What to Know Before You Elope

A couple eloping in a scenic location under an arch decorated with colorful balloons.

As wedding planning is more costly and stressful than ever, many couples are choosing to elope over having a big traditional wedding. There are many reasons why eloping can be a good option, even though the majority of couples still choose to celebrate with at least a small group of friends and family. If you are thinking about eloping, consider these factors as you make your choice, and make sure you have your bases covered for a meaningful, fun elopement.

Cancel all Plans and Release any Obligations

If you decide to elope after traditional wedding planning begins, make sure to cancel any wedding vendor contracts as soon as you can for the maximum refunds. Release any other commitments such as family and friend involvement. If you aren’t ready to share information about your elopement with those people, just remember that one of the best ways to remember your elopement fondly is to make sure no one was hurt by your lack of communication. Let everyone initially involved know that your designated date for the wedding is no longer part of the plan so they are free to use that day as they see fit. This may also involve reassuring them that you and your fiancé are still very much planning to get married.

Find Somewhere Beautiful and Meaningful to You

A bride and groom standing in a field of purple flowers during their elopement.

Whether you plan to drive 30 minutes out of town or fly halfway around the world, it’s may be worthwhile to you to do a little research and get married somewhere beautiful. Even non-romantics may find city hall a little too drab for an important occasion like marriage. Find a way to do even your most toned-down ceremony against a lovely backdrop of some kind. Psychologically, it’s nice to have a beautiful vista to associate with this important moment of commitment in your relationship. Yes, it takes a little longer to find someone who can actually marry you if you skip the downtown ceremony, but unless that is specifically what you want, the effort to find a locale for your elopement will be well worth it.

If you have no idea where would be suitable, contact a wedding photographer or two who does elopements and ask what locations their clients tend to choose. Not only will this give you ideas, but it also gives you the chance to ask about photography packages if you want some photos to remember the day.

Bring Along a Witness… Or Not

In most places, marriages must be witnessed by someone, even if that person is a total stranger to you. You have the option of just recruiting a witness organically where you are getting married, but if there is one person you’d just love to have by your side, an elopement can definitely have a tag-along witness. Some families are likely to be hurt by someone getting singled out, but if there is one person who is obviously closer to you than all others, they can be a meaningful addition to your elopement experience.

Combine With Some Kind of Honeymoon

A man and woman making a heart with their hands.

While not everyone can afford a week off after an elopement, it’s good to take at least a day or two to let the cares of the world wait and spend some time with your new spouse. Whether you camp in a state park or jet off to an island paradise, this time can be exactly what you need to make a clear transition to being married. The hubbub and time consumed by a wedding often takes care of this transition in and of itself, but elopements by their nature tend to be quick affairs. Taking some time off together is a great way to make sure that you bookend your single life and begin dreaming of your future together.

Send Out Announcements

When you do return home, let people know you’re married now! An announcement with a few cute pictures and the mention that you’ve been wed in a private ceremony can be enough to help folks know where you stand and avoid needless questions and confused phone calls. If your family wants to have an informal party or reception after the fact, you can also use a formal announcement as a way to let people know they are invited to such a gathering; some eloping couples actually choose this method because they can go ahead and get married whenever they want, and save up money for a big party later.

No matter how you do it, eloping in a fun but thoughtful way can help you to remember this time of your lives with fondness.

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