You’re making the brave and bold (and increasingly popular) decision to host a smaller, more intimate wedding or elopement. Now you’re considering your guest list, and wondering if including guests makes your elopement an intimate wedding instead. Keep reading to learn about elopements versus intimate weddings and how to include guests on your elopement day.
Hosting an intimate wedding with a refined, smaller guest list became popular amidst COVID times. These ceremonies often hosted less than 20 guests and still enjoyed a reception of sorts after the ceremony. Hosting a micro-wedding allows the couple to be surrounded only by their closest family and friends on such a momentous occasion.
Historically, eloping meant the couple would stow away and marry secretly, returning to their family to announce the marriage after the fact. It evokes a sense of wild romance and adventure. Elopements allow flexibility to get married whenever and wherever the couple chooses. They are usually marked by not having a reception directly following the ceremony. And while typically, an elopement only includes the couple and an officiant – there are a few things that the modern couple cannot overlook like an elopement photographer to capture the moment, perhaps a videographer, and maybe even a few friends.
We want to elope but cannot imagine getting married without my family there to experience it.
You want to elope, but you cannot imagine such an important day without some of your closest friends and/or family with you – invite them. It is your day, it can and should be however you envisioned it. Make sure whomever you invite to your elopement is 100% supportive of your plan. Your guests should be honored to be included in such a private and intimate affair and should not be guilting you to change your elopement to accommodate their ideals of weddings.
If you’re struggling to think about the logistics of your private elopement and coordinating your family as guests, I’m here to help! There are many ways to incorporate them, and I’m happy to help you plan this special day!
If you are including your closest friends and family on your elopement day, but want to preserve the intimate, private adventure aspect of eloping, you may want to consider splitting the day. Your friends and family can join you in getting ready + for the ceremony. Then you and your new spouse can continue adventuring with your photographer taking portraits while your guests entertain themselves. Or perhaps you and your partner take time to adventure early in the day, and come together with your guests for the ceremony and a celebratory dinner afterward. You can split this however you want to best fit your wants and needs.
Especially if you’re including guests in a destination elopement, you may want to consider making it a multi-day affair. You and your partner can take a personal day to celebrate, adventure + take stunning portraits, then balance it by taking a day with your friends and family. Again, this is completely customizable to you and your partner’s priorities.
You can include your friends and family on your elopement day by assigning them roles in your ceremony. Perhaps a family member or friend can officiant the wedding. Or you can have friends sign the marriage license as witnesses. Just be sure to consider the laws to make sure your wedding is legal! For instance, in Costa Rica, the witnesses signing your license cannot be family (learn about planning a Costa Rican Elopement). Or some places may have specific guidelines an officiant must follow.
Many people want to incorporate their four-legged family members in their elopement – I’m here for it! If you’re including a pup of honor, you’ll want to enlist a friend or family member to help manage the doggie while we’re taking pictures and during certain parts of the ceremony. When planning to include your dog, consider dog-friendly locations, and if hiking make sure your dog’s hiking/outdoor experience level matches the adventure.
Your pup can be included just for pictures or as a ring bearer, or any other way you want!
If you’ve announced your bold and brave decision to elope with your partner, and your guests are not able to join you on your elopement day (whether it’s your choice or theirs), here are some ways to include your loved ones:
After your elopement, mail postcards back to yourself, and to your close friends and family with highlights of the day from wherever you eloped! These will be a priceless keepsake for you and a joyful package for your family to receive!
So you and your partner eloped in relative secrecy and are now announcing your marriage to your friends and family. How exciting!
You can choose to announce this momentous occasion in a couple of different ways.
End of the day, elopements aren’t about the number of guests – it’s an experience-driven event that celebrates and intentionally focuses on the couple, their love + their commitment together. It is 100% up to you if and how you include your friends and family on your elopement day.
I’m Lexi! I am passionate about documenting eloping couples all over the globe, in a place that’s special to you. My approach to your day is as honest as you experience it + less of the stiff stuff. I’d love to hear what you’re dreaming up for your wedding day!