Don't skip out on some of these important big-day elements.

By Jenn Sinrich
March 17, 2020
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Credit: Kir Tuben

While most people think of an elopement as a much easier and less involved alternative to an all-out wedding—and it can be—but it still requires quite a bit of planning. Yes, just because you're planning to elope doesn't get you totally off the "wedding planning" circuit. "While you don't have to worry about the large guest list, and can therefore save money on everything from food and beverage to invitations and centerpieces, there are still plenty of logistics to consider including selecting a location and a date," says Danielle Rothweiler of Rothweiler Event Design. "Will you simply go to the courthouse and be done, or will you want to have a small dinner or party afterwards? Will you travel for the elopement, and if so, what are the laws that need to be considered outside of your home state or even country?"

These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself before you embark on the process of planning an elopement. In terms of details, don't forget these all-important ones that wedding planners say you should still have as part of your elopement.

A plan.

Whether you're having two or 20 people attend your elopement, you should still have some kind of plan in place. "Without the pomp and circumstance of a traditional wedding and family and friends to host, your plan should focus on ease of logistics and transportation to and from your elopement location, reservations for a post-wedding celebration, accommodations and more!" says Lindsey Sachs, a wedding planner and owner of COLLECTIVE/by Sachs. She recommends visualizing your day from start to finish and breakdown all aspects and potential questions to set your game plan. Are there permits required for your elopement location? Where will you park? How do you apply for your marriage license? Will there be access to electricity to play music? "Once you consider the finer details and work through solutions, your elopement has a better chance for success and ensures quality time together vs managing plans on the fly," she adds.

A budget.

Believe it or not, elopements can be quite pricey depending on what a couple decides to make priority. For this reason, Deb Erb of Simply Events Inc. suggests deciding on a budget and sticking to it. "Budgets will vary depending on the location, lodging and vendors you choose, set your budget then do the research to find the right costs for you," she says. "The nice thing is a true elopement is kept secret and includes the bride and groom (no guests), so you don't have to worry about impressing anyone."

A marriage license and officiant.

Remember that you still have to "get married" at your elopement, which means you need both a marriage license and an officiant to solidify the deed. "Find out what the law requires from the state to be sure your marriage is legitimate by checking out the city or town's website," says Erb. "Depending upon where you elope, you may need to find your own officiant, or one will be provided at the venue."

A wardrobe.

Experts agree that brides and grooms should still consider wardrobe when they plan to elope. "I don't think a white gown and black tuxedo are necessary, but you don't want to just pull something out from your closet that you wore to a recent cocktail party," says Rothweiler. "While you could select something you'll be able to wear again, the elopement should be the first time you wear the outfit."

A photographer.

Erb believes that even elopements should be captured on film. She suggests hiring a photographer to capture the first look, ring ceremony and "I dos" to share with loved ones down the road. "This should save you money, since you'll only need a photographer for one or two hours."

A bouquet.

Whether you're getting married at your local courthouse or in Vegas, wedding planners agree that a wedding bouquet is a must-have item. "It certainly does not have to be a traditional bouquet that you would use for a full blown wedding, but can be something simple, such as a hand tied bouquet of the bride's favorite flower," says Rothweiler. "I would also recommend having the bouquet preserved after the elopement."


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