The decision to elope instead of having a traditional wedding is a huge one, and comes with a lot of excellent questions. We answer 6 of the most common inquiries about eloping, complete with links to additional information.
1. Do we have to keep it a secret?
The short answer is no -- in fact, many couples are inviting a few close friends and family members to their elopements. So, what's the difference between an elopement and a destination wedding? First of all, the timeline is a lot shorter! You can invite guests to your elopement just a few weeks in advance, and your families aren't involved in the planning. You set the date, make your plans, and invite people to be there or not -- no one to make happy except yourselves. That said, if you want to plan a traditional elopement, you would keep the news to yourselves and let everyone know after the fact. Want to meet somewhere in the middle? You can let a few people close to you know that you plan to elope, but you may need to be prepared to face barrage of pressure to have a traditional wedding, especially if you tell your parents and don't plan to invite them.
2. How much does an elopement cost?
At minimum, you'll need to pay your legal fees, which vary from state to state and county to county. However, you should feel free to plan the experience of your dreams, even if it is an elopement. A luxury elopement combines a memorable ceremony for two with an amazing honeymoon in a fantastic locale, allowing you to reallocate your wedding budget to the non-guest-related expenditures -- in other words, your dress, your rings, your travel, and your accommodations. Planning to go all out on a luxury elopement? Plug your spending limit into our elopement budget breakdown to determine how much to allocate to each aspect. Looking for something simple? Keep expenses down with a courthouse wedding local to where you live.
3. Who do we tell first?
Assuming you don't have any children (who should be informed of an elopement in advance), the first people to inform that you've eloped is your parents. A good rule of thumb after that is to start with your closest relatives (beginning with your siblings) and expand to your closest friends. Friends and relatives after the close ones have been informed can find out at your leisure either by phone, a formal wedding announcement, or an announcement on social media. Check out our complete breakdown of announcing your elopement for more details.
4. What is the biggest challenge of an elopement?
The biggest challenge of an elopement is dealing with the fallout if you've kept it a secret. While most people will be delighted with the news, there's a chance that those closest to you may feel as though they missed out on an important milestone in your life. As previously mentioned, you can actually invite people to your elopement if you think the fallout is going to be too much to bear (or you simply want loved ones with you on your special day).
5. How do we handle loved ones who are disappointed we didn't have a formal wedding?
It's important to stress your reasons for eloping in a non-confrontational way, keeping in mind that people are likely reacting out of disappointment that they missed the event, and not because they're unhappy about your new marital status. The aforementioned fallout can be alleviated by holding a post-elopement reception, giving those closest to you an opportunity to celebrate with you. Your reception can be as simple or as formal as you like -- learn more about post-elopement receptions here.
6. Can we still register for gifts?
You can absolutely register for gifts! There's a good chance that loved ones will want to congratulate you on your marriage, and gift registries are there for the convenience of the gift givers, ensuring that they're purchasing something that you're guaranteed to like. You should definitely plan to register if you're hosting a post-elopement reception, but don't mention your registries in your invitations or announcements. The correct way to let people know that you're registered is by word of mouth.