How To Plan An Elopement Successful

Eloping is a way to get married without the stress, conventional traditions, and expensive costs of a typical wedding. However, you may still want to have a meaningful, love-filled celebration that you can remember forever.

Eloping still requires you to think about logistics, timing, and personal relationships, even if the stakes are lower. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you’ll need to consider.

The Big Picture

Let’s start with some of the big-picture concepts and considerations you’ll need to address before digging into the planning process.

  • Why are you eloping? You may have your mind made up that you want to elope, but it’s still important to analyze that decision. For example, are you simply trying to save money? Or are you trying to avoid getting friends and family members involved? Your elopement could look very different, depending on what your priorities are.
  • When will you elope? Do you have a date in mind? If so, you should remember that even if you’re eloping, you’ll need to plan in advance; for example, getting a marriage license or getting married at a local courthouse could require you to book an appointment well in advance of your ceremony. Unfortunately, not everything in an elopement can be fully improvised.
  • Which services do you require? Most people eloping want to avoid spending time and money on superfluous services they’re barely going to use. However, there are some services you may want even when eloping. For example, you may want an officiant to conduct the ceremony. More importantly, you may want an elopement photographer to help you capture the mood and scenery of the event even if it’s a small gathering.
  • Do you want any guests? Some people think of eloping as intentionally getting married in solitude. However, some people choose to have a small handful of guests present. Is there anyone you want to have available for the ceremony?
  • What is your budget? Even if you’re opting for a small, minimalistic event, getting married is going to cost some money. How much are you willing to spend? Once you have an upper ceiling established, you can decide how to divvy that up between things like photography, wedding rings, and travel expenses.

The Location

You can elope without leaving home, or you can get married in an exotic location. There are several primary options worth considering, including:

  • Vacation destinations. Some people choose to treat eloping as a kind of vacation. This is a great way to make your event memorable, but it also presents some logistical challenges. You’ll need to research marriage laws, and will likely need to plan your trip well in advance.
  • The courthouse. Getting a marriage certificate at your local courthouse may seem like the simplest and most straightforward option, but it can also be troublesome. Make sure you understand how your courthouse works, and the full requirements for getting a marriage certificate .
  • Improvisation. If you’re interested in improvising, you might prefer to get married with as little planning as possible. While this is certainly a viable option for the free spirited, you also need to prepare for some disappointments and challenges along the way; it’s hard to make everything fall into place with no prior planning.
  • Turnkey elopement. Some organizations and individuals offer a kind of “turnkey elopement,” allowing people to get married quickly, with minimal costs and effort required. These package deals are convenient, but may not offer you a unique experience.

Your Marriage License

To be officially married, you’ll need a marriage license, but marriage license requirements vary significantly from place to place. Before planning your elopement in great detail, make sure you understand requirements like:

  • Appointments. Do you need to have an appointment, or can you walk in to get a license?
  • Waiting periods. Does your jurisdiction have a mandatory waiting period for getting a license?
  • Witnesses. Do you need to have witnesses to make the license official?
  • Officiant rules. Are you required to have an officiant, or is this optional?
  • Other legal requirements. Certain areas have obscure or challenging legal requirements before you can get a marriage license; for example, some states require a blood test before you can get married.


Even if you’re distancing yourself from friends and family members, it’s a good idea to make announcements about your marriage. Consider hosting a separate celebratory event, or sending out cards to let the people you care about know of your marriage.

There’s no right or wrong way to elope, but you can make things easier on yourself and have a more memorable experience if you keep these considerations in mind. Stay true to your values when planning and executing your elopement, and you’ll walk away with no regrets.

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