Planning to Elope?
The words plan and elopement shouldn't be in the same sentence, right? Elopements are supposed to be spontaneous!
The definition of eloping has actually recently changed. While it used to mean running away to be secretly married, it now means a small destination wedding. So in the new sense of the word, yes you absolutely can plan an elopement! (You can also still run away to be married in secret - it's whatever you would prefer!)
The location of your elopement should be your starting point. This might be the hardest choice you have to make for your elopement.
South Carolina has some really amazing places to elope!
Here are a few of my favorite spots in Charleston:
- Folly Beach
- White Point Gardens
- Hampton Park
- Riverfront Park
- Waterfront Park in Mount Pleasant
- James Island County Park
- Wannamaker Park
Always be sure to check and see if there are any fees or permits required to elope.
Choose an officiant
After applying for your marriage license (which you can read more about here), an officiant is the next step.
Your officiant should be someone meaningful to you. Friends and family can be ordained online at the Universal Life Church. But if you don't want someone so close to you, officiants are easy to find! Just be sure to interview your officiants because this person will be crucial to your elopement.
Here are a few questions to ask your officiant:
- Do you personalize your ceremonies?
- How do you handle disruptions?
- What do you wear during an elopement ceremony?
- Do you require pre-wedding sessions/counseling with you?
- How long are your ceremonies usually?
- Do you have any video examples of your work?
- Do you send in the marriage licenses or do you require us to do so?
Choose a theme or colors
Even with an elopement, you can still make it aesthetically beautiful! The thing about elopements is that you don't need much. You can go as big or as minimal as you would like.
You can work with a florist to create beautiful bouquets and boutonnieres for your day or you can go to a floral shop (or the grocery store) and pick up a few blooms in colors you prefer.
A few ideas to make your elopement pop!
Large marquee letters, like these from K and J Lit Letters, based in Charleston, really add to any elopement event. They make for an amazing backdrop and for some really fun photos!
A beautiful, unique elopement set up are picnics, like this one from Pampas&Picnics. A picnic actually solves the problem of what to do after the elopement, as well. You have the perfect set up just waiting for you to say your vows!
Renting small pieces of accent furniture might really make your elopement set up pop! Cute accent chairs or sofas for your guests, like these from Adorn Charleston, or even a beautiful arbor rental would really go a long way to give your day that extra something.
Choose your people
Even though you're running away to marry in secret you can still invite your favorite people!
My best advice is to keep this list short. Elopements are for the bride and groom, and the more people you invite the more people you will inevitably need to people please.
And at the end of the day, you don't have to invite anyone if you don't want to!
Decide on an outfit
You might want to wear the big white dress, you might not. The choice is entirely yours.
Some things to consider when choosing outfits:
- Location - if you're planning an adventure elopement, you'll want something you can move around in or something you can easily slip into once you get to your destination. Location also plays a big role in footwear, keep in mind the ground you'll be on when you decide on shoes! Stilettos are incredibly dangerous on a mountain top, for example!
- Photos - Yes, you should consider your photos! These are your forever memories. So when choosing an outfit think about what you want to look like. In 20 years when you look back, will you be glad you wore the big white dress? Or will you love the fact that you wore sweatpants to your elopement?
- Comfort - This one is similar to location, but you'll want to consider how comfortable you will be before, during, and after your ceremony. Take into account where you'll be and what you'll be doing before, during, and after the ceremony.
The After Party
What will you do after your ceremony? This is a crucial part of the planning process that a lot of people forget about. You might choose to make dinner reservations at your favorite restaurant, or to go to a swanky bar. You might even consider immediately checking in to your hotel and ordering champagne room service to get the honeymoon started! Whatever you choose, make sure it's something you enjoy doing!
Choose a photographer
You will definitely want a photographer to capture all of the emotion and love on your day! Regardless of what you choose to do and how you decide to celebrate your nuptials, a photographer is a must-have.
You'll want someone who you vibe with because this is someone who will be with you the entire time.
Some great questions to ask are:
Do you have samples of your work?
How do you like to work during a ceremony?
What happens if you become suddenly unavailable due to illness or injury?
Are you insured?