Let’s face it: a big wedding just isn’t for everyone! Whether you’re reluctant to be the center of attention or simply want to be married right now, there’s something super romantic about eschewing tradition and just eloping. But even an elopement has rules you need to follow! We asked our experts to break down the elopement etiquette you simply can’t forget.
Choose Guests or Witnesses
Guests at an elopement? You bet! Whether your state requires witnesses or you just want a few close friends or family members there to be part of the moment, you can definitely still bring some friends along and call it an elopement. The rule of thumb is to keep the count under a dozen. Of course, if you’re inviting guests, you’ll want to make more formal plans and can’t simply pop into the courthouse on a whim. Pick a date, make lunch or dinner plans, and make sure your guests know the details in advance.
Inform Your Families
No, you don’t have to tell them before you head to the courthouse, but it’s important to formally announce your marriage to your families shortly thereafter. Instead of a text or an e-mail, pick up the phone to let them know the good news. Better yet? Plan for dinner or drinks and make your announcement in person! The exception, however, is if either of you has children. If you’re planning to elope, make sure to talk to your kids about it before you tie the knot (and even include them in the proceedings).
After you’ve tied the knot, let the world know! There’s no better opportunity to take advantage of tradition with a formal marriage announcement than after you’ve eloped. Submit it to the local paper, and have cards printed up with a photo and the good news to send to anyone and everyone.
Yes, you can still have a reception, even if you’ve eloped. When you’re phrasing invitations, swap out “invite you to the marriage of...” for “invite you to a celebration in honor of their marriage” so guests know you’ve already signed the marriage license and that they won’t be witnessing your vows.
Deciding whether or not to set up a wedding registry when you’ve eloped is tricky. If you’re not having any sort of celebration in honor of your marriage, you should skip it. Friends and family may want to send you a gift, but since you don’t have any guests per se, a registry isn’t appropriate. However, if you’re having a post-elopement reception, by all means, set up a registry! Your guests will want to know what they can get you to mark the occasion, and we all know the best way to tell them is by curating a registry that fits who you are as a couple. As with a wedding invitation, make sure the registry information is not included in the invite. Instead, put it on a website dedicated to your celebration, or ask your parents and close friends to spread the word.