Elopement guide: Saying “I Do” during a Global Pandemic

Engaged couples all across the globe have been forced to ditch their original wedding dates and plans and are choosing elopement over postponement. After arrangements continually seem to be getting pushed further away due to covid19 and government shutdowns everywhere, it can be easily understood why eloping is being considered much more than usual these days. 

Gaining extreme popularity even prior to the global pandemic, eloping can be a fantastic experience for many couples. In addition to typically saving a ton of money by avoiding all the bells and whistles that a traditional wedding usually has, eloping is also the perfect option for couples who would prefer to say their “I do’s” in a more intimate, private, or adventurous setting. 

Times are strange right now. Maybe you’re a photographer whose wedding clients are talking about planning an elopement, or perhaps you’re a bride or groom-to-be yourself wondering where exactly to turn to for help planning. Whatever the situation might be, one thing is for sure: there is plenty to consider logistically when thinking about eloping anytime in the near future! 

If you’re going to be doing any sort of wedding planning over the next little bit, we’re here to provide some helpful advice so you can celebrate as safely as possible. 

Consider hiring a team to help plan

Just because an elopement is an intimate wedding, doesn’t mean you have to plan it completely on your own.  I highly advise couples against “just winging it”. Hiring a team to help consider the details from florals to officiants can take a lot of stress off the couple.  Some wedding planners even offer special planning packages specifically for elopement. How cool is that? 

Oftentimes, planners can also suggest really awesome, under-the-radar locations that would make ideal, secluded locations for your elopement. Hiring a team will also allow you to work with recommended vendors who, usually, have experience with smaller weddings and intimate elopements.  

Choose a location 

Avoid travelling too far (if possible)

Adventurous couples enjoy the exciting experience of hopping on a plane to a tropical island or to a popular wedding destination such as Las Vegas – however, things are not that easy right now.  Many countries continue to have strict travel restrictions in place, and the availability of options for flights remain limited. As a result, returning home from your dream elopement could turn into something straight out of a nightmare. Because of these reasons, any sort of elopement planning that involves traveling right now is probably best to avoid. 

Sure, your hometown might not be your ideal wedding spot but given the unique circumstances, we are all in right now, the safety of yourself and loved ones should be paramount. 

Other local closures

If you’re one of those outdoorsy couples who have decided to strap on your hiking boots and head into the wilderness to your favorite outdoor space to say your vows – you may be in for a bit of a rude awakening.

Unfortunately, some of nature’s most beautiful settings and picture-perfect parks are not fully reopened to the public yet, and many remain closed completely until further notice.

Be sure to check first before planning any sort of wedding in a national park right now. You can find a full updated list here:

Every park website should also include up to date information on closures and re-openings, too.

The legal stuff 

This is an important tip to consider before getting your heart set on elopement anywhere.  Be sure to check with your home town or chosen destination and see exactly what the guidelines are when it comes to getting married right now.  Ensure that you are going to actually be able to legally get married, complete the proper paperwork, and have a proper commitment service recognized by law.

Mostly all marriage registrar offices are actually closed to the general public for the time being until further notice.  For example in New York, they say Marriage licenses are available exclusively through a virtual process only and exclusively until further notice.  There is a process to begin your virtual marriage license process online in this particular state but it varies depending on where you live, so be sure to check your local guidelines.

If all else fails – get extra creative. 

So your favorite park is closed until further notice… now what?

If you have your heart set on an outdoor elopement, consider that Most smaller state and city parks are starting to open. While they don’t exactly match the magnificent scenery of Big Bend or Yosemite, a smaller park can still make for a picturesque place to say “I do.”

If all else fails and a public spot doesn’t work out, get creative! 

Truth be told there is nothing more beautiful than a cozy, at-home elopement, either. There is something so raw and authentic about an at-home wedding to me. They always feel so intimate.

Some couples are actually even choosing to have virtual wedding ceremonies during this time! Doing this allows the couple to still get hitched without postponing, plus if their ‘big day’ was supposed to have a ‘big crowd’…  a virtual wedding ceremony allows them to still have their family and loved ones there with them to celebrate and offer support (thank goodness for live-streaming apps, am I right?!). 

At the end of the day, just be sure to remind yourself that no elopement ever comes without some trials and tribulations.  This is all a part of the married life journey. Enjoy every minute of the planning, despite the extra hoops you might have to jump through to make it happen right now.  And if all else fails, be patient, and know that eventually… this will all pass.  After all – married life is all about having your life partner, a teammate by your side as we move through life’s challenges… remember this as being one of those major firsts!

Back to A Wedding Photographers Guide to Navigating Business Amid Coronavirus