How to Plan an Elopement – 9 Things to Consider

With the astronomical cost of traditional weddings, more modern couples are choosing to elope than ever before. Whilst planning an elopement in the UK might not be as simple as running away at a whim and signing on the dotted line, it is an extraordinary (and relatively stress-free) way to tie the knot. Here is your complete guide detailing how to plan your dream elopement.

Cornwall Elopement
Incredible images by Enchanted Brides

What Is an Elopement?

An elopement is a wedding conducted without the knowledge of the couple’s family or friends. While a traditional elopement generally has no guests, some invite their immediate family, usually sticking to a guest list of under ten.

Why Elope?

There are a million personal reasons why a couple would choose to elope. Some are deeply meaningful and emotional, whereas another perfectly valid reason is that it is an exhilarating and unforgettable way to commit to one another.

How to Budget for an Elopement

Do not be fooled into thinking an elopement is an inexpensive way to get married. Of course, there are cheaper and more lavish ways of eloping. But weddings are expensive, and thorough budgeting is undoubtedly needed. Our biggest expenses when planning the elopement were our venue and photographers. But, these were two areas I was not prepared to compromise on. I would recommend choosing a couple of elements of the day that are most important to you and going all out! Then, everything else can slot into place.

Is Eloping Selfish?

In a word, yes. I believe eloping is selfish – but I wouldn’t change a thing about my decision. Respect the feelings of your friends and family, and you will be absolutely fine, making memories that will last a lifetime.

How to plan an Elopement
Incredible images by Enchanted Brides

How to Plan an Elopement – Everything You Need to Consider

There are a vast number of articles stressing the ‘rules’ of a perfect elopement, written by someone who has never been involved with such an event. An elopement is a hugely intimate and personal decision that is often brought about for many reasons. For some, the perfect elopement is one at the local registry office. For others, it’s on a Caribbean beach. So, rather than a massive list of things that you must do to plan your perfect elopement, here’s a checklist of everything you need to consider when planning your big day.

The Opinions of Your Loved Ones

It is impossible to disregard the feelings of those you love. Many of your friends and family will be disappointed that they were not by your side on your special day. It might take them a few hours or days to comprehend your news. But ultimately, they will be overjoyed that you took the decision that made you most happy.

Deciding how to tell your friends and family is one of your most significant decisions. In my opinion, there are two clear options. A video call on the day (this allows you to show off your outfits and venue!) or wait until you arrive home. The latter feels a little more intimate, but the first gives your family the chance to comprehend the decision before your return. Of course, there is no ‘right’ way to do this, but take some time to consider how your family will best receive the information.

Location, Location, Location

The beauty of an intimate wedding, just the two of you, means that you can literally choose anywhere in the world. There are no family politics, no worrying about others’ budgets, and no forcing your friends to travel to a specific location.  

However, there are still logistics to consider when planning your elopement. For example, we were initially tempted to get hitched during a city break in New York but couldn’t get our heads around the practicalities. By all means, not impossible – but for us, an elopement was all about ease. The Cornish coast offered us our very own slice of paradise and the perfect location for a remote, romantic elopement.

The Legalities of Planning Your Elopement

There is so much paperwork involved with getting married! In the UK, you have to book a registrar to attend the venue (expect to pay upwards of £400+) and legally marry you. You will also have to give notice in the city where you live (ours cost in the region of £70) – this must be done at least 29 days, but no more than a year before you legally wed.

Obviously, the legalities vary dramatically depending on where in the world you are getting married. Remember to take your time and explore the practicalities of your chosen city and country.

Selecting the Perfect Vendors

Even though it’s just going to be the two of you, vendors are hugely important. Do you want fresh flowers? Hair and Make-up? A wedding cake? You are likely getting married somewhere far away from home, so take the time to investigate local businesses, choosing what’s important to the two of you. Instagram, Pinterest and the first-hand recommendations from the venue are all fantastic resources to help plan your elopement.

Don’t Scrimp on Photos

OK, I said this wasn’t a post telling you what to do. But the money for our photographer was the best money we spent on our special day. Your loved ones will (hopefully) want a full rundown of the day, so having beautiful photographs to look back on can help make them feel part of it all. Also, looking back on the photographs allow the memories of your whirlwind day to flood back. We also opted for a video, a lovely souvenir to look back upon, but photographs were certainly the priority.

Choosing the Perfect Elopement Outfit

Contrary to popular belief, you can wear whatever you like on your wedding day! And perhaps more importantly, you do not have to tone down your dress for your special day. Just because you’ve opted out of the guests, does not mean that you must omit the princess dress of dreams. On the other hand, if you want to wear something a touch more subtle, that’s totally OK too.

Your Evening Plans

Having a wedding day timeline is hugely important, even for the smallest of weddings. Your ceremony will likely be sometime around lunch, with most of the afternoon taken up with photographs. Traditionally, your evening would be filled with a party, and just because you don’t have the same guest list doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate in style.

Book a gorgeous meal, a wine tasting, or plan an intimate sunset picnic. Just ensure you have everything mapped out ahead of time, so the day doesn’t run away with you.

A Post Elopement Celebration

Again, you will find many articles stating a post elopement party is an absolute must for couples that opt for an intimate wedding day. This was a huge stumbling block for us when deciding how to plan our elopement. We instead opted for a few small gatherings with various groups of friends and family, which felt like the personal way to involve our loved ones. I would hugely recommend you do the same.

Most Importantly, Remember to Have Fun!

You’re going to get married once in your lifetime, so have some fun! Choosing to elope gives you the ultimate freedom over your day, allowing you to banish any traditions and spend the day doing what you love most. We spent hours frolicking in the sea and climbing the cliffs of Cornwall in our trusty Birkenstocks. Your elopement should be personal, encompassing what makes the two of you happiest.

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