How To Plan An Elopement

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You’re ready to get married, congratulations! There’s so many reasons why eloping may be right for you, but once you’ve decided how do you plan an elopement you’re happy with?

Whether you’ve decided to elope or are still thinking about it here’s a guide to planning your perfect elopement.

Three Things You Need Answers To Before You Start Planning:

Theme

When you think about your wedding what kind of scene do you picture?
Maybe you dream of the beach, the mountains, the country in the fall. Whatever it is this will help you determine your location, timeline, and outfits.

Budget

Maybe you chose to elope because you don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a one night party. Maybe you’re already on a tight budget, but want to get married now. Both of these things played into why my husband and I decided to elope.
The great thing about it is it can be as cheap or expensive as you want.
Set a budget!

Effort

How much energy do you want to put into planning?
Did you choose to elope because the thought of organizing a big wedding was just too exhausting? I feel you.
Whether you want most of it taken care of for you or you are a micromanager and love to plan there’s an option for you. You just have to decide how much effort you want to put into it.

What Are Your Options?

Courthouse

This is going to be your cheapest easiest option.

Where to start?
-Marriage License requirements and cost. In my area, this is about $40.

-Locate info on securing an officiant to marry you there. Some cities have this info easily available online, but if you’re struggling to find it give the city clerk a call.

Destination

Here you have two choices:

A weekend romantic destination within driving distance of your house.

A Honeymoon/wedding combo if you’re looking to book a week (or longer) honeymoon-esque trip somewhere and get married while on vacation.

Where to start?
-You’ll need to locate marriage license requirements here too. If you’re planning on going somewhere international make sure you put some extra research into making sure your marriage is legal when you return home.

-Elopement Package
Check your potential destinations for elopement packages. This minimizes your effort and puts together a beautiful little ceremony for you. In my research many hotels offer these and if you’re sold on a hotel, but see no mention on their website (especially if they usually handle weddings) it doesn’t hurt to give them a call and ask.

-No elopement package?
You’ll have to pull a few extra things together. This would include an officiant, a venue (this can literally just be the beach or a park you just have to secure it for yourself), hotel/dinner/vacation bits, photographer, and any cake/flowers/extra wedding like things you would want included.

My Experience

All of our planning was done in the course of about a month and it all started with a dress. Knowing we wanted to get married at sometime in the near future I had been browsing online for dresses that I liked. I came across a dress from Modcloth that I loved. Very quickly it was decided that since the dress I wanted was short, we would need to either get married before winter or wait until spring. We decided to see what could be pulled together in the fall and not waste the time.

I looked all over for the options. At this time we were living in Albany, NY. I researched a New York City elopement, a trip to Niagara Falls, and various places in Vermont and New Hampshire.

We were looking for a budget friendly romantic destination that could put together on short notice. Elopement packages quickly became the most appealing way to make this happen.

We decided our musts were an officiant, a photographer, and a place to stay. I 100% would not skip out on the photographer, you will want these pictures and the photographers I was in contact with during my planning were very excited to potentially be apart of our intimate ceremony.

In the end, we ended up settling on the Kedron Valley Inn in Woodstock, Vermont. They used to have a package that included 2 nights in a beautiful room, a ceremony with officiant anywhere on their property, a dinner at their restaurant, a bottle of champagne, and a photographer. I don’t currently see that listed on their website, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if it’s a place of interest to you.

Vermont has no waiting period to obtain a marriage certificate making it a perfect elopement destination. We retrieved our marriage license the afternoon we arrived in town and had our ceremony the next morning.

To continue the celebration, we drove to Burlington, VT for the end of our long weekend trip. We were married in October and it was a beautiful drive through the state.

Announcements

Before you run off and get married you need to think about who you need to tell and how to prevent hurt feelings. Everybody’s family is different, so this will be different for each couple.

We told my parents, my two best friends, my husbands siblings, and his two former foster moms. Basically the people we felt would be upset to not be included in the event and to find out after the fact.

In the time leading to the big day, I collected addresses for the people who would have been invited to the wedding had we done it traditionally. After receiving the photos back, I went onto Vistaprint and designed announcement cards to send out. These were a cute way to send our family a memento of our wedding in a physical form.

We announced on Facebook the morning of the wedding to everyone else who didn’t know. I had a lot of extended family and distant friends that I didn’t feel would be offended to find out in this manner.

Waiting for our pictures to send an announcement delayed sending these out. There are several beautiful non-photo options on Etsy to choose from. A well timed mailing of these could allow you to announce in a more personal way than social media.

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I hope this was helpful to your planning and wish you the best of luck in your upcoming nuptials.

Where would your dream elopement take place? Let me know in the comments below!

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