elopement ceremony

Considering having an elopement ceremony? This post is going to go over the different options you have available to you for a small wedding. Some couples have an elopement ceremony by self solemnizing, some with an officiant only, some with guests, some on a hiking trail, etc. That being said, there are many way to have an elopement ceremony that feels true to you!

What is an Elopement Ceremony

An elopement ceremony is simply a wedding ceremony where you have more power to choose exactly what you want your day, and ceremony, to look like. They’re normally a lot more intimate, either being just the couple or up to around 25 guests. Some couples still incorporate traditional aspects such as walking down an aisle, some include cultural traditions, meanwhile others do something completely alternative. The choice is yours!

How Long is a Elopement Ceremony

Most elopement ceremonies are relatively short, somewhere between 15 minutes on the shorter end and 30 minutes on the longer again. Once again, this is completely up to you. You can have your officiant have something lined up where they are speaking for awhile, or simply say your vows to one another.

How long an elopement ceremony lasts is fully dependent on what you want to include.

How to Have an Elopement Ceremony

  • Decide if you’re going to have guests at your elopement ceremony
  • Choose if any guests will be be involved, if you’ll have any bridesmaids or groomsmen
  • Figure out if you’ll have an officiant or self solemnize (self solemnization is only allowed in a few specific states.)
  • Decide with your officiant how many readings they’re doing, and if you want any guests to do any readings
  • Choose if you’re adding an cultural elements, alternative elements, or simply exchanging rings and saying your vows
  • Determine a seating or standing arrangement, as well as if you’re going to walk down an “aisle”

What to do During an Elopement Ceremony

Short answer: get married. Longer answer, it depends on how you want to unify your marriage. Once again, this can look like an officiate reading a ceremony for you, or most of it being you as the couple speaking to one another. Wether it just be to each other, or also doing readings to your guests about your lives, how you met, your goals together, promises to each-other, and so on.

An elopement ceremony isn’t too different from a traditional ceremony, in fact an elopement ceremony is one of the things that isn’t too different from a traditional ceremony.

Elopement with Guests

When you have guests for your elopement ceremony, you’ll want to decide where they’re going to stand. A lot of eloping couples have them make a half circle around them with enough room inbetween them that they can walk through, creating a pseudo aisle.

You’ll also want to decide if your guests will be adding anything to your ceremony. Will you have bridesmaids? Groomsmen? A best man or maid of honor? Or possible just a guest who knows you well doing a reading? Either way, all of this is up to you. Some couples choose to include guests in their ceremony with these tasks and others just invite guests to watch!

elopement ceremony

“Just Us” Elopement

If you plan on doing an elopement ceremony with just your partner, you will need to decide if you are self solemnizing or having an officiant. Self solemnizing is when you don’t need any witnesses or an officiant to make your marriage legally legit. You can self solemnize in California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Your other option is getting an officiant and witnesses. A friend can easily get ordained and officiate your elopement. Alternatively, there are a lot of elopement photographers who are ordained who can simply help you with your paperwork if all you want is to read your vows to one another. I’m ordained in many states to offer this service to my clients! Lastly, if you plan on having no witnesses, plan on asking people also in your location if they would sign as a witness. Good new is they usually always say yes!

How to Write an Elopement Ceremony

Writing an elopement ceremony feels daunting, but it really only involves figuring out a few major steps:

  • Wether or not you’d like to walk down the aisle
  • If you want guests involved in either walking down the aisle or speaking
  • Officiant thanks everyone for coming
  • Offciaint tells stories about how you met, personal stories about the two of you and your relationship, your time together, how you got here, etc. Basically, something that feels endearing or important to the two of you that you’d like the officaint to share in their own words during your cermony.
  • Any readings you’d like from officiant or any guests
  • Vows from person 1
  • Vows from person 2
  • Ring exhcnage (or any other alternative you you prefer)
  • Officiant pronouncing you a married couple
  • First kiss! Hugs from friends and family! Walking back down the aisle! However you’d like to celebrate this moment

Elopement Ceremony Ideas

One couple I photographed has had my absolutele favorite elopement ceremony idea ever. The officaint both had the couple write down the story of how they met and fell in love. He tied both stories together to make a congruent one, that neither of them heard until the ceremony. It was beautiful and brought both brides to tears. (Also me.)

Other ideas include:

  • Writing your own vows
  • Having guests read stories
  • handfasting
  • cultural ceremonies
  • including loved ones that can’t be there with letters, tributes, etc.
  • ring exchange
  • Popping champagne
  • Whiskey ceremony (combing your favorite whiskeys together and drinking them. This can be done with any kind of alcohol or non alcoholic drink

There are so many more ideas, but here are a few to get you started!

elopement ceremony

Ready to Plan Your Own Ceremony?

I’m an elopement photographer that helps couples plan from start to finish. From finding locations, to crafting a timeline and small details as well as vendor recommendations and getting permits. Wanna chat? Contact me here!

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You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

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I'm Emilee

I'm an elopement photographer who specializes in planning, crafting, and documenting untraditional weddings. I believe a wedding day should be filled with traditions that resonate with you. I'm here from start to finish to make that happen. Want to chat about your plans? Click below to set up a free consultation! 

You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

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