Much like a micro-wedding (which in itself, could be considered an elopement!) elopements do still have some things you might need. We would never suggest that eloping requires a certain set of rules or codes. After all, isn't that often why couples elope? To buck those traditions and throw out the rule book? However, couples can take heed of the advice given by planners and wedding experts who love to coordinate elopements.
So, we softly use the phrase “elopement etiquette” here. We're discussing: who to invite, when and how to share the news, which vendors to hire, what to wear and whether it's okay to ask for gifts. In most cases, our experts encourage couples eloping to make decisions that match their elopement vision. They offer eloping advice and inspiration versus the way things must be done.
Valentina Ring, Founder and Lead Wedding Planner of The Stars Inside, has offered most of the sage elopement etiquette advice below:
“One of the many reasons that couples choose to elope (and one of the best things about elopements, in my opinion!) is that there are no rules – and when it comes to etiquette, it's really all about what is right for YOU. Every elopement looks and feels different, which means there is no right and wrong, or any expectations that you need to worry about.”
So, class, welcome to Elopement Etiquette 101…
Deciding on your guest list.
“Your guest list for your elopement can be just the two of you, a few close friends and family, or a small group of 20-30 of your nearest and dearest. It really is completely up to you.
Many couples choose to elope in order to focus more on the quality of time spent together. This way, they truly feel present in every moment of the day. You’ll have the luxury of slowing down, breathing it all in, and genuinely engaging in heartfelt conversations and memory-making with the person (or people) there with you. So, it's really important that you surround yourself with people that will understand that and embrace this with you. Remember that you can also choose to have a celebrant, a photographer and videographer, and a few witnesses too if the ceremony is legally binding.
You can invite as many people as your heart desires – so long as it's within your control, and feels right for you. At the very heart of an elopement is the concept that the day is about the two of you and your love. For that reason, you don’t have to invite anyone out of obligation.
Sharing the news.
When it comes to sharing the news, some couples keep it to themselves until after the elopement. Other couples tell only close family. Then some spread the word to all their loved ones!
Many couples I've worked with make time for a video call with their parents and siblings on the elopement day itself. Nearly all eloping couples choose to announce their elopement following their return home, which can be very fun. The latter could be in the form of a physical card where you use one of your favorite images from the previews your photographer sends you. Alternatively, opt for a joyful email or social media post. Or, even throw a full-blown party.
If you are working with a photographer and videographer for your elopement, it's worth letting them know if you would like to use their images or videos as part of your elopement announcement, just so they know to send you one or two teasers or previews as soon as they can.
Whichever route you decide to take, my advice would be to widen the circle slowly: share the news with your nearest and dearest first, then send out elopement announcements if you are planning to, and finally spread the love even more with a social media post, if that's something you'd like to do.
Determining your vendors.
One of the questions couples ask most often about their elopement is whether they can still hire vendors. The answer is, absolutely YES! Just because you’re eloping, doesn’t mean you can’t have wedding “stuff”. Consider a gorgeous bouquet, a scrumptious mini cake, a hair and makeup artist to make you feel fabulous. You can order custom vow books, hire a Michelin star dinner, and bring champagne to pop after you’ve said your “I dos.” I always tell my couples to splurge on the good stuff and the details that matter most, and be honest with each other about what excites them and what luxury really means to them.
Generally speaking, the vendor team for an elopement will typically be smaller than that for larger weddings. But, they are just as important (perhaps even more so!) for bringing to life that intimate experience for your ceremony and dinner. I work with my couples to find a fantastic team of suppliers who enjoy tailoring their services to smaller weddings. These vendors can provide ceremony celebrant services, catering, floral design, photography and videography, decor and lighting hire, hair and makeup services, live music, stationery, and lots of other practical elements too, like transport and translation.
Selecting your attire.
Another question that comes up a lot from couples is what to wear to their elopement. The answer here is, wear whatever you want! I love seeing my couples choose outfits they love and feel fabulous in. And, more often than not, they opt to have at least one (if not two!) look changes throughout the day which can easily be done with the time and flexibility involved in elopements.
Your outfits don’t have to be bridal, or formal, or white for that matter. Go for colors that spark joy (shop Bridal Musings' curated list of colorful wedding dresses), styles that you love and designers you admire. Make it special by treating yourself to something you’ll love wearing, over and over again!
If you’re headed off the beaten track, light-weight suits and dresses without a train (or trains that can be bustled) are useful for a look that is practical but still shows off your personal style. Talk to your designer or seamstress about alterations to your dress that could increase your comfort, and make sure your shoes will allow you to explore the terrain you’ve chosen.” – Valentina Ring, Founder and Lead Wedding Planner, The Stars Inside
Extra tip: to register, or not to register, that is the question.
“There are those who say that if you don't have an actual reception following your elopement, you probably shouldn't register. It's just not appropriate to run off and get hitched, and then expect people to buy you gifts. On the other hand, it might be nice to have a modest wedding registry with some reasonably-priced items. That way, when your co-workers hear you eloped and they want to send you a congratulatory gift, they can do so.
And, if you do have that post-nuptial cocktail party or potluck, by all means, set up a small registry for any guests who want to come bearing gifts. The “etiquette” here lies in how you choose to share the registry information. Tell your immediate family or best friends to help spread the word in case people inquire. (And, don't forget to send those thank-you notes!).” – Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide
Planning to elope? Browse our best elopement advice and inspiration including real elopements, amazing destinations, the perfect outfits and more.