All About Eloping!
That moment you get engaged, the excitement, the love, the full heart and oh, the ideas! It’s all so exciting and you can’t wait to start planning your most amazing day. But, for some, the idea of planning a traditional wedding just doesn’t appeal to you. Or the stresses involved make the experience a nightmare. To the point where you seriously consider throwing in the towel and cancelling the whole bloody thing! I know because I felt exactly the same – even while Stu and I were planning our fairly small and relaxed day. The idea of eloping becomes pretty attractive.
So here’s everything you need to know about eloping and a few things you might need to consider first.
A modern elopement is a far cry from elopements of old. To give you an idea, the actual meaning of the word “elope”, as defined in the English dictionary is “to run away secretly in order to get married”. Eloping was a practise carried out many years ago by couples who were either wanting to marry due to an unexpected pregnancy, or because of disapproving families and, in many cases, because one or both of the couple were under the age of 21 and would need their parents approval to marry. In the UK, couples commonly headed to the Scottish borders because marriage laws were much different there and would stop at the now famous Gretna Green, the first town over the border, to get married. This later became quite fashionable and Gretna Green is now synonymous with elopements.
Luckily for us, we now live in a much more accepting society which means the idea of elopement is starting to change too. It is becoming less of a necessity because of circumstances and more of a choice because of them. Nowadays, couples commonly cite stress, expense and pressure from families as a reason to want to elope and I can’t say I blame them at all!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your wedding is not what’s important here.
What is important is your marriage.
This is the thing that will endure after the wedding day is over, it’s what the purpose of a wedding is for and no amount of cash, number of guests or big stresses should take away from that. If anything, choosing an elopement over a full blown wedding day is likely to start your marriage off on a better grounding because you’ll be totally focussed on the two of you as a couple and not how much your dress is costing, or whether Aunt Mildred is happy you had lavender bridesmaid dresses instead of the colour you really wanted or whether you’ve personally thanked your cousin’s daughter’s boyfriend’s hairdresser for attending. In truth, the big wedding can be a total faff.
So what do you need to know about eloping?
Again, something I’ve said before and I don’t mind reiterating here is this: however you choose to do this is entirely the right way for you. If you decide to make the trip to Gretna Green, brilliant. Perhaps you’ll decide to have a Town Hall wedding with you and two witnesses – fantastic. If you choose to do the formalities ahead of time and then plan a wedding in the woods with your closest family and an officiant, then that’s grand. Or maybe you’ll whisk yourselves off to Vegas and have yourselves an Elvis wedding. In the words of the King himself… “Uh-huh”. The point is, there is no set way of doing things, there is only your way. The beauty of an elopement is that the only people you need to try and please are yourselves (although I still say this stands even when you’re planning a big wedding!).
In the UK, marriage laws apply whether you’re eloping or going the whole hog. Be sure to familiarise yourselves with them. Make enquiries about what paperwork needs to completed prior to eloping and make sure you do it! Yes, it takes away the spontaneity a little bit but hey, it gives you the time to plan those things that might be important to you, like finding your outfits and booking a photographer, for example.
Any wedding in the UK requires 2 witnesses, so you’ll need to give this a bit of thought too. Some couples will go for complete anonymity by grabbing two random people off the street (totally doable if you’re planning a Town Hall elopement but less likely if you’re up the side of a mountain in Wales!). Some may decide to choose two people to invite as their witnesses from their friends and family. Others ask their photographer to act as a witness – just check with the registrants prior to the ceremony if this is acceptable or not!
In Canada things are fairly relaxed although you do still need to apply for a license. This website explains everything you need to know as the laws do change slightly for each province.
Be prepared for the possibility that your decision may upset some of your nearest and dearest friends and family members. In truth, this is probably the biggest consideration you need to make. Every family is different so it would be difficult to consider every possible reaction you might get to your decision here. But, for the most part, reactions are likely to range from the totally accepting (love these awesome people!) to those who may actually decide to end their relationship with you over it. It goes without saying, parents and siblings are probably the likeliest to be upset or hurt by your decision. Which is why some couples eloping do choose to have their immediate families present.
But I think the key thing to remember here is that, if eloping is really the path you want to take, prepare yourself for what might come afterwards and deal with it in an adult fashion, by explaining your reasons why to those who have expressed hurt or disappointment to you. Ultimately, they love you and so they will learn to understand. And there’s always the option of throwing a celebration party after the fact to appease them! 😉
Some things to consider…
There is nothing to limit you but your imagination. Anything goes. Because the costs you’ll save from paying out for a full wedding mean you can literally go anywhere and do anything your heart (and wallets) desire! Maybe you want to exchange your vows with the magnificent British Columbia mountains as your backdrop. Or maybe beautiful Iceland with the Aurora Borealis as your backdrop is more your bag to name a couple of ideas. Whatever your ideas, the bonus is you’re only paying for 2 people!
Ok, so I’m a photographer. This subject was going to come up sooner or later! And, in my totally biased opinion, photography for your elopement is a serious consideration. It’s probably even more significant than if you were planning a more traditional ceremony given that there are going to be many people not attending the day who would like to see what happened after the fact! Many photographers, like myself, offer an elopement package at a much cheaper rate than a standard wedding package*. It’s definitely worth getting in touch and asking if you’re not sure. And, as previously mentioned, your photographer can also double as one of your witnesses too!
After the day is done, I’m sure you’re going to want to shout from the rooftops and tell all of your nearest and dearest about your fantastic news! Maybe you’ll make an announcement on social media, or plan a party and throw in the surprise with everyone present. However you choose to tell people, prepare yourself for whatever reactions you might get and the possibility of having to explain yourself to those who want to know why. People will understand, though, so don’t make their reactions the deciding factor for whether you elope or not. After all, this is about the two of you and no one else!
It goes without saying that, whatever you decide, no decision is a wrong one. This is, after all, about the two of you so take the time to talk, to list options, to weigh up the pros and cons and then go with your hearts and plan the right thing for you both. Take ownership of your decision, carry it out with confidence and you’ll look back on your day and remember it with happiness and smiles, rather than sadness and regrets. And enjoy every great moment!
*As previously mentioned, I offer an elopement package for couples considering taking this route. To find out more, please check out my Weddings page and get in touch with any questions you might have!