With everything going on in the world right now a lot of couples are playing with the idea of tossing their wedding plans to the wind and just eloping! I’m here to say DO IT! Originally, elopements meant running away together just the two of you and getting married at the courthouse or some faraway enchanted location. Now, times have changed and so have the meaning of elopements. There are so many good things about elopements. I’m going to go into more detail about that below.
Finding An Elopement Location
When planning a wedding, most couples have to choose a venue based on whether the location is convenient for friends/family, how many people it can accomodate and will it be a fun atmosphere for the wedding. Eloping takes away all of that mess and allows you to pick a location that suits just the two of you. Things to consider, does the location have meaning to you? Is it a place that you have visited before, or brings fond memories to you? Maybe you want to pick a location that is somewhere you have never been but always wanted to go! The great thing is you are free to do whatever you’d like!
Say you decide you want to the destination route, there are a few things to consider. If you are traveling internationally (or even to another state) make sure to check on state and country laws for marriage licenses. Do this as soon as possible as some international locations can take some time to get your paper work going and submitted.
Even a courthouse wedding can be tricky depending on the state. Make sure to check to see if you need an appointment and if you do what times are allowed for those. Some popular Courthouses can book up months in advance so its imperative to get the appointment booked as soon as you can in popular destinations. On the other hand some courthouses don’t take appointments and work off a first come first serve basis and you would need to plan accordingly.
If you are planning on having anyone come with you to the courthouse such as close family, you will have to check with the courthouse beforehand as some have limits on the amount of people who can come in. Lastly, check to see if the courthouse has options for your ceremony location. Some courthouses will allow for an outside (more aesthetically pleasing) location and its always good to ask!
Another thing to consider is the time of year you want to elope. If you are wanting a certain location make sure you know when the best time of year is going to be to do that location. If you are considering the mountains and don’t want snow, winter isn’t going to be ideal. If you are wanting to a beach elopement summertime can be hot in some places and rainy. Definitely consider the weather and climate for the time of year you are planning on eloping.
Last thing is make sure to check to see if you need any type of permit for your location.
Destination Elopements + Travel
One of the reasons I see for eloping is the fact that a couple is now free to do their elopement somewhere other then where they live. Whether it be getting married on top of a mountain in Yosemite National Park or saying I do barefoot on the beaches of Eluethera in the Bahamas there is still a bit of planning involved in this. I highly recommend hiring a planner for these types of elopements if you have it in your budget.
Start looking at weekday dates for your elopement as this will drive down your travel costs. Flights and hotels are generally cheaper during the week, depending on if you are looking at dates during an areas peak season. This is also a great time to add on your honeymoon to your elopement to get more out of your travel.
Once you have selected your location and booked your travel, then it is time to start narrowing down where you’d like to do your ceremony. There are a couple of things to consider here. Since it is destination you may need permits to get married in certain locations. As a photographer I always check this out for my clients but this is also something your planner can do for you if you hire one. Second, make sure to chat with the locals to check that your location is ok for visitors and that you won’t be trespassing or having your ceremony somewhere that isn’t ok.
Hiring Vendors For Your Elopement
This is a big one! It is so important to hire vendors for your elopement that have experience in doing elopements. Especially if you are doing a travel elopement to a destination you are not familiar with. Theres no reason for you to skip out on vendors just because you are elopement. You can still have cake, champagne, florals, photography/videography and planning. As well as hair and make up! Your elopement should have all the moments you want just as you would if you were having a big wedding.
Make sure that all of your vendors are on the same page as far as aesthetics, vibe and organization. This will make your day so much better and very relaxed. Having everyone on the same page just makes for smooth transitions throughout your day.
If you are going to be bringing in vendors to another country for your elopement be prepared to pay work permit fee’s to bring them in. A lot of destination wedding and elopement photographers include these fee’s in their travel pricing so make sure to ask all your vendors if that is something included in their package pricing or if it is an add on. The pricing for work permits vary depending on the country. Sometimes the countries require a wedding planner to do the permit process (a lot of times it has to be a local wedding planner).
DO YOUR RESEARCH on your vendors. Vet them as much as possible. I know it can be overwhelming cruising the internet trying to decide who to choose. Talk with people you know, ask around and don’t be shy to ask your vendors for referrals and lots of examples of their work. If you can’t meet with your vendors in person set up video calls so you can really get to know them.
Eloping During COVID-19
I know a lot of people are considering postponing their weddings because of COVID-19 concerns and restrictions. Despite that, couples are still wanting to go ahead and get married and push the big parties until later. One of the biggest things I hear from my clients is that the one thing that is making it hard for them to just elope is not being able to at least have their immediate families there.
This is where digital technology comes in to save the day. Zoom has become one of the number one tools to connect couples with their families during their elopements. It is super easy to set up and its easy of even grandma can get connected! Another awesome thing about Zoom is that you can record the entire thing so you’ll have the memories to look back on.
You can also hire a videographer to set up something that will be better quality too but if you are needing something on the fly and budget friendly zoom is the best.
One thing I will mention in times of Covid-19 if you are eloping and having an officiant marry you via Zoom make sure they have a way to sign your marriage license in person. Also, if you need a witness make sure that person signs in person as well (typically you can have your photographer do that).
One thing to make sure of before moving forward with your elopement is to check with your local and state mandates. There may be limits on the amount of people you can have at your elopement (Right now in South Florida the limit is 10). Some venues may not allow ceremonies yet no matter what the size so you will have to take that into consideration.
If you are wanting a certain aesthetic for your elopement ceremony airbnb is another great option. It gives you the freedom to get ready, have your ceremony and stay overnight all in one location. It also makes for a super private elopement! Again, check with your local mandates as some areas are not allowing vacation/airbnb rentals currently.
I think elopements are here to stay and I am super excited about it! Let’s connect and start planning your adventure together! Click below to reach out.