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How to DIY Your Elopement Party

 bride-and-groom-elopement-cupcakes

Once upon a time, couples who wanted to elope would skip town, the elopement party, and just head to a courthouse, sometimes across state lines. Elopement usually happened when the families disapproved.

But today it means something else entirely. “Elopement” has come to describe small, cozy weddings with a handful of cherished guests, either close to home or destination. These weddings and elopement parties can often be thrown for a fraction of the cost of a traditional wedding with hundreds of guests. They’re also a relatively low-stress, low-key option.

Elopement allows you to create an intimate, meaningful wedding. And when you DIY as much of it as possible, you don’t just save money. You put your heart and soul into creating something that’s truly unique. Here’s everything you need to become your own elopement planner.

Elopement Ceremony and Elopement Party Checklist

Here are all the things you’ll have to think about when planning your elopement.

Elopement Venues

couple-eloping-ring-ceremony.Choosing a venue is about more than finding a pretty location and booking it. It requires a lot of advance planning, as well as an awareness of the local laws governing marriages.

You’re likely actually going to choose two venues here. Many couples will still choose a courthouse to get married in, before moving everyone to a gorgeous location for the reception. If that’s what you’re doing, we’ve got you covered!

When choosing your venue, consider:

● Whether you’ll need a separate appointment for your marriage license.
● Whether the courthouse requires you to book ahead or allows walk-ins. Booking may be better, as you don’t want to get your guests to the courthouse only to force them to wait on someone else’s wedding!
● Whether the courthouse allows you to book.
● Whether the courthouse allows you to offer your own vows.
● Triple check the laws if you’re eloping in another country.

Do some calling around. For the most part, you’re going to want to book early. Choose your top reception locations, and then call courthouses near those venues. Call each reception location to make sure it’s available too. If you find matching times for the reception and courthouse, you’ve won!

If you absolutely can’t book both locations for the same day, and are adamant about having your wedding in a specific spot, then give the reception area preference. Some couples don’t invite anyone but witnesses to the courthouse and instead invite everyone to the reception.

couple-eloping-holding-hands.If that’s you, then you can get legally married a week or two before the reception. Your announcements and invites would then say that you got married, where, and when, with a warm invitation to attend the upcoming elopement party.

Some people choose to hold the reception closer to home, opting to get married in a city by themselves with no guests, enjoy their honeymoon, and then come home for the elopement party. This could save many of your guests a fortune in travel costs.

Elopement Attire

You’ll want to talk to your partner about how you’re going to dress for the ceremony, and for the reception. You don’t have to go crazy with color coordination, but you’ll want to match your level of formality.

For example, many eloping brides prefer white dresses with simple, clean lines, formal enough for work or any party but available at any department store. This prevents you from having to purchase or rent an elaborate wedding dress. If you take that route, then the groom might want to wear a simple suit instead of a tux. Slacks, a vest, and a crisp shirt are a good choice too. These items play well at the reception, too.

You might both want to at least visit a local tailor to make sure the fit is spot-on. This is still your day!

Elopement Announcements and Invitations

This is one of the areas where you can get truly creative by making your own announcements and invitations. Here are some elopement announcement ideas.

For a Formal Elopement Party

Get heavy card stock and a calligraphy kit to write out each invitation or announcement by hand.

For a Less Formal Elopement Party

For weddings where you didn’t invite any guests at all, send a “Reception Only!” card. Write the words right at the top in big, bold letters, and then add the details in smaller ones. Gel pens on heavy card stock will produce outstanding results.

For a Backyard Elopement Party

Have a little fun with stencils to put on-theme decorations on your invitation. You don’t even have to use the word “reception.” You can call it an “I Do BBQ” or a “Happily Ever After Party.”

Don’t Forget

Announcing your elopement comes with its own etiquette. Those who will be attending you at the courthouse are your witnesses. Keep in mind your chosen city may require them! You should plan on having fewer than a dozen witnesses, even if you plan to invite a slightly larger group of people to your post-elopement party.

Announcements may be mailed to anyone who didn’t attend the elopement after you’re hitched.

Invitations, either to the elopement or the elopement party, can be mailed before.

It’s a good idea to send “save the date” cards to anyone you want on site, too.

Elopement Reception Planning

There are some truly unique elopement places out there. Some venues have begun specializing in this sort of wedding, and even have some of the best elopement packages you could possibly ask for. Choose the right venue, and details like flowers, food, music, and even a photographer can already be all lined up and done for you.

If the venue doesn’t offer an elopement package then you will want to make sure your DIY elopement reception has the following:

  • Someone to take pictures. It can be your uncle or your bestie if you don’t want to hire a photographer. Print photos and purchase a scrapbook or photo album so you always remember your special day!
  • A way to play music. An mp3 player and good Bluetooth speakers with a solid Google Play or Spotify playlist work just fine.
  • Food! You can’t neglect the food. Fortunately, catering for twenty people or less is a lot less expensive than catering for over 100. You might want to contact a few caterers in the local area and arrange a tasting if you can. If you’re having your party in your own back yard you can, of course, just make your own.
  • Don’t forget glasses, plates, and flatware. Use tasteful disposables for a minimum of fuss.
    Wedding cake is totally optional, but most couples want one. Elopement cakes are usually single tiered cakes with some tasteful but beautiful low-key decoration. If you want something a little less formal and a little more fun, you could also have the bride and groom’s cupcakes arranged in tiers and towers.
  • Flowers are also optional, but if you want a bouquet to throw you’ll need to think about this. Many online flower shops deliver wedding bouquets right to your doorstep and don’t require a lot of notice.
  • Balloons!  Balloons make even the most casual event special.
  • You might want to consider other supplies like chairs and tables.

Here at Paper Plus at 1629 San Pablo Ave in Berkeley, we offer all the supplies you’ll need, including chair rentals, card stock for invitations, and more. Stop by and ask how we can help you make your elopement a memorable and beautiful event.

After you’ve acquired or scheduled everything you’re going to need, take a breath and relax!

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