So, you and your partner are thinking of eloping? An elopement has become an increasingly popular way to marry in recent years and can be just as beautiful and special as a big wedding with a huge guest list.
It’s certainly a lot kinder on the bank balance!
Here we discuss everything you need to know about elopements. We explore different elopement ideas to give you some inspiration – and lots to think about – when making your big decision.
Firstly, What Is an Elopement?
Dictionary.com states the definition of an elopement as “an act or instance of running off secretly, as to be married.”
In 2022, elopements do not need to always be such a big secret, and they can indeed include your close loved ones if you wish.
Typically, those who choose an elopement have a ceremony but do not host a reception or celebration afterward.
You’ll need a marriage license issued in the state where you plan to elope, and then an officiant with the power to legally marry you on the day.
Choosing to have an elopement these days does not mean you have to sacrifice all of the other, more traditional elements of a wedding if you don’t wish to. Here we’ll explain more and give you plenty of elopement ideas…
The Benefits of Choosing to Elope
Choosing to elope is perfect for some couples – it is intimate, romantic, and a great way for you to express who you are as a couple.
You should hopefully find it less stressful than planning a large wedding, and of course, it’s pretty much always a cheaper option.
Not to mention you can elope anywhere, which adds an adventurous element and a unique experience as you enter your new married life together.
Whether you choose to go halfway around the globe, stay local in your hometown, or something in between, the possible destinations are limitless, and you can personalize your day however you want.
Travel the World as You Elope
When it’s just the two of you, with maybe a few close family members, you will be spending your wedding budget in a very different way. You could potentially use your cash to travel abroad for your elopement – somewhere beautiful you have perhaps always dreamed of visiting.
Your wedding suddenly becomes more than just a wedding day – it becomes an adventure that the two of you will remember forever.
Once you have decided on your dream destination, do some research into elopement packages in that area. You will often find that there are wedding planner services that offer completely all-inclusive elopement packages – making organization a lot easier.
For example, let’s just say that you choose Hawaii as the perfect place to elope. There are loads of companies there that are set up to organize and plan your perfect elopement.
Whether it is just you two, an officiant and a photographer on the beach, or whether you choose to include flowers, food, transport, and live music, they are there to take all the wedding stress off your hands. Take a look here to find out more specifically about Hawaii elopement ideas.
And another benefit of choosing to marry abroad? It’s your wedding and honeymoon combined. No extra flights are needed – you are already there!
Explore the Great Outdoors
If you decide to stay in the US – then why not get outdoors and enjoy nature – whether it’s in a forest, up a mountain, on the beach, or within a national park?
The United States has 63 national parks, so why not do some research on them and find out what they have to offer? National parks are great places to elope because they don’t require a lot of decorations – let nature be your wedding backdrop! They also don’t require too much planning – and you’ll benefit from having original, breathtaking photos of your wedding day.
You will need an additional permit, but these are easy to obtain and your officiant and photographer can hopefully help you pick the most picturesque spot for your ceremony.
One word of advice: if you are planning a summer elopement in a national park, think about how hot the weather gets at your chosen time of year. Some national parks have fewer facilities and covered options than others, so you may want to change the time of your elopement to a time that avoids the midday sun for example.
Your Favorite Spaces
Another great elopement idea is to think about selecting a location for your nuptials that means something to you as a couple – a favorite park, house, garden, or area.
It could be a location that you used to vacation when you were a kid, it could be the place you met or where you got engaged.
Any space can be personalized and transformed into a dream location for your intimate wedding.
Elope With Your Favorite Activity
Remember, it’s your wedding your way… so have you thought about doing something together that you love as part of the elopement?
This could be popping on hiking boots under your wedding dress and going for a hike together after you’ve exchanged your vows.
Depending on which location you have chosen you could go swimming or surfing in the ocean, skiing in the mountains, wine tasting, hot tubs – the possibilities are endless.
It’s a great idea to speak to your photographer in advance about any activities you are planning – no doubt they will be thrilled that you’ll be doing something different – and it could create fantastic photo opportunities for your big day.
How Do I Personalize My Elopement?
Have Live Music
You have lots of options when personalizing your elopement, and depending on your chosen location you could hire a live musician to play before and after your ceremony.
This could be a local band if you are abroad, or even a friend if you know someone!
Arrive and Depart in Style
You only get married once, so you could make your elopement even more memorable by arriving and leaving in style.
This could be a limo or a vintage car, a horse-drawn cart, a moped or heck, even a boat if you have chosen a beach ceremony. Get creative and think of the photos!
Choose Sunrise or Sunset
There are fewer rules for an elopement than a traditional wedding, so you can choose the time of day that you most prefer.
A romantic outdoor ceremony at sunrise or sunset – now THAT will be memorable!
Eat Your Favorite Foods
What’s your favorite food as a couple? There are no rules, so you can choose to eat your fave food as part of your wedding day.
If you are having an outdoor wedding, then why not plan a romantic champagne picnic for after your ceremony, against a beautiful natural backdrop?
Or if it’s just the two of you, could you hire a private chef to whip up a gourmet three-course meal for you both?
If you’ve chosen a city location it could be that you book yourselves in for a tasting menu at your favorite hot restaurant in town – the opportunities are endless.
Just because you are eloping does not mean you should skip out on cake – never!
Pick your favorite cake flavors and eat them happily – even if you are outside. Of course, you could pick your preferred donuts or cookies for your sweet treat – again, it is whatever YOU prefer on your wedding day.
Wear What You Like
Brides everywhere do not need to wear white or ivory for their wedding day, but with an intimate elopement, you have the freedom to wear whatever you like!
It could be a dress or suit in your favorite colors, or it could be colors selected to specifically match the setting you choose – such as a rust-colored dress in a park in the fall.
Get creative with the extras too – If you are having a more casual day then I adore these personalized leather jackets to wear after your ceremony…
These jackets are great for keepsakes, weddings, elopements, bridal showers - or anything you’d like.
How Can You Make Your Elopement Ceremony Special?
You can make your elopement ceremony beautiful and unique if you have the right officiant to work with.
Lots of officiants will give you a basic example ceremony script – but you do not need to stick to this. Most officiants won’t mind if you want to make some amendments to this script to personalize your ceremony. Here are some examples:
If you are having a small group of family and friends at your elopement then you can ask one or two of them to read something beautiful as part of the ceremony.
Whether it’s a classic Walt Whitman poem, a quirky reading about love, or lyrics from your favorite song, this is a great way to personalize your ceremony.
Make sure you choose readers who are confident and happy to do this important task.
Write Personal Vows
My favorite part of ANY wedding ceremony is always the vows, especially when they are written by the couple.
An elopement ceremony is no different; I urge you to both write your own vows to each other. These should be commitments that stand the test of time, something that perhaps you can return to every wedding anniversary.
These promises can reflect your values as a couple, and also your humor – it’s always fun to add one or two humorous lines within your vows to make your partner smile.
Add a Symbolic Gesture
You could also consider adding a symbolic action to your ceremony to create a unique visual moment.
A great example of this is hand binding – adapted from an ancient pagan ritual, it’s the binding of the hands of the two persons getting married and is where the phrase “tying the knot” originally comes from. Your officiant should be able to guide you on this.
Other symbolic actions could be jumping the broom, lighting candles, sharing a drink of whisky from a “Quaich” (this is a Scottish tradition that’s always quite fun!), or sealing an envelope the old-fashioned way with red wax then and there – holding both of your marriage vows.
At-Home Elopement Ideas
I think it was Dorothy who said “there’s no place like home” – could she be right?
You don’t have to go anywhere adventurous for your elopement so if you want to keep things super simple, you could always elope in the comfort of your own home!
Pick a Room To Transform
First, you’ll need to pick the perfect spot in your home to host the ceremony. This will most likely be your living room, but hey, there are no rules so you could pick another spot in the house that is meaningful to you.
Then think about dressing this room to reflect your wedding style and transform your space into something special. This could include draping the space with white linens, covering the area with floral displays, or creating an arch to get married underneath.
Set up a Live Stream
Having a wedding at home makes it even easier to set up a camera and live stream your wedding to your family and friends!
Include Your Pets
If you have pets then this is the perfect time to include them in the ceremony – could your dog be the ring bearer? I mean, here is a tux they could wear!!
Backyard Elopement Ideas
You may find that your own backyard could be the perfect place for your elopement – relaxed, informal, and not far to travel!
If the weather allows, this can be a very romantic way to get married.
Create the Perfect Backdrop
Use your backyard as you’ve never used it before. Pick the best spot for the ceremony and think about creating a beautiful backdrop under which to exchange your vows.
Here are some stunning wedding backdrop ideas to give you some inspiration.
If you are choosing to elope in your backyard then chances are you will have space for a small group of family and friends to be there with you on your special day.
Create some seating that works for your numbers – you do not need to hire chairs but you could use straw hay bales, benches, or even rugs for your guests to sit on as you wed.
Use Flowers From Your Garden
Take a close look at your backyard and think about how you can utilize the flowers, greenery, and plants you find there.
Perhaps you could make the table centerpieces, bouquets, or a floral arch from the flowers you find. Anything you find is fair game to use for wedding decor!
If you are considering making your bridal bouquet then we have some tips here for you.
Hire Local Help
The best thing about eloping in your own backyard is that you can keep everything local.
Could you approach your favorite restaurant about catering? Your favorite bar to help with drinks? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and as you are hosting an intimate event, they should hopefully not give you inflated “wedding” prices.
Just please remember to have a backup plan for your backyard wedding, just in case of rain!
Elopement Ideas With Family
Sometimes not having your family and friends there on your wedding day can be overwhelming for some couples. But we have some ideas for including your friends and family in some way even if they cannot be present.
You can live stream your elopement so they can watch it live or have them write letters to you both, which are read by your officiant in the ceremony.
You could watch a video recording of them congratulating you straight after your ceremony – if you have someone who can edit together a video montage this could be a wonderful moment – just have the Kleenex handy!
If you are able to have some family members there on the day then you could use them in the ceremony – they could be the ones to do a reading, blessing, or personalized speech. They could pledge their support to you with spoken or written words of advice and encouragement.
If you have kids then you can always include children in the ceremony. From throwing petals and confetti to singing a song, to holding the rings, to passing out the words to a group reading – there are lots of ways to include children in your elopement.
You could also ask your family members to all contribute to the curation of a playlist, to be played before and after your ceremony.
Throw a Party Afterward
During the pandemic #wednowpartylater became a popular movement as couples realized they didn’t want to wait to get married – and elopements started to rise. But this doesn’t mean that you cannot celebrate with your people at a different time.
So, think about what kind of celebration you would like to have with your family and friends when the time is right – what would be most meaningful to you two as newlyweds?
This could be a big party in a bar with everyone dressed up in cocktail attire, an intimate dinner at a fancy restaurant, or a relaxed BBQ in your backyard. It’s about creating the right event for you.
And if you do decide to have a bigger party at a later date – talk to your photographer about coming back and capturing that event as well as the wedding day itself.
Elopement Ideas for the Modern Couple
We hope that this has given you lots of inspiration and supplied you with a bounty of ideas on how to make your elopement personal, memorable, and unique.
If you are planning a wedding on a budget then we have further tips here for you to consider.
Good luck, and enjoy your elopement day your way!