FAQs about elopement planning | Why do people elope?
The answer to the question, "why do people elope?" is simple: Elopement weddings are one of the most adventurous ways to declare that you are wildly in love with your chosen human. They’re perfect for couples who care more about experiencing life and living it bravely, than about acquiring physical stuff like wedding gifts and having tonnes of interactions on social media from guest’s wedding snaps.
Don’t get me wrong, as a wedding celebrant, I flipping love all types of weddings. And it’s not that normal weddings with guestlists and seating plans and cakes and playlists are always superficial. They can be beautifully special in their own way too (case in point: Alex and Sarah's destination wedding at Château de Lartigolle was wild). But there’s something about the spontaneity and intimacy of elopement weddings that is radically authentic… And that makes them my favourite.
Although you might think I’m biased, what with me being a celebrant who specialises in elopements and everything, but hand on heart, I can honestly say elopement ceremonies are the most underappreciated way to get wed.
But you already know this, right? You’re sitting there thinking “You’re preaching to the converted Meg! What I need is help planning my elopement ceremony.” And that, my friend, is music to my ears. It would be my honour to assist you.
Let’s start with some FAQ's couples have when planning their elopement weddings. If you need to know more after that then you can fire your own questions my way too.
Jump to answers:
Help planning an elopement ceremony
1. Does an elopement wedding have to be kept secret?
In short, no. You have a few options so consider them carefully. Firstly, you can keep your elopement wedding as a complete secret, just between the two of you (and your elopement celebrant of course). People have been secretly eloping for centuries and, frankly, it’s the simplest way to avoid judgement. If you don’t ask anyone’s opinion, they can’t give it after all. Then you can make a celebratory announcement after the deed is done.
Secondly, you can make it an open secret. By this I mean, you can casually say to loved ones whenever you feel like it’s relevant, “if we ever got married, we would elope.” That way, when you elope, no one will be shocked (what’s wrong with shocking people though?) Beware this might lead to people telling you in advance that they’d be offended not to be invited. But you might find you don’t care, because clearly they can get in the sea.
Finally, you can fully embrace the elopement wedding concept and make an announcement about it. Let people know that you’re doing it, when and where. You can even suggest they raise a glass to you and play a specific song of your choosing at the time of your elopement ceremony. They won’t be physically in attendance, but they’ll be with you in spirit, thinking of you at the very moment that you exchange your vows. Cute right?
2. What happens during an elopement ceremony?
Whatever you like! Just like other celebrant weddings, you have the freedom to choose what to say and do through your elopement ceremony. To give you a flavour of what your elopement wedding might be like, here’s a walkthrough of one of my couples, Bryn and Sam’s, elopement.
Elopement wedding day example:
Bryn and Sam had a lovely, chilled morning together in a holiday cottage which they had booked in the Peak District. We agreed a time to meet at the foot of the hill they had chosen as their elopement ceremony location. They brought along their dog (obviously dogs should always be included in weddings IMO), and had enlisted a photographer to capture the celebration, so once we were all together and acquainted we set off walking up the hill.
We headed for a spot with a glorious view, and we picked up interesting things we found along the way for them to keep in a memory box. On the way we were chatting freely, and when we reached the chosen elopement destination I, as their celebrant, took over and started the ceremony.
The ceremony included words about why they had chosen to elope, what they loved about each other, and all the things that were important to them in life. We created a moment for Bryn and Sam to exchange rings and say personal vows to one another, with the spectacular Peak District as their elopement ceremony backdrop.
When they were pronounced as married Bryn and Sam shared a private moment and a kiss, just the two of them. Then we all raised a toast – it was hot chocolate from my flask, but would have been bubbles if they preferred – and finally we had a little explore to find the most adventurous places for photos. I looked after the dog (yay bonus for me!) and their photographer directed some stunning portraits.
3. Where should we have our elopement ceremony?
A place that is special to you, which can be anywhere you like. You might have noticed there’s a theme with these answers, and it’s that you are fully in charge of your elopement wedding. There really aren’t many rules at all when it comes to eloping, which is why it’s the rebellious choice. For proof, see this badass biker couple's elopement at Peel Castle, Isle of Man.
Your celebrant can help you to pick a precise spot on the day, or during a recce visit. It will depend on how private you want your elopement ceremony to be, and on the practicalities of the landscape itself (for instance, not so close to the edge of a cliff that your dog might fall!)
Photographers are also fantastically knowledgeable about exciting and accessible locations. Ask yours where they would recommend.
4. Can I invite guests to my elopement wedding?
This is a toughie. I hate to sit on the fence, so I’ll come right out and say what I think: It’s not wise to invite more than two people to your elopement wedding ceremony. If inviting guests is important to you, then why not have an elopement announcement party? It’s just my opinion but: a ceremony with more than two witnesses, isn’t an elopement.
One of the benefits of eloping is the lack of an audience, so that you can genuinely concentrate on celebrating your relationship, and what makes you happy. This is wiped out when you start having an entourage to entertain and organise. Ask yourself, where are your guests going to be whilst your have photos taken? Will they all be able to manage the rugged terrain?
Having two people there, perhaps two of your closest friends, is doable and desirable for couples who like the idea of sharing their elopement memories with a couple of witnesses. Equally, having your own children with you can be super special.
5. How do I tell people we eloped?
So you’ve read the whys, the wheres and the whos of eloping, and now you’re wondering how to announce an elopement wedding to your friends and family. The answer is: However you like!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you make the rules. Forget about feeling awkward that some of your random extended family and work acquaintances would have liked to come to a wedding. Who can blame them? You’re great and everyone loves a party (especially a party paid for by you and not them).
Announcing your elopement is YOUR choice. If you want to make a big hullabaloo then go for it. If you’d prefer to share the news over a cup of tea, whilst flicking through your elopement photo album, that’s fine too.
And if you really don’t know how to say it, how about this...?
“Hey friend/parent/sibling/whoever, I have some exciting news. Me and my partner decided to make it official, so we had an incredible elopement wedding ceremony last month. It’s important to us to share this news with you, because we love you and know you’ll be happy for us. By the way it was epic and if you’re interested I’d love to show you our photos from the day.”
Have I missed any of your burning questions out? You will find more answers on my FAQ's page, but if not give me a call (I know I'm so retro, I was born in 1989 so I still communicate via telephone).
If you’re feeling adventurous, get in touch to talk about planning your elopement ceremony. I’m obsessed with elopement weddings and I’d love to escape with you to somewhere special to celebrate your relationship!
Photography credit: Becky Payne Photography