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How to Include Your Family When Eloping Just the Two of You

For a lot of couples, the idea of a secluded, intimate, just us elopement sounds like the perfect way to jump into their biggest adventure ever—getting married.

It’s a beautiful sentiment—one that a lot of couples choose for their elopement day. In fact, having a just us elopement day is the biggest reason that couples choose to elope to begin with. Despite that choice being exactly what speaks to them, it’s also a point of contention for some couples.

Why? Because no matter how much they want to throw tradition to the wind, have a destination elopement, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime, they’re stuck in the mindset that getting married without including their family spells trouble.

The good news? It doesn’t.

We believe—and tell couples this, too—that your elopement day is all about what you want—if you want to say your vows, commit to each other, and have a private ceremony for just yourselves, you should do that! And you know what? That doesn’t mean that you can’t include your family in your elopement.

Supporting someone getting married is so much more than just showing up to their wedding day.

We always encourage couples to choose the route that is true to who they are—so, if you have a creative idea for including your family in your elopement while still choosing to elope just the two of you, we say go for it! But, if it’s inspo you want, we’ve got plenty of that here for you, too:

A bride and groom hold each other close in a snowy, alpine environment. This Colorado Mountain wedding was everything this couple wanted for their unique destination elopement.
A couple hikes away hand in hand during their Patagonia elopement ceremony. On their backpacks, they each have signs that say just married. This hiking elopement was a simpe wedding idea that they wanted to incorporate in their small simple wedding.

Have an Engagement Party

Sure, you’re not going to do the routine wedding thing, but who says you can’t throw (or let your family throw you) an epic engagement party? If your family’s involvement in your decision to get married is important to you, but it’s also important that you and your partner choose to elope on your own, allowing them to host a stellar engagement party is a great way to include them. If they want to plan it, that’s awesome—work on it together and create an awesome party. Or, you could throw a surprise engagement party for your family where you celebrate, enjoy each other’s company, and explain in person why you’re choosing to elope just the two of you. This is an exceptional opportunity to show them pictures of where you plan to elope, describe the experience you’re chasing, and truly help them understand the intentionality behind eloping on your own.

 

Take Part in Pre-Wedding Events

Just because you’re not having a traditional wedding doesn’t mean you can’t have some of the traditional, pre-wedding events that take place. Choosing to elope means that you’re creating exactly the experience you want to—there are no rules, regulations, or obligations. The pressure is off and you can do exactly what you want. So, if that means you want to elope with just your partner but you also want your best friend to throw you a bomb-ass bachelorette party, then lean into it! Want to have a wedding shower with your family? Go for it. Want to throw a fun “rehearsal dinner”? Why the heck not? Remember, it’s your elopement and it’s your celebration—if you want to elope just the two of you but also have all the pre-wedding events you can think of to include your family, you should!

A groom holds up his bride in the mountains as they kiss and embrace after their elopement ceremony. When people ask, how do you elope, this is what it looks like — doing exactly what you want on your wedding day and taking the elopement photos you want to take.
A young couple runs through an alpine meadow together in wedding attire. This simple wedding idea allowed this couple to elope in the destination they wanted to and have the elopement ceremony they wanted.

Shop for Wedding Attire Together

This is a huge rite of passage for a lot of family members and it’s something you can absolutely do with yours. Think about all of the traditions that go into the leading-up-to-the-wedding events. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to include your family in a ton of these processes (if you want!). Let them help you pick your details, design your look, craft your elopement day style. This kind of inclusion helps make the whole thing feel real for your family, too. It’s not like you’re running off in shame to get married without telling anyone, you’re making the brave choice to put your love for your partner over a wedding day that doesn’t speak to you—you can look at your family members and say, hey, I’m proud of the choice I’m making, but I’d love to include you in this important aspect of my day. Then, your mom, sister, best friend (whoever) can still be involved with helping you create your elopement experience—even if they’re not there when they say their vows.

Invite Your Family to Write Letters

This is such a sweet, unique way to include your family in your special day without having them physically present. Invite your family and friends to send you letters to read on your wedding day. Ask them to write whatever they want to—encouragement, advice, or just loving words. Then, gather them up, bring them with you on your elopement day, and take a moment to sit down and read them together. Reflect on the support and love you’re receiving from your community and then enjoy your private, intimate ceremony together as partners. Because, as much as you really want to elope just the two of you, it’s understandable that there might be a tiny part of you that might wish—just for a second—you had your family there, too. These letters can be that amazing link—that supportive connection that tethers you back to your loved ones, no matter how far away you are. We’ve seen couples surprise each other with collections of letters, too—which, spoiler alert, is waterworks worthy. You can also send letters to your loved ones—or a postcard—on the day of your elopement, too!

A couple holds up letters from friends and family as they read them during their elopement ceremony. This is a great way to include your family in your elopement cermeony without having them physically there with you.
A couple sits next to each other, holding letters from friends and family and reading them during their party after eloping. This type of elopement wedding was a just us day, but the couple still chose to include their family in their elopement in a unique way.

Ask for a Video Toast

Another fun spin on the letter idea is to ask each of your loved ones to record a 30-second video toast that you can compile and watch on your elopement day! Remember, there are no rules—if you want to collect these from your friends and family beforehand and then wait to open them, do it! If you want to ask your family to send it on the day-of, do that, too! We’ve also seen couples surprise their partners with these adorable video toast mashups and it’s always a sweet and beautiful way to include your family while getting the day you’ve always dreamed of.

Skype or Facetime on Your Day

Say what you will about modern technology, it does have a benefit—we’re so, so connected to the world. There’s basically Wi-Fi and 3g everywhere, meaning, if you want to Facetime or Skype your family on the day of your elopement, you can—no matter where you are! We’ve had couples who chose to elope in remote locations who could still live video chat with their family on their day!  

In this photo, a bride factimes her family as she gets ready for her alaska elopement ceremony. While her family didn’t join her on their alaska destination elopement, she still found a way to include her family in her elopement.

Send Your Family Pictures During Your Day

Sure, you’re going to have a ton of badass pictures from your elopement day if you’re choosing to hire an elopement photographer, but there’s something so fun and special about the immediacy about a selfie. Snap some fun pictures on your phone, take a boomerang, record a little video on your day and send it right away to your family! It’ll make them feel so cherished and involved being the first to see you on your big day.   

Two young brides hold each other close as they fly two “just married” flags during their Patagonia elopement ceremony. These adventure elopement photographs were captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement photographer.
A bride rides piggyback on her groom as they hike through the snow during their Colorado mountain wedding ceremony. These adventure elopement pictures were captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement photographer.

Have a Reception After Your Elopement

If ever there was a sure-fire way to guarantee your family would feel involved in your just us elopement without being there when you say your vows, it would be this solution—have a reception after your elopement. Whether you choose to do this on your elopement day (some couples split the day so they can have their own private ceremony and then party with their family after) or you celebrate together when you return from your elopement adventure, this is a solid way to make your family feel super involved. This is one of the most common ways to make your loved ones fully understand your choice to elope—and, it’s a freakin’ great way to show off your elopement photos (another sure-fire way to really spell out your choice to take an epic elopement adventure together). We bet you anything that a family member will look at your photos and hear your stories and think, “damn—I should have eloped.If a reception makes sense for you, do it any way you want to—throw your wedding attire back on, or don’t; have a fancy dinner or throw a brunch party. This allows you to include your family in your celebration without compromising your ideal elopement day.

Invite Your Friends & Family to Watch You Sign Your Marriage License

Or, let them sign it with you! If you know you want to elope but don’t want your family to feel left out, invite them over to sign your marriage license or have them watch you sign your marriage license. We’ve seen couples do this as part of their “going away to elope” party before their adventure—they invite their family over and sign the certificate altogether. Personally, I eloped in Peru with my partner, but I still assigned my sister the role of Maid of Honor and she was able to sign my marriage license as my witness in Colorado. This can often make your family feel incredibly involved in your elopement without you feeling like you have to sacrifice the day of your dreams. (As a side note, remember that you can always include your family on your elopement day if that’s what you want).

Two grooms hold up their marriage certificate license (which they signed during a wedding ceremony where they inclued their familly). These lgbtq wedding photos were captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer.

Add Family Heirlooms, Details, and Items to Your Day

You can include and any all family details in your elopement day that you want, even if your family isn’t there standing with you. Maybe it’s always been super important to your mother that you wear your grandmother’s pearls on your wedding day (like she did)—do that! Maybe you want to wear your father’s watch. Whatever the memento, heirloom, or detail is, you can bring it along and make it a special part of your day or your ceremony.


Open Gifts From Them on Your Special Day

If your family really wants to send you gifts for your elopement but they won’t be there on your elopement day with you, you can always bring your gifts along and open them on the day you elope. Want your family to see it? Send them a video, live chat with them, or call them on your day—and do it all from an amazing location that you decided on for your wedding day.


Send Out Cards—With a Meaningful Twist

You know how couples who are having a traditional wedding will send out RSVP cards that you have to return in the mail? Send out cards of your own—but with a fun twist. Send out cards to the people you value, love, and cherish the most and tell them that you’re planning an intimate, sentimental elopement—but, just because they won’t be there doesn’t mean their support doesn’t matter. Ask them to fill out your card with encouraging words, advice, and other happy things so that you can gather the cards up, bring them with you on your elopement day, and open them together. Even though they won’t be with you physically, you can carry their love, support, and words with you during your day.

Bring Your Family Something From Your Elopement Adventure

You can still do the fun gifts and favors thing that big, traditional weddings do—the only difference is that you won’t be setting it down on their placemat. If you’re planning an epic elopement adventure, it’s always a fun idea to bring your family unique gifts back from where you eloped. Maybe you and your partner want to elope in Colombia, and while you’re there, you visit a coffee farm and create a custom blend—bring that bad-boy back for your family to enjoy, too! These unique gifts are special because you’re including your family (in your own way) on your adventure.

This adventure elopement photo shows a close up of the wine that a bride and groom made on their elopement day . They willl bring thsi special blend home to their family to share with them as a way to include them in their elopement.


Toast your Family on Your Elopement Day—Then Send it to Them

Remember that toasting idea we talked about earlier? Reverse it and send a fun toast to your family! If you have loved ones that you cherish and value that you’d love to thank or acknowledge, record a fun toast on your elopement day that you can send back to them. Seeing you in your elopement attire, at your absolute happiest, toasting them on your big day will definitely make them feel included!

A bride and groom stand in the sand dunes as they pop celebratory champagne together. This unique eloping ceremony was a unique way for the bride and groom to elope in the location they want to. What’s elope mean? Doing exactly what you want — just like this couple.

 No matter how you choose to elope, the most important piece of the puzzle is this—it’s your day. Never let anyone make you feel like you’re choosing the wrong thing. If something speaks to you, trust that. No matter how you feel about your family—whether you’re as tight as can be or not close at all—you’re never obligated to have a day that doesn’t feel authentically you just to please someone. There are so many unique, beautiful ways to make your family a part of your day—even when that means you’re choosing to elope just the two of you.


Hello—We’re Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori! We’re all adventure elopement photographers (and sherpas and officiants and gurus) based in Colorado and Washington. We’re here to help you plan the dreamiest elopement day you can possibly imagine. We can promise to help creatively and uniquely capture your elopement day no matter what you want to do. We can also answer all of your elopement questions, help you find the greatest vendors, and pick out epic locations for your just us day. We can’t wait to help you begin planning.

THERE’S SO MUCH BRAVERY IN CHOOSING TO STEP AWAY FROM TRADITION AND CELEBRATE YOUR LOVE IN THE WAY THAT MAKES THE MOST SENSE. DON’T LET THE WEDDING INDUSTRY TAKE THAT AWAY FROM YOU.

Get in touch with us and let us guide you.






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HEY THERE!

We're Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori. We are adventurous elopement photographers & guides based in Colorado that travel worldwide to help fearless couples like you create your unforgettable, wildly different wedding experience—that is completely yours.

Are You Ready to Create Your Own Adventurous Elopement?


If you would like help dreaming up your intimate wedding day, a customized elopement location idea list just for you, planning tools, vendor recommendations, and a creative, laid-back, documentary approach to your adventurous wedding photography—we would love to help you make your adventure elopement dreams come true.

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