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11 Things You Need to Know About the Planned Elopement

Just over a month ago, I got married. It was a joyous, wonderful day that resulted from a — here’s the important part — planned elopement. Never heard of a “planned elopement?” Well, here’s the gist: According to The New York Times, eloping does not mean what it once did. While in the past, eloping meant getting married in secret (usually because your family didn’t approve of the person you were marrying), these days eloping is more about having a simple, small wedding without the hoopla and the months of planning. And yes, without spending an average $35,359.

The planned elopement (like the one I had) is all about keeping things stress-free, which is one of the reasons why more and more couples are choosing to go this route. After you’ve gotten engaged and talked to your fiancée about all of the important things, it’s time to decide: Do you want to spend money on a big party or do you want to use it elsewhere? Although a planned elopement is not for everybody, it can definitely be the right choice for a lot of couples. Here are 11 things that you need to know about the planned elopement and how to still have one AH-mazing day  —  even if it’s just the two of you.

Eloping means a lot of different things these days. 

Sure, eloping can happen the good old fashioned way (in secret) because your families just don’t get along. But eloping can also happen because you want something simple and discreet. The nice thing about eloping is that people automatically know that you want a no-fuss wedding and don’t tend to let you stress over the details. While it might still include some planning (and it might not), eloping means that you can basically do whatever you want and — more importantly — leave out whatever you don’t want.

The planned elopement is the new fast casual.

You know how people absolutely LOVE Chipotle because it’s a really easy way to get good food fast? Well, eloping is kind of like that. It’s a way to have a wedding in a fast way but without spending a whole lot of money or a whole lot of time planning the whole thing. Having a planned elopement is a good way to do SOME planning for your special day, but without it taking over your whole life for a year (an actual complaint from several bride friends of mine).

Your family might not totally “get it.” 

When I first told my family that my husband and I decided to elope, they were a little bit confused. They didn’t quite understand why we were canceling our original plan to have a bigger wedding, why we decided to cut the guest list, and why we were doing things quicker than expected. We had our reasons, though, and we tried to explain them the best we could. Just don’t be surprised if your mamí faints at some point during the conversation.

Some of your friends may not be able to come. 

Unfortunately for me, I live far away from most of my friends, which meant that not a whole a lot of them would have been able to come to my wedding. That is the obvious risk you take when you decide to plan something that is quicker or more unconventional or simply smaller than your average wedding. Although your friends will likely be supportive, it’s not always possible for them to make it down for your big (small) day. That’s okay, but it might take some getting used to.

Focus on what you really, really want. 

One of the best things about eloping is that you can basically focus on just what YOU and your future spouse wants. Seriously, that was my favorite part of eloping. All you really have to do is figure out what you guys want out of the day. Do you want to have a casual lunch? Great. Do you still want to get fancy makeup and blow-out? That’s cool too. Do you want to escape to a nearby town with just you two? Excellent. Start looking together on Pinterest at elopement weddings to get a sense of the type of things you can do and not do, and go from there.

There are some essentials: The dress, a cake, a photographer. 

Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean that you should forego some of the more fun wedding traditions. Of course, it’s up to you what you want to spend your money on and what you want to forget, but I would definitely recommend that you invest in a dress, a cake, and a photographer. There’s also flowers to consider, the possibility of a tiny reception, rings you’ll want to buy, and anything else that is on your “must have” list versus your “might be nice, but not necessary” list.

Invite ONLY those you want to be there. 

Another great thing about eloping? You can invite whoever you want, including no one. There are some states in the country that allow you to get married with just your officiant as a witness and some where you can even just marry yourselves. There’s Las Vegas, too, if you want something quick. But a planned elopement allows you to invite a few people, thankfully, if you’re afraid that papí will kill you if he’s not there. Invite close family and/or close friends. It’s whatever you want!

You can do it anywhere you like.

You probably first pictured going down to your city’s courthouse in order to tie the knot, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. So long as you get a marriage license and follow your state’s laws, you can hire an officiant, rent space in a park, and have an outdoor wedding. Or you can talk to your local religious house about having a small ceremony there. You can even do it in your own backyard, if that’s your thing. Really, anywhere that you want is the key.

Yes, you might save tons of money.

If you’re looking to save about $35k, then having a smaller wedding is the key. However, it can also get pricey really fast if you’re not watching what you’re spending where. A photographer can cost quite a bit, as can a wedding dress. Just as with any other wedding, make sure to set a budget and figure out how much you actually want to spend on your elopement. It’s okay to spend more and it’s okay to spend less. Since this day is just about you and how you want it, you get to decide.

No, the day won’t be any less “special.” 

A lot of people were a bit concerned that my special day would be “less special” because it was smaller. Well, let me tell you: That’s not true at all. What truly makes your wedding special is being with your partner, looking at them in the eyes as you say “I do,” and celebrating your marriage with just the people you want (even if that means only the two of you). No matter what, the day you get married is going to be a really special one. It might not be THE most special day of your marriage, but that’s okay. All that matters here is your love and commitment to one another.

Celebrating with honeymoon is definitely still in order!

One of the best decisions my husband and I ever made before getting married is that we wanted to spend more money on our honeymoon than on the wedding. And so, we decided to take a cruise together as a newly married couple. We also made sure to book a couples massage (which I would HIGHLY recommend) and spend our first night as a married couple in a fancy hotel. I’m not saying this is what you need to do, but you should definitely set aside some part of your budget for a honeymoon. Trust me, you won’t regret this one!