The silence in the pre-dawn darkness on the hiking trail was unexpected, but welcoming— even the birds were still sleeping! With headlamps shining bright, lighting the way along the trail, the couple smiled at each other with anticipation. They couldn’t remember the last time they were up this early, but, equally, were so stoked that the elopement day they’d planned for was finally here.
Arriving to the summit in the dark, they snuggled in together watching the first bits of color tint the sky around the horizon, building in intensity as each moment passed. As the sun began to crest the ridgeline, they savored the slow moment together, just them. In the beauty of the rising sun and the new day, they read each other their private vows, exchanged rings, and enjoyed this fresh beginning together 🙂
When you think of an elopement, is that what you think of? Maybe! And for some couples, this scenario sounds just right 😀 But, for lots of couples, there’s something critical missing from the story—the warmth of celebration with loved ones throughout the adventure… The laughs on the hike, hugs, loving words, and gentle support that come as they share this beautiful experience with those they treasure most.
For this moment to make their soul tingle, there needs to be the option of eloping with family.
So as you think about this idea of a modern, adventure elopement and the role of your loved ones…what does that even mean?
For the longest time, when people said they were eloping, the idea was that they ran away completely by themselves to a courthouse, a justice of the peace, or a chapel (quite possibly near a casino! We’re looking at you, Vegas, wink, wink!).
Nope. Not anymore.
Gone are the days when you have to choose between a traditional wedding with all the fluffy tulle and glass punch bowls OR a cold courthouse on a random Tuesday with no one else to celebrate you.
Now, you get to dream. You get to think about what drew you and your partner together to begin with. What feels like YOU as a couple?
Did you meet on a camping trip? First date at a favorite trail or park? Is your favorite past time together kayaking down a river or hiking to waterfalls? Are you planning your weekends around fantastic music festivals, climbing destinations, or scenic drives?
What if those adventures became the setting for the wedding day you’ve been dreaming about together as a couple? And what if your family was there with you too?
THAT’s the idea behind a modern elopement with family…
It is not “running away” to get married. It’s honoring you and your partner’s story in a way that feels like you, with the people that mean the most to you, and especially during this time of planning of wedding during COVID-19, on the timing you want. Eloping with guests means you bypass the stress and expectation of traditions for a free-er, happier adventure that makes sense to you.
Sound good? So how do we make this happen?!?
Well, first of all… know that there are no rules in eloping with family. You don’t have to fully choose one path or the other.
The below will give you some ideas on how to involve your family in your adventure elopement adventure, whether in person, or from a distance.
The most important thing I want to emphasize is that you don’t fall down the rabbit hole of meeting others’ expectations.
YOUR ELOPEMENT IS ABOUT YOU AS A COUPLE.
So this day should you make you feel the most like yourselves, even with your family and friends being present.
CELEBRATING WITH FAMILY AFTER ELOPING
GET YOUR PARTY ON!
Some couples want the intimacy of their own private ceremony but still want to see their extended families and friends later. You can do that! So whether you’re eloping with your closest loved ones along with you, you can still have a private ceremony and then plan a fun backyard party for later on.
Most folks are really just excited to celebrate YOU and this special moment, so just know that whatever way that comes together will bring smiles from those that matter most 🙂 What does that mean? Remember to keep it fun and focused on purpose (celebrating you two!!!!), don’t feel tempted (or pressured!) to replicate the pomp and circumstance of a traditional reception!
Pro tip: consider scheduling your friend celebration for a month or two upon post adventure! Pick a date and publicize with your friends so folks have something to look forward to but you still have time to come back and get things in order after fully enjoying your elopement.
Hold firm though, and don’t given in to requests to pull the party forward! Doing it immediately after your main elopement experience can add a point of stress with added logistics, and, besides, by waiting for a little bit afterwards, you’ll have your image gallery to build an awesome slide show from! 😀
HOW TO INVOLVE FAMILY PRE-ELOPEMENT
ELOPEMENT PREP WITH STRATEGIC PURPOSE 😉
If you want some of the pre-wedding festivities like an engagement party, bachelor/bachelorette weekends, trying on dresses and getting nails done with your parents or your besties…do it! Picking florals or designing details like vow books, picnic food ideas, or other items for your adventure? Definitely! If you want an awesome rehearsal dinner or elopement send off celebration? Go for it!
As a couple, you can consider doing some of these more traditional festivities leading up to the elopement adventure as a way to include family and friends in the prep process and overall experience. This is an easy win, especially if they won’t be traveling with you two to the actual ceremony.
You don’t have to give up those sweet moments like trying on dresses or your wedding finery of choice and tearing up when you find “the one”! And, your crew will love seeing the touches they helped to add to your story in the images after the adventure 🙂
INCLUDING FAMILY DURING YOUR ELOPEMENT ADVENTURE
INVOLVING FAMILY—ACROSS THE DISTANCE!
If going the true “Just Us Two” elopement route, you might think about Skyping or FaceTiming or Zooming the some of the pre-ceremony prep or a post-vow check-in with your closest people in real-time.
Depending on where your ceremony and/or adventure locations are, though, you may have to take tech availability into account. If you’re off the grid (aka remote!!!), or planning to be in a place with hit or miss WiFi or cell, we’ll work out another way to bring your crew to you on your special day 🙂
For example, one more option for when you want your family to be part of your day even if they aren’t there physically is to have them write letters or record video messages that the two of you enjoy together on your elopement day. I cry at commercials, movies, and special occasion greeting cards, so rest assured, I’ll be teary-eyed and happy along with you two! 😀
Special momentos such as Grandma’s special shawl, a family ring, or a special journal or book for your vow reading/ceremony are also great ways to channel your family’s love and care across the distance.
And last, but definitely not least, you may love the idea of hiring a videographer to join our adventure to help bring your elopement story back to those you love most.
Not sure a wedding film is for you? Well, first, definitely set aside what you think you know about “wedding movies”, as a modern wedding film is an absolute delicious treat. As a beautiful compliment to the still photography that I provide for my couples, videography adds another, unique dimension as we tell your elopement story. It is artistry in motion, and I’d be stoked to help you connect with referrals to some rad folks who make absolute magic 🙂
View a little tiny snippet of what it’s like here: What is an Elopement? (this one is by Livemore Weddings!)
ADVANTAGES TO ELOPING WITH YOUR FAMILY VS THE TRADITIONAL WEDDING
While all of that may sound good, I totally understand that as you read it, you may still feel like, “ugh, I can’t imagine our family being happy if we eloped, with OR without them!” Change is hard, and this idea of a modern elopement—no doubt—a change from the lifetime of experience and “understanding” weddings borne from years of repetition and “tradition”.
So, no matter where your in the decision process in choosing an elopement, you should take a moment to check out some easy (and subtle!) tips and tricks you can use to help bring your loved ones along on this journey to embracing the idea of something new in the wedding space:-)
But ultimately, know that couples who have eloped with family had noted there are a few distinct advantages.
You flip the script on who the wedding is FOR. When your “crew” sees that they are part of a lovingly chosen few that get to take part in your elopement adventure, it is clear that the day is a celebration of you two, and that THEY are the lucky ones in being able to be a participant in this special occasion. You could have picked anyone to be there, but you picked them. There is meaning and an almost solemness to that knowledge.
In traditional wedding, your time is (sadly) not your own so your time with family can be rushed.
An elopement with just your closest crew gives you the ability to have quality time and create real memories with those who you love most. A casual picnic or dinner around a campfire. Board games and cake with your celebratory champagne. A fun hike to explore where the ceremony location will be the next day. Try doing that with 75, 100, 150, or more guests in tow 😉
You don’t have to perform or fill the day with things to entertain others. No donut wall, elaborate photo booths, or crazy extra costs for goodie bags for guests. You two can be your truest selves, prioritize your joy, and build the balance of Us Two and Us Two + the Crew that’s right for your personal adventure.
ELOPING WITH GUESTS — SPLIT THE ADVENTURE UP
That brings us to how you might decide to do your ceremony with friends and family and also keeping it intimate between you as a couple.
The main thing here is that anything goes! You are free to have a totally open mind about what you want.
Some couples may choose to have a private ceremony by themselves and then another ceremony with their family and friends.
Integrating two separate ceremonies into the same elopement adventure is a great option for couples who may want to share one set of private, personal vows just the two of them, and a different set of vows in front of their families. This can also work really well for couples with kids, or with family members or friends joining who wouldn’t be able to do the full adventure you’d like as the setting for your ceremony.
If packing it all in a single day feels like too much (and it can be a lot to fit in there!!!), there are awesome elopement package options that allow you to give space to enjoy each piece of the experience you create over two or more days. You value experiences in your life, and truly, for couples choosing an adventure elopement, this is no different!
For example, you could ceremony and celebrate with the Crew on Day One in a way that fits your location and their accessibility needs, and then the following day is dedicated to you two only—for whatever private, personal, and amazing experience you want to have together. The options for how we build your timeline are nimble, and, 100% flexible to what brings you joy 🙂
Again, what you decide should make you happy. It’s not about keeping everyone else happy. Your elopement ceremony with family is still for the two of you and your Crew is there to celebrate that.
What does eloping with family in an adventure look like in real life?
Here, Day One of the elopement adventure is fully—and beautifully!—family focused in a location that met everyone’s accessibility needs:
Then, Day Two allowed complete freedom for touching private vows at in the foggy dawn and a rock climbing adventure to celebrate in the way and in a place that spoke to them 🙂
**Click to see more of this awesome rock climbing elopement! It was published on WanderingWeddings.com!**
ELOPING WITH FAMILY—FINAL THOUGHTS
The bottom line is this: if it’s stressful or overwhelming or just not you… DON’T DO IT.
Remember, you and your partner get to make this day whatever you want it to be and include (or exclude) the people, location, and activities that make you both happy. There is no list of rules to follow when you’re eloping with family, and, keeping each element true to whether or not it brings you two joy is still the deciding factor for every part of the adventure, big or small.
It’s your day and no one can create one that’s magic-filled and personally meaningful but you.
❤️ So let’s make it incredibly, beautifully YOU ❤️
Need some courage to break your love ones free from traditional mindset? Ready to say “YES!” and start planning your own elopement? I love helping couples like you two see what magic is possible for their adventure! Give me a call or text, or, drop me an email here to introduce yourself and lets get those ideas and plans for your elopement flowing! 😀