Eloping With Family – How to Include Family in Your Elopement

If you love the idea of getting married outdoors, love the idea of a wedding day that’s entirely focused on the two of you, love the thought of a private, intimate, meaningful day – but you can’t imagine tying the knot without the people you love by your side, don’t worry! Eloping doesn’t have to mean it’s just the two of you. For a lot of couples, eloping with family or with a few close friends makes the experience so much more meaningful.

This guide is all about eloping with family, and ideas for how to include them in your day! Even if you want a “just us” elopement experience, there are still some ways to include your family without them actually being there.

A guestbook at an intimate elopement with a notecard on top that has the written message "family will always be here for you", with a smiley face

Ideas for Eloping With Family

First, let’s talk about how to elope with family, and some tips and ideas for planning a day that includes your loved ones! If you’re inviting your family to the ceremony, this section’s for you.

Have a Full Day (or Two Day) Elopement

You can elope with family and enjoy some privacy on your elopement day – it’s the best of both worlds! A lot of couples still want to adventure, explore, hike, or just spend some time together, just the two of them, while including their family in their elopement.

With a full day elopement, you can split up the day! Spend the first half with your family – have breakfast together, get ready, and then head out for your ceremony. After the ceremony and some photos together, the two of you can go off on your own for the second part of the day, enjoying some quality time with your new spouse!

You can even do a two day elopement, dedicating a whole day to celebrating and enjoying time with the people you love, and another day to just each other.

Have a Family Member Officiate Your Elopement

While your family can totally just be there as guests, you can also give them a role in your elopement! A fun way to do this is to have someone officiate your ceremony. Getting ordained is really quick, easy, and free on ULC.org, and all they have to do is fill out a form and a few minutes later, they can legally marry you!

Having a family member officiate is also incredibly meaningful and special, and they can create a personalized ceremony for you.

A bride and groom dressed warmly walk arm-in-arm towards the bride's father, who is smiling waiting for them to arrive at the end of the grassy makeshift aisle at their elopement.

Have Your Family Say a Few Words

When you’re eloping with family, you can also just give them the opportunity to speak during your ceremony! It can be nice to let anyone who wants to say a few words before the “I do’s” wish you well or share a memory or story, and will make your family feel included. Another option is to do toasts afterwards, either over dinner and cake or after a champagne pop!

A bald groom in a white button-down has his arm wrapped around his brunette bride in a long-sleeve ivory gown, as the two of them listen to the parents reading a short speech.

Have a Ring Bearer or Flower Child

If there are kids in your family that are attending your elopement, some wedding traditions can be cute to incorporate! You can have someone carry the rings for you, or have a flower child.

Side note, though, scattering flower petals outdoors is usually not Leave No Trace friendly (though they’re biodegradable, adding anything that doesn’t belong there to an ecosystem is potentially damaging), so you can find some alternatives, like carrying a small bouquet or waving a ribbon.

A young boy with a cheeky smile holds a ring box as the ring bearer at an elopement
A young ring bearer in a tan suit smiles as he walks towards a couple off-camera at their elopement

Do a First Look With Your Family

Just like you can do a first look with your partner, you can also do one with your family! After getting ready, it can be a really sweet moment to have a family member (or all of them) see you all dressed up for the first time on your wedding day.

A bride in a blush ballgown walks down stairs towards her father, who has his back turned, about to do a first look at her elopement with family

How to Include Your Family in Your Elopement – if They Won’t be There

There are a lot of reasons why couples choose to elope just the two of them, or choose not to invite their family. But there are still plenty of ways to include your family (or chosen family) in your elopement if they aren’t going to be there!

Have Your Family Write Letters or Make a Video

One of the best ways to include your family in your elopement is to have them write letters for you to read, or record a video for you to watch on your wedding day. This is such a meaningful way to let them be a part of the day without being there in person, and gives your family a chance to “talk” to you on the big day.

A close up image of a groom's torso as he reads a letter from his family at his elopement

Stream Your Elopement Ceremony

Zoom weddings became popular these past few years – and streaming your ceremony can be a great way to include your family in your elopement, while still keeping most of the day private and just for the two of you. Make sure you’re getting married in a place with cell reception, and invite your family to watch you tie the knot!

A couple that wanted to elope with family smiles at a phone as they wave at their family on Facetime

Carry Sentimental Items

To include your family in your elopement day, you can also carry something sentimental or meaningful that reminds you of them. This can be a family heirloom, something of theirs (like mom’s earrings or dad’s watch), or a gift that they got you for your elopement day. Bringing something special along will remind you of your loved ones, and contributing the item will make your family feel included!

Include Your Family in Elopement Planning

Even if your family won’t be there on the day you get married, you can still include them in the planning process! This is a great way to make them feel included and special, and it can also be really nice for you to share the excitement (and maybe the occasional stressful moment) of planning your elopement.

You can include your family in anything you want – invite them to help you pick out what to wear, bring them along for a cake tasting, or ask for advice as you make decisions about your day!

Have a Reception After You Elope…

A lot of couples choose to elope just the two of them, then throw a party afterwards to celebrate! You can have a reception and celebrate with your family after the knot’s been tied – it can be days, weeks, even months later.

Two grandmas have their arms around each other, eyes closed with emotion at their grandchild's elopement with family

… Or an Engagement Party Before You Elope

Another option is to have the party first! Planning an engagement party before the big day can be a fun way to include your family too. If someone you know is into party planning, you can even have them throw the party for you – they’ll love being included in the pre-elopement fun!

A smiling, bearded groom with his arm around his short, smiling grandma before his elopement.

Hire an Elopement Photographer

This is a big one whether you’re eloping with family or trying to include them in other ways! Hiring a photographer (and maybe even a videographer if you’d like!) to document the day is important, because you’ll definitely want to look back on these memories and relive the story of your elopement day. And sharing your elopement photos with family afterwards is an amazing way to make them feel included, and a great way to share your incredible adventures with them. Make it extra special and play a slideshow over dinner, or order an extra album to gift as a physical copy of your best day.

If you still need a photographer, and are looking for someone to hold your hand through the planning process and then take those gorgeous, meaningful images – get in touch, and let’s start planning!


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