Are you wondering if an elopement is right for you? There’s lots of elopement advice out there in the depths of the Internet, but not a whole lot of advice on alternative elopements — the options are so endless and fun that I had to share! So here’s the alternative bride’s guide to elopements!

The first rule of weddings is that they can be absolutely whatever you want them to be — there are no rules! If you’re married to the love of your life at the end of the day, your wedding was a total success, and I bet it was awesome too.

In the mainstream, elopements are a fairly well defined wedding type, but I totally disagree with defining what a wedding “should” be, so here are some things to consider when planning your awesome alternative elopement! And if it doesn’t fit into some peoples’ definitions of “elopement”, who cares!

Your elopement can be as fancy, budget-friendly, wacky, styled, or chill as you want it to be — elopements are awesome in all styles.

If there was such a thing as “wedding rules”, the second rule would be that you should never feel pressured to spend too much money on your wedding, or do anything that you don’t feel AWESOME about. Your wedding is about celebrating you and your partner, and however you want to do that is perfect.

If you love to play dress up, have a fancy elopement! Fancy elopements are so much fun — everyone will fawn over you in the street as they see you all decked out in wedding fanciness. Grab a fun location or make one yourself in a local park — geometric garlands, pops of neon, balloons…the decoration possibilities are endless.

If you’re more casual, stick with something that feels right for you. I’ve photographed relaxed elopements with no frills and it’s a blast! When people are celebrating in their own personal style — whether that’s a giant retro circle skirt dress, an awesome pants suit, or their favorite pair of Levi’s — the happiness is absolutely contagious. It’s amazing.

If you love to DIY but you’re nervous about it, pick a project or two and go for it. The best part of elopements is that the “minimum viable wedding” is already there — the two of you and a wedding officiant. Anything else is icing on the badass-elopement cake!

Alternative Brides Guide to Eloping DIY

Links of Awesome for DIY Elopements

1. A Practical Wedding’s “Do it Together” Pinterest board has so many fun DIY wedding ideas (like this DIY aisle runner idea of flour hearts, which is the cutest)

2. A tutorial on how to make mini dinosaur wedding cake toppers. With a top hat. From Capitol Romance! 

3. This polka dot garland tutorial from Studio DIY could work so well for a wedding backdrop

4. A giant paper flower can be fun to carry instead of a bouquet

Alternative Brides Guide to Eloping - Fancy

Links of Awesome for Fancy Elopements

1. Awesome metallic pinatas could be fancy or casual…and full of awesome. 

2. Looking for outfit inspiration? Ainsley and Sebastian knocked it out of the park with their glittery dress and white suit. Check it out on Rocknroll Bride.

3. Find (or make!) a cool wedding backdrop like this geometric one on Etsy.

4. Grab one of the coolest ties or bow ties you’ve ever seen from Cyberoptix. Science patterns, steampunk patterns, camera patterns, I’m dying of awesome.

Alternative Bride Guide to Eloping Chill

Links of Awesome for Casual Elopements

1. Looking for easy and fun wedding transportation? Bikes are always a win.

2. Do something you always do together on your wedding day — like this couple who went rock climbing before their elopement.

3. Picnics and weddings go together like kittens and smiles. Here’s a DIY picnic basket tutorial from Oh Happy Day!

4. For easy flowers, just grab some pretty flowers and hold them! Long stems rock at being held loosely during your ceremony.

Your elopement doesn’t have to be a surprise. And it can include guests.

Elopements used to only mean ‘run off to vegas/courthouse and get married in secret’. Now they can pretty much mean whatever. The term has grown into more of a way to describe a wedding that’s not centered around feeding hundreds of people, leaving us elopement aficionados with tons of options. You can invite your parents, siblings, a few friends, or whomever you’d like. They’ll be expecting an event-type wedding (because those are traditional) so just make sure you tell them about your elopement and why it’s going to be the most fun wedding ever, and they’ll be over the moon!

You can wear whatever you want!

I mean, you can wear whatever you want regardless of what type of wedding you have. It’s pretty much the best.

For alternative wedding outfit ideas…

Elopement Outfit Ideas like Brides in Pants

1. APW’s Brides in Pants Tumblr

2. My very own giant Pinterest board…Short Wedding Dresses — The Ultimate Collection (that I pinned while searching for my own wedding dress!)

3. Some super fashion-y alternative wedding dresses from Refinery 29

4. Offbeat Bride has an entire archive of multicolored wedding dresses!

Your elopement wedding doesn’t have to take place at the local courthouse.

Location options for elopements are plentiful. With just a few humans, no microphones/aisle runners/other disruptive wedding “things”, you can get married pretty much anywhere! You can get married at your favorite local park, at the sculpture garden or in front of some art that you guys love, or even at your favorite small business (brewery weddings for the WIN!).

Wedding Ceremony Location Ideas for Elopements

1. Head to your favorite local park for a low-key wedding filled with greenery. Parks are great places for elopement weddings with guests, because they’re more open so everyone has room to roam. Plus, parks are great for post-wedding picnics or barbecues! Heather & Adam’s wedding is a great example.

2. Museums can be fun places to get married, as long as you don’t disturb anyone in the museum. Some museums aren’t super thrilled about weddings, so choose your museum wisely! Real life example: Jennifer & Michael

3. Your favorite small business — like a local brewery (with permission, of course). At small businesses it’s easy to email, call, or just walk in and ask about getting married there. When you explain that your wedding will have 0-10 guests, no microphone, no music, and no fuss, many people are excited to welcome you for your wedding! DC Brau made Hillary and Gwen’s wedding extra special by letting us do the ceremony right in the middle of the brewery during their open growler hours.

4. Get married at home! Your house is an awesome place to get married. There’s probably no other location that represents the two of you so deeply! We’ve had a couple elope on their rooftop, and a backyard wedding — the options are endless and the location is free! Sara and Barry’s rooftop wedding was a great home-based elopement.

It doesn’t matter how “wedding-y” your elopement is.

Weddings are weddings regardless of the color of your dress or the traditions you involve. Many of us have ideas of what constitutes a “wedding” which have been carefully placed in our heads from decades of advertising from the Wedding Industrial Complex, but don’t let advertising fool you! Wedding dresses can be any color. Weddings can be a couple and their best friend as a witness who go out for ice cream afterwards and then go back to work the next day. Weddings are awesome no matter how you choose to get married! If you have questions or would like to see more ideas or inspiration around any of these topics, write me in the comments and I’ll see what I can do! Now…go forth and get married awesomely!

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