The Bare Necessities: What Every Elopement Needs

A couple just married outside of a courthouse

The thought of planning an over-the-top expensive wedding seems more like stress than a fairy tale to many brides while the thought of jetting off to a faraway land with only their future spouse seems easier and less expensive. Eloping is a popular decision for many brides. Some jump into elopement at the spur-of-the-moment while others plan months ahead. Either way, there’s a few basic elements every elopement needs to be successful.

Marriage License

The most important thing you need to get married in any way is your marriage license. Many states have different rules when it comes to obtaining your marriage license. In some places you must both be there. In certain states you must wait up to 72 hours so if you decided to elope last minute, you may have to wait another day or two. Most places require you have a photo identification to obtain a marriage license. Get ready to wait in line because many places not only hand out marriage licenses, but also deal with social security and driver’s licenses. Be there early and ready with all required documents. Make sure you research the cost associated with the license as well. The cost of a marriage license differs from state to state.

Couple getting married outside with officiant


No matter the hurry you might be in, you can’t just pull a random person off the street to officiate your wedding. Every elopement needs a licensed officiant. The best news is these days it’s easy to get authorized to perform weddings online meaning you can elect a favorite family member or friend. One thing you might want to take into consideration regarding your officiant is your spiritual beliefs as a couple.


If you’re eloping in another country, don’t forget your passport. If you need to obtain or update your passport, do it as quickly as possible. It can take weeks for a passport to arrive in the mail so if you decide to get married at the last second in Mexico, you might be up a creek without a paddle if you haven’t updated your passport. Many times you can do it quickly and easily online.

A Pocketful of Money

Many times people elope to save money, but marriage isn’t free. Make sure you set enough money aside to pay for the marriage license, the officiant, the rings, and any other little things along the way. You may not want to get married in jeans and a t-shirt so you invest in a cute little sundress. Traveling by plane, cab, train, rental car, or Uber isn’t free. Make sure you make travel plans that are consistent with your budget.


You may be rolling your eyes at the thought of a photographer because you’re trying to get away and/or save money and hiring a photographer doesn’t help that. You don’t HAVE to have a photographer, but you will treasure the photos of your wedding day forever. Friends and family that weren’t invited will feel more included when they see the beaming smiles in your wedding photos. You can just invite a close friend with a smartphone if you don’t want to hire an expensive photographer. You’ll be thankful to have photos to show your loved ones even if it means spending a little more than you expected on a photographer.

Wedding couple sitting by the beach

Travel Plans

A huge necessity for an elopement that requires any traveling is a travel plan. Make sure you check dates and prices of flights ahead of time so you don’t just show up last minute wishing for a cheap flight to Mexico. It simply won’t happen. Make sure you have all your clothing, documents, and every little thing you require to take a few days for you and your new hubby. Even if you’re just going downtown to the Justice of the Peace, make sure you are traveling with all required documents. Share your plans with someone close if you are going to another country so they will be informed in case of an emergency.


One of the most important parts of a wedding is the exchanging of the rings. You might already have an engagement ring, but make sure you take the actual wedding rings to the ceremony. They are one of the biggest symbols of marriage so it’s important that you don’t forget them at your ceremony. If you’re trying to save money, there are many places that offer wedding rings at a lower cost. If you just want a simple band, you can save lots of money and show off your symbol of marriage at the same time.

Elopement Announcement

The news you got married without all of your loved ones might not go over very well with some people. You don’t want loved ones to feel left out of your big day. You can explain to each one that you love them very much, but chose this for the two of you. One great way to explain this to everyone at once is an elopement announcement. Instead of a Save the Date, send out an elopement announcement after the wedding. Yes, most people will know through social media or word of mouth, but it’s that personal touch that will make them feel included. Send them an announcement with the date and a photo so they feel as if they were there in some way and can offer their congratulations.

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