Are you looking for elopement ceremony ideas?
The beauty of eloping is that there are NO rules. When you decide to not let tradition dictate how your wedding goes, you’ve got a completely blank canvas. You can design and plan an experience that is the best thing for you & your partner.
So, before I share all my elopement ceremony secrets I have one rule…
Your ceremony is about you two, so what you want for this part of your adventure matters the MOST.
Build for the memories YOU want to see in your mind’s eye 5-15-30 years from now.
Sometimes people think they can’t have what they want for their wedding experience for fear they will disappoint their crew. If that is you, check out this post. But it IS possible. Have faith, and read on below. 😊
How to structure your elopement ceremony:
It’s common for most weddings to follow the same structure: processional, welcome, readings, vows, kiss, pronouncement, and recessional. But why? I challenge you to break that mold and start from scratch. You can customize the details to fit you two as a couple. So follow your gut on how you structure the ceremony. It can truly be anything.
Traveling into and out of your ceremony:
Sometimes people feel like you have to be in “the place” to have “the event”. But when you choose an adventure elopement, your experience throughout is part of the celebration! This is why I love the idea of “progressive-style vows”. What’s that?
Like the community progressive-style dinner party where each house has a special food or drink, the idea is similar here!
The whole ceremony can take place across your journey with intentional stops and spots for each agenda item.
Maybe you’re hiking a mountain to arrive at the ceremony spot. Or riding horseback to your whimsical woodland. Walking with family on a trail next to a babbling creek. Each stop is a chance to share thoughts and exchanges, or for guests to tell a story, do a reading, or give advice.
PRO TIP: This works especially well if you are bringing your crew with you and everyone moves at different paces. By pre-planning stops in your journey, you can give natural breaks that your crew may want or need but is secretly worried to ask for. 🤗
I am a big believer in writing your own vows. My husband & I didn’t and I wish we had.
We were married by a stranger who said words to us that had no personal meaning. Today, we don’t even remember what was said. It was functional, but was it meaningful??? No. 😉
By writing your own vows you get to feel the most comfortable and the most at ease with sharing your love.
You can express how one-in-a-million your love is. Maybe you’re best friends and you highlight that by keeping your vows light-hearted and fun. Or maybe the journey to this day was challenging and you share the trials that it took and how worth it they are.
Whatever it is, it deserves to be shared, heard by your partner, and remembered forever. This is the chance to share the rugged honesty of your love and relationship.
You don’t have to make your ceremony about getting “legally” married. Officiants are optional, and the events can be just ceremonial.
About 50% of my couples have done the legal paperwork ahead of time. Around 25% of my clients have been married by yours truly (I’m ordained!!). The final 25% of clients have done the paperwork post-elopement.
The big takeaway?
You aren’t “married” the day you sign your license and pay your fee; you are married when you commit yourselves to each other in vows.
Elopement ceremony ideas on getting your guests involved:
A great way to get your loved ones involved is by having them share something. Maybe it’s a reading, or they play a song, share an intentional moment, or direct a unity ceremony.
Readings: This is the perfect place to include religious elements, favorite authors or poets, or quotes from your favorite tv show or movie. They could be serious, romantic, wise, funny, or anything in between!
Wisdom: As you feel comfortable, invite your crew to share a thought or “pearl” of wisdom from life and/or love for you and your partner to take to heart. Make sure you assign a time restriction to their part. 😉 You can assign a topic or question prompt to work from, too.
Other ideas for getting your crew involved:
Songs: You could play pre-recorded tracks from a loved one, have someone sing live, or play an instrument live.
Intentional Moment: This might be a prayer, a silent second to honor loved ones that have passed or sage smudging.
Unity Ceremony: A unity ceremony is just a little extra spice when it comes to the wedding ceremony. You’ve seen them before– the mixing of sand, blending of wine, handfasting (literally, “tying the knot”!), jumping the broom, the lighting of a candle. These can be a blast!
This would be a great place to tie in some heritage, highlight a hobby you two love, or create some art for your home! Here is one of my favorite articles with 13 creative unity ceremony ideas! Asking a loved one to direct this moment could allow them to have a special role.
Including the Kids: If you have kids then you might want to give them an extra special role in the day. Some of my favorite ways to include them are to do a first-look family style, share vows written to them, or have them be the ones to announce you as a couple (or new family!) If they aren’t going to be in attendance during your ceremony, there are special ways to still include touches from them like getting their artwork involved or surprising each other with letters from the kiddos.
Participation from Afar: If you’re not having your crew attend, let me know, and we can work out a way to have them send in a quick video clip with a response to a question or thoughts on a theme that you can play in your ceremony or somewhere along your adventure! It could be a handful of folks, or, just one or two very special people you want to hear from on your amazing elopement adventure. This would make a beautiful surprise for your partner, too! ❤️️
PRO TIP: Many of these ideas also work great when it’s just you two without the crew!
Ideas on making the ring exchange unique:
Exchanging rings is one of the most significant moments for couples. In many cultures, this ring exchange is the symbol of eternal love.
If this part feels like you, a great way to make it extra special is to play a song that is meaningful or bind your hands together through handfasting.
Recite a poem or special reading as part of the ring exchange for an extra special touch.
There are also some really beautiful and fun options for ring boxes for adventure elopements out there in the land of Etsy! Make a plan to surprise each other with a unique ring box for each other as part of what you do during your elopement ceremony.
Want something different than a traditional ring? DO IT!
You can exchange something other than rings like a special bracelet, necklace, or vow to have a shared tattoo! Want to think outside the box? You absolutely can! I chose a carbon fiber road bike vs a diamond, lol. The possibilities are endless!
Time for the kiss!
Picture it now…the one kiss that changes the rest of your life, stops you in your tracks, and is the punch line to every good rom-com (dramatic much?!)! I’m just kidding. 😉 This is just the first kiss as a married couple and everyone always makes a big deal out of the first time you do things as a married person. Hahaha!
The kiss can be super special and show-stopping IF you want it to be. There is nothing wrong with going all-out to make this the moment.
But it could also be quick and followed by lots of giggles. Or a heartfelt and meaningful hug, or, a shout and a whoop and a moment to cheer that “it’s official!” Or you don’t even have to have a kiss!
No matter what you do, make it yours.
PRO TIP: Make sure you both feel comfortable, above all else. Your elopement is not a performance.🤗
Tying up your ceremony in style:
The walk-out is always a really fun moment. You did it! And now you get to celebrate your future together!
With traditional weddings, it’s common to do some kind of celebratory confetti-style toss or a sparkler exit. BUT given the nature of adventure weddings & elopements being in beautiful—yet fragile— places, you should follow Leave No Trace considerations as you plan.
Things like rice, birdseed, petal tossing, throwing/leaving flowers, most fireworks, or leaving anything behind (i.e. trash) don’t leave these amazing places better than we found them, so I recommend choosing other options for your itinerary.👍
I am always happy to help my couples think of other ways to celebrate like:
- Headlamp, flashlight, or glow stick exit
- Faux champagne pop & spray
- Trekking pole exit arch 😜
- Or, even simply sharing a celebratory drink/snack together
Serious or silly, whether just you two or you two and the crew, there are a ton of options out there to make your elopement ceremony plan just right for you!
The elopement ceremony ideas that you choose should be right for you two.
Remember the only rule of an engagement ceremony? It’s gotta feel good for the two of you!
That is the only thing that matters.
I hope that this blog post could give you some inspiration to get those brain juices flowing about all the potential. The world is your oyster, even in this!
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed knowing anything is possible, don’t struggle alone! I would love to help!
Along with my photography, I offer an elopement concierge service for my eloping couples that helps with this exact thing! As I work with couples just like you, the thing I love the most is making sure the experience and feeling of your elopement ceremony are real and memorable. Let’s get you started planning on the right foot!
But no matter how or with whom you plan your elopement, remember this experience is for you two, after all, so keep focused on that! ❤️️