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  • Writer's picturePetite Weddings

Here's how to elope

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Why do people elope? How do we elope in the UK? How much does it cost to elope? How do I tell my friends and family that we are eloping? We’ll be answering these key questions in this frank and honest article.

Why do people elope?

If you are engaged many congratulations, enjoy the moment. But do be prepared for a huge step-up in the level of interest/interference you may be about to face. You’ll need to get used to answering questions, like “ How’s your wedding planning going?” “Have you found a venue yet?” and a shrug of the shoulders in reply just won’t do. Answers, your friends and family will need answers.

Then there’s the advice/interference that comes at every juncture. “When your cousin got married….” “Couldn’t Auntie Maud make your cake?” And so it begins. Traditional wedding fever requires strength, focus and a UN peace-keeping force to navigate the months running up to your big day.

And let’s not forget all those traditions and rules associated with nearly every aspect of a traditional wedding – from seating plans to buttonholes, invitations to favours there seems to be an unwritten rule book dictating what is expected of you as the couple getting married. This is simply too much detail for many of us, and distracts from  what really matter, where this all started, your live for each other and the anticipation of what should be the happiest day of your life.

Over 60% of the couples that choose to elope with Petite Weddings cite family politics or complicated families as the reason for eloping. Of this group 32% have started going down the traditional larger wedding route and decided it’s simple too horrendous to be dealt with.

Aside from this primary motivation to elope others choose elopement as it offers a more intimate experience and/or they dislike the thought of being front and centre on a huge stage on their wedding day. For others the reduced cost of an elopement when compared with a larger wedding allows them to balance their financial priorities. With the average wedding in the UK costing £25.000 and our elopement packages averaging £2500, you can see the attraction of this option. After all which if us really has that type of cash to throw around on a bunch of people that will not necessarily appreciate the cost? Marriage should be about personal commitment not financial. The final reason we see on a regular basis is those who have perhaps been married before and want to have a special day that is nothing like their experience the first time around. And why not?

How do we elope in the UK?

Back in the day elopement in England and Wales was a trip across the border to Gretna Green where you could marry legally at age 16, without your parents’ consent.

As I was explaining to a local vicar recently, the definition of elopement has relaxed to cover far more. It’s remains a time when two people travel away from home to a far-flung place, filled with romance and get wed, either totally on their own or with a small band of supporters. We’re easy either way and we do a lot of both.

It’s very simple. First you need to decide if you want to have a legal wedding ceremony, or whether you do the legal documents beforehand at your local registrar office and have a celebrant led ceremony. A celebrant led ceremony can be anywhere that you have the permission of the landowner to conduct your ceremony – and what’s more your ceremony can be totally bespoke with heartfelt vows, promises that you really mean and rituals such as tying the knot, jumping the broomstick and the sword. It can even take place on the beach. Pure bliss.

In the UK if you want to have a legal ceremony you will need to:

Reserve an approved venue of your choice (all our venues are approved - see more here).

Book the Cornwall Registrar in 0300 1234 181. Once you have a time confirmed we can confirm your booking with your chosen venue and you pay a deposit to reserve your date.

Let us know which, is any of the additional services you require and if there is anything else you want to add to your special day.

We’ll reserve your services and introduce you to our tried and tested suppliers.

Nearer the date of your wedding we will put a timeline together for your approval and brief your supplier team.

If you require witnesses we’ll help you with this. If you require accommodation for guests we can also make recommendations here.

And that’s it in terms of arrangements!

How much does it cost to elope?

The answer as always is that it depends.

Our average elopement package costs £2500, with some costing a bit more, some a bit less.

The costs you need to consider are as follows. We've used a combination of a three night stay at the ultimate love nest in Mousehole Cornwall, Fallen Angel, Pengersick Castle for your wedding ceremony, 2 hours photography with Griffin Photography, a bridal bouquet and buttonhole by Gorse & Thorn, bridal hair and make up by Jules of and an Indulgence Catering three course private chef meal and naked wedding cake for two.

Accommodation - £900

Venue - £500

Registrar - £489

2 hours photography - £425

Bridal bouquet and buttonhole - £100

Bridal hair and make up - £200

Private chef wedding meal and mini wedding cake - £250

Total: £2864

These costs are based on summer prices and we offer similar winter packages staring at other venues starting from £1500. You can see more of our packages here.

How do I tell my friends and family that we are eloping?

Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong way to deal with this.

Some of our couples have expanded their wedding group from just the two of them to them plus their parents/children/very closest friends as they have told them before the event and decided to include them and no one else. Even if they do not want to come, you have the advantage of being able to include them if you and they wish and this can save hurt feelings.

Equally we have other couples who tell nearest and dearest after the event. If you choose to do this it’s a good idea to make the communication personal – either by phone/Skype or better still face to face. 

Some couples like to have a wedding party or reception back home after the wedding where they can enjoy a relaxed celebration with a wider set of family and friends. The choice is ultimately yours.

If you want to take back control of the best day of your life you could do worse than book an elopement wedding.

To find out more, contact look forward to helping you.

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