What is an Elopement?
In the Dark Ages, her parents didn't want you to marry her, but you were madly in love. So you ran away secretly with her and got married just the two of you, in a far away location and in a hurry. Then you were coming back and it was done in the eyes of God. F### parental consent. Done. Rude but efficient (and somewhat pretty romantic).
Nowadays an ELOPEMENT is very different.They are the anti-thesis of the conventional cookie-cutter wedding day.They can be spread on several days but usually there's (1) something low key happening (sightseeing, getting ready...), then (2) a 15min civil ceremony in a kick-ass original/crazy location (on the national mall, your favorite park when you proposed, a museum...), followed with (3) some great pics to immortalize the day (because it's still on of your most important day in your life and we all need to feed facebook, put something nice on the wall, and show to our children 10 years later), and then (4) something fun (like a good restaurant, a segway ride, a tour of the Capitol... whatever fun means to you).
BEST OF 3 WORLDS: a private ceremony, an intimate dinner, and a big party!
Who is it for?
Elopements are not for everybody. Usually couples who choose that option:
- are pretty low-key (you can dress up but no crazy flower arrangements or placement carts to choose 4 months before :)
- want something intimate (usually between 0 to 10 guests attend)
- want something simple (sometimes the couple invite 200 people knowing that only 50 will really do the trip to the destination. Great compromise when a fiance is extrovert and the other is introvert. and no logistics are required (people show up or not, they book all their arrangements by themselves)
- want something different / off-beat (destination weddings are very trendy, and you can skip the big dress and wear WHATEVER you like, and eat doughnuts instead of 3 course sited meals)
- want something relaxed (like avoiding to put an hectic 12h show in front of 200 guests)
- want something personal (like getting married by their best friend in the park where they got their first kiss)
- are in a hurry for the legal paper work. Not even time for the usually-mandatory rehearsal.
- want to save big bucks.
- want to do the biiiiiig party on a different day and/or location.
Where is it done?
It's usually (but definitely not always) in a different location than where the fiances live:
- somewhere that allows same-sex wedding (like DC)
- somewhere that is WOW and makes for a great destination/trip (like DC)
- somewhere that is a good meeting point for couple who lives in different places/countries (like DC)
- somewhere that is not group-friendly or easily accessible (think outside the box)
Politics & Logistics (aka the fun parts)
- Family and Friends Reaction: Your mother already had a full production for that day detailed in her mind. Your third degree cousin does not understand why only your 2 best friends were attending. Your sister-in-law was dying to be your bossy bridesmaid. Your aunt is pissed because you planned the same day as her step-son graduation day. Your neighbor is expecting you to invite them as they invited you to their wedding 4 years ago. Your father don't want to take a plane to see your hitching. It's your day. It's your day. It's your day. Make sure you reiterate something like "it's not you it's me, we really didn't want a big production" when they might feel "you don't want you there" (even if that's true ;-).
- Traditions: Especially if you're an LGBT couple, family might get confused if the wedding is too far away from "tradition". Is it a "real" wedding if there's no cake-cutting, first dance, bouquet, father bringing the bride to the altar, your uncle giving a speech-toast? Yes it is. But they need some landmark with what they know to realize. Get a great photographer to document the ceremony and make sure you give some elements.
- Traveling: if you decide to invite "whoever wants to make it" let them do their own logistics.
- Post-Party: it's your decision to have or not a post-dinner or party. It can be the same day or usually more convenient later.
- Photography: getting great pictures is as important as a traditional wedding. Those last forever.
- DC: a few things to know: there are a million places to do elopements different from the monuments/memorials, the DC courthouse doesn't allow picture exept in the (very ugly) chapel,
- Get someone to do the paperwork: www.DCelopements.com for example take care of everything, including the officiant. Seriously, spare you the work.