Everything you need to know about eloping with family and friends. How to include them, tips for enjoying the day, and more!
I’m going to start out by busting some myths real quick. Eloping does NOT mean running away to Vegas in secrecy anymore. Sure, you can do that, but eloping means having a small, meaningful wedding in a way that matters to YOU! So YES, you can invite people to an elopement and YES you can include your friends and family some way. A lot of my couples do!
How many guests can you have at an elopement?
In my experience, elopements typically cap at about 25-30 guests. This is simply because most venues that host elopements cap guest counts at about a dozen guests, and outdoor spaces that will hold more than 25-30 people are hard to find. With that in mind, eloping with family and friends is more than possible!
Reyna & Froy had 16 guests at their elopement. Small enough to make it easy to plan, and enough people for it to be a party!
Can you have an engagement party if you elope?
Long end short, YES! You can do whatever you want and whatever feels right to you. Your friends and family should still be excited for your marriage regardless if you elope or not.
Now, it’s not always black and white. This could be a very easy way for your friends and family to feel included, but make sure going into it that they know you may have a smaller wedding! I wouldn’t invite anyone to an engagement party that I didn’t plan on inviting to my wedding or elopement, simply to avoid hurt feelings. Do what you want to and feels right to you, while being considerate!
Can you have a reception after you elope?
Very similar to my answer about an engagement party, yes! However, this is more straight forward. A LOT more couples are planning their elopements with a reception afterwards. Kind of like having a “coming home” party or an announcement party. It’s a really easy way to save money and stress!
How Do You Make an Elopement Special?
One of the easiest ways to make your elopement special to you is including your closest friends and family without burdening yourself without the pressures of everything else. While I’m going to cover all the tips of that in the rest of this post, there are some other things to keep in mind.
If you truly want your day to be special, ask yourself these questions!
What’s been the best experience you’ve had as a couple? Can you recreate that?
How would you truly want to celebrate your marriage? What speaks to you the most and is a reflection of your love language? Is it a meaningful sharing of vows, a gift exchange, or a hike together? Maybe a combination of them!
If you were waking up on the best day of your life, what would that be like for you? Would you be in a cabin with your dog, a coastal vacation rental, etc.
What sights would be the most special for you to see? A sunrise over the fog in the mountains, the waves crashing on the beach as you say your vows. There’s so many options!
Eloping with family is a practical, and easy way to make it meaningful too!
How To Include Family (& Friends) In Your Elopement
There’s a ton of different ways you can include family and friends in your elopement. To make it easy on you, I put together a ton of different bullet point ideas below. You know your family and friends best, so you should pick out which ideas would resonate with them the most!
If your family WILL be present for your elopement…
Include them in your elopement ceremony. They can officiate, or sign as witnesses!
Lucy & Jon had their best friend officiate their ceremony which made for a very peaceful, low-key elopement. Close friends and family members know us well enough to add personal touches to our day, making it that much more meaningful.
Have them help you get ready!
Include them in your wedding party!
Bring your kids!
Have a first look with your parents, your kids, anyone you want to!
If your family won’t be present on the day you elope…
Have them write letters for you two to read on your wedding day! Hand written letters are timeless, and this would be a meaningful experience for you and your partner.
Facetime them! If you’re in an area with service or wifi, this is a super easy way for them to congratulate you!
Take them wedding shopping with you for your dress, suit, or other wedding attire.
Have an engagement party or a “reception!” Yes, you can still have a party to celebrate your marriage either before and/or after you tie the knot.
Include them in details like a pendant
Tips for Eloping with Family and Friends
Because there’s so many ways to include your friends and family in your elopement, you should consider the following tips!
Pick a location that’s accessible for your friends and family. There are tons of beautiful, outdoor “ceremony locations” that act as phenomenal venues that don’t require hiking. Location scouting is included for all of my couples, so if you want help with this, don’t be afraid to ask!
If you want to plan an adventure elopement and hike, think about the fitness level of the people you’ll be hiking with. You don’t have to have everyone join you for the hike, but if you want to bring friends or family you should be considerate of what they’re capable of! You could plan a ceremony with loved ones during the day, and plan a stunning sunset hike for the evening.
Overall, eloping with family and friends doesn’t have to be complicated. Having a small, adventurous wedding in a beautiful place will make their inclusion that much more meaningful.