Let’s face it. When someone says the word elopement, the idea of some flashy-looking Elvis impersonator or drive-through chapel comes to mind. But an elopement definitely doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, COVID has put a damper on international travel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look out of town or to another state. If Vegas or a local courthouse doesn’t tickle your fancy, then imagine saying your vows on the top of a mountain in Big Sur as the sun is setting. Think about how fun it would be to elope in the exquisite gardens of Filoli and explore the city afterward. Or consider the romance of sharing your vows among the lavender in an intimate Montecito getaway at the exclusive San Ysidro Ranch. Whether it’s Arizona, Utah, or Georgia, all of this is possible when you follow these elopement planning dos and don’ts.
What is an Elopement vs a Micro Wedding?
A micro wedding is essentially a traditional wedding on a smaller scale. All of the main components are there, your guest list is simply smaller (40 or fewer people to be exact). The biggest difference between an elopement vs a micro wedding is that with an elopement, the guest list is no longer in the picture. While you may have a family member, a close friend, or even a photographer at your elopement to serve as your witness (more on that in a moment), an elopement wedding is traditionally only the couple and a few key wedding vendors.
That’s not to say you can’t have some of the wonderful traditional wedding elements. In 2021, elopements are becoming even more popular while losing none of those all-important details. From breathtaking elopement destinations to champagne toasts and tiny cakes to the décor included in the ceremony, you can incorporate both traditional and non-traditional wedding elements into your elopement planning.
Elopement Planning Dos and Don’ts
The beautiful thing about elopements is how truly unique each one is. However, there are a few key elopement planning dos and don’ts every couple should follow, especially if you have a specific wedding vision you want to bring to life.
DO Carefully Consider Your Wedding Location
Where do you want to get married? Regardless of your answer, if you elope, there is a good chance you can marry there. Many couples choose an outdoor space with a jaw-dropping view that may not be feasible with a large guest list. However, you can also choose a unique indoor location for your elopement ceremony, such as your favorite museum or wine bar.
When choosing your elopement location it is important to pick a place where it is possible to get married. This is especially true during the COVID-era when some locations may be closed for the time being. Look into private estates, research how to obtain a permit for a beach elopement, or speak to venues that offer elopement packages for couples. With endless possibilities, think about unique locations and natural open spaces when planning your elopement.
DON’T Forget About the Legalities
While elopements have a care-free feel to them, there are still elements that require detailed and not-so-last-minute planning. This includes securing witnesses and a registered officiant to marry you on your wedding day.
You also need to consider legalities, such as obtaining your marriage license with enough time before your wedding. Many registrars are closed or open by appointment only due to COVID. It is vital to get an appointment early, as some states have a waiting list of over six weeks.
DO Secure Important Wedding Vendors
To truly make your elopement spectacular, there are a few wedding vendors you’ll want to include in your celebration. The first is a wedding planner. Even though elopements are small and intimate, they do require detailed planning that a wedding planner can help with. From identifying potential locations to helping handle any legalities to referring other vendors such as hair and makeup artists and florists, a planner is a must. Especially now, many wedding experts have elopement planning packages to help couples plan their wedding during COVID.
The second is a photographer. After all, whether you have an elopement or a large wedding, it’s still your big day and you’ll likely want to document it! A wedding photographer is a sound investment that you will be glad you used. In the same vein, consider hiring a videographer as well to document your vows or incorporate friends and family via live stream if you desire. Lastly, consider the floral arrangements or décor you want at your wedding. Elopements are brought to life with elegant yet intricate design elements that vendors can make easily transportable.
DON’T Limit Yourself to Traditional Wedding Attire
While you can still wear traditional wedding attire to elope, such as a full gown or three-piece suit, you can also get creative with what you wear. Depending on your elopement location, consider a white cocktail dress, a pantsuit or wedding jumper, or go way out of the box and choose something with a pop of color.
DO Make the Most of Your Elopement
Your elopement may be small, but you can still have big plans for after the ceremony. Consider splurging on an overnight stay in a cool hotel you’ve always wanted to visit or a fancy dinner for two at your favorite restaurant or a new one you want to try. While COVID may keep you from darting off for two weeks to an exotic location for your honeymoon, there are plenty of spectacular mini-moon locations to enjoy close-by.
DON’T Forget to Send a Wedding Announcement
Last but not least, don’t forget to let all of your loved ones know you got married. It is a joyous occasion that your friends and family will be excited to celebrate with you, even if you didn’t have a traditional wedding.
Many couples who are eloping now due to COVID are still planning to have a large celebration with all of their friends and family once gathering restrictions are lifted. If you go this route, be sure to let everyone know so they have something to look forward to.
Elopement Planning with HauteFêtes
Whether you’re looking to elope to scale back your wedding day during COVID or want to maximize your wedding budget, we know what to do. We have helped many couples adjust their initial wedding plans in the COVID-era and know what it takes to plan an intimate, romantic, and truly memorable elopement. Eloping comes with its own unique set of benefits and you can take advantage of them all with our elopement planning services. Learn more today!