When you see or hear the word elopement, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? For us Filipinos, we might automatically think of young lovers escaping from disapproving parents as seen in many teleseryes. In other words, “nag-tanan.” But in the wedding world, an elopement is not a form of rebellion by forbidden lovers. In fact, it’s considered as a type of intimate wedding and they can certainly be beautiful, romantic, and meaningful.
In an elopement you could have a lesser number of guests than an intimate wedding where there are usually 30 or 50 people. It could even be just the two of you plus an officiant, and your witnesses. You can also hold an elopement ceremony absolutely anywhere – on top of a mountain, on the beach, or in the middle of the woods.
Couples choose to do elopement ceremonies, because it simply suits their personalities. If you are considering an elopement ceremony for now, here are some tips to help you plan one.
Ask Yourselves if an Elopement is What You Really Want
Are there circumstances that make an elopement ceremony the more practical choice for you? Does it match your personalities? Since we are not allowed to hold gatherings with a large number of guests right now, having a much smaller event would be better and safer. If all the cancelling, postponing, and re-scheduling are stressing you out too much and all you want to do is get married already, then an elopement might be a good option. But if celebrating your marriage in the presence of your family and friends matters the most to you, then you can either postpone or do an elopement first then have a second event with more guests later on.
An elopement might not be suitable for you if you are adamant about having a religious ceremony like a Catholic wedding, because these are only allowed in Church. Catholic weddings are also intended to be communal events celebrated with families and godparents present, so this may fall under intimate weddings more than elopements.
Secure Necessary Permits and Documents
One of the first things you need to do is to make sure you have all necessary documents to legalize your marriage, like a marriage license. Be sure to do your research about marriage requirements specific to the local government of your chosen destination. Check the local government website, visit the municipality if you must, and secure your pre-requisites and documents in advance.
Plan Like How You Would an Intimate or Grand Wedding
Though the nature of an elopement is quite spontaneous, there is still some planning and preparation involved. Set a budget, prepare your mood boards, have a list of your preferred suppliers, bookmark your venue options, save dress pegs, so you can still have the kind of wedding that reflects who you are as a couple. You can also hire a wedding coordinator if you feel they would make the whole process more convenient for you.
Choose a Venue You Love
Did you ever daydream of being wed on a cliff, in a secluded garden, or by a lake? There are so many possibilities for elopement venues, and they usually involve a bit of traveling. Most elopements we have seen are abroad, but if you’re getting married in the Philippines, and if traveling out of town is permitted again, there are several beaches, outdoor locations, and resorts you can choose from. Like any venue, you’ll just need to check if there are packages you can avail in that location, what their in-house rules are for events, and the like. Try to book your ideal location months ahead of your wedding date if necessary.
The beauty of an elopement is how intimate and private it is, but not necessarily hidden in secrecy! Your venue doesn’t need a floor plan for tables and chairs. It can be somewhere where you’re free to walk, run, and just be yourselves.
Choose Your Officiant and Witnesses
You will still need witnesses to sign your marriage certificate, and they can be anyone. Your wedding photographer even! But you can also invite your closest friends as your witnesses if they’re available. You can also invite your parents if they are able to come. As we’ve mentioned, the main difference of an elopement from traditional weddings is the number of people present. An elopement would normally have less than 10 in attendance, and this might already include your suppliers.
Depending on local laws, you will also need an officiant or an ordained minister to preside over your wedding. You’re free to choose the format and program for your elopement whether it’s like a civil or more of a spiritual ceremony.
Book Your Suppliers in Advance
If you would like to have your elopement ceremony documented, then it’s best to book your photographer and videographer in advance. Schedules get filled up really fast, so if you want to have your dream team for your wedding, it’s better to inquire and book as soon as you can. In an elopement, however, you might not need as many suppliers as a traditional wedding. You can simply keep your list to your must-haves. This could be venue, photographer, videographer, wedding rings, designers or stores for your attire, among others. Choose suppliers whom you truly feel are the ones necessary to make your elopement special and personalized.
Prepare a Simple Wedding Day Timeline
You can make a list of activities for the day to make things easier and seamless. You can also have a checklist of items you’ll need to pack and bring along with you to your location. A timeline will also help in scheduling your pre- and post- ceremony photos especially if you’re trying to catch the sunrise and sunset. These are usually the best times to snap some gorgeous, scenic photos! Choose the time of day for your ceremony, so you can also notify your witnesses and suppliers.
In an elopement, there’s more time for you to spend with each other. You don’t need the usual merriment and mingling with guests after the ceremony. If you still want to do some of the traditions like a cake cutting and toast, then of course you’re free to do so. There’s no strict program or structure to follow here. You can customize your day in any way you want.