One of the main reasons couples don’t choose a “just us” experience for their wedding day, is because they feel guilty for not including their families. But guess what? You don’t have too! There are still so many special ways to include your friends and family when choosing to elope just the two of you.
Your elopement day should be a day, where you follow what feels most true to you. If you want a private vow ceremony to yourselves, with spending the entire day doing the things you love most – together. Then you should do just that! But that doesn’t mean, you still can’t include friends and family. If you have any ideas of how your loved ones can support you and help you during this season of your life, then you should most definitely encourage them to! Or if you are all out of ideas, but know you’d love to feel their emotional support on or leading up to the day, then I’ve got a list of 20 great ideas for you!
one: include them in the planning process
You don’t have to plan your elopement by yourself – in fact as an elopement photographer I help extensively throughout this process for my couples. But your family and friends can also help too! Whether your loved ones have various skills tucked up their sleeves, you’d love to DIY a few elements of your day, or you just want to simply involve them in the experience. Here are a few ways they can help!
- invite them to go shopping with you for your wedding attire
- have an artist or a crafts person in the family? – they could make you a banner or sign saying “just eloped”, or help create your floral bouquet!
- have any adventurous family members, like yourself? ask for advice on trails, or scenic lookouts to include in your elopement day
- they could help plan a party to celebrate your marriage (this could be a bachelor/bachelorette party, engagement party, post elopement party, etc)
two: have 2 friend’s or family members witness the wedding
While this would technically mean you are inviting guests, but if you have 2 loved ones who means the world to you and you can’t imagine your wedding day without them. You could ask them to join you for your ceremony as your 2 witness’. Inviting family or friends to witness your marriage vs. using your vendors as your witness’, would create a more personal intimate experience. They would most definitely be honoured by the gesture, and if this is something that interests you, I am sure it would be the most meaningful experience for you on your elopement day too!
three: split your day into two parts
This could be on the same day, or incorporated into a following day. You could spend your morning with your partner, getting ready together, private vow ceremony, first look, partaking your favourite activities – or whatever your vision may be. Then in the afternoon, you could either do your ceremony again in front of family and friends, or just simply spend the afternoon with them celebrating!
While on the contrary, another way you could do this is to split it over a weekend or 2 days. You could spend the day leading up or the day following, hanging out with family, doing your favourite activities. This could be anything for a beach day, camping trip, hiking, family bbq, games night, boat tour, 4WD adventure, helicopter ride. Anything your heart desires! Then either the day before or after, you can have your private ceremony, adventure with just your significant other, knowing you spend quality time with your family and included them into the adventure too!
four: letters to read on your day
Invite your family to write letters for you to open and read on your elopement day. This is a really sweet and sentimental way you can include your closest loved ones on your day. They could write anything from favourite memories, words of encouragement, advice, a heartfelt message, etc. Then sometime within your elopement day, you and your partner can sit down, take a moment and read them aloud. It’s such an amazing way to feel the support from your loved ones, while also respecting your decision to elope just the two of you.
five: video’s for you to watch on your day
Ask your family and friends to record videos of themselves, almost like a virtual “toast” or a “speech”. Something in line with what they would say to you if they were there on the day giving a speech. The key to this is to cut them down to under a minute each (depending on how many you have), and you can either collect them before or they could send them through as a little treat you can watch throughout the day. You could even surprise your spouse with the videos. Or if a family member of an eloping couple is reading this – you could organize this for them and surprise them on the day! Such a personal way to show your support, share the love and be a part it all from a far.
six: incorporate family heirlooms
This is a very traditional part of a wedding day, that may mean a great deal to your family still. Even though you are taking the non traditional route, it doesn’t mean you can’t still incorporate those family heirlooms that have been passed down for years. Perhaps, you mum always wanted you to wear her veil, or your grandmothers jewelry she wore for her wedding. It’s a small gesture, that will make your family feel more included in your day. While also reminding you of their support and love, while you are wearing it on your wedding day.
seven: plan a post elopement party
This could be the evening of your elopement day, or a following day, where you get together with your loved ones and celebrate! Almost like a reception after the fact, to share the moment with your family and friends. They will love you for it, and it will be a fun way to keep on celebrating! You could go all out and rent out a space, hire catering – the whole shebang, or keep it simple with a family bbq and some games! Whatever feels true to you, do it your way!
eight: video call on the day
The great part about mobile phones, is that you can connect with your family from almost anywhere! Whether you give your parents a call while your getting ready and share your excitement for your day, or post ceremony on top of that mountain you face time your family and say hooray! Anything is possible, and it is your elopement day, so if you want to include your family and friends, this is an amazing way!
nine: throw an engagement party
Prior to eloping share in an engagement celebration with your loved ones. Just because you aren’t after a traditional wedding, doesn’t mean you still can’t celebrate all the wins along the way! This could be a laid back evening with loved ones, celebrating the two of you about to get married! It will make your family feel very included and better prepare them for not being present on your wedding day. It’s also a great reason to get together with your closest people and just celebrate! If you not much of a partier, you could take this party on an adventure, and share in a favourite activity for a day – such as hiking, camping, rock climbing, horse back riding, beach adventure day, anything you love to do, you can do to celebrate!
ten: allow them to take part in your pre elopement marriage license signing
Going on an epic adventure overseas or interstate? A great option before an adventurous elopement, is to make it legal first. That way you don’t have to worry about the logistics and legalities of marrying out of your state, but you could also include your family in this marriage license signing! You can assign them a role of “maid of honour” or just simply be a witness, and allow them to sign for you! Your family will be thrilled to be a part of the legal signing, and it will make it no less special when your elopement day comes around.
If anything, it’s more stress free, knowing you don’t have to worry about witness’, legalities, etc. and you can just enjoy your day the two of you! After all, the vows, the ceremony, and all the adventurous activities you plan together, is what will feel like your true elopement day. This way you get your dreamiest day with just the two of you, but your family also feels like they got to be a part of something special too.
eleven: send through phone photos throughout your day
We touched on the wonders of modern technology above, through video calls. But if Face time really isn’t your thing, you could snap some phone photos throughout your day (or ask your photographer to do this for you, if you’d like to be more present). You can then share them with your loved ones at any point throughout the day. This will make them feel super included, and they will also will love receiving little updates and seeing everything you are up to throughout your adventurous elopement day!
twelve: throw a bucks/hens party (also known as bachelor/bachelorette)
Just because you are eloping doesn’t mean you can’t follow the traditional pre wedding events. After all the elopements are all about doing things your way, creating your own rule book and doing what feels more true to you! If you’ve always dreamed of a fun pre elopement night with your closest friends and family, then we say go for it! It’s a great way to get them in on the action and for you to pump up that energy for your elopement day!
thirteen: open gifts from them
If your family wants to send you gifts, but won’t be able to be there you could bring them with you to open on your elopement day. You could even send them a video of you opening them and thanking them, so they feel more included in the process. Or if gifts aren’t really your thing, you could ask them to chip in on something that would have more significance to you and your special day. This could be anything from, paying for your bouquet, jewelry to wear for the day, organizing a private dinner for the two of you, etc. A common love language (ie. the way people show or receive love) is actually gift giving, or gift receiving, and if this sounds like you or your closest loved ones, then it’s a great way to include them in the day!
fourteen: bring them back something special
Whether you are off on an epic adventure interstate, or overseas to say “I do”, or you are eloping locally at special somewhere that means the world to you. A great way to include your loved ones, is to bring them back something from your day. This could be a travel token, postcard, something significant that was incorporated in your elopement (an example could be flowers from your bouquet), or anything you can think of that would be a special to bring back from your adventure!
fifteen: send them cards
In traditional weddings, you often send out stationery and invitations. While on an elopement day, with no guests, you could still do this but in a slightly different way! A great way to include friends and family, would be to send out hand written or printed stationery to your loved ones telling them how much you appreciate their support in this season of your life. For respecting your decision to get married in a way that is most true to you.
You could even include a separate card, or a space within the card, for them to write back to you. Or perhaps you could ask them to say a blessing, leave a piece of advice, or share a favourite memory with the two of you. Then you can open these cards during your elopement, and feel all that more connected to them. It’s such a simple yet personal touch to make your family feel more included, and you also get a little part of them on your special day too!
sixteen: get ready with them
Just because you want to share in an intimate vow ceremony and elopement day festivities with just your significant other, doesn’t mean your friends and family can’t be a part of the acts leading up to the day. You could ask your closest loved ones to help you get ready for the day. They will be excited to be a part of it, and it will be emotional experience having them there while you get ready for your wedding. This is a very emotional and inclusive way to have them send you off into the next chapter of your life, and embark on your very best day!
seventeen: create an album for them
Post elopement day, you could put together all your favourite photographs in a beautiful keepsake album, and gift it to them. We offer a parent albums, you can add onto any elopement package, which is a slightly smaller version of the wedding album I offer my couples. This could be a great addition to your elopement photography package, if you wish to surprise your family with a gift from your special day.
An album will bring your photographs to life and allow your family to relive every part of your elopement day. By gifting them their own album, vs. just showing them yours, will allow them to look back at it from time to time, and feel like they were a part of the day, even if they presently there, they now have a special keepsake. You could also include a hand written note, thanking for their support or include a summary of the story of the day.
eighteen: send them a video from your day
We touched on this above through face time, or collecting pre recorded videos from loved ones, but another way to include them through video, would be to send them little clips throughout the day! You could ask your photographer, videographer or even celebrant to take a few phone videos throughout the events of the day, and in your quiet time you could send them through to family so they feel a part of it too. Or you could even sit down, enjoy a quiet moment and record a little video, to say you just got married, how happy you are, share any stories of whats happened so far, and how much you appreciate their support.
nineteen: hire a photographer or videographer
This is an amazing way to document the entire day, exactly as it felt, so you can send the photos and videos through to your family to relive the day too. Not only will these be cherished memories for you to look back on. And you can relive the best day of your life for the years to come. It will also be a special gift to your loved ones. Who weren’t able to be present on your special day. What better way to feel included, then to watch a video of it all happening, or flipping through an album, or online gallery where every moment was captured. This way, you were able to have the intimate “just the two of you” experience. And your family can relive that even thought they weren’t present on the day.
twenty: send them next day sneak peeks
This one goes right in line with the previous mention of hiring a photographer. While I may be slightly bias as I am a photographer myself. We truly do believe that documenting your day is the absolute best way to share it with your friends and family. We all are visual people, and regardless of how many stories we hear, we will never be able to clearly put it all together, without actually seeing what happened on your magical day!
As elopement photographers, we like to send out a handful of sneak peek images within a few following your elopement day. That way you can immediately start sharing the news, include friends and family and get a little taste of the full gallery that is on its way. By sending your next day sneak peeks to your family, they will be able to visually feel apart of the day and share in all your “just married” excitement!
at the end of the day…
Regardless of how you chose to elope, the most important thing is, that it is your day and you deserve to celebrate in a way that feels most true to you. This is a reminder to never feel like you are obligated to celebrate in any way that doesn’t feel authentic to who you are as a couple. If you have been struggling with the influence of others, or trying to find ways that you could include loved ones. While still ensuring your have an intentionally intimate and authentic day – then I hope these tips were helpful for you. There are so many unique and personal ways you can include your closest loved ones while still having your dream elopement experience, with just the two of you.