Elopement ceremony: bride and groom holding hands while walking

An elopement ceremony is the perfect wedding option for couples wanting privacy, intimacy, and treasured memories. It’s the two of you — plus your officiant — in a beautiful life moment.

If you’re planning your elopement ceremony, we’re here to help. Discover some of our favorite ideas for your big day, from finding the perfect spot for saying “I do” to making the moment feel unique and special.

11 Beautiful Elopement Ceremony Ideas

Ready to kick off your elopement planning? Here are the best elopement ceremony ideas we’ve ever had. Use these elopement ideas to inspire your big day and create the ceremony of your dreams.

1. Seek Out a Special Location

You and your betrothed take center stage at your elopement, but the elopement location can also play a starring role on the big day. For a unique elopement, choose a location or venue that matches your style, makes you catch your breath, or holds a special memory for the two of you.

Popular adventure elopement locations include National Parks, the top of a mountain, by your favorite lake, or on the beach. While many couples favor outdoor ceremonies, you can also host your elopement indoors. Art galleries, private dining spaces, chic hotel staircases, and timeless courthouses are all lovely options.

2. Pick the Perfect Time of Day

Elopement ceremony: Modern Just Married Announcement

Design: Erika Firm

Many weddings happen in the early afternoon to give everyone enough time to enjoy the ceremony and party into the night at the reception. With an elopement, there may not be a traditional reception afterward, so you have much more freedom to get married any time of day.

For an unforgettable elopement experience, consider saying your vows at sunrise or sunset. Ask your wedding planner or a local expert for the best time to experience your chosen location so you get the best views and atmosphere.

Matching card: Modern Just Married Announcement

3. Find Your Dream Wedding Officiant

Like traditional wedding ceremonies, you’ll need an officiant to sign your marriage license to make it official. This varies by state, so it’s best to check in advance. Your officiant could be a professional or even a friend or family member.

While sorting out your wedding officiant, check any other laws you need to follow within your state or chosen wedding location. You may need to have witnesses and an officiant, or you may be able to get married with just the two of you in a self-solemnizing ceremony instead.

4. Book a Specialist Elopement Photographer

Swirled Ink Strokes Announcement

Design: Paper Raven Co. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Nied)

An elopement can feel very different from a traditional wedding. For that reason, it’s best to book with a wedding photographer who specializes in elopements or small weddings.

Your photographer can put together an elopement package that provides coverage of your ceremony, any post-ceremony celebrations or toasts, and some scenic shots of the two of you in your chosen location. You’ll look back on these photos for the rest of your life, so picking your wedding photographer should take time — but it’s well worth it.

Matching card: Swirled Ink Strokes Announcement

5. Write Your Own Wedding Vows

For a ceremony that’s so uniquely yours, writing personalized vows makes sense. Reading handwritten vows on your wedding day is a touching sentiment, and it’s no surprise that so many eloping couples choose to do this.

Set aside time to brainstorm and write your vows at home, or do this together as a lovely pre-wedding bonding moment. Write your chosen words in a vow book for the big day. This helps you remember them and acts as a keepsake for the future.

6. Embrace a Tradition or Start Your Own

Elopements are exciting because they’re personal and unique. It’s the perfect opportunity to weave in a special tradition or create your own new family tradition.

Many couples add a handfasting ceremony or unity ceremony like sand pouring to their elopement experience. You could also read poems to each other while you exchange rings, end with a first kiss and a toast of champagne, or play your favorite songs and dance after you exchange vows.

7. Wear What Makes You Happy

Vintage Polaroid Trio Announcement

Design: Signature Greenvelope (Photos courtesy of Julia Kinnunen Photography)

Without the pressure of a traditional ceremony and traditional wedding attire, you’re free to wear whatever you like for your elopement ceremony. Consider the location and any practicalities, but embrace the opportunity to be completely comfortable.

Swap a wedding dress for a denim jumpsuit, a suit for a floral shirt and shorts, or even wear your favorite cosplay outfits. Hiking boots with a casual white slip? Love! This doesn’t mean you have to ditch the familiar, though, if that’s what you prefer — a lot of couples still opt for a white gown or formal suit for a timeless look and feel.

Matching card: Vintage Polaroid Trio Announcement

8. Focus on Details You Love

Elopements provide a unique opportunity to customize the experience. This is your special day, so make it your own by focusing on wedding details you enjoy the most.

Take elements from a bigger wedding that you like, and bring them into your elopement ceremony. Capture the “first look” as you spot your partner approaching the ceremony location. Plan a first dance straight after the ceremony with just your partner and the photographer there. Splash out on a decadent wedding cake. Choose the details and moments you’ve always wanted and find a way to feature them on your big day.

9. Invite Guests to Join from a Distance

Your elopement day is a moment for just the two of you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share it with others. If you’d love to involve your closest friends and family members, look for a fun way to do it.

See if you can host a livestream of your elopement ceremony for your loved ones or invite them to share a few sweet words or a poem that you can read aloud as part of your ceremony script. Whether you’re getting married in your hometown or at a destination wedding on the other side of the world, there’s always a way to do it. And if you have a small number of guests, our elopement invitations are ideal.

10. Send an Elopement Announcement to Loved Ones

Couldn't Wait Announcement

Design: Signature Greenvelope

After the ceremony, celebrate in your own way — just the two of you. When it’s time to let your loved ones know about your exciting news, choose one of our elopement announcements to help you do it.

We have a beautiful collection of elopement announcement cards that you can customize and make your own. Change the layout and fonts, add your elopement photos, and personalize the card with your own unique wording.

Matching card: Couldn’t Wait Announcement

11. Consider Hosting an Elopement Party

Some couples elope for intimacy, while for others, it’s due to budget or location. Having a small wedding ceremony doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the party, though. If you want to celebrate with your loved ones, plan an elopement afterparty.

Choose a date that works for you after your elopement, then plan an amazing get-together. Style it like a traditional wedding reception, or plan something unique — like a beachside BBQ, a backyard pool party, or a retro skating night. When you’re ready to spread the news, use one of our elopement reception invitations.

Create Your Dream Elopement Ceremony Experience

Wedding planning is always exciting — especially when you’re planning your dream elopement ceremony. Use this guide to help you discover what you want, so you can bring all your ideas together in a unique way that truly reflects who you are as a couple.

Once you’ve tied the knot, consider using our elopement announcement cards to tell your loved ones the big news. We have plenty of designs, so there’s something to suit every taste or style. Let the celebrations begin!