7 Things Every Couple Forgets When Planning an Elopement, According to Wedding Experts

Remember these key planning details.


Photo by India Earl; Dress by Leanne Marshall 

Planning an intimate elopement in a remote destination can be the ultimate in nuptial romanticism by virtue of its simplicity. Unlike a large wedding, an elopement allows you to focus on your union itself instead of fretting over minute details such as clashing with your in-laws or attempting to calm an irate vendor.

Meet the Expert

  • Jesse Tombs is a wedding planner and event designer based in San Francisco. He was the senior event producer at Alison Events before launching his own company in 2020.
  • Shannon Leahy Rosenbaum is the owner of Shannon Leahy Events, a planning company with offices in Maryland and San Francisco.

But with no entourage to serve as helping hands, significant details can occasionally fall through the cracks. For this reason, it's important to consult the experts before checking off your elopement checklist. Here, Jesse Tombs of Alison Events and Shannon Leahy Rosenbaum of Shannon Leahy Events offer their expertise on which key wedding elements couples always forget when arranging an elopement.

1. The Photographer

Photo by Clark Brewer 

Unless you wish to incur the wrath of best friends and family who weren't included in your nuptials, hiring a photographer to chronicle the celebration is non-negotiable. "Traditionally marriages should be shared with family and friends and I do not think it should be different with an elopement. I think it is something that should be photographed or videoed and shared with all your loved ones, especially for the parents of the couple," Tombs insists.

2. The Celebatory Catering

Photo by Holly Clark

Though food may be the last thing on your mind moments after saying "I do", Tombs encourages couples to plan an exquisite, celebratory meal to continue the festivities. "A favorite of mine was the penthouse of a hotel for the ceremony, then a private dinner on the terrace right outside. Remember, that just because it's only you plus one, doesn't mean it can't be the most magical day of your life," Tombs states.

3. The First Dance

first dance
Photo by Gianluca & Mary Adovasio

Your limited guest list is no reason to forego the traditional first dance; in fact, taking a spin around your vacant venue will only serve to enhance the sentimentality of the moment. Tombs recalls encountering a newlywed couple during his travels for whom he orchestrated an impromptu first dance. "We asked the manager to turn on some music and encouraged them to have a first dance near the fireplace. It was really endearing and I felt very special to have been there," Tombs notes.

4. The Elopement Announcement

Invitation detail
 Photo by Mike Radford

An elopement is by definition an exclusive affair, and therefore a simple "We got married!" note in lieu of a formal announcement may incur negative reactions from your loved ones. "You need to approach the situation very cautiously so that no feelings are hurt. Be especially sensitive to parents, siblings and close friends as they will undoubtedly feel left out," Tombs advises.

5. The Marriage License

marriage license
Photo by Liz Banfield 

The most important step of your elopement to-do list, especially in the case of overseas nuptials, should be securing your marriage license, Leahy Rosenbaum stresses. "Check the local registrar [and] don't forget your birth certificate or passport if needed!" Leahy Rosenbaum says.

6. The Transportation

Photo by Biancca Wallace

Before focusing on the minor details, secure your transportation. "Getting a car service makes life a lot easier if you are moving around," Leahy Rosenbaum explains.

7. The Emcee

<p>bride getting dressed</p><br><br>
Photo by Volvoreta

"Designate a point person (your witness perhaps) so they can be in charge of talking to the photographer, helping with transportation and keeping on schedule" Leahy Rosenbaum suggests.

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