The Ultimate Wedding Elopement Checklist
Eloping used to mean getting married on the fly and not telling anyone about it until after the fact. That’s not necessarily the case anymore! Elopements are popular with many brides and grooms because they are intimate, they usually cost less money, and they can be just as fabulous as any large wedding. You can even invite a few guests to your elopement, and many couples choose to celebrate their union with a party afterwards.
No matter what kind of elopement you’re planning, there are certain things you have to do to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Choose a Meaningful Location
Don’t just get married somewhere because it’s convenient. Choose your location because it’s meaningful to the both of you. For example, if you and your partner are a no-fuss couple, head to the courthouse. If you love spending time outdoors, head to your local lake, or get married at the bar where you first met.
Don't Be Afraid to Splurge
Elopements are often less expensive than traditional weddings, but that doesn’t mean the whole goal has to be spending as little money as possible. Don’t be afraid to splurge on beautiful details like the:
- Bridal bouquet
- Dress and/or suit
- Live musician(s)
Hire the right Photographer
One thing you will definitely want to splurge on is a photographer. Not only will they document your day with beautiful photographs you will treasure for years to come, they can also provide you with insider information. Hire a local photographer and they can tell you the perfect spot to get married on a mountaintop, what kind of weather to expect at a destination wedding, and they can help you find quality vendors in the area.
Create a Wedding Day Timeline
Just because your wedding is small doesn’t mean your day won’t be busy! From getting ready in the morning to squeezing in breakfast, the ceremony, and what you’re going to do for lunch, it’s a good idea to create a wedding day timeline, even if it’s short.
Wear Something Appropriate That You Love
You don’t have to wear a strapless dress on the beach or a short dress just because you’re getting married at the courthouse! You should wear something you love, but you do have to choose something that’s appropriate for your ceremony location. For example, a long sleeved satin gown is a bad choice for the beach, while a ballgown will look out of place at the courthouse. Find a balance between what you love and where you’re getting married.
Know the Rules
It is important to know the rules wherever you are getting married. If you are getting married in another country or even just in another state, you have to know the rules when it comes to applying for a license, who can officiate, and more.
You still have to look into rules if you're getting married at your local courthouse. Some states require separate appointments for your marriage license and the ceremony, while others may limit the number of guests you can invite. You should also ask if you are able to read your own vows during the ceremony, as some courthouses don’t allow it.
Consider a Wedding Package
Are you planning a destination wedding? Consider purchasing a wedding package. Many venues offer complete packages so everything from the officiant to food, the photographer, and even hair and makeup are all taken care of. Just make sure you look at the fine print so you get everything you want, and nothing you don’t.
Visit Ahead of Time, if You Can
Whether you’re getting married across town or halfway across the world, you should try to visit ahead of time, if you can. You can scope out the best place to say your I do’s, you’ll have the opportunity to meet your vendors in person, and you can ease the nerves that are common when you visit a new place and get married all at the same time.
Skip Peak Season
Want to get married on the beach? Have your heart set on a desert elopement in the middle of Great Sand Dune National Park? Or maybe you want to ski down the mountain hand-in-hand with your new life partner? No matter where you’re heading, skip peak season. Instead, plan your elopement for a month before or after. You’re still likely to get the weather you want, but you’ll miss the crowds.
Pack a Bag
Elopements tend to be a bit more adventurous and mobile than traditional weddings. You might get ready at home in the morning and find yourself across town in the afternoon, or you may decide you want to hike into the woods to find the perfect ceremony spot. Make things easier on yourself by packing a bag.
Water is always important, especially if you’re getting married in the summer. A change of shoes, makeup for touchups, your wedding day timeline, and snacks can all be packed into your bag.
Bring a First Aid Kit
Not only are elopements more adventurous and mobile, they also rely less on other people. You can’t ask your bridesmaid for a bandage or your mom to get you some sunscreen. Pack your own first aid kit so you have everything you need just in case you need it.
Surprise Family and Friends
You can’t keep your elopement a secret forever—nor should you! You can send out announcements or plan a reception, but you can also consider surprising family and friends.
Invite them over for a backyard BBQ and surprise them with your wedding ceremony or reserve a room at a local restaurant the evening after your nuptials to tell everyone what you did. The looks on their faces will be a memory you won’t ever forget!