Myth: you can’t elope with your family.
Fact: you TOTALLY can – and here’s how!
The term “elopement” used to mean you run off with your boo to the courthouse or to Vegas in secret, keeping your marriage hush-hush and only telling your fam after the fact. And hey – it can 1000% still mean that if you want it to! But nowadays, “elopement” doesn’t have to limit you quite as much. Eloping means doing whatever the hell you wanna do. Which could mean bringing your BFF’s along, eloping completely in private with nobody around, or inviting your most special family members to celebrate with you.
Whether you want to have family & friends actually present on your elopement day or not, here are 10 meaningful ways to include family & friends in your elopement if you’d like to!
I’m splitting this into two sections for ya! 4 ways for those of you who want to have fam/friends physically present at your elopement. Plus, 6 ways for those of you who want to celebrate with them in spirit/from afar.
COVID kinda got in the way of a lot of guest presence at weddings/elopements, so I’ve now seen a lotttt more ways that couples include loved ones from afar if need be, due to travel restrictions, health situations, finances, whatever the case may be!
If you’re renting a cabin or Airbnb of any kind for your elopement, hang out with your guests while you get ready, and then have them send you off to your ceremony + stay back at the cabin. Then, once you’ve said your vows in private and wrapped up the legal stuff, they’ll be there ready to celebrate & enjoy a yummy dinner with you!
If you’re looking for the perfect cozy place to stay for your big day, check out these 9 Amazing Cabins for Your Adventure Elopement in Washington!
On a similar note, have them do a fun “welcome back” celebration for you at the trailhead or campground you’re staying at, once you arrive back from your ceremony. Maybe they want to set up a cute dinner in the woods, BBQ some good food, cook on camp stoves, set up twinkle lights, the whole nine yards. This is such a fun way to celebrate after privately saying your vows!
If you want to say your vows in private but still have your guests witness your ceremony, you can absolutely have the best of both worlds. You could wake up early for private vows at sunrise, or go off on your own sunset adventure, read your private vows, & take in the emotions of the day. Then bring your guests along for a more “formal” ceremony at a cool overlook (typically ~15 people or so is a good group size for a scenic viewpoint/overlook), where they can stand by your side and love on ya!
If your guests will be at a cabin or near your elopement location a day in advance, invite them to help you set up! Whether you have lots of decor you want to set up at your cabin such as mood lighting, an arbor on the deck where your ceremony will be, floral installations, a table scape for brunch, you name it. I bet they’d be happy to help you set it all up and make it look beautiful. This is a fun way to spend quality time with them before your elopement: put on some music, have some food & drinks ready, and enjoy the day before the big day!
One cool way to have someone close to you “officiate” your ceremony without them being there is to have them record a ceremony on your phone – then you can listen to it as you say your vows! There are a few ways you can get ordained online and it’s pretty dang easy. Just have your friend/family member who you’d like to officiate your ceremony go to this link & start the process.
An easy way to include loved ones in your elopement no matter how far away they are is to simply FaceTime them! You can talk to them as you’re getting ready, or once you’re ready & before you leave your cabin. This lets them send their well wishes to you and see you all dressed up and excited for the big day!
You could also set up a laptop or tablet at your dinner table, with your loved ones up on FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype to have them “present” while you eat & celebrate.
If you want a super meaningful way to hear encouragement from your friends & fam at your elopement without them actually there, have them write you letters beforehand. Then, read these letters either while you get ready, during your ceremony, or while you celebrate/eat dinner in the evening!
Hiring a videographer alongside your photographer is an amazing way to capture every special moment of the day! This allows you to have a beautiful, emotional video afterward that you can show your family & friends who missed out. You can simply send it to them to watch on their own, or invite them over for a fun viewing party with food and drinks once you receive your video!
COVID taught a lotttt of us about the power of live streaming. Thank goodness for modern technology!! If your ceremony will be held somewhere with Wi-Fi or high-speed cellular service, you can set up a device on a tripod to live stream your ceremony to friends & family who aren’t there. There are tons of ways to do this, including through Facebook groups, wedding websites, and specific live streaming programs!
Finally, if you love the idea of a private elopement but ALSO want to have a rockin’ party, you can absolutely do both by having a separate celebration after the fact! This could be the day after, a few months later, or even on your one-year anniversary. Set it up sorta like an open house where people can come congratulate you without it having to feel like a big wedding reception or if you WANT that big wedding reception feel, you can 100% do that and go allll out with a DJ, dance floor, the works.
It depends what state you’re eloping in! I’m always happy to act as a witness for your ceremony, and I’m sure your videographer would be too, if you hire one.
ABSOLUTELY! I hope you’re feeling assured by now that you can include whoever you want in your elopement, whether that’s just the two of you, your pets, or your closest friends & family.
That’s completely up to you! If you want to elope in secret and run away with your love to a beautiful location because you know that’ll be best for you, by all means – DO IT.
No, no, and no! Your elopement should revolve around YOU, and provide you with the best wedding experience possible. It should be filled not only with adventure & excitement, but with ease – whether that means not inviting ANYONE or inviting your favorite people.
If you’re worried about hurting feelings, and want to make sure your family/friends know you love & appreciate them even though you’re not inviting them to your elopement, the 6 ways mentioned above are fantastic ways to include them from afar & allow them to be a part of the celebration. Again – only if you want them to be!
Absolutely you can! If it would be super special to you to have your BFF’s by your side on your elopement day, then do the damn thing!
All in all, when thinking about who you want to invite to your elopement, make sure the people who receive that special piece of paper in the mail (or electronic invite, you do you) are people who you TRULY want to be by your side to celebrate with you. Think through whether they’ll be there to truly support & encourage you, how much they mean to you, and if there’s any chance they might cause you unnecessary stress on your big day. Remember, this day is fully, wholly YOURS, and that’s the most important thing!
Looking for more elopement resources & planning tips? Check out some of my most popular elopement blog posts below!
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