Let’s face it, weddings are complicated! You have to juggle so freaking much! There are many pressures from your friends and family on how to get married, where to do it, and even when?! But, friend, it’s your day, and YOU get to decide how you get married. But you knew that, and that’s why you chose to elope. Now the question is, how do you elope with your friends and family? But in case you are still on the fence, check out this article for ALL the reasons you should elope.

Difficult, right? WRONG! An elopement is a perfect opportunity to organize a unique and close-knit day for you and your loved ones. The first tip I have for you, talk with your partner. Ensure you do what both of you want, not what your friends and family want you to do.

A separate reception.

Ok, I know the ceremony is where the emotions are high, and all the tears are shed (by more than just the bride), but the reception is where the fun happens. You might not want to bring all your friends and family out if you choose to elope in a more remote location, say a mountaintop or at the base of a waterfall. Heck, all your friends and family might not fit in that tiny location. Soooooo, a separate reception might be a good idea. The best part, it can be whenever. You can do it the same evening, the next day, over the weekend, or even a month or two later.

Did someone say shopping trip?

An elopement may not be as involved as a wedding, but there are still things to do to plan your perfect day. Asking your friends and family to accompany you on shopping trips and planning adventures is a great way to include them in the big day. Think wedding dress and flowers. This allows them to be a part of your day without actually being there.

Create a little time for some self-care.

Pre-wedding spoilers are always a good idea. Actually, it’s always a good idea to spoil yourself with a little spa day. But having a self-care day, either at a spa or home, with your friends and family before your big day is a great way to involve them!

Get the crew involved in the wedding prep.

Some traditions are fun to incorporate into your elopement ceremony, and some are important to your family members. Incorporating some of these traditions into your ceremony can make it feel like your family is a part of your day. For example, make your something borrowed, blue, and new elements of your friends and family. Or you can add physical aspects of your friends and family to your day, like a ribbon around your grandmother’s flowers or your father’s tie-tack.

Dear John… well, hopefully not that.

There are ways to include your friends and family in your ceremony without them being there. Words are compelling when spoken and written. Have your friends and family write a little note to be read before the ceremony begins. Or they can send you off with a few words before you hit the trail. This way, you can start your trip with your heart full of love from your people. Just be prepared for the laughs AND tears.

Nick and Nora’s (hopefully not so) infinite playlist.

A part of elopement that couples tend to miss is the music and the dancing. Have the bride’s father and the groom’s mother pick a song they would have their respective dances to. Then have the rest pick songs that are special to you both. You can play this on the car ride to the trailhead, at the ceremony, or hiking up the trail (if you like hiking to music).

Fill up your schedule.

You can easily split your day up to incorporate an epic, adventurous ceremony on top of a mountain. Then come back to civilization to have a reception with your friends and family. This is a popular option because you can still have the traditional celebration with food, dance, and drinks.

Your friends and family can send you off at the trailhead. And then do all the hard work of setting up the reception for when you come back a married couple.

Double your days.

How do you elope with your friends and family, just add more time! This is something new I have been trying out. Basically, you split your big day into two days.

Day 1: Like a traditional wedding, we capture the details and the getting ready for the big I do. After we do a first look at a location of your choosing, a trailhead, Airbnb, on a cliff, or at a waterfall, you choose. Next, we get to the destination by a scenic drive or a beautiful hike- spontaneity is critical during this time. We begin looking for that perfect spot as we get closer to sunset. After the ceremony, we head home. Once it’s dark and weather permitting, we capture the stars shining down on you as you start your lives together. We have food, drink, and maybe your first dance to close the day. This is the day you involve your friends and family. They are with you every step of the way, just like a traditional wedding, not in a conventional location.

Day 2: A day after session. Think grand adventure, just you two and your fly-on-the-wall photographer. The day of your ceremony is so full of fun and adventure, and nerves. This day-after session allows you to stop, take a breath and get that picture you have always wanted, with or without the wedding attire… heck let’s do both. Boat ride, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, smores (yes, please). This day is ALL about you and your partner.

Like the sound of this? Check out this article about two-day elopements!

Invite everyone… Virtually.

If you have friends or family members that might not be able to make it up the trail with you, or your ceremony location is just a little too small to accommodate everyone, then have someone record the ceremony either via live stream (if you have cell service) or hire a videographer. COVID has allowed virtual communications to become a regular part of your everyday lives. So get your phones out!

A Champagne toast.

Before beginning your hike or adventure, have your friends and family send you off with a champagne toast. You can also incorporate this into reading letters from your friends and family. Or, if you are a bit of a lightweight, you can have them meet you at the trailhead with a chilled Prosecco ready to greet the new couple.

Lastly, bring them along for the adventure.

  • Choose a location that your friends and family can get to. Find an easy hike or an overlook you can drive to. Just make sure the site is big enough to fit everyone.
  • Add a processional to your ceremony where your father can walk you down the aisle.
  • Have a friend or a family member officiate the ceremony.
  • Choose your family or friends to sign your marriage certificate. Remember, you will still need witnesses during an adventure elopement. You can use your photographer or day of coordinator if you choose a more remote location. But maybe, bring your maid of honor/best man or your parents to sign the certificate.

So, while planning your elopement, think about all the options on how to elope with your friends and family and all the different ways you can involve them. But talk with your partner. This day (or days) is all about your two. Make that decision together. There will always be pros and cons to mull over, but at the end of the day, this is your love story. You decide how to start it.

Alright, enough with the sappy love songs from the ’80s. Call me if you need someone to lug that bottle of prosecco to the top of a mountain or an awesome photographer.

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