The definition for eloping has changed so much. It not longer means two people running off in secret to get married. There are several reasons why couples elope, and you can define it as you see fit. Can you elope with guests? In my opinion, yes!
As a professional elopement photographer, an elopement is anything under 10 people. With more than that I call it an intimate wedding up to about 40 people. Like I said, everyone can have their own definition for the term. There are a few reasons to elope with guests and other reasons to have nobody!
Depending on the state you are eloping in, you may be require to have 1 or 2 witnesses. This is an important thing to consider when deciding to invite someone or not! In my home state, New Mexico, couples need 2 witnesses which is pretty common. Other states such as Texas and Colorado, you don’t need any; you don’t even need an officiant in Colorado!
There are other options for witnesses if you don’t want to bring anyone. My husband and I always offer to be our couples witnesses and most photographers do the same. If you only have one you could ask a vendor such as your makeup artist to sign as one, or even ask a stranger at the location you are getting married! Whether you plan to bring guests to your elopement or not, always have a plan for your witnesses!
Company While Getting Ready
If the two of you are going to be getting ready separate, it is nice to have someone with you during that part of the day. If you invite your best friend or sibling along, this is a big job for them! They would be there to help with anything you may have forgotten, company during the day and to help you put on any clothing or accessories.
If couples are not inviting anyone I always suggest getting ready together until the very end. Usually this would be when a bride puts their dress on, but it can be whatever makes sense for your wedding. If the dress is a surprise, then that is when you would finish getting ready separate and I would help if needed! I suggest this because you probably don’t want to be spending part of the day alone just waiting for your partner. Though it may not seem like the standard, eloping isn’t either, you can get ready together.
Having someone come along to record the ceremony or take some phone photos is a great idea. Typically on a wedding day, the couple is not taking any photos or videos. Yes, you will get the amazing photos from your photographer, but some raw phone captures that aren’t that great are still a fun thing to have to look back on.
If you don’t have someone to do this, you could always set up a phone to record any part of the day you want to. I always tell my couples to keep phones and wallets out of pockets, but it doesn’t mean you can’t bring them. My husband and I, or your photographer, are happy to hold your things when not in use.
Because You Want To
It is as simple as that, can you elope with guests? If you want to bring a guest or a few, just do it. If you have a sibling you are close with (like me) bring them along! Just because you invite them does not mean you will now have to invite the whole family. We invited my sister and her husband. My brother-in-law got ordained online for us so he was our officiant and my sister was one witness; our photographer was our second witness (you need 2 in AZ). You can read more about our elopement here.
You can invite as many people as you want and do whatever you want because it is your day. When deciding on a location and if you are bringing guests, always make sure the ceremony spot can accommodate the amount of people attending.
The questions I see and hear so much, can you elope with guests? Yes! Of course you can, now I wouldn’t call 50 guests an elopement, but again you can define it how you feel fit. When planning your elopement you might find that you need to have guests to witness for you, or you might just want someone there. Having a close friend or two can make it so easy to just invite them. If you have a larger but close group of friends it might be hard to not bring them all. You can always have a reception with everyone else later on!
I would love to hear about if you invited people to your elopement or not and why below. Did I miss a reason why couples would bring someone? It doesn’t matter what you do and long as you do exactly what you want to do on your wedding day!