Deciding to elope during COVID-19 is a very personal (and sometimes hard) decision. Whether you’re doing it for the safety of friends and family or you’ve always envisioned a small, intimate ceremony, there’s no wrong reason to want to elope. There are, however, a few things you’ll want to consider differently if you’re planning a small wedding or elopement. Here’s what you need to know.
Just like you would with any wedding ceremony, you want to make sure your wedding is legal before you walk down the aisle on your wedding day. Some states require longer waiting times between receiving your marriage certificate and getting married, and most states require the presence of an officiant or minister as well as witnesses. Additionally, there’s specific phrasing you need to use in your ceremony—no matter how small it is—for the marriage to be binding. Research the rules in the state you’re getting married in to ensure your elopement counts in the eye of the law.
While scaling down your guest list is smart, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right choice to have your elopement indoors. You’ll want to consider things like how crowded the venue is, whether or not guests/workers are wearing masks, and how long you’ll be inside. That said, it’s safest to choose an outdoor venue for the reception. Luckily, there are tons of stunning venues outside that can fit every vibe from beachy, to forest, to mountain. Look for something that has good airflow, isn’t overly packed (a Disney elopement might not be the best move right now), and provides the right ambiance (think good lighting and sweeping views).
Eloping doesn’t change the fact that plans need to be made. Even in the simplest cases, you need to ensure you have a marriage certificate, an officiant (in most cases), and witness (in most cases). Additionally, planning for any travel, lodging, and potentially COVID tests before/after the wedding is vital. With pandemic-related closures, chances are you might need to make appointments or reservations further in advance, as well as add in time for quarantining if necessary.
Just because your event is more intimate doesn’t mean there’s no reason to hire a planner or a day-of coordinator. When it comes time to pull together things like food, flowers, music, cake cutting, and a first dance, a planner ensures you’re not scrambling on the day of your wedding. In addition to ensuring your vendors are where they should be and everything happens at the right time, your planner can also help with vendor contracts, technology planning (if you want friends and family to be in virtual attendance), and coordinating transportation to post-wedding lodging.
While there are a huge variety of seasoned vendors in the wedding industry, finding someone you click with is imperative—and even more so during an elopement. Since the event will be extremely intimate, selecting vendors who feel like family will make your elopement feel even more personal. Additionally, ensuring you select someone who has worked on a variety of elopements, practices COVID safety, and has experience throwing events that fit your vibe will give you peace of mind that they’ll be up to the task.
Despite scaling back on a big event, you definitely want to consider hiring a professional photographer to document your elopement. Look around for pros who are not only well-versed in photographing elopements and your venue type, but also shoot in the style you prefer, whether that’s well-lit, dark and moody, candid, or posed.
For some, the idea of an intimate elopement is a dream come true. For other couples, it’s an unfortunate necessity based on the current state of the world. If you want to include your friends and family, consider having them write notes you can read during your ceremony or even attend via FaceTime or Zoom through a virtual wedding event. You could also video call everyone after to celebrate virtually with a toast and speeches. If you can’t imagine your wedding without including a few additional people but need help coordinating the details, chat with your planner.
Just because you’re getting married doesn’t mean you can let your guard down regarding safety. Make sure to wear a mask when indoors or around others—and request your vendors do the same. If you’re traveling, plan for plenty of time to quarantine before and/or after and get a test if you could be at risk. Additionally, if you or your SO are feeling unwell, reschedule the celebration, so you don’t risk spreading the virus to others. While it might make for a few extra steps, making sure you and your loved ones are safe when you say “I do” will make you feel better as you start your marriage.
Choosing to elope during COVID is a very personal decision. As long as you plan ahead, vet your vendors, and select a location that’s special and safe, you’ll have a celebration worthy of your unique love story.