The beauty of eloping is that it’s really easy to customize your day. With fewer (or no) guests, you can be much more flexible with what the day looks like. You don’t have to follow a traditional timeline. And you may have more resources available to invest in custom elements like decor or a private chef.
Some favorite things I’ve seen couples do is:
The best way to make your elopement unique is to think about who you are as a couple. What do you love to do together? Do you love celebrating with your friends and family? Or does having a big party give you anxiety?
Do you have a shared heritage you want to honor or has travel always been a big part of your love story? Incorporate those things!
I also encourage people to think about “the best day ever” without using the word wedding. What would that look like for you? Who would be there?
When I do this exercise, I imagine an epic day for just me and my husband. But I also couldn’t imagine getting married without my parents and brother there so a two-person elopement is probably not the right fit for me.
But what might be is a multi-day destination wedding that includes two-person adventures, a small family ceremony, a dinner party and really good food.
We were pretty young when we got married and I think we were able to do the day for about $20,000 for about 85 people. Our immediate families would have required about $5,000. If we had cut out 70 people from our guestlist and kept the same budget, we probably could have done a multi-day destination wedding!
So here are 10 unique elopement ideas to make your day unforgettably yours.
I’ve had a few couples do this and it’s honestly one of the most intimate and sweet things I’ve seen. The act of helping your partner with their tie or buttons or zipper is full of intention. I choose, I choose, I choose you.
If the idea of celebrating your wedding without friends and family is unthinkable to you but you also want a two-person elopement, enter the split day!
Have a private first look at sunrise for just the two of you. Exchange private vows, drink coffee, watch the sunrise, get epic photos. Then, go take a nap! Reconvene in the late afternoon and begin a more “traditional” timeline – i.e., get ready with your friends and family, ceremony, group photos, reception. It’s essentially the best of both worlds packed into one incredible day.
If you are having guests, buy a disposable film camera or two for each one and let them document the day through their eyes. Ask them to be intentional about it and look for the little moments. At the end of the day collect all the cameras and drop them off to be developed. And voila! Your wedding day as documented through the eyes of your nearest and dearest.
If you are having a two-person elopement, bring an instant camera like the Fujiflim Instax and take photos of each other throughout the day. At the end of it you’ll have a tiny album of moments documented retro-style.
I’ve seen this done two ways. One: family and friends write you letters with their wishes for your relationship and the future. Two: family and friends record videos and a close friend or relative puts them together in a montage for you.
Either way it’s incredibly special and a beautiful memento to have forever from the people you love.
If you are big foodies, hiring a private chef to make an incredible multi-course meal for your reception is definitely the way to go. You can do this either for just the two of you, or have the chef make a meal for your guests.
I had one couple who did dinner before their ceremony so we could get to the summit of their hike by sunset. Then when everyone got back to the Airbnb, they found a chef-made taco bar for late-night snacks.
You can go about this two ways: for two-person elopements, go to a bakery you love and get one of everything. Be indulgent! It’s your wedding day! Have a dessert picnic and try everything.
If you are having a small guest list, then ask them to make their best dessert and bring it with them. Have a dessert table and enjoy tasting everyone’s favorite dish.
There are two places in Virginia where you can get married with wild ponies in attendance. The first is Grayson Highlands State Park in southwestern Virginia. That’s going to be more of a mountainous vibe. The second is Assateague Island, which is on that little tip of Virginia/Maryland shoreland across the Chesapeake Bay. If you’re looking for a beach wedding, Assateague is the way to go, if you want mountains, choose Grayson Highlands. Note that on Assateague you will require a permit for any group larger than five people.
Central Virginia has several hot air balloon companies that will take you over the Blue Ridge Mountains on an epic and unforgettable adventure. Meanwhile helicopter tour companies operate out of Richmond and Hampton Roads. And you can book a small plane for a tour of the Appalachian Mountains or Smith Mountain Lake from Roanoke. If you want to experience landing on the water, then try a seaplane tour starting at Lake Gaston.
If having an elaborate meal isn’t your style, then just do pizza and beer instead! Go up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, have a picnic, watch the sun go down and enjoy being together. The beauty of elopements is that it doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be really simple, low key and stress free.
Rent a cabin in the mountains and spend your days hiking, maybe alternating with relaxing in a hot tub. Book a stay at a resort like Salamander Resort or Primland and enjoy a luxurious week with spa days and good food and yoga. Rent a lakehouse and boat and go fishing or jet skiing on Smith Mountain or Claytor Lake.
At some point during the week, get married! You’ll always remember your epic week, with time well spent, adventure and relaxation.
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