One of the biggest misconceptions regarding elopements is that it only involves the couple. That eloping is two people, running away in secret, not inviting anyone. Well, that’s not true anymore. Although you can elope without any guests, if that’s what you want, there’s no rule that says you can’t invite the important people in your life. That’s why I wanted to create a guide specifically for couples eloping with guests.
Who to invite?
I think the hardest part about inviting guests is deciding who to invite. And the thing is, no one can decide that but you and your partner.
Deciding to elope takes courage! More than people think. You simply don’t see yourself following what society has defined as a wedding, because it doesn’t represent you. So you go “against” it. You decide you will be intentional about one of the best days of your life!
And with that same intentional approach regarding your day, you also need to be intentional about who you will invite (if anyone).
And then again, it takes courage.
Although I’ll never know your situation exactly, I wanted to give you some things you can ask yourself while making your guest list:
- are there people in your life you can’t imagine saying “I do” without?
- will those people enrich your day?
- will they make your day a thousand times better just by the fact they are there with you?
- could there be any drama if I invite person X, Y, and Z?
Isabel & Sentry had a last-minute elopement decision and told their parents just one month ahead about what they wanted to do. Their parents dropped everything and flew to be in California for this day.
Telling their parents was a very intentional decision, they wanted them there. And their parents wanted to be there. Throughout this whole day, the five of them were having just the best time. They were also cracking us up during our whole time hiking back in the dark, my cheeks were in pain for how much I was laughing!
What about the ones that don’t get invited?
Alright, let’s talk about the hard part. The people that don’t get invited. There are a couple of things that couples have done to include those people, even though they will not be physically present on their elopement day. So I wanted to share them with you:
- have your family/friends write you letters – you can take those letters with you to you and read them at some point during your elopement. It can be after the ceremony, at sunset, after popping some champagne, anytime. This is a great moment to be captured in pictures and/or video. These pictures will make people feel like they were there with you. They’ll be able to see the emotions that their letters gave you! I think this is one of the greatest ideas ever.
- facetime them at some point – if you’re in a location with service, separate just 20 to 30 min on your elopement timeline to do a video call with people. If you don’t have service at all, you can record a video on your phone and send it to everyone later!
- send out an elopement announcement – online shops like Etsy, or Minted, have great templates for elopement announcements. You can write a personal message on those cards, letting people know that you were thinking about them during your elopement day and that you can’t wait to give them a hub or celebrate later.
- plan a bigger celebration for later – a lot of our couples will elope just the two of them, but a lot of times they’ll have a celebration planned for when they’re back home (most of our couples come to CA from out of state or out of the country).
These are just a couple of ideas, but there are so many things you can do!
Janelle & Tony had an intimate wedding near Sequoia National Park, and they decided to just have their best friends present. After the ceremony, they separated some time to facetime their families, and it was the sweetest moment!
What about eloping with kids?
Eloping with kids is 100% possible. It might not be the easiest thing in the world, but like anything in life, it just takes planning.
I’ll use Tamara & David’s elopement as an example. There was no way their daughter wasn’t going to be present. But she didn’t necessarily have to be there for all of the 6 hours of their elopement day!
We started the day bright and early, with a first look at sunrise followed by exploring Yosemite Valley. It wasn’t until nearly 4 hours later that we met with everyone at the trailhead. At that point, all we had was a 20-minute hike, the ceremony, and then family photos after! It was a great amount of time for a toddler to be out and about!
The plan was great, and well thought out. But that doesn’t mean everything went perfectly! The little one shed some tears, and that is to be expected. Tamara & David handled it like the sweet and amazing parents they are! And at the end, she just wanted to be part of the ceremony, so they kept her close, and even let her handle the whole ring part!
Kids aren’t supposed to behave like adults, and sometimes we forget that. But as someone that doesn’t have kids yet, and has ZERO experience in parenting, I think once we throw away whatever expectations we might have in our heads, and keep an open mind, then the day becomes more relaxed.
I also think no one knows their kids better than their own parents, so trust your gut! You know what your kid will or will not be able to handle.
Some parts of the day might look a little different than you had initially imagined in your head, it’s true. But at the end of the day, the compromise is worth it. Having someone you love so much present on a day like this is priceless!
The do’s of eloping with guests
If you’ve made it here, don’t go just yet! To finish this post, I just wanted to share some helpful tips with you!
- communicate with your guests – having an honest conversation from the planning process all the way to the elopement day is super important. Some people might not be used to the concept of eloping, and they might still imagine that your wedding will have “traditional” elements. If you aren’t having a formal meal at some point in your day, let them know that.
- share your elopement day timeline with them – the reason we create wedding day timelines is so we can all visualize the day as a whole. So we can stay organized and make sure we will make it in time for sunset, for example. Giving your guests access to that timeline will help them as well! They’ll know exactly what time they’re supposed to be at the ceremony, if you and your partner will be running off to hike somewhere with your crazy photographers, etc.
- share details about the location – if your guests haven’t been there before, it’s important to let them know what the ceremony location looks like. How much walking/hiking do they have to do to get there? How’s the ground? Sand, dirt, grass? Is there a bathroom nearby and what’s the parking situation? Having these basic pieces of information prior to the wedding day will make their lives (and yours) much easier!
- if you’re sneaking away for photos, let them know – a lot of times, we will sneak away with couples either at sunrise or sunset for some golden hour photos! Sometimes that involves hiking, and you don’t necessarily want to worry about your guests. Or sometimes you just really want to have those hours by yourselves. Either way, just let your guests know. Give them suggestions on what to do, maybe go back to the Airbnb and cook a meal, play games, and be ready to celebrate when you guys are back!
- most importantly, enjoy their presence – if they were invited to your intimate day, that means they’re special. And that you want them to be there. So separate some time on the timeline to just be with them. Hang out with them. Have a picnic, a meal, and pop some champagne with them!
That’s a wrap!
I hope this guide on eloping with guests has been helpful! I would say 50% of our couples elope by themselves, and the other 50% invite special people. Whatever you decide to do, just know there’s no right or wrong.
Elopements are about being intentional, and worry-free. It’s your day!