Switching Your Traditional Wedding to an Elopement
How to plan the elopement of your dreams even if you already have traditional wedding plans.
So you’re planning away for your traditional wedding and it hits you…this isn’t what you want. While planning, you see eloping information and start to think that may have been the wedding you needed all along. Now you feel stuck with your current plans when it’s supposed to be the day you’ve always dreamed about.
This is more than just some ideas I came up with. This includes how I changed MY traditional wedding into an elopement with 2 months notice. This is how I escaped my original plans and crafted the wedding day of my dreams. This wasn’t a COVID last minute change but an actual decision made by my partner and I for our 2019 wedding.
You deserve your dream wedding. The day you commit your life to your partner is your experience and no one else’s. I would say you can pull the selfish card but I feel as though no one had rights to your day to start. So change your plans, break the tradition, and do whatever it takes to create your perfect experience.
Here’s some ideas to get you started!
Be willing to lose your deposit.
I know, it hurts my soul too. This obviously depends on how much and how many deposits you’re looking at. If you’ve only reserved a venue for the date, it might be worth letting it go. On average, even the most extravagant elopements is less than a traditional wedding. Even if you lose, say, a catering deposit, your final bill can still be significantly smaller with the elopement route.
Advice from a vendor: don’t be mean to vendors if they keep your deposit. It takes work for them to start planning your event, turning away other clients for your date, and sometimes even additional equipment investments to accommodate yours and future events. Depending on how much notice you give them, they may not be able to book anyone on your date. They’re losing out on a lot of money and that security deposit could be the only thing that keeps them afloat.
Save some of your deposits
Work with any vendors you already have booked to modify services to fit your new arrangement. A good way to do this is keeping the original date you booked. Some vendors may even be able to work with your original deposit and plans if you change the date. Just be upfront and communicate with them. Some will have more flexibility than others.
Turn your original wedding plans into a reception.
Ding ding, winner! This is what my partner and I did. While we’re private people, we’re also family people. So we had our private beach ceremony with best friends and immediate family and then a big ol’ party with all our friends and family. We toned down our original wedding plans to an easy going hang out. We did a ceremony type thing to give people a taste of the actual wedding, dancing, a taco truck, and just hanging out. While it is similar to a traditional wedding, the vibe is totally different because you’ve already had your dream wedding. Splitting the two was the best option for us.
If I’m totally honest, we would’ve made our reception more of a backyard BBQ type vibe if we had planned the two separate events to start. Our more traditional wedding looking reception just worked best with our last minute plan change.
You sent out invites already…oh no!
Simple solution: keep the date. Make it your reception. We sent out all our invites months before we changed plans. The thought of trying to contact every Aunt Susan was enough to give me hives so we just kept the same date and location that was on our invites. We had a slideshow of photos from our elopement and included the story of eloping and why we eloped in our “ceremony.”
Alternatively, you can create a Facebook group and update everyone you invited that’s on the platform. That will help you narrow the list of people you need to reach out to and update about the new date.
Schedule your elopement before your original wedding date.
We were able to turn our original date into a reception by having our ceremony 3 weeks before our wedding date. You can also schedule some kind of private vow exchange (basically an elopement) after your traditional wedding.
Keep the regular wedding plans with a twist.
Create some moments together around a more traditional wedding. You can exchange private vows before the actual wedding, you can go on a picnic date, go hiking together in the morning before an evening wedding, or any other variation that deliberately sets aside time for the two of you. You don’t have to keep your celebrations to day of either. You can do a bridal adventure session the days before or after. Dress up in your wedding clothes and create the elopement of your dreams to go along with your traditional wedding plans.
Already married? There’s still hope.
I believe we put way too much pressure on ONE day. Everyone talks about your ONE wedding and how you should plan it perfectly so your ONE day is the best. Sure your anniversary is one day but your marriage should be a lifelong celebration. Don’t let anyone tell you the framework of how you’re supposed to celebrate your love.
Vow renewals is where it’s at. It can be done at 1 year or 50 years. Maybe you have kids down the road and now you get to include them. Add everything you wanted on your wedding day but didn’t get to do. If you realize you want to celebrate your anniversary in a new way down the road, do another vow renewal. My hubby and I are already planning out our vow renewal so we can have my husband’s dream city wedding, my dream wedding in our new home of Oregon, and any other “dream weddings” we come up with.
You know the pure joy of your wedding day or celebrating someone else’s marriage? Don’t limit yourself to one round of that. Keep celebrating your love in whatever way fits for you for as many anniversaries you want. Wear the pretty dress again. Party with your friends and family again if you want. Have a picnic on the beach. Have another dance together, maybe even to your original first dance song.
Your relationship is unique and the celebration of it should be just as unique as you. Ditch the opinions of others, the way you’re “supposed to” do things, and do whatever fills your soul.
Want to learn more about planning your dream elopement? Check out these resources.