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How to Elope with Family: 15 ways to Include your friends and family in your elopement plans

Seattle-wedding-photogapher_bride-and-groom-dance-under-the_lights
Seattle-wedding-photogapher_bride-and-groom-dance-under-the_lights

You’ve decided that a traditional wedding just isn’t for you. Let me guess, you stumbled upon the idea of eloping and now you can’t get it out of your head. It checks all of the boxes, an unconventional wedding day that feels different, adventurous, more intimate, and intentional. A day that feels like you. But there is one glaring problem,  you absolutely cannot imagine having the wedding experience of your dreams without your closest people to share it with you. Major dilemma, right? Wrong! I’m here to show you that you can elope while including family and your closest friends! In this article, I’m going to lay out 15 ways you can elope with your family and friends. First, we’ll explore all the different ways that you can include family and friends on your elopement day. Then we’ll explore various different ways you can include friends and family even if they are not present when you elope.

A couple leaving the ceremony after their vows

8 ways to include friends and family on your elopement day/week

1. Invite them for the whole experience – The first one is the most obvious. If you can’t imagine your wedding experience without your closest friends and family, then invite them to join you. When you close your eyes and imagine the moment you are sharing your vows to one another, do you have your loved ones standing around you and sharing in that moment? Do you want them to stick around and join in the celebration? Then do it! This might mean making compromises on the location to accommodate your guest’s needs, but maybe not. With a small enough group, it may not hinder plans at all. Maybe the right dream location (for example, a family or friend’s backyard), accommodating a few more people might be no problem!

2. Invite them to join for a portion of the day – You don’t have to choose ‘guests’ or ‘no guests’. You can do both! Maybe you dream of eloping with your family and friends included in your special day, but you also want to go for an adventure, just the two of you. You can totally do that! You get to design your day from scratch and include friends and family however you want.

family popping open a champagne to celebrate at a wedding

3. Have a family member officiate – This is a great way to include loved ones and make your ceremony super personal and engaging. Choose someone who knows your story well and can weave it together to make an even more emotional and special ceremony experience

4. Have them help you get ready – Have loved ones join you as you get ready for your elopement day. You could make a whole morning of it! You could have breakfast together, hang out and get ready to your favorite music, and sip champagne with friends and family.

A bride and her grandmother admiring the wedding dress
A bride with your bridesmaids, looking pretty in orange

5. Invite them to join for a first look and send-off – The first look is typically quiet time alone the first time you see your partner on your wedding day. But what if you switch things up and invite friends and family to be there for the first look? It could even be a short little celebration, where your family pops champagne and shares words of love and best wishes as you kick off the day.

6. Have them join for just the ceremony – You can totally break up your day and have friends and family join just for the ceremony. You could wrap it up with a champagne pop, toasts, or a gratitude circle to really make the most of this intimate time with your closest friends and family. Then part ways, and head off on your own little adventure!

 

7. Join them at an after (or before) party – This is a great option for couples who really want a just us ceremony experience. Maybe you imagine reading your vows cliffside, or in a hot air balloon soaring through the clouds. Or maybe just prefer the time to be quiet and intimate, just the two of you together. You could totally do that and then cap off the evening with a celebration with your friends and family!

8. Have a multi-day elopement – If you liked that last idea of inviting your loved ones to just the ceremony or just a celebration, then you should consider a multi-day elopement!

There are loads of perks to having a multi-day elopement – more time to celebrate, time that can be more thoughtful and unrushed, time to go for a proper adventure if you are really dreaming of having that ‘just us’ adventure experience, plus a whole separate day dedicated to celebrating with friends and family! Logistically it could be quite a challenge to do all in one day, so why not make it two days or a whole week of un-rushed fun?

couple dancing at their wedding

When it comes down to it, you’ve decided to elope because you want to have a non-traditional wedding day that feels super intimate, connected, and true to who you are together. You can love the hell out of your friends and family, and still decide to have a ‘just us’ wedding experience. Maybe you’re dreaming of a certain location, a far-away destination, or an adventure experience that just wouldn’t be a reality if you invited more people. Or narrowing down the guest list would be too hard. Or maybe the idea of kicking off your life together, just the two of you, sounds so right. Whatever your reason – it’s valid. I’m here to give you permission, if you need it, to have your dream ‘just us’ elopement experience. There are a lot of ways to elope with family and friends included!

7 ways to include friends and family (even when not physically present on your elopement day)

1. Have an engagement party – Bring your friends and family together to celebrate your engagement! You can really structure this however you want. You could have a big backyard barbecue, take over a park, or rent a space for a nice dinner. You do whatever the heck you want!

2. Hire a great photographer – Hire a kickass photographer to capture the whole story of your elopement day. Bonus points if you find a photographer who will get you a quick sneak peek, offers an online gallery for friends and family, and who may even gift you special extras like a slideshow to really tell the story as you experienced it.

3. Have a photo reveal/after party – Take it one step further – schedule a photo reveal party for the day you receive your final album! They could relive that whole day with you, as you do for the first time. Trust me, there will be no dry eyes! You could even incorporate toasts or other personal elements to include your family in the experience.

4. Have a one-year anniversary/vow renewal party – It’s a great way to include friends and family and get to celebrate the one-year milestone! You could choose to wear your wedding attire, share your vows again, do toast, dance, or have dinner. Or you can keep it super simple and just have a party!

 

couple kisses after reading vows at gold creek pond elopement

5. Send announcements – You can send announcements before or after the fact. If you send it after, you can even include a link to the gallery!

6. Invite them to help you pick out your wedding attire – Enjoy a fun day out selecting a suit or dress, followed by lunch with friends or family.

 

7. Start your day with a special video (or letter) of love, and sentiments from friends and family – Have friends and family send you off with their own little toast, or words of love, advice, or best wishes, via video. Start or end your elopement day by watching these videos/or reading letters together.

There you have it, 8 different ways to elope with family and loved ones, and an additional 7 ideas for how to include your friends and family even if they’re not physically present on the day you elope. Your elopement day should be unique to YOU, so do whatever it is that suits you! Scroll through these ideas again and allow them to inspire you as you plan the wedding day that feels right to you!

portrait of elopement photographer on the beach with driftwood

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Hey there, I'm Jess

I’m your Wedding and Elopement photographer, but i’m also your dream enabler, permission grantor, and co-conspirator. I’m here for you, holding your hand, and helping you to craft an outside the box wedding experience that is unique, intentional and true to you and your life adventure together.

Washington & Oregon Weddings & Elopements

Packages starting at $2,800 – Contact for full pricing and all locations. All packages include:

  • Local to Seattle? Let’s grab a beer! Otherwise we begin with a get to know you questionnaire and phone/video chat. My connection to you is what allows me to weave together and tell your unique story.
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Jess Albonico

Jess Albonico

Seattle + PNW Wedding Photographer, helping couples ditch the rulebook and have a wedding day as epic and unique as there life adventure together.

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