So you want to get married, but you don’t want to spend a whole year(ish) of your life planning a wedding. Maybe you don’t want to go through all the pomp & circumstance of a traditional wedding (and its drama!) I don’t blame you! Getting married sooner so you can start this new chapter with your partner is exciting! I bet you’ve started doing some research, and you’ve seen that the fastest and easiest way to get married is by going down to the courthouse. But where’s the celebration in that?! The good news is, a courthouse wedding is not your only option for a ceremony you can have immediately and without traditional wedding headaches.
And, you don’t have to spend months and months planning a wedding, either! Your “something special” can exist in that middle ground between a notary signing your license and spending all your free time grinding over a traditional wedding day.
The thing is, you deserve to make your wedding meaningful…
…Even if you don’t spend eight months to a year planning it! The amount of time it takes to put together isn’t an indication of how special your wedding is, or how important that day will be.
Eloping is not a “less than” situation. An elopement can be quick, it can be a more thoughtful and prioritized investment, and it can be as close to home as you want to make it — but it can be more personal and beautiful than a courthouse ceremony. You can bring it together with something special through one of the methods listed here, or by throwing your own brand of unique magic on it!
A Courthouse Wedding (modified)
Of course, you can still do the courthouse thing! This is a great option if you’d like to have an experience that will take a little time to plan, but are itching to be legally married, like, yesterday. A modified courthouse wedding usually involves going down to the courthouse to fill out and turn in your marriage license, so that your union is recognized by your state as soon as possible. And then, you can get to work planning your “I do’s!”
Remember — the day you do your administrative work for the government is NOT the day you are married. The day you exchange your personal vows to commit to your forever IS. The logistical, legal part is out of the way, so now you can sit down and focus on how you’d like to do a vow exchange and celebration with your partner.
Maybe this is a ceremony in your backyard with just your dog as a witness! Maybe you embark on a trip to that destination you had in mind for your honeymoon, and you take a day to get dressy and exchange vows there while you’re ‘mooning it up!!🙌 Saving your vows for a more special occasion doesn’t have to mean a full-blown wedding if you don’t want to commit your energy to that. Something simple and special could be the right move for you!
You don’t actually have to wait until the day you exchange your vows to sign your marriage license. There are no rules! Do it now, celebrate turning it in with a nice dinner, and then hold the more traditional-looking wedding or elopement in a few weeks or months, when you’re able to put all those pieces together.
This is also a great option if COVID restrictions and precautions are keeping you from having a more traditional wedding. Getting legally married now, and saving the celebration with your crew for a little later down the line when gathering together is safer, is a fantastic way to start this new chapter with your partner and still get together with your people.❤️
An Adventure Elopement — Just Us Two
I love a good adventure elopement! But don’t let the word “adventure” intimidate you, just like the word “courthouse” in “courthouse wedding” shouldn’t make you feel like that’s your only option when you don’t want a big wedding!😉 An adventure elopement can be as big or small as you want it to be. Travel is welcomed, but is definitely not required! You can stick close to home and elope in a place or with an activity that has special meaning to you and your partner.
For a “just us two” adventure elopement, you can check out self-solemnizing so that you don’t have to worry about hiring an officiant. (Or, as a nice little bonus, I am ordained in almost every state, and can marry you in addition to documenting the occasion on camera!)
For this kind of elopement, you probably won’t have any guests (unless witnesses are required for your license), and it can be as grand or low-key as you like. An intimate elopement with just you and your partner really takes away the pressure that traditional weddings carry, and can be planned on a much quicker timeline. There is no one to please but yourselves, and you can really focus the experience on your love. Your wedding day is for YOU.
An Adventure Elopement — Us & The Crew
This type of elopement can look nearly identical to what you’d dream up for an elopement with just your partner — except, you get to have our closest fam and friends group there!🙌 With this type of adventure elopement, you can plan your location and activities around what you’d like to do with your closest group of loved ones.
As you think about your “crew”, know that couples who look beyond a courthouse wedding to book with me can have elopements with up to 20 guests! But, that total number may flex down some, depending on the ceremony location you choose. This allows us to ensure we follow Leave No Trace guidelines to keep our natural spaces safe and beautiful, and, that I’ll have the space needed to capture beautiful images during your adventure!
Is everyone up for a hike in a national park? Maybe you’d like to rent out a restaurant for an evening, hold your vows on the back patio, and enjoy good food and company afterward! Again, this can be epic or laid-back, depending on how you want to feel on your wedding day. In contrast to how a courthouse wedding might make you feel, you can celebrate your vows with an experience you and your partner will both love. And, you’ll be surrounded by your community at the same time, without the hectic rush of a hundred guests or more all clamoring for your attention on your wedding day.
A Backyard Wedding
This is a courthouse wedding alternative that can feel closest to how a traditional wedding would, but without the extended time planning and juggling the details! You don’t have to coordinate booking a venue and worrying about all the seating arrangements that come with it. Heck, maybe you decide you want to go potluck-style for your reception and forgo catering, too!😋
While you might see lots of pretty backyard weddings on Instagram that have a full floral ceremony arch or a party tent strung with fairy lights, you can simplify things to speed up your timeline. Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration for some easy DIY decor. Your local thrift shop might have some great stuff you can use to spruce it up, too!
A backyard wedding is also perfect if everyone you imagine being there when you get married is either already local or close by. With an adventure elopement, coordinating travel to make sure everyone can be there with you can get sticky! This way, it’s just a quick trip for everyone to come celebrate with you, without the nightmare of trying to find that golden open space on twenty different calendars, or crossing your fingers that everyone can make it!
Alright, I’m going to rave about one last elopement trend that’s become popular over the last couple of years. Ready?
An elopement doesn’t have to take place out in the wild.
That’s right! While the allure of traveling somewhere epic to exchange vows on a clifftop or beach is strong, your elopement doesn’t have to follow that trend. Especially if you’re looking to jump ahead to the “already-married” part quickly, I bet where you currently live has some beautiful, meaningful places where you could say “I do.”
Maybe it’s the rooftop of a parking garage with the city skyline in the back. Or, the local park you like to go to with your partner on sunny days. You can throw in a mix of pre- or post-ceremony activities like hitting up your favorite coffee shop, brewery, or restaurant… Maybe you choose to explore some beautiful local street art or cool urban spaces… Or maybe even creating your own custom glass blown art or matching wedding-day mugs at the paint-your-own-pottery studio, etc.!
Creating a special elopement experience close to home is possible if you want to tie the knot quickly and with the least amount of hassle! This option gives you the ability to truly celebrate in a way that a courthouse wedding just won’t do. Similarly, a traditional wedding often won’t allow for unique activities like the ones I’ve suggested here. An urban elopement close to home gives you the space to cater your experience in a special way for you and your partner, whether others are involved or not!
Remember, whether you have a courthouse wedding, a traditional ceremony, or choose something different, your wedding is special.
Make sure that you create the space to have a meaningful day with your partner, in whatever way feels the best for you both. I’m just a quick chat away to help you plan and coordinate your vows and photograph the whole celebration!!