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  • Writer's picturePetite Weddings

A Step by Step Guide to Eloping

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

Step by step guide to eloping

Eloping is arguably the most romantic way to get married. It’s truly just about the two of you and has that unique breath-taking historic context of the two of your running away, just you two vs the world. If you are considering eloping here’s an essential guide to the steps you will need to take to arrange your perfect elopement wedding.

1.Decide whether you want to have a legal elopement wedding ceremony or a celebrant led ceremony.

You have two options:

(a) A legal wedding ceremony that means that you are legally married at the end of the ceremony. This has to be led by a registrar in England and Wales and held on approved premises. If you are getting married in Scotland a registered celebrant can conduct your legal ceremony at any location they are happy to travel to and you have the permission of the landowner.

(b) A celebrant led ceremony which can be held anywhere your celebrant is prepared to travel and where you have permission from the landowner. You will not be legally married at the end of this ceremony so you will need to go to the registry office literally to do the paperwork either before or after this, at home or whilst you are away.

If you are coming to the UK to elope or from the UK eloping abroad you will need to consider laws in your relevant countries. Every country is different. For example, in the USA a celebrant led ceremony in the UK can be easily made legal on your return to the USA as long as you request a certificate signed by you and your witnesses and celebrant and have photography of your ceremony.

2. Decide where you want to have your elopement wedding

You can in theory elope anywhere in the world. However, if being legally married is important to you’ll want to be sure that your marriage is legally binding in your home country. Check this before booking.

Getting married abroad can store up unexpected issues for the future e.g. on the death of one partner, proving your marital status so that your estate flows from one partner to the other free of inheritance tax can be challenging if all your paperwork is in another language.

Every option exists in terms of location: atop mountain, in secret woods, on a deserted beach, a romantic castle or in sumptuous sub-tropical gardens. You will know what appeals to the two of you.

3. Think about how long you want to be away for your elopement

Your wedding bubble is a beautiful place, and once you get there it’s a hard place to leave. Think about how long you want to be away from home enjoying your newly married status and book accommodation that’s a little bit special. Indulge yourselves, this is a once in a lifetime experience.

4. Make sure witnesses are provided

Most legal wedding ceremonies across the world require witnesses and all of our small wedding venue partners are happy to provide witnesses for you. Check with your chosen venue to ensure you understand whose responsibility this is.

5. What other services do you want to arrange for your wedding day and stay?

On your wedding day you may want to arrange bridal hair and make-up, a beautiful meal, flowers, photography, videography, transport etc. The hidden challenge here is that many of these service suppliers you might find on line will not provide services to small weddings as the orders are too small and fall below their “minimum spend”. At Petite Weddings we only work with a suppliers’ that love small weddings and are happy to provide their services in miniature form for elopement weddings. Ensure your chosen venue can help you with this aspect of your elopement planning.

6. Practical steps once you have made all your decisions

(a) For a legal wedding ceremony

· Reserve your venue (and accommodation if required)

· Call the local registrar to book them (by law you must do this yourselves)

· Confirm the time the registrar is booked for with your venue and pay deposits

· Book your preferred wedding day service suppliers and pay deposits

· Give notice of your elopement wedding at your local registry office (usually nearest to where you live). This must be after you have booked the registrar for your wedding ceremony and at least 5 weeks before your wedding

· Confirm all bookings for your wedding day and make final payments

· Enjoy your runaway wedding day!

(b) For a celebrant led ceremony

· Reserve your accommodation if require

· Reserve your celebrant and pay your deposit

· Book your wedding day services and pay deposits

· Work with your celebrant to finalise location and develop a bespoke ceremony that works for the two of you

· Confirm all suppliers and finalise details and payments

· Be ready for a very special wedding ceremony!

If you want to legalise your celebrant led wedding in the UK you can do so by arranging a no-frills appointment with the registrar to do the paper work.

If you have any questions or need further advice we’d be delighted to help you.

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