How do I plan the perfect elopement?
Elopements have been around since the inception of marriage. So many romantic books and films have the star crossed lovers running away from their over-protective families to marry the person of their dreams. Literature has helped cement the idea of an elopement as being romantic and secretive. But not in today’s world. Today, elopements are gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional weddings. Many couples prefer the intimacy, privacy and simplicity of an elopement and it can be the perfect way to celebrate your love for each other without the stress and expense of a large wedding. If you are considering eloping there are a few things you must put in place first. I have put together some tips that will help you plan your perfect romantic elopement.
An intimate ceremony with just the two of you and your witnesses or a small group of close family and friends can be incredibly romantic and meaningful. You could write your own vows to express your love and commitment to each other or opt for a simple ceremony that captures the legal requirements only but focuses on your love for each other. Choose a local celebrant who will guide you through your ceremony options.
Just because you are eloping doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate your love. You could plan a special dinner or date, take a sunset stroll, or do something together that you both enjoy. Make your elopement day special and meaningful by doing something that you both love.
Announce your elopement
Decide on how and when you want to share the news of your elopement. You could plan a small get-together with your family and close friends, create a social media post, hold a zoom meeting or send out announcements. The choice is yours.
Choose a Destination
Since an elopement is all about the two of you, think about a destination that is special to both of you and offers a beautiful and romantic backdrop. You could opt for a picturesque mountain top, a remote beach, a quiet bushland setting or a beautiful city location.
Choose a destination that fits your personality and the type of experience you are looking for. Remember to check with the local council or management body to see if you need to book the space or get a permit.
You may wish to think about hiring a local professional photographer to capture all the special moments of your elopement. Having a photographer will ensure you have beautiful pictures to look back on and share with your friends and family when you get home. Alternatively, ask your witnesses or celebrant if they could take a few photos for you but remember, these will not be of the same quality as professional photos will be.
Local Destination Options
The beauty of an elopement wedding ceremony is that it be exactly what you want, when you want it. If you are both really busy you can get married at a local registry or celebrant’s office at lunch time and be back at work before anyone even notices you are gone.
You can get married in your own home, in a park, at a beach, on a kayak, at a registry office or at a celebrant’s office, the choice is yours and yours alone.
An elopement ceremony is generally the legal requirements only plus a ring exchange if you want to include this element and then a photo or two to record the moment. They can be as quick as 15 minutes from start to finish.
You are still held to the same legal requirements as every other marriage, that being:
● You must be over the age of 18 years (special conditions for under 18 years can be found at the Attorney General’s Department website https://www.ag.gov.au/ )
● You must be legally free to marry (cannot be married to anyone else in the world)
● You must complete a Notice of Intended Marriage and register it with your chosen celebrant or registry office 1 month before you planned date of marriage
● You must pay the ceremony fee before the planned date of marriage
The rest is up to you.
Are you planning on making a holiday of it?
Consider a location that is easy to get to, has accommodation options and things to do together while you are there.
Living on the Central Coast of NSW, I do a lot of elopement wedding ceremonies where the couple has come up to take advantage of the area’s natural beauty. It is always a good idea to hire a celebrant in the area you are planning on getting married because they have a lot of local knowledge regarding services, accommodation, restaurants, cultural events and the like that will help you decide on the best date and time to conduct your wedding. I personally love doing Elopement Ceremonies, they are relaxed, intimate and all about the joy of love. I like to think they are my specialty.
Overseas Destination Elopements
Make sure you know the legal requirements for getting married in the location of your elopement. Some countries have different legal requirements for marriage, so it is essential to do your research and ensure that you have everything you need to make your marriage legal.
Remember: While you can’t register an overseas marriage in Australia, in most cases, the marriage will be legally recognised in Australia if it’s legally recognised in the country you married in.
Before you plan on getting married overseas
If you plan to marry overseas, contact the country’s embassy, consulate or local representative in Australia about that country’s legal requirements. To find foreign embassies, consulates and local representatives, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website. Getting married overseas takes a lot of preparation, you have to be sure that you fully understand the language and local wedding customs, complete all legal requirements of that country, get your passport and visas sorted, have any required immunisations, book your flights and accommodation, find a suitable venue and converse with your chosen minister, priest or celebrant long distance. It can be complicated but absolutely worth it to ensure your wedding ceremony matches your dreams.
When you return will you need to have another ceremony to appease family and friends? The thing to remember here is that you can only ever have one marriage at any given time, yes that does mean that you cannot legally marry the same person twice. As you cannot hold a second legal marriage here in Australia, you may want to consider having a commitment ceremony instead. A commitment ceremony is very similar to a marriage ceremony, it covers everything except the legal requirements of a Notice of Intended Marriage and the Official Marriage Certificate to be completed.
This is a lovely way to share your joy with your family and friends as well as have a celebration of love. A commitment ceremony can be conducted by a celebrant and generally do not cost as much as a full legal wedding ceremony.
So, things to think about are:
● An elopement can be a beautiful and meaningful way to celebrate your love for each other
● It is a very personal intimate ceremony
● There can be a lot of planning to get it just right, but it will be worth it
● Choose a destination that is special to you so that each time you think about your wedding day you are filled with joy
● Pay special attention to the legal requirements of the country you choose to hold your overseas wedding in
● Make sure your intimate ceremony reflects your love and commitment to each other
● Take time to celebrate your love.
Decide how and when you announce your marriage to friends, family and colleagues.
Most importantly, enjoy your special day and cherish the memories you create together.