I thought eloping meant running off to get married in secret?

In the past, eloping meant running off in secret to get married in Vegas, or a courthouse. But that has absolutely changed! And although you can still elope without any guests (and sometimes it's definitely the best way to go), there’s no rule that says you can’t invite the important people in your life. Depending on what you want your elopement to look like, and where you want to say your vows, inviting your friends and family is definitely an option!

Who should we invite?

This might be the most difficult question when it comes to including guests. You and your partner are the only ones who can make this decision.

Deciding to elope takes a little bit of courage for most couples. After all, you're going against what is still considered a "societal norm"! And just because you wholehearted believe in the choice you've made, not everyone will understand what's not to love about a traditional wedding.

But you are doing an amazing thing by choosing to be intentional about your wedding day. In the same way, it's important that you are intentional about who you invite (if anyone) to share the day with you.

Here are some things you might ask yourselves when making this decision:

  • Is there anyone besides my partner who I simply can't do this without?
  • Will these people make our day better, or do I just feel obligated to include them?
  • Is there likely to be any unwanted drama if I invite this person?
  • Can we have the elopement that we really want if we include this person?
Wahclella Falls Elopement

What about the loved ones we don't invite?

There are several ways to include people that you care about, even if they aren't physically present.

  • Ask your friends and family to write you letters that you will read on your elopement day. You can pack these in your bag, and bring them along to read anytime during your day. These letters will be truly meaningful keepsakes that you can reread at every anniversary, and we will definitely get photos of you while you read them so that you can share that moment and the emotions that you felt.

  • FaceTime your loved ones after you have said "I do!" If you're in a location with cell service, take a moment before or after eloping to make this call and share your absolute joy, and the beautiful surroundings. If you don't have service, you can record a video and send it as soon as you have service again. We see this a lot and it's our favorite option. It's always wonderful to hear those voices on the other end and share your happy tears during such an overwhelmingly joyful moment.
  • Send an announcement. You can find templates online at places like Etsy or Minted for elopement announcements. Write a personal message letting your loved ones know you are thinking of them, and mail or email them out when the timing is right.

  • Plan a dinner, reception or party for after your elopement. Send out an invitation to a wedding reception or dinner just as you would a normal wedding invitation. With this option, everyone feels included while you keep the ceremony and adventure to yourselves! You can even share your preview images with everyone at your reception!

You can use one or several of these ideas to make your loved ones feel included, and be sure they know they are special to you, even if you choose to keep your elopement day for yourselves.

Artistic Moody Northwest Elopement Photography

Tips for Elopements with Guests

For those who do decide to include their closest friends and family, here are some helpful tips:

  • Communicate - Have an honest conversation from the beginning about your intentions, your reasons for eloping, and the things that are important to you. It's important to set healthy boundaries in regards to the amount of input you do or dont want, as well as communicate things that will make it easier for your guests to prepare for your day. Will you be providing food for them? Will your elopement require physical activity? Will they be responsible for all of their own expenses? Be sure to let them know all of these things up front.
  • Share your elopement day timeline. We create timelines for your wedding day so that we can serve you in the best possible way. We know which places are the most important to you and what lighting (or tides) will be ideal for photos we know you want the most. Sharing your timeline with your guests will help them understand the events of the day, whether they will be with you the entire time, and when they need to arrive.
  • Share details about the location – if your guests haven’t been there before, it’s important to let them know what the ceremony location looks like. How much walking/hiking do they have to do to get there? How’s the ground? Sand, dirt, grass? Is there a bathroom nearby and what’s the parking situation? Having these basic pieces of information prior to the wedding day will make their lives (and yours) much easier!
  • If you’re sneaking away for photos, let them know – most of the time, part of the day will be just for the two of you to spend together while we take amazing photos. Let your guests know so they can plan around it. Help them with suggestions on what to do during that time so you dont feel like they are simply waiting for you.
  • Enjoy your guests! If you invited them, that means they are really special to you. So plan some time during the day to just enjoy time with them. This can be anything, like a meal, a hike, a picnic, or an activity.

Eloping with Guests - how to elope
Eloping with Guests - how to elope
Latourell Falls Elopement with Friends and Family - Eloping with Guests

There's no right or wrong

The whole point of an elopement is to do things your way. There really are no rules. It's about you and your partner, and what makes you truly happy. We are here to help you whichever you decide!