Etiquette Tips for Hosting a Wedding Celebration After Eloping

Champagne glasses at a post-elopement party.

The announcement of an elopement may come as a surprise to many of your friends and family—even if they saw it coming. And some may even deem it “selfish” since a lot of people would like to be part of your special day. Ultimately, many of us want to share the celebration with our loved ones, so the etiquette for having a post-elopement party becomes all the more important.

While you’re certainly not required to have a reception if you decided to elope, many couples choose to. If you’re one of those couples, here’s all you need to know about hosting an event to celebrate your new marriage after it’s already happened.

Spread the News

It’s polite to announce your elopement as soon as possible or when you feel comfortable. This doesn’t have to be a formal announcement—a social media post or email will do for most people—although you will likely want to (and should!) tell your closest friends and family face to face. At the same time, if you do decide to host an “after-party” for your friends and family, you should decide on a time and place sooner than later. And for that, you should send out proper save-the-dates, whether by snail mail or email. You can do this at the same time as your marriage announcement, as long as you have something booked.

Of course, sometimes life gets in the way and you can’t host a proper party until much later. If there’s no possibility to do so within several months, you may want to consider a vow renewal and a more proper reception on your first wedding anniversary.

It’s Not “Go Big or Go Home”

A small white wedding cake

Since you’re already married, you’re not required to have a large or formal gathering. A casual gathering such as a picnic, BBQ, or potluck will do. It’s also quite trendy to have a “champagne and cake” affair with just drinks, small bites, and, of course, a wedding cake. And if you want to make it even easier, just book a restaurant and invite your closest friends and family. Many also recommend repeating the ceremony just for show so that those who might feel left out will still feel like they were there on your big day. Of course, if you don’t think this is necessary, then don’t do it!

Feel Free to Dress Up

A bride and groom kissing on an urban rooftop.

While you’re not required to wear a wedding dress or suit, you’re free to—there aren’t many times when you can enjoy it, so why not? If it feels too formal, it’s still recommended to have at least a semi-dressy dress code such as cocktail attire for your post-elopement party, unless it feels out of place for the setting and venue. Adding a special event element will make the day much more official and soothe any of your guests’ feelings of missing out on being with you during the actual ceremony.

You Might Get Gifts

Some consider it tacky to have a registry or ask for gifts after an elopement, so it might be better to leave that detail out, especially if you’re having a more casual post-marriage ceremony gathering. However, you should be prepared that many of your invitees will want to get you a little something just because. In which case, you may want to have a small registry prepared or, alternatively, ask them to donate to a honeymoon fund or charity of your choice.

Share the Joy

A bride and groom giving a speech at their post-elopement party.

Entertainment is arguably one of the most important aspects of a post-elopement party. One of the easiest forms of that are speeches. You should put a bit more effort into your speech, should you do one, as it offers you the opportunity to share the details of your elopement with all your friends and family. It’s also important to add a tidbit that your elopement was not meant to be offensive and simply a personal choice between you and your spouse.

In addition, it’s a good idea to share some photos or videos of your elopement and share any relevant details. And if you want to go above and beyond, get your guests a little parting gift that reflects some semblance of your elopement. For example, if you got married in France, maybe give everyone a bottle of wine from the region where you tied the knot.

Send a Thank You Note

Gifts or not, it’s still important to send a thank you note to all attendees. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but a short handwritten “we’re glad you could join us” will do.

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