How to elope

Opting to elope over planning a traditional wedding can be a refreshing and fun way to tie the knot.

Want to elope and wondering how to elope? Depending on the marriage license requirements, time to order your dress and the availability of the hotel destination and officiant, an elopement can be planned in one day to as long as one wants to take. Below you will find the 10 steps to successful elope planning.


The average wedding takes six months to a year or more of advance planning - destination wedding planning can be done in a matter of weeks, sometimes even days.

The 10 Step how to elope checklist

  1. The first step is deciding to elope and forgoing the joys of arranging long-lost relatives peaceably around tables.

    Eloping isn't for everyone, but for some, there's endless appeal in taking your vows in a vacation-like setting. And when you choose to elope over planning an elaborate wedding, you're guaranteed to free yourself from a enormous amount of organizational stress.

    Find out more about destination wedding planning and compare Destination Wedding Costs with a traditional wedding.

  2. How to elope - Determine your budget

    When you combine a marriage ceremony with a honeymoon location - elopes can be a bargain, compared with the cost of conventional weddings.

    A honeymoon elope can save money and instead of having to pay for 250 guests to enjoy the wedding buffet - you could have the honeymoon of your dreams. If you have an elope wedding, your guest list will be cut in half - or more. Less people means less food, less drink, less chairs... Also, with a beautiful setting such as a beach, you will not need to shell out money on decorations like you might otherwise.

    Facility rental, invitations, expensive dresses & tuxedos for the wedding party are just a few of the expenses one can eliminate by traveling to another location. An elopement wedding and honeymoon costs in the neighborhood of $5,000. Many hotels offer elope packages or even free wedding packages if you meet some criteria. A couple can stay at the best hotels, enjoy luxury dining, see the world through a unique perspective, and return home with marriage certificate and enough left over to throw a reception.

    While there are not official statistics on the average cost of an elopement, elopement packages including a hotel for a week, the officiate, photographer and album, ceremony site, cake, and musical selection tend to range between $2,000 to $5,000.

    This represents 10 - 20% of the cost of a traditional wedding.

    For example if you Elope in Las Vegas you can easily find an entire package-all inclusive for under $3,000.

  3. How to elope - Choose where to elope.

    Anywhere from the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii - to Castles in Europe, or half-way around the world to Fiji, Australia or New Zealand. The Caribbean is generally high on lists of best places to elope due to low or no “residency” requirements and simple paperwork. The US states of Nevada and Florida are similar ...

    There are many wondrous places in the world to have a wedding - from a tropical beach wedding in Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii - to half-way around the world to Fiji, Australia or New Zealand - - Here are the top romantic places to elope worldwide.

    Top 10 most romantic places to elope in the USA .... romantic wedding locations in Florida, California, New York, Hawaii, Utah ... For more information check out: Romantic places to elope and top US destination wedding


    Places to Elope in Europe: Whether it's in a Castle in Europe or in a charming European village, getting married in a far away setting can add to the enjoyment of the day and create memories to treasure through the years.

  4. How to elope - Check state marriage laws, residency laws and filing times (may have to provide a certificate of marital background, birth certificate, blood tests or you may need witnesses)

    Many couples opt to marry legally in their local city hall in the USA and then have a formal, non-legal ceremony in the location of their choice. This works well because the couple does not have to meet residency, legal or religious requirements.


    Before you do anything, be sure that nonresidents can get marriage licenses in the country where you want to wed. Call the embassy, consulate, or tourist office in that country and be sure to ask specifics.

    Find out:

    • which documents and medical tests you need
    • how long will it take to process the paperwork
    • whether you need witnesses
    • and whether there are special requirements for a religious ceremony as opposed to a civil one

    In general, a marriage license is a legal permit to marry. It confirms that you are both free to wed, are of legal age to marry in that county or town, and have had blood tests, if necessary. Requirements vary so you should contact the city hall for the contact information of the marriage license bureau.

    Call them and ask

    • when you should apply
    • what paperwork you need to bring along
    • whether or not you need blood tests

    • how long the licenses are valid as marriage licenses are valid only for a certain amount of time, and how much the license will cost

    Also ask about the office hours and whether you need to make an appointment, as well as when you should apply based on your wedding date. You will each probably need to bring most of the following:

    • photo ID
    • certified copies of your birth certificates
    • parental consent, if underage
    • death certificate, if widowed
    • divorce decree, if divorced
    • and blood-test results, if required

    You will probably be instructed to apply for your license two to three weeks before the big day, and in most places this is something you must do in person, together.

  5. Check out romantic places to elope to find out which places have the least requirement and make eloping easy. Las Vegas and most of the Caribbean Islands have a whole industry catering to the needs of elopes.

  6. How to elope - Pick the honeymoon location & hotel

    Usually couples who want to elope can check off this step since the elope location is automatically the same place as the ceremony)


    Many of the chain resorts offer a free basic wedding package to couples who commit to a minimum-night stay or bring a certain number of guests to the company's property; often includes services of the on-site wedding coordinator, flowers, Champagne, and a wedding cake.

  7. How to elope - Choose your elope ceremony (location, time, officiant, vows, rings, dress, flowers, photographer, attendants, music)

    Destination wedding dresses are as much fun to choose as the destination it self. One of the most decisions you will make when destination wedding planning is selecting the perfect dress. But, making a decision about which kind of gown to wear to dazzle your man might depend somewhat on where your wedding will take place -- in a church, on a mountain top, by the ocean or on an exotic island.

    What destination wedding gown goes best with a beach wedding? Mountain top wedding? ... For advice on choosing the perfect Destination Wedding Dress for your destination.

  8. How to elope - Decide if it will be just the 2 of you elope or invite your closest friends and family who you want to attend. Figure out when to tell everyone, will it be a post elopement announcement or a pre elopement one ?

  9. How to elope - packing for your romantic destination wedding should be simple. With a little advance preparation and thought, you'll be ready to go.

  10. destination-wedding-dressPack light - Here are the essentials

    • destination wedding dress or rent on the spot or have your dress shipped professionally.
    • wedding rings
    • groom's tux or suit
    • Shoes

    In your hand luggage: Original documents like birth certificates.

    After you've purchased the perfect dress, getting it safely transported on the long journey from your home to your Destination Wedding can prove challenging. Check with your dress or formal wear shop for recommendations on how best to pack it.

    If you are going for a formal destination wedding dress it's best to carry it on the plane with you. Check with the airline in advance for the exact specifications for luggage. Often, the airline will consider a garment or upright bag carry-on, but this does affect the amount of check luggage that you can transport as well. Sometimes, if you call the airline in advance, they can offer you space for your dress and the groom's tuxedo in a closet on board but most airlines insist you check your gown with your other luggage so unless your gown is very informal you will need a large box or an extra suitcase to protect it. You can also mail the destination wedding dress your self ahead of time.

  11. How to elope - Once you have returned from your elopement and honeymoon send out announcements to your family and friends to proclaim your good news. Use a favorite picture from your ceremony or honeymoon and break the news on stationary fashioned as an announcement card.

  12. How to elope - Decide if you are going to have a post elopement party with your family and friends that where not present to celebrate your wedding when you return home. Wear your wedding clothes and display pictures of the event and your guests will feel like they were there.

Check out Romantic places to elope or return from how to elope to Romantic Vacations Destinations Home Page

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