Eloping is a fabulous alternative to hosting a traditional ceremony and reception, especially if you're the type to shy away from all eyes on you. The romance is palpable and the intimate energy makes elopements extra special, but that doesn't mean they're the right choice for every couple. If you're on the fence about hosting either a wedding or an elopement, here are a few things you should know before you make the final call.
Eloping is an intimate, personal experience.
If you're looking for a way to guarantee that your wedding day will actually be about you and your partner—rather than about pleasing everyone else around you—an elopement might be the right decision for you. There are only two people to think about satisfying—you and your partner. Should celebrating with everyone you love be important to you, a more traditional wedding might be a better choice.
You should try to tell important family members and friends in advance.
Even if you plan to jet off to a remote locale to make it official alone, you should still make it a point to let your parents and siblings know about your plans. If that's not possible, be sure to tell them before friends and extended family find out. Think up a creative way to incorporate your friends and family so they don't feel like you've left them out of your big day.
You may have to get married at home, too.
You can exchange vows anywhere in the world, but the legal stuff is usually done back in your home country. If you're eloping in another country, you'll still have to go to a local courthouse to make it legal at home—usually, it's easier if this happens before you head abroad. If you're planning a stateside elopement that's not in your hometown, your marriage license should still be valid in your home state, but it's always worth checking.
You can so something entirely unexpected.
You can get creative with your ceremony location and opt to exchange vows on the edge of a cliff you have to hike to get to, on a beach that's only accessible via boat, or at the top of a majestic mountain. You don't have to worry about anyone else besides your photographer and officiant being able to make it.
You can enlist the help of vendors.
There's no rule that says you have to organize your elopement on your own. If you want, go ahead and hire a wedding planner to help coordinate the big-ticket items, like where to go and how to pull off your dream vows. As for photos, it's entirely acceptable (and encouraged!) to hire a photographer. Plus, sharing photos once you're home is a great way to make loved ones feel involved. If you've always dreamed of carrying a big, beautiful bouquet down the aisle, do it. There's no rule that says you can't have a florist, either. In fact, assuming you're eloping anywhere other than a courthouse, you can probably bring in any amount of décor you want. And if you're interested in closing out the dinner with a fancy dinner at a beautifully set table with a centerpiece and wedding cake, you should make it happen.
But you can still have a big party, too.
Just because you're saying your vows in private doesn't mean you can't also celebrate with everyone you love eventually. You can still have a big party back home with all your friends and family after the "I dos" are over. It could be fun to plan a party and even surprise your guests (other than your inner circle) with the news of your marriage.
There are no fashion rules.
In short, you can wear whatever you'd like—go really formal and traditional or wear something short and sassy. Whatever makes you happy is perfect.
And if you want to invite a few relatives, you can.
Just remember that this is no longer an elopement: A wedding with a handful of close family members and friends is considered a micro wedding. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this plan, either—it just goes by a different name.