To say that Covid threw a huge wrench into a lot of couples’ wedding plans would be a huge understatement. A lot of curveballs happen while you’re planning a wedding – but I think a global pandemic was just about the last thing anyone expected would come along.
Many have had to make the hard decision to postpone, or cancel their weddings – but as a result, elopements have seen a huge uptick in popularity. Whether you scrap the big wedding entirely in favor of a tiny ceremony, or you elope now and have the big party later, you’ll need to plan your elopement with the safety of you and any guests in mind. Here are my tips for planning a COVID elopement, and eloping safely during a pandemic.
Your Elopement Still Matters
For some couples, COVID gave them the perfect excuse to do what they wanted all along – a small ceremony with just them. With the pressure that so many couples are under to throw a huge party for everyone to enjoy, it can be hard to see any other option – and the pandemic inspired a lot of couples to downsize.
But, if you truly were looking forward to the wedding you had planned, and you wanted the big party with all your loved ones around, it can be hard to feel stoked about an elopement.
My first piece of advice when it comes to planning a COVID elopement is to toss out the mindset that this day is any less significant or meaningful than a big wedding would have been. This is still the day you marry the love of your life, so treat it that way!
There’s a misconception that elopements are a quick ceremony, or a cheap way to get married without any fuss or time commitment. But, even before COVID struck, elopements have been evolving into something so much more. Eloping means being intentional in making sure that your wedding day is about you, and that you get to celebrate the way you want – whether that means hiking just the two of you to get to the perfect spot, or bringing your family along for a small ceremony at your favorite park.
Even if an elopement isn’t exactly what you wanted, it’s still going to be an amazing day – if you let it be.
Picking an Elopement Location
One of the best things about eloping is that you aren’t confined to a venue! You can elope (almost) anywhere, and choose what kind of scenery you want to be surrounded by on your wedding day.
An outdoor elopement is best – both for scenery and for safety, as COVID is less likely to spread outdoors. Make sure you’re up to date on current CDC guidelines when it comes to travel, as this can influence the decision of where you want to have your ceremony. Road trips are safer than planes, so pick a location closer to home. Check for any park closures as well, as some locations have limited the number of visitors they can have, while others are closed completely for the time being.
Eloping doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to have any guests – but with a COVID elopement, the question of who can come along for the ceremony becomes even trickier. As with all things pandemic wedding, safety will be a huge consideration. Think about the risks of traveling and gathering together with family or friends outside of your household.
Be sure to follow CDC guidelines when it comes to group sizes and how many people can be present, as well as local guidelines in the state you’re eloping in. Even if you aren’t able to invite all the people you wanted at your wedding, there are still ways to include them in the elopement!
Stream the Ceremony
Live streaming weddings has gained a lot of popularity this year, and it’s a great option if your loved ones can’t attend! Be sure to test out your setup ahead of time so that you aren’t fumbling with technology during the ceremony. You’ll need to choose a location that isn’t too remote so that you still have service, and set up a hotspot on your phone or purchase an external one.
Have them Write Letters
An idea that I love for couples whose loved ones can’t attend their elopement is to ask them to write letters. You’ll get to read them on your elopement day, and your family and friends will get to wish you well and tell you how happy they are for you!
Have a Reception Later
If you’re eloping, but still want the big wedding you had originally planned for, you can always do this later! If invitations have already been sent out, let your guests know that the festivities have been postponed and that you’ll be having another celebration later. Your second ceremony can even be a vow renewal!
Hiring Elopement Vendors
When hiring vendors for a COVID elopement, there are a few extra considerations. Make sure that you ask about their protocol when it comes to keeping everyone safe throughout the day – precautions include wearing masks, keeping 6 feet of space whenever possible, and for hair and makeup artists, sanitizing equipment often.
A great team of elopement vendors will take a lot of stress off of you, and will be able to help you plan an epic elopement day! Planning a ceremony is difficult enough, but planning an elopement during a pandemic is its own challenge, so hire knowledgeable vendors who will support you throughout the process.
As a photographer who specializes in elopements, I work with couples who want an untraditional, unique wedding day experience. So whether eloping was the plan all along, or you need some help pivoting from your original plan, contact me to talk about your elopement!