A guide to family matters when it comes to Eloping!
Adventure Elopement Photographer - Traci Edwards
YAY!!! You have decided to elope!
This is so exciting and the absolute best choice for a connective, adventurous wedding day. You are super stoked, ready to go, but maybe you haven’t decided what to tell family or how to involve them. As I am always stating, every elopement looks different. The options are endless and eloping is really one of the only ways to have a wedding day that is fully about you and your partner’s love and relationship. Choosing to elope is a big step, but do not compromise on this special experience you have decided to have in any way. In this blog post we will explore ways to include your family and ways to help your family feel loved and included even if you do want an elopement day with just you two.
Ways to Include your Family at your Elopement
First let’s chat about reasons to bring family. Eloping is deeply personal and emotive. You may not want to do this in front of family. There are ways to split up the day to have time alone together and time with family. If you have friends or family that are super important to your life, have helped shape your relationship or just folks you can’t imagine not being apart of this moment in your life then for sure bring them! No matter what you choose setting expectations with family up front is the best way to go.
Have a family or friend be your officiant.
Unless you plan to get married officially at the courthouse or in a similar fashion prior to your elopement day you will need an officiant to marry you. This is true in all fifty of the states except Wisconsin, Colorado, The District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Maine and Nevada. The process to get ordained is very easy and does not take long or cost much money. This is a great idea if you want your officiant to have a personal connection with you and can lead for a very meaningful ceremony. Be sure to check the state laws for where you are getting married for any specific requirements. Here is one website they can use to start the process: click here.
Have a family or friend be your witnesses.
It most states you need one or two witnesses to sign your marriage license. Having a family member sign can be a special moment for them and be meaningful to you as the couple.
Give them another duty!
If you are eloping and having your child or furry child present it may be a great help and stress relief to have another family member present to help watch over them during the vow reading/ceremony or during any big adventures you may be doing this day. This allows them to be at your special day and have something important to be apart of throughout it and gives you time to really connect with your partner. If not you can have a family member hold the flowers during the ceremony, be a ring barrier, do a toast or help keep everyone on time and orderly.
Everyone loves eating right!? Maybe you want your elopement ceremony and adventures to be private and just the two of you. On one hand you still want to celebrate with friends and family. You could get up the morning of your elopement and have breakfast of brunch together. Or after you have said ‘I do’ you can come back and have a BBQ or go out for a nice meal with everyone important to you. If you are doing a meal after you can even take it a step further and share with them sneak peak photos from your photographer captured earlier on in the day or a video if you have chosen to have a videographer as well. A pot luck is also a great way to get everyone involved with day and bring to the table family recipes or favorite meals.
Your mom has always wanted to help you get into your dress and your dad has always wanted to walk you down the isle. You may not want them there for the actual wedding part of your elopement, but they could still be apart of the process. Mom can help you with your hair or getting the dressed all button up and you could still do a first look with your dad before setting out to get married. These are special moments that they will cherish sharing with you. A groom’s mom could help him get his tie straight before setting out and dad could share a a few moments too! Even though their may not be a traditional aisle, you can still have someone walk you to the ceremony space.
Bring them for the whole adventure!
Just because you are choosing to elope doesn’t mean that loved ones can’t be apart of the entire thing if you want them to. Eloping is really just all about what you want and having a day that is fit for your love. So if you want your closest friends and family to be there and you want to stand on a cliff overlooking the grandest view, you can! Bring them along for the hike! This depends a lot on the planning process with location and more, but this is for sure a way that you can share your elopement day with all your loved ones. Even though they hike with you to your location and enjoy the ceremony with you doesn’t mean they have stay the whole time either. They can hike back afterwards and still allow you two to share some privacy together. When bringing them along for the whole adventure be sure to know everyone’s hiking comfort level so we can plan for the right timing to get up or down the trail or help us select which area your ceremony can be. Once the area is selected be sure to share trail information with them and make sure they know how to be prepared for the adventure.
Maybe you do not want any of your friends and family there and that is fine too. Including them may still be important to you though. So what do you do?? You hop on a call! Facetiming them from the top of a mountain top in all of your wedding gear as a newly wed couple will bring them so much excitement. If a video chat isn’t an option you can always give them a call and say “Hey, you’re the first to know we are officially married!!” Since you’re already paused take the time to snap a selfie or have your photographer take a photo on the phone that you can text them. This way they can some what still be apart of the wedding in real time.
Telling family you are eloping or telling them you eloped!
So involving family or not you have to have the conversation of we are not having a wedding, we are eloping with your family. Totally your choice if you tell your friends and family prior to the elopement or after you already tied the know. Telling them in person is for sure the best way to communicate this choice. If you are looking to tell your family why this is the way you want to get married here is a whole blog post full of reasons to elope. Sharing this information with them may help them understand your choice better and get behind you with full support!
Telling your family ahead of time gives you a chance to be involved with your elopement day even without being present! They could write you letters of love, advice and support to read the day of your elopement. Or they could send flowers or champagne to wherever you are staying or a restaurant you may choose to dine at the evening before or of your elopement. Or if you are bringing your furry childern to your elopement and you have a crafty friend and family member they could make flower or bow tie collars for them! There are many ways for your family to get creative or be involved some way without being there if they know prior.
If you do not want any family there the day of they can still be apart of planning or helping you find the right dress or suite, which will help them visualize this special day you two are going to have and have been apart of it in some way!
If you wish to share with friends and distant family not in person prior to the elopement date you can always share via text, email or mail. This is a great way to let people know that you were thinking of them that may have expected to be apart of or be at your wedding. Check out this sample announcement below!
If you are looking to surprise everyone to skip any family drama or just want to let close friends and family know prior and then tell everyone else after you could send out something similar via text, email or mail. This is a great idea because you get to share a little piece of your day with them and let them see a little bit of the awesome experience you had if you add a photo. If you are not involving anyone at all until after you can always share photos with them, video, a brief note about the day or have a reception afterwards.
I can not stress enough that eloping is about you and your love. This day is to help you have a wedding day that is connected and emotive. Stay true to yourselves and what you want when planning. If you want family there, do not want family there or want to tell them or do not want to tell them is all up to you. What you choose to do is what is right for your wedding day and there is no judgement here.
I am also always telling you how important communication is with your elopement photographer is for the best experience the day of as possible! It is super important to communicate the guest count, guest hiking abilities and more with your photographer so that you can plan for a hike or location that everyone can access and build everything into the timeline of action. If you have chosen to elope and hired your photographer, but haven’t told your family yet or not sure the best way to navigate the choices when it comes to family and eloping ask your photographer! I am always happy to help in any way I can and you never know new ideas you can bounce back and forth together. Communication goes a long way. Communicating with friends and family will help them be okay with your choice and not being apart of the day or if they are apart of the day you want to communicate any trail safety with them, LNT principals and expectations for the day.
If you are looking for more advice or help in telling your family or planning how to involve your family feel free to reach out! I love helping my couple’s plan their elopements and I am always happy to design an announcement for you to send their way to share this special moment!