Just because a huge reception isn’t your thing, doesn’t mean you have to opt out of these wedding traditions.
Are you exchanging the months of wedding planning, stress, and all the money for an intimate elopement? Congratulations! If you’re saddened at the thought of missing exchanging vows, or walking down the aisle to your almost husband, we’ve got news for you: Just because you’re skipping the big ceremony and large guest list doesn’t mean you can’t include those classic wedding traditions in your elopement if that’s what you’ve been picturing.
We’d estimate that 70% of our couples ask to include some sort of tradition in their elopement, even if it’s as simple as traditional vows or wearing a white dress. The most common reason why people want to elope is they don’t want to feel required to do “traditional” on a large scale. The great thing about an elopement is you can still have the same sweet traditions, the same exchanging of love, just not with so many eyes on you. You can do whatever you want. We always encourage couples to embrace that.
If you’re thinking of or actively planning an elopement, here are six ways you can work classic wedding traditions into your nuptials.
One of the most popular wedding traditions that couples include in their elopements are vows. Couples will pull from religious institutions and civil ceremony playbooks to craft their vows. Many hire a traditional officiant, too. We encourage our people to use elements in your wedding that reflect the things that make your relationship wonderful and unique, including what you say to each other. We film elopements all the time that include their vows and they are still just as teary-eyed as any other ‘traditional’ wedding.
2. WEDDING PARTY
Want a wedding party at your elopement? Why not? Cue the squad—having your extra-special friends and family stand by you is a thoughtful touch, with or without the additional wedding fanfare. If you’re going to designate a wedding party, just be sure it’s not the entire guest list. Keep the bridesmaids and groomsmen to a few people if your guest count is extremely intimate. When we plan our couple’s elopements, we always make sure that our Glacier National Park ceremony location is large enough for your wedding party.
3. WALK DOWN THE AISLE
Why not make a grand entrance? While not all elopements have aisles, there’s no reason you cannot arrive to your all-time favorite song or walk down a designated aisle. National parks do not allow flower petals, rice, leaves, confetti, etc. for an aisle or to toss afterwards, BUT that iconic walk down the aisle can still be yours. Figuring out how to use an untraditional space is part of the fun! That goes for the escort too. Dad, a close family member, mom, or friend, can still take your arm and walk you down to the altar.
4. FIRST LOOK
First looks are a relatively new tradition on the wedding timeline, and they are finding their way into elopements as well. Many couples who elope also hire us to capture the day and make a first look part of the itinerary. Like a traditional wedding, couples collaborate with us to find a photogenic location for their initial meeting on the big day. For elopements, this can be rather dramatic given such destinations as national parks, cliffsides, and beaches that are a better fit for a small group than a classic wedding.
5. CHAMPAGNE TOAST
Cheers to you newlyweds - you did it! - with a bottle of bubbly. We always bring along a special bottle of Champagne for our elopement couples to get the party started, even if you’re keeping the celebration quiet. We always check the restrictions of alcohol restrictions in national parks. If the park or location doesn’t allow alcohol, we always go to a nearby bar or restaurant for the toast. We always plan a space ahead of time so you can remain carefree and enjoy the experience on the day-of.
6. FIRST DANCE
Having a first dance at your elopement can be just as meaningful as it is in front of 300 guests. Even if it’s just the two of you, find a place near your ceremony location that has a relatively flat surface. Play your favorite song—as simply as pumping the tunes through your iPhone speaker—and embrace as newlyweds. We highly recommend you give that dress a twirl! Hiring a live musician, typically a guitarist or violinist to play during that sweet moment would make things that much more special. You can’t be afraid to get creative and to splurge a little. Just because you’re not having this big, traditional wedding doesn’t mean you can’t go big with some things!