I know what you’re thinking, you can’t elope at home!
I mean, the very definition of eloping is all about running away together.
When that’s just not in the cards, though, you can elope virtually and still have an incredibly special day.
Let’s talk about how.
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How to Elope at Home and Still Make it Super Special
Given current events, running away to elope really just isn’t feasible for the foreseeable future.
Between travel restrictions, hotel closures, and other limitations, your best bet truly is a home wedding.
While we’ve discussed how to livestream your wedding in the past, today we’re going for something a little more low-key- a virtual elopement.
Let’s talk about why you’d want to go with that angle when you could feasibly through a huge wedding online.
Why a virtual elopement?
Why a virtual elopement instead of a full-scale livestream event?
Well, for exactly the same reason you’d choose to run away and get married, of course-less pressure, less planning, less money!
See, even if you move your entire large wedding online, you still need to buy the dress, the decor, the cake- basically, all the things that make a wedding a wedding.
Note, I said “make a wedding a wedding.” You don’t need a wedding to get married. Trust me, I eloped twice!
The first time, I married my fiance right after he graduated boot camp. I did it in a group elopement at a court house.
The second time, I married my (also Navy) boyfriend in the base legal office in Japan, wearing a Dropkick Murphy’s t-shirt.
I went to visit him for a month, he proposed, I ended up skipping my flight home.
Six months, a lot of paperwork, a car fire that destroyed said paperwork, and more papers sent from home later, and the rest was history.
Sure, I get a little sad when I go to weddings and think about how I’ll never walk down the aisle like that.
I get over it pretty fast, though, when I realize how much money and stress I saved!
So, now that we know the “why,” let’s talk about how to elope at home and still get that same fun “running away together” feeling.
We’ll start with the basics and legalities of eloping at home.
What do you need to elope at home?
A virtual or home elopement has the same basic legal requirements of any marriage ceremony.
According to RocketLawyer’s guide to the legal side of eloping, you’ll need:
- A marriage license issued in the state where you plan to elope (in this case, your home state).
- An officiant with the power to legally marry you
- Possibly a witness or two, depending on where you live.
- Anything else your state legally requires.
The first two are absolute necessities regardless of where you live. You cannot get married without a license and an officiant. Let’s take a closer look at each requirement.
Getting your license
If you don’t already have a license, check into your state’s latest rules to see if you can get it online.
As we recently shared, New York now allows online marriage license applications. Your best bet is to call the Clerk’s office directly.
Don’t just rely on a search for “states that allow online marriage licenses” because, as I discovered, the top results aren’t really up-to-date with the current situation.
Finding an officiant
The officiant can be anyone from a judge to a priest to your roommate who just got ordained on the internet.
Right now, it’s best to find someone that can legally perform the ceremony through a video conference platform like Zoom.
For LGBTQ couples, remember- court officials legally can’t refuse to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.
That said, I still recommend finding someone who isn’t a close-minded cretin that will try to find a way to ruin your day.
Witnesses and other requirements
The last two vary by state. Some states require one witness, some two. A few don’t require any at all, though.
As for other random requirements, some states don’t have any while others have some fairly strict ones.
Florida, for example, makes you read a Family Law Handbook before you can get married.
A couple of states still require a blood test as well. Montana has a particularly questionable rule that states women must get a blood test before marriage, according to NOLO.
So, for lesbian weddings in that state, both of you would need one.
I did see some mixed info on that, though, as some sources say they did away with it.
If you live in Montana, your best bet is to ask.
Okay, legal requirements out of the way, let’s talk about how to make eloping at home a whole lot more fun.
How to make eloping at home feel special
Below are some of my favorite tips and ways to make the day feel more special. Pick which ones you like and leave the rest behind.
That’s the beauty of eloping- no rules! Well, none except the aforementioned legal requirements.
Guests or no guests?
While elopements aren’t typically guest-centric, sometimes you want to invite a few people other than the required officiant and witness.
Maybe you want your parents to attend, or your closest friend. Then again, maybe not! It’s up to you.
If you do want a few guests, you’ll have to decide if you want them there physically or just virtually.
Right now, most states have specific rules about gatherings, with some prohibiting ALL gatherings with anyone outside your household.
If you decide that you do want more guests to attend virtually consider a low-key livestream event.
You don’t have to go full-scale wedding with it. Just find a happy middle ground between a true elopement and a big wedding.
Dress for the occasion
Unless you truly want to get married in your cute kitty jammies (hey, no judgement), dress for the occassion!
If you already have an outfit because you were planning to run away together before the world went topsy turvy, pull it out and put it on.
If not, you may have to dig through your closet to find something wonderful, as it’s really hard to shop for clothes right now.
Even if you’re one of the lucky few that can buy clothes without trying them on, delivery times are taking forever these days.
Take it outside
Eloping at home doesn’t mean eloping IN your home (again, unless you want it to).
Take it to your big back yard, a nearby open beach, or any place else that has a good cell signal and no other people around.
The beauty of having an officiant perform the ceremony virtually- you can get married pretty much anywhere you want.
Make the day all about YOU
Turn off your phones, set your messenger app to “away,” and let people know that you’re totally unavailable for the day.
Think about it- if you were literally running away to get married, would you be taking phone calls or answering texts?
This day is all about YOU and your future Mr or Mrs.
After my Japan elopement, my new husband dropped me off at home (where I did laundry) and went to work.
Take it from me, you won’t regret eloping, but you will regret turning the rest of the day into “business as usual.”
Recreate your dream destination honeymoon at home
So, your original plans involved running off to a romantic destination to tie the knot.
Maybe you planned to hop a plane to Venice, or get married in New York City.
Now, thanks to current events, the closest you can get to Italy is ordering a pizza to go.
With a little creativity, though, you can still get a little of that dream destination feel at home.
The travel guide AFAR has been writing these brilliant “recreate a day in…” guides lately.
Eloping at home doesn’t have to feel like just another day if you put a little creativity into it.
Think about all the little touches that would make running away together exciting, then incorporate them the best you can.