We're Eloping—Can We Still Make a Wedding Registry?

Eloping is a wonderful and intimate way to celebrate your love and get married. If you're wondering if you can still make a registry, read on. Here's all the etiquette advice around registries and elopements.

By Monica Mercuri

couple eloping
Photo by Amber Robinson

For some engaged folks, walking down the aisle just isn’t part of their wedding day vision. Maybe the thought of planning a ceremony and reception is overwhelming and unnecessarily expensive to you and your partner. Or, maybe you don’t want to wait so long to get married. Enter elopement! Eloping can mean forgoing all wedding traditions or it can mean only including those which matter most to you and your partner.

Maybe you want a small wedding party but can skip the fancy attire. Maybe you don’t want the crowd but would like a registry—and maybe you’re wondering if that’s OK. It’s not black and white. Here’s everything to consider before making a wedding registry for your elopement wedding.

Is it acceptable to create a wedding registry if we’re eloping?

A wedding registry is a way for couples to outline what wedding gifts they’d like to receive from their wedding guests. If you’re eloping, you may not really be having much of a ceremony—at least in the traditional sense.

Truthfully, if you’re completely forgoing a celebration or ceremony of any kind (e.g. you and your partner get married at city hall and go to brunch afterward), you should skip the traditional wedding registry, too.

If you’re hosting some kind of celebration—something as small as a dinner with your close friends and family or something as large as an actual party a few days later—then it’s OK to create a registry. There is, however, a right and wrong way to make a registry if you’re eloping, which we’ll get to below.

INLINE AngelicaRadwayPhotography 1080x720 Ashley&David Photo Credit // Angelica Radway Photography

What if our loved ones want to give us gifts?

If you’re having a private elopement but your friends and family have specifically asked you about gifts or a wedding registry, that’s great. You can absolutely offer gift suggestions or even request money a la a cash fund. You’ll really only be skipping the formality of sharing your gift selections with an extended group.

Rest assured that if your loved ones want to gift you something for your elopement, they definitely will—with or without a registry.

How should I share my elopement registry?

Since you’re not having an all-out wedding, you probably aren’t sending save-the-dates or invitations. If you are having a celebration of some kind, however, you can include a link to your registry on a paper or digital invite. Note: Only share your registry info with people invited to whatever celebration you have planned.

If you’re having a particularly small elopement party (either directly after your elopement or down the line), an email with a call-out to your registry is fine. Basically, a wedding website isn’t necessary.

What should I put on my elopement registry?

Now that you’ve decided to go ahead with a registry, you’re probably wondering if you should be following the same etiquette as those who have more traditional weddings. The answer is no, not really. Your elopement registry should mirror your wedding style: low-key and simple. Here’s how to build it out.

Stick to the necessities.

Try to only ask for items you really need (and that are reasonably priced). While you may want the full set of gorgeous barware, you may want to skip it in favor of something more necessary. Think about what items you’ve been meaning to purchase or that feel patently necessary to your home or life, like a vacuum.

Add experiences.

We don’t want to make any assumptions, but if you’re skipping a traditional wedding, you may want to skip the traditional registry, too. If you don’t want or need any specific physical items, fill your registry with experiences or cash funds. Make your requests specific. So, instead of making a general cash fund, make a few small ones that you dedicate to certain expenses. For example, make a cash fund for any personal loans, travel desires, or date nights.

INLINE LoganRoquemorePhotography 1080x72 Luciana&Guillermo Photo Credit // Logan Roquemore Photography

Keep it private.

As we said, only people invited to your celebration should know about your wedding registry. If there are people who reach out when they hear the news and want to send something, then you can share your picks with them. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.

Keep it short, too.

Try to keep your elopement registry short and sweet. If you’re having a smaller celebration, you don’t want to overwhelm your friends and family with a ton of gift ideas or with too many expensive items. You’re more likely to receive the things you want if you keep a curated registry.

Be OK with not receiving gifts.

At the end of the day, remember that you’re nixing a traditional wedding for a reason—again, that’s fine. That may also mean, however, that you’re also relinquishing other certain classic wedding benefits like gifts.

Some guests may not find it appropriate to get you a gift even if you’re still hosting a celebration of some sort. It’s not super likely, but it’s definitely possible. At the end of the day, you’re marrying your partner in an intimate and unique way. That’s what matters.

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