5 Things to Think About When Planning Your Elopement

Updated: Feb 11, 2019



So you’ve been staring at that wedding spreadsheet for the last 3 hours trying to figure out how to save a few bucks here and there to no avail. You look at the ever expanding list of people you have to invite and blankly blink as you read;

“Aunt Doris”

Who in the world is Aunt Doris, is that your moms great-great aunt you met when you were 3?

You look over at your future husband/wife/life partner and whisper, “I think we should just elope”

They look back at you, taking their eyes away from probably another wedding spreadsheet, nodding in silence.

Ok, maybe it’s not that bad, but let’s be real, eloping is pretty cool. I did it!

Side note: I’m not saying eloping is for everyone, if I had the money to do so, I would have had a monster wedding celebration!

So as a self-proclaimed elopement expert, I’d like to impart some helpful 5 tidbits to make planning your elopement as easy as possible!

1) Get all those permits in place!

Going to ride Alpacas to the top of the Rocky Mountains to sing those vows, you better let the National Park Service know about three months ahead of time! Eloping is a different beast then a conventional wedding. 90% of conventional wedding are held at venues that will accommodate reasonable requests. (Yay Alpaca grand entrance!)

Most elopements are hosted at either private (parent’s backyard) or public (hello beach!) locations, and while this may help your wallet, you’re going to permits. Be sure you do your homework to see what’s allowed and what you’re going to need to a permit for.

2) Don’t feel pressured into doing anymore then what was planned.

Aunt Doris may not be coming to your elopement, but she sure is hitting you with all kinds of Catholic Guilt.

“Honey, I understand that this is what you want to do, but how about a nice party (read: reception) when you’re ready?”

Don’t feel obligated to do anything more then what was planned/scheduled/paid for/etc.!

One of the main reasons people elope is because money is tight. That was a huge factor as to why I eloped. My mom wasn’t hiding any gold coins in Duckburg. My then fiancé and I had to pony up 90% of our wedding expenses, we didn’t have the time or more importantly, the money to feed 50+ family and friends that would have showed up to a after elopement party.

So no, you don’t have to indulge anyone’s ideas about what will happen after the elopement, no matter what they tell you is “common” or traditional”. Chances are if you decided to elope, you care very little for traditions!

3) Go all out (if you want).

So maybe you’re not going to have that after eloping party some people may want you to have, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go as extra as you want! Want to wear an off the wall princess dress, even if the only people that are going to see it is the officiant, the photographer and your partner, then do it! Cake cutting for the whopping 10 people at your beach elopement? Well yeah! Having your guests pop smoke bombs at the 1st kiss? Please do!

The point I’m getting at is small doesn’t need to be plain. After all, it is still your wedding day!

4) There are no rules as far as who you have to tell.

I’m the person that shares WAY too much on social. Like all my wedding plans. For a wedding that no one was going to go to.

So backstory. When we were planning our elopement, we told our parents, our best friends and his grandmother. No one else, total radio silence. So as we got closer to flying out to Denver, my Instagram and FB were filed with pictures of my handmade bouquet, semi cryptic posts about Hawaii and so on. Finally a week before we left, I had to spill the beans. His extended family kept asking where their invites were.

We made a combined post letting everyone know that even though we love them all, we we’re running off to the Rocky Mountains to get married, by ourselves. Event though I was super nervous about the backlash, everyone was so supportive and so happy for us.

5) Do thank anyone who gives a gift!

Remember, no one has to get you anything, but some people might want to celebrate your new nuptials with a small gift. If you do receive that cool team mixer you’ve been eyeing for a few months, send out a thank you card!

For our elopement, we received a few checks from family members, we called each person to thank them immediately and when we were back home from our honeymoon, we mailed a cute thank you card. 4-6 weeks after the honeymoon is a pretty standard time to send a nice note.

So there it is! I hope my insight can help all you future elopers!

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COPYRIGHT 2020 CHRISTINA TOOLEY PHOTOGRAPHY & FILM | WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER AND VIDEOGRAPHER | ENGAGEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER | ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER AND VIDEOGRAPHER