PSA: Our Editor-in-Chief is officially a wifey! She’s proof that regardless of whether you’re spontaneously tying the knot or planning an elopement a few months out, that you can do it on a budget and still make it aesthetic, as phuck. So while we continue to drool over her wedding photos, she’s spillin’ the beans on how to elope on a budget with an aesthetic eye.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that this is your WEDDING DAY! Even if you’re choosing to have a reception later in the year, this will be the first (and hopefully last time) you say “I do.”
so let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
For everything to run smoothly at your elopement it’s crucial you map out your special day (or getaway) accordingly — fyi, eloping doesn’t mean you downplay the celebrations or this exciting moment of your life!
This is easily the most fun part of planning your elopement, but you have to be realistic about the things you can and cannot have. Opting for an elopement over a big wedding probably means you don’t care for the basic wedding traditions, but thinking you can have a 5 tier cake delivered to the Brooklyn Bridge might be a little overkill – so think rationally.
The vision. you have no one to plan for except yourself so lean into whatever aesthetic is speaking to you or aligns with your wedding destination. Your outfits, the destinations, the ceremony, the wedding poses, and the wedding activities are all a part of your vision.
The vision board. Head over to Pinterest and start pinning. Collect photos that draw inspiration or align with your wedding aesthetic. Visually being able to see your vision come to life helps with planning and solidifies the theme you’ve chosen to work with.
Online shopping: Strict timeline or not, don’t procrastinate on those online orders! Give yourself time to return, reorder the correct size or find alternative options. (AmazonPrime is a lifesaver)
Content curation. In addition to your vision board and to help with feed curation start collecting and brainstorming content you want to capture over your wedding weekend or throughout the big day. (i.e if you are eloping in Miami maybe plan for a beach day where you can rock a bridal bikini or find an aesthetic lounge to hit the night before in a killer neon outfit)
Making an itinerary. For those who are traveling make an itinerary to act as the “wedding planner” for the weekend — seeing your schedule lets you know where you have room to relax, shoot + capture content, and keeps you leveled once the wedding day panic attack hits.
Now that your aesthetic elopement has been planned out and partially curated, it’s time to get to business and finalize some of the non-negotiables. These are the things that will ultimately make or break the festivities and we don’t love that option for you.
Date + Location: unless you’re opting for a courthouse ceremony (preference or cost based) choose a spot that’s special and meaningful to you and your partner.
Flights: Explore + book with an airline that offers reasonable travel time but also reasonable upgrades – travel in style YOU’RE GETTING FKIN’ MARRIED!!
Hotels: Like flights, explore hotels that offer early/late check-in, upgrades, complimentary breakfast, or trade-out promotions for UGC. Don’t forget to explore the hotels’ aesthetic, views, and in-hotel bars/restaurant menus.
Reservations: Depending on what city your elopement is situated in, double-check the restaurants you’re interested in dining at, and the reservation policies. Be aware of any upcoming holidays that might impact weekend reservations. I also like to use this time to call the front desk and speak with the hostess or GM to take note that you’re celebrating your elopement. You never know if a free glass of bubbly might make its way to the table 🙂
Witnesses: On to the deep stuff… choosing your witnesses is a lot like choosing Godparents. Unless you truly want the thrill of a total stranger witnessing your “I do’s”, pick the people who support your love, your decision to elope, and your union of marriage the most.
Photographer: If you’re truly planning this on a whim, finding a photographer can be tricky and you might have to trust your witness’s iPhone camera skills. Otherwise, find someone whose work speaks to you and whose prices fit your budget.
Officiant: It’s not official without the officiant! Courthouse or random location, you need them!
City Hall/Courthouse: Get those appointments scheduled!
Another crucial part of planning your elopement is the legalities. Whether you’re getting hitched under the Brooklyn Bridge or inside the Courthouse you need to have all your documents ready to make it official!
City Guidelines: Wherever you’re getting married, you need to read over the city’s marriage and City Hall rules. Gather all the info on obtaining a marriage license, marrying in a city you aren’t a resident of, any required paperwork, and post-ceremony needs.
In a binder, start collecting all the necessary documents needed to obtain a marriage license. City Hall may ask you to print your confirmed appointments, and they aren’t kidding! Your binder should store any necessary printed documents, personal documentation, identification, etc.*
Scheduling a City Hall Appointment. If you aren’t a resident of the city you’re eloping in, City Hall will probably require an in-person appointment to obtain your marriage license. Double-check on the website for zoom options and other rules.
Marriage License. most cities will require a valid marriage license (obtained in person) 24-48 hours before your ceremony, so plan all aspects of your itinerary accordingly.
Name Change. With your partner, discuss options for your new name!! Doesn’t matter if you’re taking a name or considering hyphenation, do whatever works best for you + your marriage. You can always make the decision or make a change later 🙂
Submitting your license. You won’t be legally married or receive your official marriage certificate until your signed license is returned to City Hall. Most officiants will take the lead on doing so, but make sure that you confirm ahead of time to avoid any stress and the trip back to City Hall.
Acting as the bride and the wedding planner can be tough, so we’ve created the perfect elopement checklist to keep it stress-free and to keep you from being anything but a bridezilla. (download it here)
Want to read more on our Editors’ big day and dreamy NYC elopement, read here:
Regain control and achieve balance by learning how to streamline processes and generate desired results.