Up to your eyes in wedding planning? Here’s a thought. How about a runaway wedding, just the two of you, somewhere peaceful and private? If the thought of guest lists and menus fills you with panic instead of excitement, a romantic elopement might just be your kind of wedding.

Eloping doesn’t necessarily mean nipping to Gretna Green (although that’s a pretty easy place to do it) or making like Elvis in Vegas. It just means slipping off and getting married quietly, often just the two of you, rather than having a big traditional celebration. You might keep it super simple at your local registry office, or you might go all in on that big escape, somewhere wild and beautiful.

I love weddings in all their quirky shapes and sizes, and there’s something very special about such a private, intimate ceremony. It’s definitely not for everyone, but just maybe it’s for you…

Elopment of two girls wearing silver and tartan wedding dress

Ready, steady… go!

For lots of people the appeal of eloping is that you can skip so much of the planning and preparation. Yes, you can forget the seating plan, the buttonhole order and your sister-in-law’s gluten allergy, but there are still a few things to get ticked off before the big day.

On the TV, people run off and get married the day they propose, but in real life there’s a bit of paperwork to do first. Wherever you’ve got in mind for your ceremony – whether it’s a registry office in Nottingham, a sun-kissed beach in Italy or a windswept crag in the Peak District – check what you need to do first.

The rules depend on the place (and country!), but unless you’ve picked somewhere that’s been approved to conduct weddings, you’ll need to do the legal formalities at a registry office first. It’s a quick process and you can save your readings and rings for later, but you won’t be able to just pitch up on the day, so give them a call beforehand to find out the details.

Your wedding, your way

Just because you’re not inviting hundreds of people, it doesn’t mean you can’t wear a beautiful dress, carry beautiful flowers or arrive in a gorgeous vintage car. If that’s what you want, go for it. You’ll be saving a lot of money by skipping all those guests, so hopefully it’ll feel more affordable. On the other hand, if the appeal of eloping is to escape all that, you totally can. Wear your jeans, arrive on your bike, bring your dog, pick flowers from your garden – whatever makes your day perfect.

Elopment of two traveller girls in the Peak District in autumn

Great reasons to go for it…

  • Eloping makes wedding planning simpler and less stressful. You’ll be able to do it your way, without fending off the opinions of your extended family.

  • You’ll save a lot of money – which might mean you can get married sooner or go on an amazing honeymoon.

  • Get anxious standing in front of lots of people? Eloping means you’ll be able to relax, focus on your fiancé and really enjoy your day.

  • You won’t have to worry about everyone getting along. Whether you’ve been married before or your parents can’t bear to be in the same room together, you can ditch the politics and make it all about the two of you.

  • There are lots of great venues that specialise in small, elopement weddings, as well as companies who’ll arrange a ceremony anywhere you choose. Either way, they’ll make you feel really special and give you the private, stress-free experience you’re looking for.

…and a few reasons to think carefully

  • Almost inevitably, someone will be disappointed to have missed your big day. Maybe you’ll compromise and invite your parents, or maybe you’ll stick to your guns and go it alone. Either way, think about how you’ll feel, and how you’ll handle their feelings.

  • It’s your day. If you’ve always pictured a big, traditional wedding, make sure eloping won’t leave you feeling like you’ve missed out.

  • You won’t be celebrating with your friends and family. If that’s a relief, great, but if you like a party, think it over. You could always throw a big, less formal bash after your honeymoon.

  • Weddings bring people together. If your parents aren’t convinced about your fiancé, seeing you take your vows might put them at ease, while not inviting them might make matters worse.

Atumn inspired bridal bouquet

Making your memories

If you do decide to elope, don’t forget you’ll still want some beautiful photos to look back on. Even if it’s just for a few hours, booking a wedding photographer whose work you love will give you some really magical, personal shots. Plenty of people will be dying to see what you got up to, and you can even use your photos to make wedding announcements, letting everyone in on your big news. It’s a pretty amazing way to do it!

Magda x