So, you're about to embark on a unique and intimate journey by planning an elopement? How exciting! When you choose to elope, you're choosing a romantic adventure that lets you celebrate your love in the most intimate and meaningful way. In fact, you're not alone in your planning. Elopements have been gaining popularity because they offer couples an escape from the stress and expectations that often accompany traditional weddings and wedding days.
Did you know that 91% of millennials planning to tie the knot in the future are open to the idea of eloping? Even more fascinating, three out of five millennial couples who've already said "I do" would choose elopement if they could do it all over again.
But it's not just everyday millennials embracing this trend; even some of your favorite celebrity couples are jumping on the elopement bandwagon. Stars like Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, Amanda Seyfried and Thomas Sadoski, Leighton Meester and Adam Brody, Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk, and Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl have shown that you can have an intimate and deeply personal ceremony by choosing to elope.
Eloping doesn't mean you have to exclude your loved ones or your broader network, either. Many couples, like Jonas and Turner, who opt to elope often host larger celebrations later on to share the joy with family and friends. This combination of intimacy and inclusivity is at the heart of the modern elopement trend, giving couples a deeply personal experience while still honoring the importance of their relationships.
In this guide, we're here to walk you through the elopement planning process step by step. From choosing the perfect location to creating a special keepsake to remember your day, we've got you covered. So, take a deep breath and let's get started on your journey to saying "I do" your way!
How Much Does an Elopement Cost?
Eloping can be incredibly budget-friendly, especially if you're heading to City Hall. You'll typically pay a small fee for a marriage certificate and a government employee to officiate your ceremony. However, if you opt for a more elaborate elopement, the costs can range from $5,000 to $15,000 — which is still much lower than the average costs of weddings today which averages out to about $30,000.
Most of the elopement cost is often allocated to hiring a photographer who can also assist in location selection and vendor recommendations. Additional expenses may include makeup artists, caterers, and attire, depending on your preferences. The beauty of elopements lies in the ability to personalize your spending, splurging on what truly matters to you while cutting back on the rest.
Steps to Planning an Elopement
Select Your Elopement Date
Choosing the right date for your dream elopement is the first crucial step in your planning process. This momentous day will be etched in your memory forever, so it's essential to get it right. Consider factors like the weather, your work schedules, and the availability of your desired location. Whether you dream of a snowy winter elopement or a sunny summer escape, make sure your chosen date aligns with your vision. Remember that this date will become your special anniversary, so pick a day that resonates with your love story.
Choose Your Elopement Location
Elopements offer the opportunity to say your vows in breathtaking, off-the-beaten-path destinations. From serene mountaintops to picturesque beaches, the world is your oyster. When selecting your ceremony location, take your time to research and pick a place that not only speaks to your hearts but also showcases your unique love story. It's not just about the scenery: it's about the emotions and memories you'll create in that space.
Be sure to consider travel logistics, permits, and any special requirements for your chosen spot. Make a list of locations that resonate with you, and take your time to visit them if possible to ensure you find the perfect backdrop for your special day.
Decide Who's Coming To Your Elopement
One of the perks of eloping is the flexibility to have a small, intimate guest list or go solo. This decision is deeply personal and should align with your vision for the day. Eloping is about celebrating your love, and that can be done just as beautifully with a few close friends and family members as it can be with just the two of you. Consider the people who have played a significant role in your relationship and who you want to witness your commitment to each other. Also consider if you want them there for the actual wedding ceremony or if you'd prefer to just invite others to a post-reception party. Remember, it's your love story, and you get to write the guest list.
Apply for Your Marriage License or Any Necessary Permits
Just like a traditional wedding, eloping legally requires a marriage license. It's crucial to research and understand the specific requirements and waiting periods in your chosen location — or your hometown. You don't want any last-minute surprises when it comes to making your union official. Additionally, if you're eloping in a national park or other regulated area, research and apply for any needed permits well in advance. These permits can have limitations on the number of guests and other details, so make sure you're well-prepared to navigate the legal side of your elopement.
Plan Your Travel and Accommodations Arrangements
If you've chosen a unique or destination location, make sure to plan your travel and accommodations well ahead of time. Think about how you'll get to your elopement destination, where you'll stay, and any activities you'd like to include in your elopement trip. This will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. If you're traveling to a remote location, consider the logistics of getting there, and make sure you have all your travel documents in order. Booking your accommodations in advance will give you peace of mind, knowing that you have a comfortable place to return to after your ceremony. Don't forget to explore the local attractions and activities that can add a touch of adventure to your elopement experience.
Create a Special Keepsake
Your elopement is a momentous occasion in your love story, and creating a special keepsake is a wonderful way to remember it. Think about how you'd like to commemorate your elopement, whether it's a scrapbook filled with mementos from the day, a Video Guestbook like the one from Celebrate.buzz capturing the highlights at your small reception, or a piece of artwork that symbolizes your love. Your keepsake will be a beautiful reminder of your elopement and the unique journey you embarked on together. Additionally, consider writing a heartfelt letter to your partner to exchange before or after the ceremony. These personal words can serve as a lasting testament to your love and the promises you've made.
If you've decided to forgo a traditional wedding reception but still want to feel the warmth of well-wishes from friends and family, Classic Video at Celebrate.buzz is the perfect solution. With this innovative platform, you can invite your loved ones to submit heartfelt video messages that capture their joy, love, and support for your union — no matter where they are. Just set up your event page, send the URL, and then watch as the messages pour in.
And, if you're looking to take your Classic Video to the next level, consider using the Q&A format from Celebrate.buzz. This feature allows you to ask specific questions that prompt thoughtful and personalized video submissions from your friends and family, adding an extra layer of meaning to your well-wishes. It's a wonderful way to make your video messages even more heartfelt and memorable.
Whichever product you choose, you can merge all the messages together into a final video montage that you can rewatch for years to come.
The best part? It's probably the least expensive item in your elopement's budget!
Choose Your Elopement Attire
Your elopement attire should reflect your personal style and the theme of your day. This is your opportunity to wear something that makes you feel extraordinary. Whether you want a traditional white wedding dress, a boho-chic gown, a sharp suit, or something completely unique, make sure your outfits make you feel like the best versions of yourselves. Consider the climate and terrain of your chosen location when selecting your attire. You want to be comfortable and confident as you exchange your vows, so choose something that complements both your personalities and the setting.
Order and Prepare Your Elopement Essentials
Create a checklist of items you'll need for your elopement. This can include rings, flowers, vows, and any personalized touches that will make your day special. And, if you've chosen somewhere a little more adventurous or in the great outdoors, don't forget to pack a small emergency kit with essentials like tissues, sunscreen, and bug spray for any unexpected situations. It's these small details that can make a big difference on your elopement day.
Book Your Vendors
While elopements are often intimate affairs, you may still want to enlist the help of vendors to ensure your day runs smoothly. Consider hiring a professional officiant, a musician, or a florist if they align with your vision. Some locations may offer elopement packages that include these services, making it easier for you to plan and execute your day. A professional officiant can help you craft a personalized ceremony that tells your unique love story, while a musician can provide the perfect soundtrack to your day. A florist can create a bouquet and boutonniere that match your theme and add a touch of romance to your elopement photos.
Hire a Professional Photographer
Documenting your elopement with beautiful photographs is a must. Hire a professional photographer who specializes in capturing intimate moments and stunning landscapes. Your elopement photos will be cherished memories that you'll share with friends and family, and they'll transport you back to the magic of your day every time you look at them. A skilled photographer will know how to capture your love story authentically and artistically. When choosing a photographer, review their portfolio, read reviews from other couples, and schedule a meeting or video call to ensure you're comfortable with their style and personality.
Planning an elopement is a journey filled with excitement, adventure, and most importantly, love. It's a celebration of your unique connection and a chance to create cherished memories that will last a lifetime. By following the steps outlined in this elopement planning guide, you can ensure that your elopement is a perfect reflection of your love story.
Remember that the most important aspect of your elopement is that it feels right for you and your partner. Embrace the freedom and flexibility eloping offers, and let your hearts guide you in creating a day that's truly special. So, whether you choose a mountain peak, a sandy beach, or a tranquil forest as your backdrop, your elopement will be a beautiful and intimate affair that you'll treasure forever.
Now that you have a detailed plan to guide you through the elopement process, it's time to start making those dreams a reality. Happy elopement planning, and may your love story shine brighter than ever on your special day! As you move forward with your elopement plans, keep in mind that this day is all about celebrating your unique love and commitment to one another. Make it personal, make it meaningful, and most importantly, make it your own. Cherish the moments, embrace the adventure, and savor the love you share. Your elopement is a journey of a lifetime, and it's one that's worth celebrating with all your heart.