Traditionally an elopement was the act of marrying in secret due to class differences between the bride and groom. Fast forward a few centuries, and eloping is back in fashion, minus the shame and guilt. Even Game of Thrones bride Sophie Turner and pop singer Joe Jonas chose to secretly elope in Vegas, Elvis impersonator and all.
When you think of an elopement, you probably think of getting hitched on the sly at some remote holiday destination. But if you want it to be, it’s just your chance to have that intimate hassle-free wedding you’ve always wanted. Put your feet up and make a pot of tea as we dish the perks, the (few) downsides, and some handy tips on how to pull off your dream elopement, without getting in trouble with the in-laws.
Why An Elopement Is a Good Idea
You Save on Wedding Costs
It’s no secret, or surprise, that weddings are costly affairs. Weddings are right up there with a house mortgage as one of the most expensive things you’ll have to pay for. Ever. According to Hitched’s 21st Century Bride survey, the average wedding in the UK cost £32 273. Wedding food alone cost couples an average of £4151. Combine that with £1166 for a photographer and £5221 for a venue and we’re talking some seriously big bucks. It’s enough to make you want to call off the whole thing and run away. If only there were a word for that….
Scrapping a full-blown wedding and choosing to elope means saving on those ridiculously high wedding costs. Having fewer guests, or no guests at all means you don’t have to fork out wads of cash to feed and entertain extended family you rarely even see. An elopement also means you get to spend your hard-earned cash on things the two of you actually want/need. Like a mom van to take your future kids to school. Or a bottle of absurdly expensive champagne at a fancy restaurant. Whatever you’re into.
You Can Have a More Intimate Wedding
Picture standing on the edge of a mountain, sharing your vows with your partner; what you love about them, how far you’ve come together, how excited you are for your future together. Now imagine doing that in front of hundreds of people, to the sound of your drunk uncle’s bellowing laughter and someone’s kid crying in the background.
Not exactly romantic.
Promising to love each other and dedicate your lives to each other from this day forward is a pretty private thing; something you may want to do in the company of only each other and an officiant. If you do want to share your day with your closest friends and family, feel free to invite only the people you actually want to. You can totally use the excuse that you’re eloping to waiver the pressures of inviting every member of your extended family.
You Get to Do You, Boo
The pressures of pulling off the perfect wedding are higher than ever. Those perfect Pinterest weddings posts are raising the bar for what’s expected at the ceremony and reception. Instagram means that people who aren’t even at your wedding will see how everything went down, and will judge you accordingly.
‘Running away’ and getting hitched means you also get to run away from the pressures of planning a wedding. With an elopement, you get to focus all your efforts on the two of you instead of catering to a crowd. Turn your phone off, leave the wedding stress behind, and focus on having a wedding you and your partner really want.
You Can Combine Your Elopement with Your Honeymoon
What’s one of the biggest perks of running away and getting married? You get to run away to the destination of your dreams. A castle in Scotland, a beach in France, a secluded forest in New Zealand; whatever destination you’re dreaming of, it’ll make for killer photos and an unforgettable start to your life together as husband and wife.
If you’re already at your dream destination, there’s really no need to book expensive flights to enjoy a honeymoon somewhere else. By combining your ‘runaway wedding’ with your honeymoon, you’re saving costs on an extravagant wedding and a honeymoon.
Getting to married to the person of your dreams and getting a holiday with them? Seriously, what’s not to love about that?
You Can Avoid Family and Friends Politics
Deciding who to invite can be one of the biggest stresses of a wedding. As your guest list grows, the number of people you feel obliged to invite grows with it. If you have a big family, chances are there are heaps of politics surrounding who can come to the main day and who can’t.
When you decide to elope, you take the choice out completely. No-one’s invited except the marriage officiant, the photographer and the person you’re going to marry. End of discussion. No drama, no bickering, and no hurt feelings.
Why An Elopement Can be a Bad Idea
Not Everyone Will Be There
Of course, the toss-up of running away from friends and family is that you won’t get to share one of the biggest days of your life with them. This can be a real bummer, especially if family is a big part of your life. Even if you do invite close friends and family, your 90-year old Nana probably won’t make the trip halfway around the world to see you tie the not. It’s just one of those things you’ll have to sacrifice in order to have that simplistic, intimate wedding.
You’ll Hurt Some Feelings
Your plan might be to totally avoid the drama of who to invite and who not to invite by just not inviting anyone, but this has the potential to totally backlash. Friends and family can take offense to the fact that you’ve made a conscious decision not to include them in your wedding. While you might end up stepping on toes, hopefully, your dearest and nearest will understand that this is what you want.
How to Elope the Right Way
Be open with your respective families
If family is prominent in you and your partner’s life, it’s important to be open and honest with them. Explain the reasons why you have decided to elope. Allow the space for them to celebrate with you on your return. If you believe marriage is the bringing together of two families, it may mean just as much to them to be able to raise a glass and share in this new commitment. Think Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City, post-New York Museum wedding mishap.“It wasn’t a fancy designer reception either, just food and friends” she said, in those closing scenes.
Add wedding traditions (or don’t)
This will make it feel more like a wedding day. Wearing white, writing meaningful vows, cutting a cake for two, and going dancing can all add to making your untraditional wedding feel more customary.
And if it’s the ‘un-wedding’ you’re after, get creative to do whatever feels memorable to you and your partner. Think A Star Is Born guitar string engagement ring. A tear-jerker elopement story that stole our hearts with one question: “Tell me somethin’ girl, are you happy in this modern world?”
Capture your day with a photographer or videographer
Your wedding day is a major milestone in your life and is worth getting photographed, even if you’re not going the traditional route. Make sure you hire a photographer who knows what they’re doing and is clued up on the latest wedding photographs tips and tricks. You’ll be thankful when the excitement of your elopement turns it into a blur and you have photos to look back on to remind you of all the exceptional moments.
Make sure your marriage is legal
There’s no point in running away to tie the knot if you don’t actually get married! Do your research on making sure your marriage is sound in the eyes of the law in your respective countries. You can do this by contacting your local legal department. Make sure all your documentation is in order before your special day, prenuptial agreements included. In the words of the great Kanye West, “Holla, we want prenup!”.
Pick a destination
An elopement is synonymous with exotic, destination weddings, so feel free to get really creative with where you want to get wed. Remember that the weather and the season play an important role in this decision. The destination also needs to be able to provide all of the resources you will require. A tip for picking a location is to choose somewhere that has meaning to you and your partner.
Send out wedding invitations well in advance
If you’re planning on having only your nearest and dearest with you on this special day, it’s important to give your guests an appropriate amount of time to save and budget for this adventurous elopement. One step further, and you could set up a saving scheme for your guests to show how much they need to set aside each month to be able to attend your wedding.
Set a budget
And stick to it. One of the pros of eloping is saving money so make sure you stay within your budget so that the money you save on your wedding day can be used for the thing/s you planned for.
Send out a wedding announcement
Hey, you may have gotten married on the sly, but you still got married, and that’s a pretty big deal. Let the world know you’ve married the person of your dreams, and you did it in the coolest way possible – an elopement. Giving everyone a heads up of your new marital status is also the perfect excuse to give a wink wink nudge nudge that you’re not impartial to a fabulous wedding gift.
Ultimately, the most important tip for any elopement is to keep it simple and stress-free. Stay focused on the reason why getting married in the first place is so important to you, and the rest won’t seem to matter so much. You only get married once (hopefully) so it ought to be exactly as you want it.