Tips For A Successful Elopement
Some people grow up dreaming of a big, traditional wedding, but for others, that kind of celebration has never been part of the plan. If you and your partner want a more intimate celebration that captures your personalities (independently and together), then eloping might be more your speed.
And while elopements, of course, do require far less planning than a larger, more traditional wedding, there’s still some work involved. For advice on how to make your elopement successful, we turned to Janessa White, co-owner of Simply Eloped, for her take on where to start, what to consider, and how to break the news to loved ones who might be expecting a different sort of wedding.
1. Figure out your elopement vibe.
White says that the first thing she recommends couples do is to figure out what they want the general feel of their wedding to be. Determining if you’re looking for mountains, beach, forest, city, country, or desert can help you make some of the other decisions that’ll come next. Don’t forget to factor in your general budget, as well. White says that budgets for elopements can totally vary, based on what you want your day to look like and how much you want to spend on things, so having an idea of about where you want to be, budget-wise, can help you narrow down some of your choices as well. Finally, determining if you want to travel and how far you’re willing to go (again, in conjunction with your budget), can help solidify your vibe and get you started. So if you’re not willing to travel too far, but want a somewhat beachy feel, you might have to opt for a pretty lakeside setting instead of heading someplace more coastal or tropical.
2. Determine your must-haves.
If you know that you want to travel to someplace super specific, that might be one of your must-haves. Or if you know that for you, eating at your dream restaurant after the ceremony is what you want to do, that’ll influence how you spend your money and who’s on your guest list. Determine what’s most important to the two of you.
“Do you have to have a photographer? Do you have to have a videographer? How many people do you want to invite? Because how many people you want to invite really dictates what spots you can do it at. It’s really hard to have a beach wedding with 50 people,” White says. “Or even a mountain wedding, mountain weddings are really only for 20 people or less. So it’s like how many people can you absolutely bring? Do you want to bring your dogs? Because dogs aren’t allowed at some spots. So I know it’s a lot, but really figuring out what is your vibe and what are your necessities, like what do you have to have, I think, are really great places to start.”
3. Talk about who you want on your team.
White then recommends that you move on to determining who you want to actually marry you on your wedding day. If you’re looking for a very specific type of officiant and you’ve settled on a location already, she cautions that you might have to have a game plan for how you’re going to find an officiant that fits what you’re looking for, noting that it can sometimes be difficult to find someone young, particularly in certain locations. Having an idea of how you’ll find the right person can help make the actual job seem less daunting.
4. If you want to go abroad, get married first.
It might sound kind of counter-intuitive, but White says that if you have your heart set on a wedding abroad, she suggests getting married at City Hall at home before you go and doing a symbolic ceremony in your location of choice. Because so many countries have different policies and procedures (and in some cases they’re really difficult to navigate), making it legal before you go can just make your overall wedding go more smoothly.
5. Be upfront with your loved ones.
Breaking the news to friends and family that you’re planning to keep things small or that they won’t be invited to the ceremony itself can be really challenging. White says that figuring out your vibe, budget, and location can really help with all of this.
“My personal favorite is figure out the vibe you want first and then figure out the number of people that can accommodate next, because I think that’s a really great way to curb that conversation, like, ‘oh, we’re getting married on top of a mountain, like, A) who can really hike to that or get to that? we’re not going to have chairs, so who can stand through 20 minutes without needing to sit down?’ So I think that’s a good way to be like, ‘oh sorry, we couldn’t invite you because we’re getting married on top of a mountain.’ I think that people are a little more understanding about that.”
She also notes that Simply Eloped defines an elopement as 20 people or less, so if you follow that general guideline, you can still likely include a good portion of your closest friends and family members.
6. Don’t forget about all the hidden expenses.
Eloping can still cost an awful lot of money, especially when you start to add up all the little things you might not think about initially. “Unless you’re eloping at home, there’s a lot of expenses that might not be apparent, like national park fees, if you’re wanting to get married there, beach permits, your hotel, your meals, your flight, so I would say definitely be mindful of the entire planning of it.”
7. Make it your own.
Ultimately, your wedding is about the two of you and one of the great things about an elopement of any kind is that you can really make it fit your preferences and your personalities. It’s about your relationship. White is a big proponent of making your wedding your own and customizing your vows and ceremony so that it captures who you are.
Regardless of the decisions you make about budget, location, or guest list, making your wedding fit the two of you will make your elopement a success.