Maybe you want to avoid family fights about the guest list, or you don't see the point in spending a year's salary on a one-day event. Or you've always dreamed of getting married in an exotic locale in private. Or you simply get nervous in front of a crowd. Whatever the reason, eloping makes sense for many couples. Before you head to the courthouse or airport, check out these dos and don'ts first.
Do: Realize that an elopement still involves planning.
While it doesn't come close to what's involved in a formal wedding with 150 guests at a country club, you still have to figure out a date and a place, get a license, and possibly one or all of the following: Find an officiant and a witness, make an appointment to wed, figure out travel arrangements, buy new outfits for the two of you, invite people, hire a photographer, and order a bouquet and boutonnière.
Do: Make the first "We did it!" call to your parents.
Mom and Dad shouldn't find out that you got married from Facebook. Call them on the phone (no texting!). Be kind and considerate of the fact that they may be disappointed they weren't there to witness the ceremony or be a part of the post-vows celebration.
Don't: Forget to take a photo of you two on the courthouse steps.
If you're going old school and getting married by a civil servant (judge, mayor, town clerk), this classic shot will capture the spirit of your simple but just-as-meaningful I dos.
Do: Keep the guest list minuscule.
If you're inviting some loved ones to your elopement and not sticking with the tradition of surprise, limit the number to a handful of guests: parents, siblings, and one best friend each. If you invite a crowd, it's not an elopement anymore but a small wedding!
Don't: Ignore adding custom touches.
Think about things like writing your own vows or marrying on a day that's meaningful to you (anniversary of your first date?) rather than some random Tuesday.
Do: Plan to celebrate with family and friends at a later date.
You won't have the stress of a ceremony to deal with. A post-honeymoon party—this could be as simple as a backyard barbecue—is not only fun but it gives your loved ones a chance to formally congratulate you on your new status!