Photo by Kortni Maria

So you decided you’re officially going to elope together! Congratulations! If you stumbled upon this elopement planning resource, then you’re probably pretty sure when and where you’re going to plan your elopement ceremony together.

Maybe you even have all your elopement vendors figured out. If you don’t, check out some of these amazing elopement photographers for your wedding day.

But, what happens during an elopement ceremony?

This resource is the perfect guide to get ideas for your ceremony together.

Difference Between Wedding Ceremonies and Elopement Ceremonies

Traditional wedding ceremonies usually incorporate a set of traditions and rituals set by either tradition or religion. These ceremonies are usually very by the book, and there’s also little personalization involved. 

If you’re planning an elopement ceremony, then you’re probably wondering… what happens? Is there any order that needs to be followed? Do you need a wedding officiant? Do you have to say wedding vows? Is it ok to do something completely different?

To answer these questions in a short and sweet way, you can do whatever you want during your elopement ceremony.

There’s no time limit, no rules, and anything really goes. You can incorporate the traditions you like, or you can ditch them altogether. 

The whole reason why so many couples decide to elope is so they have the freedom to do what they want on their wedding day. 

Keep reading along to learn some of our favorite traditions and concepts you can incorporate during your elopement ceremony. 

Photo by Kali M Photos

Elopement Ceremony Ideas

During an elopement ceremony, you can incorporate any small details that you love from traditional wedding ceremonies, or you can implement your own creative ideas.

Below is a list of favorite go-to ideas to incorporate into your ceremony. 

Wedding Vows

We personally love wedding vows during elopements. 

When most couples think about wedding vows during the ceremony, their mind tends to go to the basic vows that most officiants go by… “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…”

While there is nothing wrong with these types of vows, there is also so much room to personalize your vows and make your elopement ceremony memorable.

We recommend writing your own wedding vows. You can write them in a vow book or personalize them in unique ways such as scrolls or even popsicle sticks (yup, we have seen couples do it)! The limit does not exist.

Just know there’s no right or wrong way to express your love and promises to each other during your ceremony. You can be as silly or as romantic as you want. Take in the moment with each other, listen to each other’s words, and just enjoy celebrating your beautiful union together.

Officiant, Self-Solemnization, Commitment Ceremony? 

Elopement ceremonies can have an officiant if you want to, or if you’re planning on signing your marriage license where you both decide to elope together. 

A lot of our members who are officiants are great vendors to consider because they are experienced in conducting elopement ceremonies.

Maybe you want a super intimate ceremony experience. If you do, then consider self solemnization. Self-solemnization is when a couple can marry themselves. This is when you don’t need an officiant to make it legal! 

If you’re considering self-solemnizing, then consider getting married in places like Colorado, California, Wisconsin, Maine, or Nevada. 

But what if you both want to marry somewhere nearly impossible to get legally married during your ceremony? Or what if you both don’t believe in the legality of marriage?

If you find yourself in this circumstance, then we suggest planning a commitment ceremony for your elopement ceremony. While a commitment ceremony won’t be a legal wedding ceremony, it’s a perfect option for couples who want to celebrate their union together.

 

Exchanging Rings

Exchanging wedding rings is a tradition as old as time, are we right? 

We personally love the ceremony of exchanging rings because this is usually a very emotional moment for the couple. 

Since elopement ceremonies are less traditional, we have seen a lot of couples actually surprise their significant other with rings on the day of their wedding day. We have also seen couples who have made custom rings together!

Even though a lot of couples opt for exchanging rings during their ceremony, some couples don’t want to.

Whether it be because a couple doesn’t want to spend that much money on rings to represent their union, or they don’t believe in it all together.

There are plenty of other ways to celebrate your union that go beyond two rings. Instead of exchanging rings, we have actually seen couples exchange other things such as necklaces or watches, or anything else with sentimental value. 

Incorporating Your Religion or Culture

Just because an elopement ceremony isn’t “traditional”’ doesn’t mean you can’t include the traditions you love. You can still get married in a church, or you can include a ceremony that’s part of your culture.

The important thing to remember here is to do what you both want. If you two want to travel to Iceland and get married in their famous black church, then go for it. 

Photo by Flora + Grace, Event Planner Peach Perfect Weddings

Include Loved Ones

Sometimes couples are afraid to elope because they aren’t familiar with the true meaning of eloping. Just because you two decide to elope doesn’t mean that you both can’t include your family and friends on your special day.

Remember, couples who decide to elope usually do so, so they can focus the day on what they want to do. You can include your close family and friends during your elopement ceremony, or you can even host a virtual wedding ceremony, so more people can witness you two getting married.

If you want to keep things extra personal and elope alone together, then you can include your loved ones in other ways. We have seen brides get ready together virtually with their family, couples include details from their family in details such as the bouquet or a handkerchief, or you can always plan a post elopement party together!

Your First Kiss

Your first kiss as a married couple is probably the most exciting moment during your elopement ceremony. This usually marks the end of your elopement ceremony together, but it also marks the beginning of your new adventure together.

Our advice? Enjoy this moment together.

Planning an elopement also means planning a ceremony where you don’t have hundreds of eyes on you. This means you shouldn’t be as nervous! Just relax and be yourself! 

Unity Ceremony Ideas

During your elopement ceremony, you can also include a type of unity ceremony to celebrate your union in a unique way that exceeds past you both just saying “I do”. 

If you want to include a type of unity ceremony into your own ceremony, then there are actually a few different options that you both can consider. Here are some of our favorites:

Handfasting Ceremony

If you’re a couple who is looking for something different then consider incorporating a handfasting ritual during your elopement ceremony.

A handfasting ceremony is a Celtic and pagan tradition during engagements and wedding ceremonies. Originating in Scotland during the 16th and 17th centuries, handfasting was a ritual to symbolize the unity between a couple.

During this ceremony, the couple’s hands are placed together and tied together with ribbons or cords. We have seen a lot of couples incorporate this ceremony into their elopement ceremony and it makes for amazing photos as well!

Photo by Kati Schweiger

Sealing Away Love Letters into an Anniversary Capsule

This is a great idea for couples who want to create a tradition for their anniversary.

Typically couples seal away letters to each other in this capsule or box, along with any photos or keepsakes they want to include. We have even seen couples seal away their favorite wine bottle, so they have something to drink as they reminisce together. 

Again, there are no strict rules to this ceremony idea, so feel free to personalize it how you wish!

Pouring Sand 

Another great ritual to incorporate into your elopement ceremony is pouring sand. This is a great unity ceremony for couples who want a keepsake from their ceremony. All the couple needs is a vase, and two colors of sand. The couple then takes turns pouring the sand into the one vase, so the sand blend together representing their unity. 

Note that this is only a good ceremony if you’re eloping somewhere that is not so windy. This would be tricky to implement during your elopement ceremony if you’re eloping high up in the mountains on a windy day.

Tree Planting

This is a great idea for an elopement ceremony. Most couples who decide to elope, usually do so because they love nature and adventure. By planting a tree together, you’re adding soil and planting to symbolize your new union. Just like any plant, your relationship will also need love and care to grow. 

Make Your Own Unity Ceremony

At the end of the day, you can be as creative as you want for your ceremony. We have seen some couples be extra romantic and some couples are extra silly.

If something holds a lot of meaning to you two, then make sure to incorporate it into your ceremony. We have seen so many different things during elopements including couples taking shots together before or after their ceremony!

What ceremony idea are you loving most for your elopement? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo by Vows and Peaks

Are you still not sure what you’re wearing on your elopement day? Check out our favorite cheap elopement dresses or grooms attire ideas!