elopement. Elopements are not “better” or ”worse” than traditional wedding ceremonies — they are just representing a different approach. Whether you celebrate spontaneously or plan a ceremony with friends and family, you are celebrating one of life’s major moments. You are making a commitment to another person who is important to you, and that is a powerful and meaningful act, regardless of how your marriage is celebrated and who has the privilege to attend.

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