Wait, plan an elopement? Isn’t eloping all about not having to deal with wedding planning? The answer is yes and no. Planning an elopement is definitely not like planning a traditional wedding, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to plan.
Why consider planning an elopement?
Before diving head first into planning, let’s talk about why people choose to elope anyway. The answer is different for everyone. Some of the most common reasons we hear from couples that choose to elope are:
- Wanting a simple, intimate ceremony
- Being able to focus wholly on each other
- Avoiding logistics and family drama
- Not spending a ton of money on a wedding
- A big wedding/being the center of attention makes them anxious
- Don’t want to wait several months to get married
- Already feel married (have a home, kids, etc.)
Now, on to the fun part. The most important thing to remember in all of this (and one of the best parts of eloping) is that you get to plan as much or as a little as you want. At minimum, you have to choose a date, get a marriage license, and make an appointment to wed for City Hall weddings or arrange an officiant and a witness.
Elopements can = freedom from pressure
As for all the many things associated with weddings, the choice to include or not is completely up to you. Don’t want to deal with a florist? Cool. Don’t have any flowers or forage some on your way to the ceremony. Don’t want to wear white? Awesome. Wear something you feel amazing in. Can’t imagine getting married without your mom there? Invite her. Deciding what is important to you and your partner on your wedding day is number one. Make a list of priorities and start planning from there. Here’s how we suggest getting started.Eloping has been an amazing experience for so many couples. It eliminates the stress of planning a big wedding and brings the excitement back to what the wedding is all about in the first place.
Listen to episode 113 of the Bridechilla Podcast- all about eloping
Choosing an elopement Location
Location will dictate mostly everything else that you need to plan for. There are a couple ways to go about choosing where to tie the knot. You can choose a spot that carries meaning for you and your partner, like your favorite hike or the park you spent your first date wandering through. Some couples choose a ceremony location that doubles as the starting point for their honeymoon or tack on the ceremony to an already-planned vacation. Other couples simply choose a location that works best for them and what they want their wedding day to feel like. Settle on a location first, then check in on any requirements or scheduling for an event in that location. Some city parks or beaches require advanced scheduling for gazebos, a city hall likely will require an appointment, national parks require a permit, and so on.
Pick a Wedding Date
This is a huge perk of eloping. Since you have few to no guests to work around, you can choose to get married whenever you want. Seriously, you get to pick whatever time of year, day of the week and moment of day that you want. Being flexible with date and time also allows you to book vendors that may otherwise be booked with weekend weddings or holidays.
Hire Your Wedding Vendors
You won’t have nearly as many vendors as the traditional wedding, but you can still have some. All in all, even if you have seven vendors, you will have much a smaller order than a big wedding which means less money and more simple planning. However, this does not mean you should put off choosing vendors. If you want the utmost simplicity, choose the essential vendors: a photographer and an officiant. You will totally regret not having photos to cherish of the day you committed your lives to each other.
Depending on the location you’ve chosen, you will likely need to hire an officiant as well. Other vendors to consider are a videographer, florist, hair and makeup stylists, and transportation. For the couples that want one person to handle the details, hire a planner that specializes in elopements. A planner will be able give advice on choosing a location, help you find a photographer and officiant, and help navigate the legal stuff like a wedding certificate and any necessary location permit.
Make It Official- Marriage Licenses
You would think that getting a marriage license would be the simplest part but it can actually be kind of difficult. The state or country in which you are getting married has specific rules that may be different from where you live. Once you decide on location, research marriage licenses in that location. There will be specific documents you need to bring, certain requirements for who can be your witness, and a time sensitivity around signing and sending in the certificate to make it official.
Tell Your Family and Friends
This isn’t something that needs pen and paper planning, but it is something to talk through as a couple before you exchange vows. Most of the time someone in your life is a little hurt that they weren’t at your wedding, be it your grandma or your bestie.
Deciding who needs to know first and then making sure they are the first to know can help soothe hurt feelings. If you want to get creative in sharing the happy news with your people, there are many fun ways to do so. Thinking ahead of how you want to announce your marriage can also be something to communicate with your vendors. Whether you have a “we eloped” sign or a specific shot captured by your photographer, you’ll go in to your wedding day feeling more prepared without worrying about who will be hurt by the end of the day.
Header image by Lauren Rader
More about Simply Eloped
Simply Eloped was founded by a couple named Matt and Janessa. They saw so many close friends spend tons of money on large weddings that were stressful and difficult to plan. After noticing that many of these friends didn’t enjoy their weddings, the duo realized that there must be a better way. With that, Simply Eloped was born and the two set off on a mission to make getting married, fun, easy and affordable!