Elopement Weddings – All You Need To Know
It’s becoming increasingly popular for couples to elope instead of having a big wedding day, whether that’s in the UK or flying abroad.
In Gretna Green alone, more than 3000 couples elope every year.
Cornwall has also become a popular destination in the UK for couples looking to have an elopement wedding due to it’s beautiful countryside and coastline.
As an elopement wedding photographer in Cornwall, I have photographed a few of them myself!
As well as being an incredibly romantic thing to do, there’s plenty of reasons to elope and have an intimate ceremony, from saving money, to avoiding family politics.
What Does It Mean To Elope?
While the technical meaning of eloping is to “run away secretly in order to get married”, there’s lots more nuance today to the definition.
The new understanding of elopement is more accurately a couple travelling somewhere to legally get married, without telling or inviting any/many of their friends and family.
It’s quicker, more informal and a very intimate way to tie the knot.
Whether you decide to inform your families beforehand or not is up to you.
You can have a few friends present (to act as your witnesses) or you could do it in complete secret, with just the two of you (asking two members of staff from your elopement wedding venue to act as witnesses).
You may decide to have a no-frills elopement or follow it up with a huge party afterwards when you get home.
It can be either spontaneous or planned.
Reasons To Elope
It’s a big decision to ditch tradition and elope, but there are lots of really positive reasons couples are doing so.
You want to save money
If you’re saving for a house deposit, raising a family, or simply don’t want to spend a huge amount of money on a big wedding, saving yourself tens of thousands of pounds can be very appealing.
The money that you save can always be put towards other things, like a honeymoon.
You want to avoid family politics
Families can be complicated.
It could be that you and your partner’s family live hundreds of miles apart from each other and it could be difficult to get people together, or inviting certain members of the family might cause tension with others.
A traditional wedding doesn’t appeal to you
Some aspects of a traditional wedding ceremony such as being given away, the white dress or even being the centre of attention all day, just don’t work for some couples.
You don’t want to plan a big wedding
There’s no denying it, planning a wedding can be stressful.
Not many of us have the experience planning a party for 100+ guests, nor do we want the responsibility.
With this in mind, choosing to have an elopement wedding means that you can be married within the month, rather than the average 13 month planning process.
You’re marrying later in life, or have been married before
Perhaps you’ve been married before and would prefer a smaller, simpler affair this time around.
You like the idea of sharing a special secret with your partner
Until the time that you decide to tell your friends and family, there’s a really special time that no-one knows you’re getting married except for you.
That secret can be precious and sacred for some couples.
You still want a legal marriage
Whatever anyone tells you, an elopement is just as meaningful, legal and valid as a big white wedding in a church or licensed venue.
Eloping is an excellent alternative to getting married at your local registry office too; it’s as unique, individual and memorable as you make it.
The Dos and Don’ts of Eloping
DO: Know whether you will need to arrange witnesses
Every ceremony will need two witnesses to sign the marriage register.
If you are attending a popular elopement wedding venue, they should be able to provide witnesses for you.
If you are planning on getting married at a registry office, they won’t, so check in advance.
DO: Have a reveal plan
You will have to tell everyone at some point, how you choose to tell people is up to you.
You could consider an announcement card, or plan a get together with your friends.
Perhaps just telling your nearest and dearest will be enough but remember, your close family will want to hear the news in person.
DO: Prepare yourself for your friends and family’s reactions
It’s important to remember that you don’t need to justify what you did to anyone – an elopement is about what is right for you as a couple.
You do however, need to anticipate that it will come as a surprise to your loved ones and some might even be upset or offended that they didn’t have the opportunity to share the day with you.
DON’T: Forget to hire a wedding photographer
The memories and the photos will be all that you will have left of your special day, especially if you are eloping.
For any family or friends who are upset that they couldn’t spend the day with you, having photos to show them might be helpful in still making them feel part of it.
DON’T: Just ‘turn up’ without a little planning
Just because you are getting married on a smaller scale, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t meet/have a conversation with your suppliers beforehand.
It’s important to feel comfortable with the arrangements you have put in place and a little bit of forward planning won’t go amiss.
You still might want to think about ways in which to make your elopement wedding special, like personalised vows, a beautiful dress or hiring a local wedding photographer to capture it all.
DON’T: Expect wedding presents
This one should go without saying. An elopement wedding might not be the right choice for you if you still want all the benefits of a big wedding.
Other Reasons To Consider An Elopement Wedding – Covid-19
The corona virus (Covid-19) outbreak has thrown into question several, if not all, aspects of daily life as we know it.
Naturally, the overall threat that the virus poses to the public’s health is of great concern, as is the future of small businesses, income, rent and mortgage payments, food, resources and our ability to travel.
By now, wedding season would usually be in full swing but as a result of the virus, many couples have been forced to postpone their weddings, with others wondering if their upcoming nuptials later on this summer will be able to go ahead as planned.
The UK government has suggested that there might be changes to the rules which previously resulted in weddings being cancelled due to the pandemic, with the latest guidance confirming that from June 1st, officials are ‘examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings’.
It is still uncertain how many people constitute a ‘small’ wedding.
Meanwhile, the guidance states that places of worship, such as churches, should not open until July 4th at the earliest.
At this point in time, it is unclear when lock down restrictions will be relaxed enough to allow larger scale weddings to take place, so giving an elopement wedding some serious consideration as an alternative could be a viable option for some couples.
I would love to hear your plans for your special day.