Eloping Etiquette: Here’s Everything You Need To Know

General, Elopement Tips & Advice,
4 min read Jan 23, 2020

Handwriting an appreciative note thanking your friends and family for their thoughtfulness and generosity will always be the right thing to do

If you and your partner have decided to ditch the idea of a traditional wedding, the idea of eloping may come to mind, and it’s no mystery why: eloping is affordable, eco-friendly, and is generally a more relaxed and casual affair. But just because you’re not having a sit-down dinner for 200 doesn’t mean that there aren’t any rules to follow. While the steps you need to take to elope are arguably easier than a larger wedding day, there is such a thing as eloping etiquette. Eloping etiquette can help to avoid feelings of guilt over not inviting your loved ones, and can help you take the right steps towards having friends and family feel included, even if they can’t be a part of the celebration on your wedding day.

Tell Your Family and Friends

If you’ve decided that eloping is right for you and you’re opting not to have guests, filling your loved ones in on your plans might be a good idea. While you may be worried how they will react — especially if you have a tight-knit family — we can almost guarantee that their reactions will intensify if you tell them after you elope. The best thing to do is be open and share your reasons why you’re choosing to elope. Whether you want to save money, reduce your carbon footprint, or you simply don’t enjoy being in the spotlight, if you’re honest with why you’re eloping, chances are your loved ones will be more understanding. If they don’t react the way you expected, just know that that’s OK, too. Kindly remind them that, while you are empathetic towards how they feel about the situation, the decision comes down to the two people who are choosing to commit themselves to each other.

Remember that telling them about your decision is not a requirement, and ultimately, if you choose to not tell a single soul before your big day, that’s your prerogative! Just be mindful to navigate sharing the news with your loved ones delicately.

Send a Save the Date

If you’re choosing to tell friends and family beforehand, a thoughtful way to keep them in the loop is by sending a Save the Date (with recycled material, please!). While this typically differs from a traditional Save the Date — making sure it’s understood that you’re simply announcing when you’re eloping, not that they should be expecting an invitation in the mail — you can still send some details about your elopement. Telling your loved ones when and where you’ll be eloping can help make them feel connected to your big day, even if they’re not going to be in attendance. While this piece of eloping etiquette isn’t always necessary, it does take an extra step towards ensuring the people in your life that you do want them to play a small role in your wedding, even if that means simply chatting with them or getting together before you tie the knot.

Send a Marriage Announcement

Should you decide that you’re not telling family and friends about your elopement, sending a card (from recycled materials, of course) announcing that you and your partner have married is a very thoughtful option. Similarly, if you do tell your loved ones that you’re eloping, sending a elopement announcement is still a great idea! Choose a photo or two from your big day that you really love, and fill them in on all of the details, like your wedding date and your ceremony location can help them tune into the details of your day. You may have friends and family ask if they can buy you a celebratory gift, so if you have a registry, it may be worth adding that onto your announcement, especially if you’re hosting a gathering to celebrate your marriage. Which brings us to our next eloping etiquette tip…

Host a Post-Ceremony Celebration

Call it a reception, a dinner, or just a casual party at your home, your friends and family are going to want to celebrate and toast to your marriage — so let them!  Eloping with family doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. It simply is a way of thanking your loved ones for supporting your decision to elope and is a chance to soak in a little bit of newlywed bliss. Your reception is also a great chance to share the story of your day with everyone (because you know that you’ll get asked over and over regardless), and to show off any photos or videos that were taken during your elopement.

Send Thank-You’s

Whether someone purchased an item from your registry or simply popped over with a bottle of champagne to celebrate, sending a thank-you is proper eloping etiquette — much like a traditional wedding. Handwriting an appreciative note thanking your friends and family for their thoughtfulness and generosity will always be the right thing to do, no matter how involved they were in your day. Heck, even sending a thank-you to anyone who was encouraging and understanding of your decision to elope isn’t a bad idea. If you have people around you who love you, show your love back with a simple gesture. That way, they can look back on your elopement experience with the same amount of love that you and your new spouse do.

General Elopement Tips & Advice
Written by Karen Norian

Karen Norian is an elopement photographer and has photographed over a hundred elopements. Karen has also worked as an elopement planner for Simply Eloped. She's been quoted in the New York Times, Brides, Hello Giggles, Bustle, Yahoo, and more.