Let’s face it, big frilly weddings are just not for everyone. During the past decade, we have seen the eloping trend shift the rules and inspire many modern romantics who simply didn’t love the idea of planning stress and big celebrations. Even before the pandemic, many opted for intimate wedding elopements, but now, these intimate affairs are flexing couples’ options and completely refining the term “getting hitched”. And guess what? We are loving it!
You may have already set your heart on having an elopement wedding, or you may still be hesitant whether you should just throw everything to the wind and go for it. Regardless, this blog will help you decide, get inspired and even guide you on how you can plan your dream ceremony.
Elopement vs Wedding
In order to truly understand what is an elopement wedding, it is first necessary to define the meaning. By our humble definition, elopements are small, unconventional and authentic celebrations of love. They are meaningful and infused with your personalities. You can look at them as an ode to your intimate relationship where the whole focus is centred around you as a couple. There are no distractions like having many attendees, stressing about providing the ultimate guest experience, satisfying your parents’ wishes, or going to great lengths to throw an iconic party. Instead, they are all about personal experience. The best part? You can tailor everything the way you want, and where you want. Is your dream to say “I do” on a cliff? Maybe deep in the woods? Or have an urban wedding elopement on a rooftop? You can basically pick any location. Contrary to popular opinions, you can have guests at your elopement if you wish, but often only a small number.
In contrast, weddings are largely focused on the event and guest experience. They tend to feature many traditional elements, and of course, there are some expectations. Plus, larger celebrations take a lot more time and effort to be planned, whereas elopements are way easier and less stressful. However, there are some things you should keep in mind:
How to Plan an Elopement Wedding
Even though elopement weddings don’t require the same amount of planning as traditional ones, there are still several aspects you need to take into consideration. Want to elope? Here’s what you have to do:
- Choose a Location and Date
The first thing you need to do is decide on the best location and date that will compliment your story as a couple. Whether you are wild romantics, adventurous, fashion-forward or urban, the location will play a major role in shaping the day’s vibe. Have you been dreaming of tying the knot somewhere special? Choose a place that will be aligned with your lifestyle and wishes.
- Check the Legalities
There is one essential, and that is obtaining a marriage license. However, if you are planning to have an elopement wedding in a public place such as a national park, an additional license might be needed. Also, if you plan to do it in the city hall, then you will need to secure an appointment and date. Let’s not forget the celebrant if your marriage is to be legally binding. Some couples want to be married by their best friend or someone that is close to them, so that person would need to be authorised. Luckily, this is possible, check with your country’s government and get your favourite person ordained.
- Book your Suppliers
Even though elopements don’t need a tonne of suppliers, you’ll still need your key few like a photographer, maybe a videographer, florist, a celebrant of course, and if you wish – a planner. Not only will a planner help you with organising everything and not worrying about every detail, but they will also make all the booking, travel and accommodation arrangements for you. Some couples don’t want the sweat of any self-planning so they find hiring professionals to be the best option. Still, if you have chosen an adventurous location, check in with your suppliers to see whether they would be up for the task.
- Elopement Wedding Ceremony Planning
Just because these events are intimate, that doesn’t mean they can’t be special. When it comes to your elopement outfit, if a white dress isn’t your thing, why not wear something completely untraditional, quirky or simply more you! You’ll also need to plan the overall style, theme or decor you want, whether that’s an arbour, bouquets, seated rows, individual chairs etc. One of the things that can elevate the ceremony experience are personally written vows, which can be sentimental, humorous or a bit of both. Reflect on your relationship, on the moments you’ve shared together, on the life you plan to build with each other – or just throw in some banter if that’s more your style!
- Post-Elopement Party/Gathering
This can either be an intimate party with family and friends, or just the two of you enjoying a trip to your favourite restaurant. Either way, tying of the knot calls for a celebration that suits you – after all, it’s a memory you’ll keep forever. If you don’t plan on including anyone at all, that’s totally fine! You could even choose to announce your news later and throw a post-elopement reception. Our last piece of advice, sometimes you’ll need to be prepared to face a little criticism from friends or family. Most of the time however, family and friends eventually understand. There is no need to feel guilty for wanting to stay true to yourselves as a couple.
Elopement weddings WE LOVE
We have some fresh inspiration for you to check out. Even though it is impossible to choose just a few, these are some of our favourites:
It was chic, bold, unconventional and modern. Cass and Luke’s day featured gorgeous styling, strong suit games and a too cool, fashion-forward couple – what’s not to love? Our favourite part was the bride’s short blazer dress (ASOS), stunning Loeffler Randall shoes and that show stopping pearl adorned veil and felt hat combination. Hello modern-day Parent Trap vibes!
A day packed with adventure. We can’t decide what we love more, that ceremony arch, their effortlessly elegant yet romantic style, or that utterly charming reception setting. This couple decided to say “I do” with an intimate wedding elopement, surrounded by their closest. The lakeside elopement with snow-capped mountains as their backdrop was just otherworldly! Bonnie Jenkins captured the day perfectly.
This couple’s wedding elopement on their own terms meant celebrating with their family – fur babies included. We’re also all about their retro van, used to transport the two to their location in the middle of the woods. Just two lovers, their dogs and nature. An added bonus, that vintage fur coat which elevates the bride’s Rachel’s Rue de Seine gown.
What compares to the beauty of Paris? You can’t deny the charm of getting hitched in the city of love. This gorgeously elegant couple decided to have an elopement ceremony led by their close friend, right in front of the Eiffel Tower. Will, wearing a stylish suit by Black Lapel and Eli, a breathtaking Baccini & Hill dress. We adore these two spending the day enjoying the city to its fullest.
Whitewashed architecture, blue domes, gorgeous beaches, views upon the caldera and majestic sunsets – we can all agree that it is impossible not to love Santorini. And of course, saying your vows against such a backdrop is surreal. Megan wore a beautiful Pronovias dress with the most stylish vintage headpiece from Vintage Raven’s Bridal.
Elopement Wedding Ideas
Wondering how to level up your wedding elopement vision? Here are 10 ideas to help you have the best experience:
- Have a multi-day adventure!
Who said that elopements can only last for one day? We beg to differ. In fact, we love the idea of a multi-day adventure to kick start your next chapter. Choose the destination of your dreams, and find accommodation nearby. Take the first day to simply unwind and explore the area, the next day will be for your elopement wedding, and use the following days as your mini-honeymoon getaway. Plan some fun activities to do together and make it epic!
- Plan a foodie surprise
We have two words for you: private chef. Why not have the whole foodie extravaganza while you’re at it? Celebrating your wedding elopement can be precisely how you envision it. Planning an outdoor affair? You may think it is impossible to find a private chef that would go hiking with you, but that’s not entirely true. You only need a person who loves the outdoors and has a passion for exquisite and contemporary cooking, for example The Wilderness Chef. Or you can have a charming picnic. Go full-blown DIY and hire your elements from companies like She Does Picnics (who also have amazing services to tailor the whole setting), or have a whimsical set up by Boho & Prosecco, The Vintage Kitchen and many more.
- Elopement wedding dress – tone down the traditional and up the quirky!
There are no expectations. There are no rules. You can wear whatever you like. Period.
The great thing about elopement weddings is that you can wear anything you like, without the expectations that can come along with a more traditional affair. Whether it is a dress that is a modern take of the roaring 20s like this Cult Gaia Shannon design or Gwendolynne’s artistry, contemporary romantic like the BHLDN gowns, Prea James Bridal, or boho-chic like Grace Loves Lace & Spell; you can be as lavish or as effortless as you like.
- Incorporate music
Think of a song that seamlessly describes your love story. As long as you are planning your elopement wedding, why not include music during your ceremony. Simply mix and match whatever you find aligns with your personalities and press play.
- Get a small or mini wedding cake
Elopement wedding cakes are making their stand, and we are loving it! Nothing like a sweet tooth delight to mark the happiness of your forever after. Because your intimate event doesn’t have many attendees, a small or a mini cake is a brilliant choice. Not only does it look gorgeous, but we have to confess, the charm is just next level! You may not have your cake yet, but you can feast your eyes on the art of Posh Little Cakes, Cake Inc, The Cake That Ate Paris, Petal and Peach, SUKAR Bespoke Cakes & Treats, Miss Ladybird Cakes, and Gillian Bell. They are all based in Australia and are bound to get your creative juices (or sugars) flowing.
- Rent a unique & amazing place
The choice for accommodation will dictate half of your experience so make sure you choose somewhere that complements your style. Have you always wanted to stay in a treehouse? Book a retreat of your choice with boutique treehouses like the otherworldly Canopy Treehouses. Want your own island? This is actually possible, you can hire various sites like the Camp Island Lodge. Wishing for something utterly unique like modern architecture in the middle of a vineyard? Locations like the Domescapes in the Vines will surely enchant you. Do boat bungalows sound incredible enough? Take a look at Freedom Shores. If you are a wild heart, places like Yallingup Glamping, Longitude 131, Taronga Zoo can be a perfect fit for your preferences.
- Customise your ceremony with a unity ritual of your choice
Many couples have only vague ideas about certain rituals but that is perfectly okay. When it comes to wedding elopements, you can make your ceremony ritual completely the way you want:
- Lover of wine? Mix red and white wine during the ceremony.
- Passionate about sustainability and nature? Plant trees together. We also adore the idea of the rings being put on a larger chunk of raw crystal to both cleanse and unify. Another great way to honour nature and set your foundation in stone is by holding a real stone during your ceremony. It is an old Celtic ritual that enables the vows to be set in that very stone to have a strong foundation for your future. Plus, you can custom engrave it.
- For art lovers, we would definitely recommend having a unity painting done together. Not only will it symbolise your commitment to each other but you’ll also have a beautiful piece completed together.
- Feeling funky? We believe that having a unity signature cocktail in a large (or oversized) glass sounds amazing, don’t you think?
- Ask your celebrant for an idea. They have vast knowledge and creativity when it comes to unifying your love so they will gladly custom tailor your epic day. Still haven’t found your perfect fit? Take a look at our selection of talented celebrants.
- Decorate an aisle
Just because you are having an elopement wedding, that certainly doesn’t mean you cannot go overboard with florals. Whether minimalist or lavish, you can have an aisle deep in the woods, on a cliff, at the beach, in a loft or a rooftop – wherever you please. Whether it is wild and stylish like Sir Botanical, artisan yet sustainable like Flos Botanical Studio, boho-chic like The Naked Florist – you will have a plethora of options for your ode to flowers.
- Incorporate florals (bouquet, boutonniere or floral square pocket)
As long as we are lingering around the floral topic, nothing is complete without some flower magic to complete your look. The bouquet or boutonnieres doesn’t mean that they have to be traditional. In fact, many talented creatives like Garden Graffiti, Still Life, Pomp & Splendour, Nunu Designs, have been shifting the borders of the conventional and shaping their own art – especially Freek Florals who have a flair for drama and moody chic designs.
- Get ready together OR have a First Look
Both options are equally exciting. Getting ready together and savouring your intimate moments or getting ready in separate rooms and having a First Look. The anticipation, the nerves, the surprise!
Biggest DOs and DON’Ts of Eloping
Before you dream about this incredible wedding elopement adventure, make sure you are both clear on several aspects. Not only will it help your planning but this will also give you peace of mind.
- DO: plan how to break the news to your family and friends, make a marriage announcement;
- DO: plan your budget and expect expenses;
- DO: hire professional elopement wedding suppliers;
- DO: research your chosen location in-depth;
- DO: make it unique, special and memorable;
- DO: wear what you like;
- DO: pick a witness (or several guests);
- DO it in the way that it would feel right to you as a couple.
- DON’T: never ever forget about the legal requirements;
- DON’T forget to make a wedding-day timeline;
- DON’T forget to book your photographer;
- DON’T be hesitant to ask around about special elopement wedding packages;
- DON’T forget to celebrate to the fullest;
- DON’T ever feel bad about it, your family and friends will understand.
What No One Tells You About Eloping
In reflection, some points can easily slip and be forgotten, therefore leading to disappointment. To avoid any stress, try these tips:
- Don’t hold your secret for too long
If you choose to elope alone, don’t hold onto this secret for too long. The sooner you give your family and friends the heads up the better. Sometimes, waiting for months and months to tell anyone can only make things worse. Plus, they may need a little extra time to come around to the idea they won’t get to witness your day.
- Legalities, legalities, legalities
In order for your marriage to be binding, you must take care of any legalities. Researching on the matter beforehand takes a great load off. If working with a wedding elopement planner, they will help you! If you’re tying the knot in Australia, here you can find all the requirements for your big day.
- Elopement wedding packages are lifesavers
For those couples who want to have the bare minimum on their plate, opting for a package will solve most of your problems. Minimal effort – maximum result!
- Amateur photos are not the same as professional photography
Maybe you are thinking of setting up your own tripod and taking countless selfies but this will not the same as having a professional photographer. This is a special event, and if you want to have your moments beautifully captured – you should invest in hiring a professional wedding photographer. The photos will hold a lot of memories later down the track, so make sure they reflect your story well.
- Just because you’re eloping, doesn’t mean it will be less special than a traditional wedding
You are doing this once, so make it count. Splurge on an elopement photographer, buy that couture dress you want, book the most incredible site and celebrate one of the most important events of your life. Traditional doesn’t equal more special. What is special is how you see your elopement unfolding with all of the details that narrate and complete your story.
Wedding elopements are for those of you who crave an intimate and laid back vibe for your special day. Whether alone or with your family and a few close friends, these intimate affairs are magical and authentic experiences that are meant to be cherished for years to come. Need more ideas? Head over to our elopements section to discover a plethora of love stories and unique inspo.