12 Things to Keep in Mind When Eloping

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I can remember when the topic of marriage first came up when my now-husband and I were dating. Just the thought of planning a wedding seemed daunting and very expensive. Temptation rose as we began fantasizing about ditching the stress and exhaustion, and blissfully frolicking to the courthouse with a simple dress from the local department store. We were young and in love and that was all that mattered to us.

But our family had a different idea of what our wedding should look like and wanted to compromise with a destination wedding in Hawaii. “Hawaii? That would be awesome!” was our initial reaction. Being wed by the sea, underneath the sway of palm trees and in the midst of tropical scenery...UM YES, sign us up!

But then we started looking at the finances and immediately dropped our shoulders and unfortunately, our plans. The problem was––we didn’t need just one wedding, we needed two. Being from the Hmong descent, we were obligated to have a first wedding that was traditional and cultural and then our second wedding would be the destination wedding. A cultural wedding is important for us because it involves a dowry––a tradition where the groom brings the bride money (or valuable items) for marriage on their wedding day.

So, while we were initially thrilled to have both a cultural wedding and a destination wedding, we realized––the more we lingered on the idea–– that it wasn’t ideal for us as a couple. We are more laid back and prefer to lay low. Plus, in the midst reviewing our budget, we couldn’t fit in paying for the plane tickets, food, and lodging on top of the actual destination wedding.

So, you guessed it––we eloped in Hawaii. I didn’t know anyone who had actually eloped or really, knew anything about it but its attraction pulled us in head first. We were handed the freedom of choosing our location without having to pay for everyone’s plane tickets, the freedom of spending our money on us instead of buying wedding favors or a sea of desserts, and the freedom from planning around everyone’s dietary needs.

And in return, we spoke our vows in the presence of the one who mattered most… each other. If that sounds a little selfish to you, don’t let it. Because in the end, the wedding day was about each other, our marriage, and making promises to my beloved. Yes, family and friends are important in the unification, but ultimately we only needed each other to begin a lifelong commitment.

Since marriage is so important to us––even more than the wedding––we made sure we asked and discussed these questions to ensure we were establishing our relationship on solid ground.

But when it came to planning the elopement, we had a different set of questions to ask ourselves.

While eloping can ring in an attractive sound, you have to ensure that’s what you actually want, you must challenge yourself with certain questions, and I recommend weighing out the pros and cons.

Here’s my list that I would like to suggest for you, too. Review it, savor the questions, and use it as a guide to talk with your husband-to-be.

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1. What would it look like to keep the elopement a secret? Is keeping it a secret something we want to do? Realistic, even?

The whole point of eloping is swearing it to secrecy. And don’t think about telling even one person! If you tell your sister or best friend, it’s fair to assume they might have told other people. If you have a difficult time keeping secrets––especially your own, maybe this isn’t the marriage route for you. But on the other hand, it might be fun to keep this secret from other people. A hot, juicy secret that’s only between you and your man.

For us, we decided to keep our elopement a complete secret… from everyone! Even though our parents knew we wanted to tie the knot someday, we decided to not even let them in on our quick marriage plans. They were aware that we threw out our destination wedding plans, but had no idea of our alternative idea.

TIP: Consider if you want to tell both your parents before or after. If you can’t deal with the idea of letting your parents down, maybe you should tell them beforehand. For example, if they’ll feel betrayed from staying in the dark, secrecy probably isn’t the best option. On the other hand, if they’ll be joyous and happy you two decided to get married, (even if they find out later) then by all means, don’t tell them till afterwards!

2. Should we keep it low key and budget friendly? Or styled and fancy?

This will more so depend on your budget. But still, always something to consider, question, and research. Will the elopement entail a courtroom wedding and hitting the the available food trucks on the street afterwards? Will the elopement mirror a beach wedding with a palm leaf bouquet and barefoot attire?

Straying away from a traditional wedding, we maintained a low-key and budget friendly approach. Our personal styles and preferences brought us to dodging suits and a fancy wedding dress, and instead, wearing casual clothing that allowed us to dip into the ocean afterwards. Toes tucked beneath the sand, sweat pouring from our brow, sun sinking below the vibrant horizon, we laid without a care in the world.

TIP: Keep in mind that your elopement can be like any traditional wedding, minus the guests. Stick with something that feels right to you. You have no one to impress, only your inner inclinations that you so desire. If you’re picturing a glitzy gown with a million beads, go for it! If you’re dreaming of rocking a bright yellow dress, do it! Nobody will be there to critique or voice their opinions.

3. Who will be our photographer?

Hiring a photographer is always a big decision. You want someone who is trusted, talented, and will be blend well in the background… someone who is there to capture your wedding day as how it is. But if you’re eloping the next day, for example, who is going to be there to freeze those elopement memories in time, beautifully?

Since our family and friends weren’t going to be there when we eloped, it was even more important to us to have a professional artistically capture our elopement. I was originally planning on bringing along one close friend to take photos but then I decided I wanted to have nice pictures; ultimately I hired a professional take them instead. Having the photos, we were then able to host a reception back home and showcase our special memories. We are so thankful we did!

TIP: If you’re eloping somewhere that isn’t home, make sure that when you’re looking for a photographer to ask if there are any travel fees included.

BONUS: We have some pretty killer wedding photographers that are not only incredibly talented, but offer amazing money-saving deals to all Forever Brides. Click here for more details.

4. What details do we want to incorporate?

No matter how you get married, there are always details to assemble into place. Even if you decide you’ll do your own hair and makeup, that’s still a detail that you have to think about. If you’re going to hire any outside people, this is the time to sit down and decide. But ultimately, it narrows down to what you prefer and want to incorporate. But never do you have to feel the need to incorporate the traditional details. It can all be scenic or you can add small touches with an arch, florals, candles, or vases.

Or nothing at all, like us. To match our preferences, we only included the skin and bones….well, you know what I mean. I showed up on the beach; my husband showed up on the beach; the pastor showed up on the beach. We got married. That’s all we wanted and felt we needed.

TIP: Not a planner? No worries––you can still hire a destination wedding planner to help, especially if you’re eloping somewhere far. All the planning and figuring out the details don’t have to fall on you.

BONUS: And here at Forever Bride, you’re especially in good hands. We also have the BEST wedding planners and destination wedding planners that will delegate all the details for you. Because really, a wedding day or an elopement should be a relaxed breeze for you, the bride.

Okay, so now you’ve gone through that list of my questions. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and are torn––take a deep, deep breath and keep reading. It’s time to weigh out the pros and cons. This will really help you sort through your jumbled thoughts and will breath a refreshing calm into your system.

THE PROS TO ELOPING

1. You and your fiancé can make decisions solely on your own preferences. You have the opportunity of not having to accommodate other people’s preferences or needs. It’s only about you guys.

2. If you know people who object to your wedding plans, you don’t have to tell them until it’s all been said and done.

3. Eloping can be budget friendly or very fancy. You can easily opt out of writing big checks out since it'll just be the two of you.

4. You can elope and be on your honeymoon all at the same time, which can save you money on extra travel expenses. A win-win!

THE CONS TO ELOPING

1. Some of your family and friends might feel betrayed or hurt that they weren’t included on your big day.

2. You might have to consider throwing a reception for family and friends to avoid any hurt feelings.

3. You will miss out on other photos like first looks with your parents, dancing with parents and guests, and getting ready with a bridal party.

4. It will feel less of a party especially if you love planning big parties and being the center of attention.

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Now that you’ve read my pros and cons, I would recommend whipping out your own pen and notebook and penciling your own list. Getting all your thoughts on paper will help sort out this big decision, hopefully clarifying what you should––and want to––do.

If you have any pros, cons, or questions you have added to your list, I would love to hear them in the comment section below.

And always remember, we’re here for you in your time of planning––whether that entails elopement, a destination wedding, or a traditional wedding––and as you transition into the beautiful, lifelong commitment of marriage. No matter how you decide to be wed, you have an exciting adventure ahead. Marriage is truly the best gift and we are rooting you on.

Speaking of elopement, you will definitely find elopement inspiration from this winter styled shoot.

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