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5 Tips to Plan an Elopement | Pro Wedding Tips

As children, many of us read stories of lovers, usually starcrossed, who ran off to exchange vows in a clandestine elopement. In those stories, it was often just the two lovebirds and a friendly clergyman or friar who was there to make it all official, and rarely another soul in sight. In recent years, the parameters around what is considered to be an elopement have broadened a bit, and more and more couples are opting for a modern elopement as their wedding style of choice. Whether you've already decided to elope or are still trying to determine what style of wedding is right for you, we are breaking down the reasons to have an elopement with the tips and the tricks, and the do's and don'ts of planning an elopement.

Scottsdale Destination Wedding
Danielle Harris Photography

Let's Run Away

First things first, you need to decide if an elopement is right for you. Since the term is a bit broader now, the gist of it is to ask yourself this - are you and your partner looking to have an intimate or massively scaled-down wedding? Does the idea of an intimate ceremony and a bigger celebration later suit your style a bit more than a traditional large event? If yes, some variation of an elopement can be just the ticket.

For many couples, a modern elopement may make it possible to splurge on a few high-end elements for a small gathering. Oftentimes, this opens the door for a destination wedding in a stunning far-flung location, with their nearest and dearest, or makes it possible to have that Pinterest-worthy look. Think booking that dream photographer or florist who, if you were paying for dinner for hundreds of guests, may be out of the question budget-wise. Even if you choose to stay closer to home and run down to the nearest courthouse, you can still opt to make for an extra special celebration, get that dream dress, or have the honeymoon of your dreams.

Winter Destination Wedding
Danielle Harris Photography

It's All in the Details

Even the simplest of weddings require some fairly significant items to be checked off the to-do list. While the appeal of an elopement is the lack of a big-to-do, there are a few crucial considerations.

  • The Legal Bits: Boring though they may be, the legal details are just about the most important details of any wedding or elopement! Each state, and certainly each country, has a different set of processes in place to make a marriage legal, so it's important to fully research that before heading off to elope. We have general tips for getting your marriage license here if you're still trying to decide where to elope; If you've nailed it down, we have more specific tips for securing your important paperwork in Hawaii, Florida, and Indiana, and city-specific details for Charleston, and Lake Tahoe.

  • The Communications: Though the idea of getting to skip the many layers of wedding communications can be a major plus associated with an elopement, a bit of communications-centered etiquette is still in play. We recommend sharing your plans to elope with your inner circle so no one feels blindsided. Even though it's your day, and yours to do with as you please, many people will be expecting updates post-engagement so a little note, via website or mail, can go a long way. After the elopement is said and done and you're settling into newlywed life, take advantage of an opportunity to share one of your elopement photos and send out a marriage announcement. We promise it will be worth its weight in gold to your family and friends - - and who doesn't want an excuse to share their most cherished photos?


Malibu Elopepment
Danielle Harris Photography

  • The Pretty Things: No matter how simple of an elopement you have in mind, it's important to celebrate the day with things that honor your love story and create a beautiful scene for you and yours. For even the most pared-back elopement, having a photographer involved can make sure the memories last forever. And with all of that money you're saving on a big extravaganza, you have a little extra cushion for some pretty elements. Whether that's an intimate dinner for a few at well-dressed tables decked out with stunningly beautiful blooms, a dreamy dress fit for a queen, or a destination that is plucked straight from a postcard, the freedom that comes with an elopement can allow you to curate your day in a unique way.

  • The Budget: Even if you're just popping down to the nearest courthouse, all things weddings can tend to have a pretty decent price tag, so no matter the size of your elopement, outlining a budget is helpful. The experts at Brides recommend asking vendors if they offer special discounts for elopements. Wedding vendors typically build out their pricing on full-day weddings that can last between 8 and 12 hours, if not longer. For an elopement that may only last a handful of hours, or have a much more minimal set of requirements from any given vendor, a special price may be a perfectly reasonable request.

Paris Elopement
Danielle Harris Photography

Elopements are a tradition as old as time, and that makes them an exceptionally magical way to say I Do. While this pared-back event style can take away a lot of the work that can go into a larger event, an elopement will still have many details to consider - from marriage licenses and rental of spaces (indoor or outdoor) to sourcing of rentals and vendors in exotic locations for destination weddings. With these factors in mind, many couples can still find it quite helpful to hire a wedding planner to coordinate all of the important details. Plus, for a no-fuss couple, this means even less to worry about keeping track of! Which is part of the perk of an elopement in the first place! Happy eloping!

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