Wedding Planning 101: When to Elope

Scrap all the plans. We’re going to elope!

Some decide from the very beginning that they want their wedding to be “just the two of us.”

For us, we’ve been talking about weddings since before our engagement and had tossed around every idea in the book. So there are a number of reasons Brendan and I are making the decision to elope. Some of them relatable, some just crazy moment of opportunity, and some out of quite the feeling of chaos.

The Backstory

For one: we got engaged in October 2020. For those who may have forgotten, that was during the whole global pandemic thing. As we plan our wedding, it has continued to be an obstacle and I’m sure it will continue to be. There is uncertainty of whether we can even have our friends and family with us for a wedding due to world circumstances. Plus there was an additional large impact to our personal finances because of the pandemic.

As you may (or may not) have noticed, I went from posting weekly Wedding Planning update blogs to basically nothing. So yeah, I’d say it was a whole whirlwind there for a hot second.

Then came along an insanely incredible opportunity to be part of a photography Styled Shoot in Big Bend National Park. A wedding planner and photographer would be taking over all the planning. Even better, the date just happens to be on our three year dating anniversary. (Though we fully recognize that this is not a usual opportunity!).

Of course, 8 weeks before our wedding, all kinds of chaos happened and the Styled Shoot got cancelled. Scrambling like crazy, we had to decide what was important to us and we began the process of re-planning an entire wedding in just under 8 weeks. (Yes, a lot of cookies, brownies, ice cream sandwiches and wine have also been involved).

Once again, we found ourselves reconsidering all of our options and trying to come up with the best option for us to elope and enjoy the beginning of our marriage. The first step, for us, is to figure out what was important to us about our wedding.

Important Items in Deciding to Elope

When we thought about our wedding and our decision to elope, there were a few things we decided were absolutely essential to us. Personally, the most important things were each other and having wedding photography. Though family and friends are insanely valuable to us, most of our family and family aren’t located in Texas.

As much as having people around to celebrate with us, we instead are opting to have a “Wedding Replay” a few weeks after our wedding with video and photos from our wedding and honeymoon. It’s a “come as you are” party with opportunity for chatting and toasting with friends and family.

Some of the decisions that may influence your decision to elope can include any of the following (and more):

  • Location, Location, Location – WHERE do you want to get married and is it a place that can be easily accessed by who you want there?
  • People – WHO do you absolutely want at your wedding?
  • Attention! – Do you like being the center of attention, or do you find it easier to focus when it’s just you?
  • Money – The less guests, the less money. AND the more money you have to spend on things that matter to you (like a house, honeymoon, or an awesome photographer!)
  • Tradition or Non-Tradition – There is a huge trend right now that is encouraging couples to make their wedding their own. Eloping gives you the freedom to create your own rules for your wedding!
  • Decision Making – There are a lot of decisions involved in wedding planning! Eloping lets you have more control and less decisions to make.
  • And more!

Our Elopement Decisions

One thing I really want is for us to get married somewhere that we can adventure to with our future kids. We know that anywhere we go will be special, but since we have a little more freedom with that decision, we are heading out to Monahans Sandhills Park.

Eloping in West Texas was a lot easier to plan than a wedding, with limited venue availability and it would also be a larger time commitment since it’s more than a 6 hour drive (one way) from DFW and limited flights coming in to and out of the small airport nearby.

We also wanted to spend the most amount of time together possible! I find that, on wedding days, often times the people you end up spending the most time with are your bridal party, photographer, videographer, and guests. Sometimes your time with your spouse is so short that you barely get to spend time with them outside of the days events!

For us, having a bridal party wasn’t a huge deal. There were people we wanted to have at our wedding, but ultimately what we really want and need is us. Plus, should we decide that we “missed out” on having a big wedding, there’s always the option to have a bangin’ vow renewal in a few years!

Part of our decision also came because Brendan hates being the center of attention. I am an extrovert and love being in the center of all the action. However, I also realize that my future hubby will not be able to fully invest in our wedding day if he feels everyone’s eyes on him.

In addition, both of us are ADHD in varying degrees and really struggle with focus and distraction at times. Planning a wedding so that it’s just us allows us to have each other to focus on and be in the moment.

Choosing Our Team

Part of our reason to elope was also that we want to invest our money in two things. Personally, number one on my list is an awesome photographer. Number two is an incredible honeymoon!

Being that it’s a smaller wedding, we don’t have to invest in other important (but not necessarily needed at an elopement) vendors. We are getting catering from a local restaurant, cutting out the need for catering staff. Also, any songs we want we can play on a bluetooth speaker. Brendan is actually pretty peachy about not having to dance at our wedding, though we are planning a first dance.

The only other vendor I know I need to have there on my wedding day is a hairstylist to do my hair. Investing in someone who I can trust to help me pull off the vision I would definitely otherwise struggle with.

It’s a small team, but an important team. It allows me my lifelong dream of planning a wedding, doing DIYs and investing in creators on Etsy!

To Elope or to Micro-Wedding

Traditionally, an elopement is just the couple, officiant and (often) a photographer. When you’re planning to elope, make sure you check with your states requirements for officiants. Also, whether or not you’re require to have witnesses. But that is a pretty easy Google search!

Micro wedding in Highland Park

A micro-wedding is a smaller wedding usually under 50 guests. Often, couples will opt to combine an elopement with a later reception to create a micro wedding. But it’s your wedding and you can definitely decide to go with a small wedding and reception with guests!

Some wedding venues offer specialized packages for elopements and micro-weddings which may include all inclusive packages or less hours and lower prices.

For us, the benefit of eloping was that we could spend the whole day together, have it planned last minute and still have the bonus option of partying later with friends and family.

It’s Up to You!

The beauty of having a wedding is that YOU get to decide! It’s YOUR wedding (though there may be some people in your life that really, really want to have a say).

If you want a big wedding, get it sister! And if you want a small, intimate wedding, amazing!

You and your future spouse are joining your lives together and you get to decide how to celebrate!

Check Out the Rest of the Series!

Wedding Planning 101 was a dream I had from before we got engaged – walking through my own engagement as a relatable blog series for future couples! It is also a personal challenge to blog as consistently as possible.

And maybe add a few laughs along the way.

One | We’re All in This Together

Two | The Wedding Planner

Three | Our Proposal Story

Four | Wedding Venue Open House

Five | Wedding Officiant

Six | Choosing Your Color Pallet

Seven | Wedding Planning Goals

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