Elopement 101: What You Should Know About Choosing to Elope
by Kaitlyn May 8
With the landscape of weddings forever changed because of COVID-19, elopements in lieu of traditional weddings are gaining popularity. Even after this pandemic passes and its effects are mostly behind us, industry predictions point toward elopements remaining a viable, enticing option for couples ready to tie the knot. What is eloping all about, anyway? Why choose to elope rather than host a more traditional wedding? We’re covering all the elopement basics for you, below. Keep scrolling!
Photo: The Lockharts
How is an elopement different than a wedding?
Technically, the term “eloping” means to “run away” and originally was used in the context of running away together for a secret wedding – not telling anyone you’re getting married. As times have changed, eloping has evolved to cover things like getting married just the two of you, having a small, intimate ceremony that may or may not be followed by a larger reception later, getting married without any guests (or very few guests) whether in a destination locale or locally, like at the courthouse – elopements can cover a variety of scenarios! While eloping often saves money in comparison to a traditional wedding because you’re not covering expenses like a large venue, catering, favors, entertainment and other guest-centered costs, couples can still opt for a “luxury elopement” with nice formalwear, a professional photographer and even custom decor. Most often, a couple will choose to elope with the goal of getting married in a specific timeframe, not having to worry about the logistics of inviting guests, saving money or some combination of the three.
Elopements take significantly less time and resources to plan than weddings because again, the guest count factor is all but removed. These ceremonies typically include only the couple, officiant, witnesses if necessary and fewer than ten guests. But whether you’re inviting zero people or a few of your very closest loved ones, couples who choose to elope do still need a marriage license and officiant, and certain venues do still require a waiting period or advanced reservation to host the ceremony, however small. It’s important to note common elopement etiquette includes foregoing a wedding registry since you’re not hosting an all-out affair for guests.
Can we still have a reception after eloping?
Absolutely! Many couples still choose to host a celebration after eloping, whether that’s a small get-together after they’ve returned from a destination elopement, a dinner party the same night as a local elopement or a larger reception with lots of friends and family weeks or even months after a private ceremony. However you choose to celebrate is really up to you – when, where, how many guests – but you definitely don’t have to have any sort of reception, either.
Where should we elope?
The beauty of eloping is that you can do it just about anywhere, with a few considerations, of course. Las Vegas’s no-wait marriage licenses and plethora of “walk-in” venues makes it a popular destination for elopements, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Your local courthouse is always an option for a no-fuss affair, but consider places like a romantic resort, a park, the beach, a rooftop venue, a mountainside – if it can accommodate you, your fiancé and your officiant, it’s probably an option! Just be sure to do your research and make necessary reservations.
How do we get our families on board with an elopement?
Although not true for every family, many families, parents especially, may respond with shock or disagreement when you mention the idea of an elopement. It can be tough to please everyone, certainly when your plans don’t line up with family members’ assumptions or expectations (which may affirm your decision to elope and not deal with family drama at your wedding!). It’s important to reassure loved ones that your intention is not to hurt them by excluding guests – it’s simply to keep your focus on your fiancé and your marriage. Unless you are taking part in a true secret elopement for personal reasons, it’s best to give immediate and even extended family a heads up about your plans to elope and inform them of a celebration to follow or let them know a special way they can support you, despite not having a traditional wedding.
If a true elopement is just too extreme, consider hosting an intimate wedding, instead. With a slightly larger guest list but still a low-key approach in terms of vendors involved, costs and fanfare, this can be a great compromise between an elopement and a large wedding, and ensures the focus is kept on you and your love.
An elopement may be the perfect solution for you and your sweetheart, and no matter how you choose to go about it, we’re here to help! Check out our blog for inspiration and don’t forget about our catalog of wonderful local vendors.
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