elopement ceremony on the Isle of Mull near ancient standing stones with bride and groom along with celebrant and witnesses

- Elopement Planning Guides -

Eloping with family:

THe Essential Guide

Updated 11th December, 2021

Updated: 23rd June, 2022

Eloping with Family: How to Include your Closest Family in Your Elopement

Elopements are incredible. Two people surrounded by beautiful a landscape in complete peace and stillness. It’s perfect.

You know you want to get married this way, but there’s one thing holding you back: how do I include my family?

When you think about your elopement, you can’t imagine it without including your closest family in some way. Maybe you’re even nervous about what they’ll say when you tell them you want to elope.

This is a completely normal feeling.

Well, let me tell you this: There are so many ways for your family to have a meaningful impact on your elopement, whether they’re there or not. This guide will walk you through how to include your family in various ways. Also, I’ll give you some pro tips on what you need to consider if you do decide to bring a small group of family and friends with you.

bride's family putting on her veil before her family elopement

Can I elope with my family?

In a word: Yes! You can definitely have a meaningful, intimate elopement AND include your family.

An elopement is an intentionally small and intimate wedding where the focus of the day is you, without judgement or drama.

Every decision is made to reflect your values. If that includes bringing your family, then great! If it doesn’t, then there are still loads of ways you can still include them in your day.

Are you sitting there thinking, ‘What would that even look like?’. If so, you’re in the right place.

You might not believe this, but most couples who elope with me include their family in some way.

bride smiling at groom after their elopement

Top Tips to Include Your Family In Your Elopement

I always tell couples this: your elopement is your day, so create a day how you truly want it to look like. Here are some ways you can make your family a part of your day.

Bring Them Along with You

That’s right, let them tag along for the adventure. Let’s face it, although one of the reasons couples choose to elope is to escape family drama, eloping means you get to decide who comes and who doesn’t. After all, it’s your day.

If you simply can’t envisage getting married without those you love the most present, that’s okay. Families and friends can be there to provide emotional support and be involved in parts of your day. You’re creating memories you’ll have for the rest of your lives and there’s something quite special about doing that with others.

Include them in Your Planning

You’ve made the decision: your family won’t be there for your elopement. But, they love and support you and are overjoyed you’ve made the decision to do this your way. So, why not involve them in planning your adventure?

This can be done in so many ways, so here are 4 ideas for you:

  1. Unsure of a ceremony location? Ask them for their advice. Knowing that the spot you got married at was decided as a family can add an extra sentimental and meaningful touch.
  2. Bring them shopping with you for your outfits. Having your Mother, Dad, Brother/Sister, or other relative’s second opinion will help to make them feel part of your day.
  3. If you like the idea of more of a DIY approach, organise a craft night together with some delicious food and drink. Some of my previous couples have made their own bouquets, buttonholes, jewellery, vow books, and even dresses.
  4. Do you want to roll your honeymoon into your elopement? Why not ask them for their ideas on where you could go and what you could do.
bride reading handwritten letter as a gift from her family on her elopement day in Scotland

Ask them to Write or Record Supportive Messages

You wake up, it’s your wedding day, and you’re feeling a bit nervous. What better way to start your day than by opening supportive letters from your loved ones? Better still, you could even watch video messages they recorded for you. This a beautiful way of feeling like your family are there with you and will make your elopement morning have that extra special emotional touch.

Have a Virtual Toast to Celebrate

Another way to include your closest family and friends is to jump on a video call after your ceremony for a virtual toast. Whilst you’re enjoying a nice cold drink, your family can be at home ready to celebrate with you.

Include Family Heirlooms and Sentimental Items

Do you have any sentimental items you could bring with you on your elopement? Although your family aren’t physically there with you, there’re still so many ways you can feel they’re there supporting you. You could recycle your parent’s wedding clothes (or a specific item), bring sentimental items of jewellery, or anything unique to you and your family.

All of the small details of your elopement will add up to make it more emotionally-charged and memorable.

bride holding her necklace with her mother and dad's pictures inside

Turn Your Elopement into a Multi-Day Event

Okay, so you really want to bring your family to your elopement, but there’s just one issue: you want plenty of ‘just us’ time to venture out with your photographer to beautiful locations without your family waiting around for you to get back.

The solution? Split your elopement up into a 2-day event.

There are so many benefits to this. It’s a great way of slowing down your elopement and enjoying every moment of it without it feeling rushed. After all, you’re probably eloping because you want a stress-free experience.

For example, on day 1 you could get ready, have your first look and ceremony, ending the day with an intimate family meal.

Then, on day 2, whilst your family are off doing their own thing, you could both head out to a few locations with your photographer to get beautiful photos. The benefit of this is that it’s a lot easier to get the best of both worlds. For example, are you both keen to head to a beautiful spot for a sunrise photo session? Maybe your family aren’t, so you could do that on day 2 whilst they’re doing other things.

Also, if you’re up for going on more of an adventurous hike and certain family members aren’t, then they don’t need to come. You can take the second day entirely for yourselves.

Glen Etive bride and groom walking holding hands surrounded by trees

Elopements aren’t all or nothing – you can create your day however you want it to look.

Have a Pre-Elopement Celebratory Meal

What better way to celebrate the start of your elopement than by inviting your closest family and friends for a meal. You could use this time to exchange gifts and show your family photos of all of the locations you’re going to. It’ll also build-up your trip so that you leave for it on a high.

Throw a Post-Elopement Reception Party

This is actually more common than you might think. You’ve been away and had an amazing adventure exploring new places as a married couple. Now you want to share all of your stories with your closest family and friends and show them what you did. You could hire a local venue and have food and drinks or invite a small group of people around to your house.

PRO TIP: If you organise this for after your photographer delivers your full gallery of images, you can show everyone a slideshow of them all on a big screen. If you also hired a videographer then you can watch your full elopement film and re-live those moments together.

eloping with family idea - groom giving a drink of whisky to his friend out of a quaich

Important Considerations When Eloping with Family

(if they’re physically coming with you)

If you do decide to invite a small selection of family and friends with you to your elopement, there are some extra things you need to consider so your day runs smoothly. Setting the correct expectations will got a long way to ensuring everyone has a great time and understands what’s happening.

Below are some of the most important considerations when eloping with family.

  1. Transport – This is hugely dependent on your chosen location. However, think about the different locations with a top-down approach. For example, how’re your family getting to your elopement location? Are you travelling together or separately? If you’re going together then organise a time you can all get together to go through your itinerary. The last thing you’d want is someone booking a flight for the wrong date. Once there, how’re you all getting to your ceremony location? Split up your elopement into bit-sized chunks and tackle them separately.
  2. Terrain – When eloping outdoors, you’re likely going to come across a variety of terrain. If your elopement involves a hike, are all family members able to complete the hike comfortably? Even if you’re on the flat, uneven ground can be difficult to walk on if you’re not wearing the correct footwear. We want everyone to enjoy your elopement, so ensuring people know exactly where they’re going and what they’ll be doing is a big one.
  3. Food and Water – Ever completed a hike and then forgotten your bottle of water? Yep, I’ve been there too. We laugh in hindsight, but it’s not very funny in the moment, is it? Take bit of time to make sure everyone has access to enough food and water. Nobody likes a hangry relative.
  4. Timeline – Generally, timelines are always a little behind schedule, so it’s always good to add extra time onto however long you think things will take. With family members, things will likely take a little longer than they would if you were eloping just the two of you. Having a well thought out timeline will make sure your day runs stress-free and you can do everything you want to. I help my couples plan their timelines, so lean on the expertise of your suppliers.
  5. Weather – It comes with the territory, but you’re likely going to be outdoors and the weather can be unpredictable. If you’re eloping somewhere hot, you’ll need more water and protection from the sun. If it’s forecast to rain then bring extra layers of clothing and waterproofs. Having the correct clothing will make sure everyone enjoys their experience.
  6. Set the Correct Expectations – This is a big one. Remember: this is your day. You’ve chosen to invite your closest family members, but you’re eloping because you want a day that reflects your unique relationship to the fullest. If you’re clear with family about why you’re eloping, then they’ll know exactly what to expect on the day.

PRO TIP: Organise a family meal or even a video chat with everyone who’ll be there on the day. If they’re things you’ve not accounted for or issues that come up, it’s easy enough to iron them out before you travel.

Are you thinking about eloping and after some help and guidance? I’ve created more guides to help couples just like you get the best out of their elopement experience. You can read more guides here.

I’d love to chat to you and see how we can work together to make your vision come to life. Just get in touch.

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