Deciding to get married is a personal decision made by two people, and how any couple decides to do things should come from a place of meaning and intent. If inviting 100 or 200 friends and family is how you want to do things, then that’s perfectly okay!
But for some people, getting married means something much more personal. For some, it’s not about the party or the production, but about starting your life together with an adventure. However, deciding to elope doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your beliefs for the presence of loved ones. There are so many ways to elope with family and friends in mind while still getting to experience the magic of an elopement experience.
Including family and friends before the elopement
Ask family and friends to write you letters to read on your elopement day
Similar to the book idea, one way to elope with family and friends in mind is to ask them to write you letters. You can read these letters the morning of your elopement, or you can easily weave them into your ceremony script.
Host a send off brunch or dinner party
Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you can’t have a “rehearsal” dinner! Bringing together all of your friends and family will allow them to celebrate and send you off with their best wishes. A rehearsal dinner not only gives people a chance to give speeches, but also gives the couple an opportunity to sign their marriage license. This means you don’t have to stress about the legalities on your actual elopement day!
A little tip: During your “rehearsal” dinner, pass around a book and ask everyone to write a piece of advice or a few kind words. Then, spend some time reading through the book on your elopement day!
Include a family heirloom or memento in your attire
Whether it’s a dress, piece of jewelry, or a small item stowed away in your pocket, keeping with you something "old” or "borrowed” is a beautiful way to incorporate loved ones that aren’t able to be present on your elopement day.
Pro tip: If you go this route, be sure to mention these items to your photographer so they can give them a little extra attention.
Invite family and friends along while shopping for your elopement attire
Just because you aren’t having a traditional wedding doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate a few traditions. Inviting along a few loved ones to your dress shopping can help them feel involved in the planning process.
Invite a few people to go with you to the court to sign the marriage license.
If you choose to make things legal before you leave town, you could invite loved ones to join you at the courthouse where you’ll make things legal. Although you won’t be reading personal vows to one another during this time, you’ll still leave the day legally married!
If you’re wondering whether or not this ruins the “elopement experience,” this is actually how most eloping couples decide to do things. Getting married in your home town ahead of time means you no longer have to research the local marriage laws of your elopement destination, and gives you the peace of mind knowing that you are legally married no matter what! Besides, nothing can take away the magic of starting your lives together in a beautiful location. There’s really nothing like it.
Including family and friends on the elopement day
Schedule a video chat with them the morning of your elopement day.
Elope with family or friends through video streaming! While many couples would love to video chat right after their actual ceremony, keep in mind that many remote locations are unlikely to have cell service. My recommendation is to schedule your video chat first thing in the morning or in the evening when you know you'll be near reliable internet service.
Ask a friend or family member to officiate your ceremony.
Whether you decide to make things legal at home before you leave or during your vow exchange on your elopement day, you can still ask a close friend or family member to become ordained and officiate your legal ceremony. Being the one to bring two people together is a huge honor, and I have no doubt that whoever you ask would be more than happy to help. While all states have their own requirements for becoming legally ordained, it is typically a short and inexpensive (usually free!) process through the Universal Life Church.
When all else fails… invite a few people to join!
Yes, technically at this point we’ve kind of crossed the “elopement” line and entered the realm of destination wedding. But who cares?! If inviting eloping with family and friends makes it more meaningful to you, then I say go for it!
Every celebration of marriage deserves to be started in a way that’s meaningful to each individual couple. If that means eloping with a few friends of family members to share the experience with then I see nothing wrong it that. Let them know you aren’t registering for gifts and instead think of their presence as their wedding gift to you. Oh, and don’t forget to remind them they may need to renew their passports!
Including family and friends after the elopement
Host a reception
After your elopement, invite all your friends out to a nice restaurant to celebrate your new marriage! Provide a champagne toast, a delicious meal, and share all your favorite stories of your elopement day.
Host a viewing party
Another reception idea is to host a viewing party after you receive your full elopement gallery from your photographer! Find a space with a large TV or projection screen and share a slideshow of your favorite photos from the day. Provide drinks and snacks, and walk everyone through your incredibly beautiful, intimate, and unique experience.
Make mini photo albums to share as gifts
After designing your own wedding album, it is easy to design a few smaller ones that tell the story of your elopement. Include photos of your details (dress, jewelry, flowers, etc.), vow exchange, or from your favorite activities of the day. Whatever moments you wish to share - throw them into thoughtfully curated albums and give them as gifts.
Gift thoughtful souvenirs to your “wedding party” after your elopement
Wherever you decide to travel for your elopement, you will find plenty of thoughtful gifts to bring home. Shop for these gifts with each individual in mind and let them know you selected each item with careful intent. This helps remind your loved ones that although they weren’t physically present, they were in your thoughts during one of the most important experiences of your life.
Many couples dream about the intimacy and magic of eloping, but fear missing out on the opportunity of including loved ones. For some, deciding to elope comes easy. But for others, eloping means sacrificing the presence and support of loved ones in favor of a beautiful and unique experience. Many of these elopers feel a sense of guilt and selfishness because they know how much this day means to others, but the truth is, this day is yours and you should be able to do whatever is most meaningful to you.
It’s okay to blur the lines between “wedding", “elopement”, and “destination wedding”. Getting married should be a “your day, your way” event... so break the mold and do things your way! You can have the best of all worlds. You can elope with family and friends in mind.
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