With big weddings off the menu for a while, a lot of couples are wondering how to elope and still have a wonderful experience.
Eloping has a lot of mysteries surrounding it.
Sure, it sounds SUPER romantic, but it has many legal and practical aspects which you need to consider.
Let’s talk about what you need to know before you run away to get married!
Complete Guide on How to Elope
Actually, eloping is becoming more and more popular. Not just because of the jetting off to an exotic country connotation.
There are many reasons why people choose to elope, rather than traditional marriage.
It saves you money (most of the time), no more family politics, and it makes everything a little more personal.
LGBT couples often elope – it allows you to avoid those who may not “agree”.
Sadly, LGBT weddings also aren’t legal in every country, and eloping your way to a country that will make everything official is a wonderful option.
So, let’s look into what elopement really is, why it’s different, and how you can organize one yourself.
What is eloping?
Okay, technically eloping is the act of “running away” and secretly getting married.
This has been romanticized tons, as well as made into comedy skits elsewhere. It’s really not that simple.
First of all, couples that elope are often looking for somewhere they can legally get married, or get married without complications.
Sure, you don’t invite many (if any) guests, but sometimes keeping it secret is necessary, for whatever reason.
Eloping is a great alternative to traditional weddings. It’s informal, can be cost-effective, and can actually be really romantic.
The bad news: While the movies make eloping look like something you can do on a whim, it really isn’t that easy. So, be prepared for a lot of planning.
Top reasons to elope
Saving money –
Weddings are SO expensive. This isn’t news to anybody. Even travelling abroad, you’ll still likely save a lot of money.
Elopement can cost less than a thousand dollars. Of course, this doesn’t factor in suits or dresses – but rentable/cheap options of those are also available.
Avoiding drama –
This isn’t to assume that you aren’t supported by your family. It could just be a location issue or conflicts within your family.
I totally understand, and eloping could easily solve that. Nobody feels “left out”, as it just isn’t a traditional wedding.
You’re not a traditional fan –
There are many qualms that you may have with traditional marriages. This could be political, societal, or personal.
So, if you don’t want to be given away or don’t want religious connotations, or just don’t like being the center of attention – eloping seems pretty perfect for you.
You just don’t want to plan a wedding –
Getting engaged and the thought of being married is wonderful. Actually planning a wedding?
That is a very subjective interest.
Wedding planners exist because many people can’t even begin to fathom how to organize a wedding. P.S you can use an elopement service, too.
It might not be your first –
Maybe you tried the whole big wedding thing, and it didn’t work out.
It’s a special secret –
A marriage is between two people, perhaps a wedding should be, too.
What are the legalities
Unfortunately, depending on where you live, you likely can’t just jet off and get married in such a spontaneous way.
While some states do issue marriage licenses that can be used on the same day, others require at least a 24-hour waiting period.
Some even require longer waits, all the way up to one month. Even if your state does allow spontaneous weddings, unless you’re planning to get married in your local courthouse, you will need to make at least some plans.
If those plans involve running off to another state or country, then expect to spend at least a couple of weeks working them.
Usually, this involves paying a fee, making an appointment, knowing all the details, and owning a valid passport.
Eloping abroad may be subject to the laws of the country. So, make sure you research into everything beforehand.
For example, did you know some countries require blood tests?
Same-sex couples need to go a step farther in their research and make sure the country is LGBTQ-friendly.
Not all are, and some go so far as to imprison (or worse, execute) same-sex couples.
This is why a wedding planner or an elopement service can make legalities and the organizing a lot easier.
If this all seems a little overwhelming now, you could consider using one of these services – they are still cheaper than average weddings.
Related: Plan an adventurous elopement
How to make eloping easier
Here are a few quick tips that will make eloping much easier.
- Look into which countries you can elope to, before getting your heart set on a country. Some countries require you to live there for a month before marrying – check these things out.
- Have a reveal plan, because you kind of have to tell everyone at some point. It can be nerve-wracking, but most family and friends are extremely happy once they get over the initial shock.
- Don’t justify your decision to anybody. Elopement felt right for you – there are no rules to this wedding or marriage thing (with exception).
- Obviously, make sure your nearest and dearest don’t find out via social media.
- Find out if you need to provide witnesses. Some services will provide these for you, others will not.
- Witnesses can be anybody (even some strangers on the street), but you can also include two family members or friends.
One last note- while your family and closest friends may still give you a wedding gift (after all, it’s a gift to celebrate your marriage, not just to celebrate a single day), you shouldn’t expect them.
Yes, that’s true for all weddings. Expecting gifts is just, well, uncouth. However, when you run off and elope, you kind of forfeit the level of gifting that you’d receive if you actually had a wedding.
I hope these tips on how to elope help you decide whether it’s the right decision for you. If it’s not, remember, you can always have a small wedding at home instead.
Do you have any other tips for how to elope? Share below!
I’m a freelance journalist/writer/content marketer with BA Hons in Journalism.