A bride and groom including their friends and family in their elopement by reading letters written to them while having a picnic in front of Bow lake in Banff Alberta

How To Include Family & Friends in Your Elopement

So many couples are choosing to elopement, micro, or small weddings to focus on the commitment they’re making to each other rather than getting swept away with a big wedding that loses focus on their experience as a couple. However, elopement doesn’t mean the same thing that our parents and grandparents remember – there’s no more running away to Vegas or sneaking off to the courthouse to sign some paperwork. Couples who include their family and friends in their elopement or a small, micro wedding can still have the incredibly intimate experience that they envision for their special day.

This doesn’t mean that striking a balance between privacy and inclusion isn’t a challenge when planning your adventure elopement or micro wedding. There’s a good chance your family has been dreaming of your wedding day for a long time too, but their expectations shouldn’t override what you want your day to look like. Keep them involved in ways that are still meaningful and special to both parties, while keeping your connection as a couple as the focus of the day. 

A couple exchanging vows in front of an officiant, mountains and lake in background, small group of friends and family in foreground

The key to planning your elopement is to understand that it is completely your choice how your day (or days) are structured, and just how much you want your family and friends to be included. Your wedding day is unique to you so break the mold and be intentional. You get to make your wedding day exactly how you want it.

There are so many unique and creative ways to include your family in your elopement without it being intrusive or overwhelming on the amazing experience of the day with your special person. We’ve broken down a few ways to include family at each stage of your wedding – use them all or just pick one that really rings true to you. 

Before your wedding

Include Them in the Planning Process

Often family and friends are heavily involved in the planning process – while this may be stressful for some, finding smaller ways to keep them involved in planning your elopement can be a very meaningful way to include them in your day. This could be something as simple as having them help pick your accessories for the day or asking if there are any specifics photos they might want after the wedding day. Keep in mind – there’s no need to stick to those suggestions, it’s still your day and your final decision!

One of my brides included a close friend in the elopement by bringing her wedding dress shopping. While this friend wasn’t at the elopement, she contacted me later to let me know she valued being included in her friend’s special day in such a meaningful way. [See their full story here. I will add a link to their blog here].

Three smiling people in wedding attire clinking wine glasses together with a fourth person just out of frame.

Host a Pre-Wedding Party

Let your friends and family know you want to elope by throwing an engagement party or pre-wedding party! If you’re comfortable, letting them throw you a bridal shower or bachelor/bachelorette parties can help them feel that they’ve had some part in your wedding and control in how they want to celebrate you. This gives them a chance to celebrate with you in a meaningful way while keeping the special day sacred for you and your person.  

Share the eloping details with your family members, especially the reasons why you are deciding to elope. When you give them the details, they’ll feel included and may even understand why you’re choosing to elope.

During your wedding day

Inviting Your Immediate Family and Close Friends

Eloping with immediate family or close friends is becoming increasingly common. Modern elopements tend to keep the guest list small and makes it more intimate with your closest relationships. You can invite a small number of guests to your ceremony to share the special day with the people who care about you most.

A bride and groom surrounded by their friends and family, all standing on a wooden platform overlooking an alpine valley and lake below, mountains in the background

Include Them in Your Getting Ready 

Pre-wedding jitters are a real thing and having family or friends with you can be a special moment for everyone. Having a select few there with you while you get ready is something you’ll both cherish and remember forever. 

One bride live streamed her twin sister and mom who lived out of the country as she got ready for her wedding day. While they couldn’t be there with her in person, she still got to experience getting ready with them and having them included on her special day.

A bride including her family in her elopement by having her grandmother helping to put on her neckless, with the bride's mother in the background
A bride holding her phone as she gets ready, video chatting with her sister as to include her in her elopement day.

Have a Private Vow Exchange and Celebrate with Guests Afterward

Vows are something you put lots of thought into and can be extremely vulnerable – consider having a private vow exchange with just the two of you (and your photographer, so you can capture this beautiful moment). Afterwards you can have a more traditional ceremony and reception to celebrate your wedding day with close friends and family, while cherishing that special moment together separately. 

View Jeff & Kelsey’s hiking elopement gallery here to see how they included their family and friends in their elopement day.

Live Stream your elopement to include your Family and Friends

Risk and cost of travel is still top of mind for many couples, and we’ve all been through enough in the past two years that no one wants to delay anymore! If hosting a big wedding with lots of friends and family is too difficult, live streaming your wedding ceremony and part of your reception, like your first dance or speeches, can be a great way to include those who aren’t able to be with you in person. 

Read Letters or Watch Video Messages from Family and Friends

Encourage your family and friends to record a video message or write you a letter to read at some point during your wedding day. This gives them the opportunity to share their excitement and joy in a thoughtful way while giving you the ability to incorporate it  into your day whenever you choose!

A groom wearing a black suit reading letters that his family and friends wrote to them for their elopement. The bride is listening with a smile on her face.
A groom facing away from the camera reading a letter written by his family to his bride on their elopement day.

After the wedding

Have a Post-Wedding Party

Keep true to yourselves with a private elopement where you can focus on the commitment you are making to each other, and then celebrate a few days or weeks afterwards with friends and family with a party! This keeps the cost of your actual wedding day to a minimum, while still getting to include your with friends and family in your elopement – plus, it’s a great excuse to wear your wedding dress again! 

When Sarah and Marcus eloped in Banff, her family wasn’t able to attend from the US so they chose to host a post-wedding party later in the year when everyone could attend. 

Send Out Handwritten Letters 

One way you can let others know you were thinking of them on your wedding day is by sending out special messages! This allows you to connect with them on a personal, intimate level and gives them the reassurance that you’re still a big part of their day even if they aren’t there for the whole thing. A handwritten letter is something that will be cherished forever and makes a beautiful keepsake for a frame to include with your wedding photos after the day. 

A picture of a card titled "We're Eloping!" beside a white envelope with a gold wax seal, to be sent from a couple to their friends and family.

Choosing to elope is choosing to focus on your bond as a couple, but this doesn’t mean excluding your family and close friends. These tips on how to include those closest to you in your wedding day can help ease any tension about your choice to elope for everyone involved. At the end of the day, your wedding day can and should be anything you want it to be and include as many or as few people as you want. If you need more suggestions on how to successfully plan and capture the magic of your wedding day get in touch with Dila, your one-stop shop for a photographer, location scouter, vendor connector, and so much more.

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