How to Plan an Elopement for 2022

With so many couples vying for the same dates and vendors after disappointing postponements and cancellations, the trend of elopements is rising in popularity once more. In line with micro weddings, this has become the perfect alternative for those who may not be interested in a large-scale traditional celebration. Nonetheless, you and your partner may be wondering how to successfully pull off an elopement, even with an extremely pared-down guest list. 

Have no fear – we rounded up some of the industry’s leading wedding experts to help ensure that your elopement goes off without a hitch. 

Image by Meredith Ryncarz

The differences between an elopement and a traditional wedding 

As you can imagine, an elopement’s planning process is much different from that of a typical wedding with a sizable guest list. However, many elements overlap.  

As Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss and Rock Paper Coin states, “There are so many differences between planning an elopement versus a traditional wedding. Most notably…the guest count. Elopements are typically for a very small group, typically under fifteen, while traditional weddings have counts that can quickly balloon. An elopement most commonly takes place with an epic background. It can be local, or it can be abroad. We’ve even had couples helicopter their group to the top of the mountain! The world is truly your oyster when it comes to elopement locations. When planning, you can truly plan for yourselves and your nearest and dearest. There is no need to appease all of your 100+ guests or do what is best for the masses. You can choose what is best for you and for your super small guest count.” 

Invitation etiquette 

A common point of contention during wedding planning is often the invitation process. How many people should you invite? Do you have to invite your coworkers, your extended family, or return the favor for acquaintances that invited you to their wedding? Thankfully, an elopement can simplify this, but etiquette can be equally important. 

Jaime Melfi of Autumn Nomad suggests, “If you feel you need to thoughtfully tell your love one’s you aren’t inviting them, you could send out a cute ‘engagement’ announcement. One idea is it could look like a postcard with a recent photo of the engaged couple. You could briefly announce on there that you have chosen to get married by eloping and have decided to keep your event very small, therefore will not be having a large event. Thank them for their support and love over the years!” 

And Bri Marbais of The Bridal Finery adds, “It truly would not be a bad idea to wait until after the elopement. There’s something very romantic and exhilarating about keeping it to yourself as a couple. Sometimes the unwarranted thoughts and opinions of others can really weigh down the excitement of getting married. But, at the end of the day, it’s your day, and you should do it how you want.” 

Image by Jenny DeMarco Photography

Top tips for personalizing your elopement 

Whether you want to take a trip to your local courthouse or plan something more custom, there’s no wrong answer! Without the emphasis on a lengthy ceremony and reception, an elopement can admittedly feel a bit hurried in comparison. However, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go all out just because you’re opting for a more intimate route. 

Sarah Blessinger of Kindred Weddings & Events offers, “To bring personalization into your elopements, make sure you are hiring vendors who understand your vision and have experience with these types of events. Vendors who allow you and your partner to be present with one another without micro-managing will allow you to feel most like yourself during the experience. 

To bring in a more personal touch, you could plan to elope in a state that allows you to officiate your own wedding! There is something so powerful about the spoken word. Being able to speak the powerful words of ‘I pronounce us’ can bring another level of personalization to your intimate ceremony.” 

Melfi continues: “Choose a unique place to elope. There are many remote and romantic spots in the mountains that would make for an amazing ceremony. Many hiking-loving couples that choose to elope tend to hike with their JP to a remote spot with an amazing mountain view. Maybe bring a friend or two that can take photos. After the ceremony, they bring out a great packed picnic and celebrate! I’ve had couples do this and even hike with a little wedding cake from us! As a cake designer whose shop is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I see this style of eloping very often. Especially when hiking is a huge part of this couple’s personal life. It’s really a great way to personalize an elopement while enjoying the beauty the mountains have to offer.” 

Image by Lynne Reznick Photography, Planning and Design by Urban Soirée

Regardless of how you decide to approach planning your elopement, it’s important to consider you and your partner’s needs and wants first and foremost. So decide on your priorities, and don’t allow the stereotypes of elopements to hold you back from making this big day your own! 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

We’ve partnered with OFD Consulting to bring you this great advice from their collective of wedding professionals.