EEP editors sometimes link to products to make your planning process fast and easy. We may earn a small commission if you make a purchase from a link.

Elopement - 12 Steps to do it Properly


Updated on: Feb 25, 2024

The word elopement brings about thoughts of a couple running away from their friends and families, going to an exotic land, and getting married there to escape the prejudices of society. While this view is often romanticized, real elopements are often performed for less drastic reasons. Traditional marriage is extremely expensive, and many couples want the romantic aspect of marriage without all the logistical troubles of having hundreds of guests come to feast and party at their expense.

Not all elopements have to result in bad blood and tension between the couple and their loved ones. In this article, we will go through various reasons for an elopement, how to go about doing it legally and by the rules, and how to make it a wonderful experience for all involved.

Reasons for Elopement

Disapproval from the Families

A traditional wedding is an occasion where two families merge and join together to become one. When the parents or family members of a couple don’t agree with the marriage though, it would obviously be awkward and tense to hold an elaborate ceremony and reception. There would probably be a lot of snarky comments, mean stares, and other rude behavior going on while the couple is trying to celebrate and enjoy their life together. Instead of facing this, couples will elope instead and have a private ceremony with perhaps a few friends or supportive family members.

Saving Expenses

The average wedding in the USA can run tens of thousands of dollars and will cause immense stress to the couple and their family.

Some couples will forgo the money required for a full traditional wedding and plan their own private, unique elopement wedding instead.

Excessive Planning

Even if the families are supportive, there are a mind-boggling amount of fine details that go into a wedding, and a lot of anxiety to get everything just right.

There will be difficulties communicating with all the various business people you will deal with and a whole lot of deadlines and bureaucracy to follow and make sure you get right.

There is a reason that some people make a whole career out of being a wedding planner.

Personal Taste

The idea of having a large wedding with preset rituals and customs is prevalent in most cultures and societies, but it is not necessarily right for everyone. Some individuals prefer to start their married life off with a quiet, private ceremony with only a few people. They may not want the boisterous partying, religious ceremonies, and all of the other aspects of a large wedding. There is nothing wrong with doing it one way or another- it totally depends on the couple and what they desire. It is their wedding after all!


Last but not least, the coronavirus pandemic has led to a rise in the number of elopements. Couples still wish to begin their married life, but concerns over catching or spreading sickness make them wary to host a large gathering. Many will make the best of their situation and elope.

How to perform an Elopement

Eloping is way easier than conducting a regular wedding, but it still requires some effort and planning on the part of the couple to make it smooth and successful.

Marriage Licences and Other Details

Even though you might not want to get married the traditional way, you still have to check your local and state laws to make sure that it counts in the eyes of the law. You want to check regulations on the wedding officiant, witness requirements, and other details.

You still need to obtain a marriage license prior to the wedding from either the Secretary of State or City Hall; you also need to file the completed marriage license once you do get married.

Perform thorough research on what the requirements are in your particular state or jurisdiction and make sure you fulfill them! It is important to validate your marriage in the eyes of the law.

Hire a Photographer

Even though you might be doing things differently than the traditional method, one aspect you want to remain the same is photography. No matter how you conduct your wedding, you will most likely want quality photos of the bride and groom reciting their vows, fulfilling the legal requirements, and enjoying their wedding day. Whether the ceremony is performed at the summit of a mountain, a gorgeous coastline, or at a city skyline, the pictures will be treasured for decades to come.

You can find many photographers who are familiar with elopement-style weddings and specifically cater to them, often with discounted prices. Make sure you check out our guide on finding the right photographer.

Hire a Wedding Planner (Optional)

Performing this step may not be super necessary for a small wedding, but it may come with some benefits if you are willing to shell out a little extra money. Planners can help you navigate legal requirements if you find them tricky, find amazing spots for photos, and recommend amazing places to eat.

Figure out who will be in Attendance

You might not be inviting thousands of guests and everyone you ever met in your life, but you will be required to have at least a few people present to make you officially married. At the very minimum, you will need an officiant and a few witnesses (once again, check state regulations for the specific details).

Depending on your situation and the reason you chose to elope, you may also want to bring a select few individuals who are extremely close to you. They may be lifelong friends, parents, siblings, or really anyone you wish to be present. What matters is that the folks who are present love you and support you.

Most importantly, you must consider how your friends and family will react once the 'secret' is out. However you wish to accomplish this, you must deal with the possibility of hurt feelings. You can let everyone know about the marriage beforehand and explain why you are doing what you are doing, but it is almost inevitable a few people will judge you for not doing things the traditional way.

Figure out the Location

You have the total freedom to choose where you will conduct your own personalized wedding ceremony, and you are not chained down to any venue unless you want one. Ever dreamed of having a lakeside wedding at midnight? Go for it! The sky's the limit when it comes to where you get married.

As usual, exercise common sense and make sure that you make some arrangements for comfort, weather, nourishment, alcohol, and whatever else you desire.

How to Make Your Elopement Truly Special

Here are some of our suggestions for a unique experience

Have a Bunch of Firsts

The first kiss, first dance, first selfie, do it all! It is your time to shine and be bold in your new start in life. Make sure you document it all to keep these memories.

Dress Exactly How You Want

Disregard every law that society has about what you should wear to the wedding. An elopement is a chance for you to be completely you and wear what makes you feel confident, sexy, and/or desirable.


This is self-explanatory. You don’t have to worry about throwing a supermassive party, so you can afford to spoil yourselves and your guests. Nothing is off the menu - you can dine on whatever you want, do whatever you want, and go wherever you want. Just remember to not go too crazy and be safe :)

Elopement: Conclusion

An elopement may be the perfect wedding solution for you and your significant other. Do your research on your local laws and have the time of your life! Also, if you're looking for more wedding info please check the rest of EasyEventPlanning for more info!

Written by Kurman Dhaliwal

Avery Patterson

Liberty University

Visit profile:

Kurman Dhaliwal

Ferris State University

Visit profile: