How to Plan an Elopement in 2024: Ultimate Guide and Inspiration

January 11, 2024
14 min

Planning an elopement in 2024 has become a popular choice for many couples looking to create a special and personal wedding experience. They allow couples to create lasting memories and make planning easier. If you're wondering about how much it costs to elope or how to plan an elopement, you've come to the right place. 

This guide will help you plan an elopement in 2024, whether you want a romantic elopement or a small ceremony.

How to Plan An Elopement: A Step-by-Step Guide

Things to Consider Before Eloping

​​Planning an elopement requires thoughtful consideration of various factors. To have a good time, think about these things before you start. Below are some key considerations before eloping.

1. Location and Style

When it comes to elopements, the possibilities are endless. Imagine the place and style that feels right to both of you, using your emotions. Do you dream of getting married in a beautiful place like a mountain, beach, city, or nature? Think about the atmosphere and aesthetics that will make your elopement special.

If you want to get married at a courthouse, it's usually easier and cheaper. Getting married at a courthouse is simple and legal. There's not much planning required. Here’s how to elope at a courthouse:

  • Find a local courthouse: One that does civil ceremonies, and research in your area. Check their requirements, fees, and available dates.
  • Get a Marriage License: In most cases, you'll need to apply for a marriage license in advance. Ensure you have the necessary identification and paperwork.
  • Schedule an Appointment: Courthouses often need appointments for ceremonies. Call ahead to book a time slot.
  • Bring Witnesses: You may need to bring witnesses with you. Courthouse staff can often serve as witnesses if needed.
  • Exchange Vows: During the ceremony, you'll exchange vows and complete the legal paperwork.
  • Get a Marriage Certificate: After the ceremony, you will get a marriage certificate that acknowledges your union.

Getting married at a courthouse is a simple and efficient option for couples who want a straightforward elopement.

2. Number of Guests

One of the advantages of eloping is the ability to keep the ceremony intimate. Decide on the number of guests you want to invite to your elopement. You can have the two of you, a few close family members and friends, or a small group of loved ones who are most important to you. Remember, having fewer guests gives you more freedom and lets you focus on your bond as a couple.

3. Elopement Planner or Vendors

Even if you elope, it's okay to ask for help from a wedding planner or vendors, like SimplyEloped. Do you need assistance with organizing things such as finding a good spot or arranging a place to stay? Or maybe you need help with elopement photographers and videographers? Hire experts to handle everything, so you can enjoy your elopement stress-free.

4. Legality and Paperwork

Before eloping, research the legality of your chosen location and understand the required paperwork for a legal marriage. Different jurisdictions have varying requirements, such as marriage licenses or permits. Ensure you fulfill all the legal obligations to make your union official. To make things easier, talk to local authorities or get legal advice for guidance.

free elopement checklist

How long does it take to plan for an elopement?

The time it takes to plan an elopement can vary widely depending on several factors, including your preferences, location, and the availability of vendors. However, compared to planning a traditional large wedding, elopements generally require less time. Here's a rough timeline to consider:

As Soon as Possible (6-12 Months in Advance):

  • Determine your budget: Decide how much you're willing to spend on your elopement.
  • Choose a date: Pick a special date that works for both of you and is feasible for your desired location.
  • Select a location: Decide on the destination or venue for your elopement.

3-6 Months in Advance:

  • Make travel arrangements: If your elopement involves travel, book flights, accommodations, and transportation.
  • Hire only essential vendors: This might include a photographer, officiant, and any other services you need.
  • Obtain any necessary permits: If your elopement location requires permits or licenses, ensure you secure them.

1-2 Months in Advance:

  • Choose your attire: Shop for your wedding attire, and don't forget about accessories and any necessary alterations.
  • Plan the ceremony: Write your vows and work on any other special elements you want to include in the ceremony.
  • Arrange for marriage license: Ensure you have all the required documents and information for obtaining a marriage license.

2-4 Weeks in Advance:

  • Finalize details: Confirm arrangements with vendors, and make any last-minute adjustments.
  • Pack and prepare: Start packing for your elopement and make sure you have everything you need.
  • Create an itinerary: Plan the schedule for the elopement day, including the ceremony and any post-ceremony activities.

Planning a Budget for Eloping

Planning a budget for your elopement is essential to ensure you allot your resources and make informed decisions. The average cost of eloping can vary, depending on your preferences and the type of experience you desire. Elopements are cheaper than regular weddings, but they still require money for the ceremony, outfits, and activities. 

Here are some tips for budget wedding planning

1. Finding a Location

Choosing the right place for your elopement is an important decision that can affect your budget. Some locations may need travel expenses, permits, or venue fees. When planning your trip, think about how much it will cost to go where you want to go. Make sure to include these costs in your budget.

2. Selecting a Look

Your style and preferences will play a significant role in shaping your elopement. First, choose the style you want and set aside money for clothes, accessories, and extras.

3. Hair and Makeup

Decide whether you want to do your hair and makeup or hire a professional stylist. If you opt for professional services, be sure to include the associated costs in your budget. Schedule hair and makeup trials in advance and factor in any extra expenses such as travel or trial fees.

4. Flowers for Your Elopement

Flowers can add a touch of elegance and romance to your elopement. Decide if you want real or fake flowers. Think about your color scheme and if there are flowers available nearby. This will help you keep costs under control. Opting for local and seasonal flowers can often be more cost-effective.

5. Considering the Narrative of the Elopement Day

Think of your elopement as a story with a beginning, middle, and conclusion. Plan for a memorable way to mark the end of your elopement day. You can have a romantic meal. Hire a private chef at your Airbnb. Or find a nearby restaurant that offers exclusive and intimate dining. Consider your budget and choose an option that suits your preferences.

Couple getting engaged

Consider an Online Elopement with Courtly

If you're thinking about eloping, getting married online could be a great choice to consider. Choosing to elope online has advantages, such as easy steps, affordability, and freedom to plan your wedding. You can elope anywhere you've always wanted to go. With online officiation, you can get your marriage certificate in less than 48 hours. The best part is that you don't need to worry about the legalities of your marriage in the chosen location.

Courtly is an online marriage company. They help couples get legally married online. You can get a valid US marriage certificate without any paperwork. Here's a breakdown of how the process works with Courtly:

  • Courtly's concierge can help you get your license using their secure ID verification system. They will check everything for issues and work with the authorities to make sure everything is ready for your special day.
  • After you choose a time and date, the Courtly network will match you with a US officiant who can marry you online.
  • You can have a simple virtual wedding at home or anywhere with good internet. The actual ceremony should take a few minutes.
  • After the ceremony, you will get a digital copy of your US online marriage certificate. You will also receive a physical copy in 1 to 2 weeks. You can also download a video of your ceremony soon after the wedding.

Choosing a Location for an Elopement

Choosing the right place is important for your elopement. It sets the mood for your special celebration. Here are some options to consider for your elopement location.

1. Destination Wedding

You can have a destination wedding elopement in a place that is special to you as a couple or that you've always wanted to visit. Many same-sex couples have destination weddings in other countries that have legalized their unions. Elopements can occur in beautiful locations, such as beaches, mountains, cities, or gardens. They create unique and memorable experiences.

2. Camping in the Woods

If you and your partner enjoy nature and want a more adventurous wedding, camping in the woods can be magical. Look for a beautiful campground, park, or forest where you can get married in nature. Embrace the serenity and simplicity of the great outdoors for an unforgettable elopement.

3. Visiting a New Country

For those seeking an immersive experience, consider eloping in a new country. Embark on a romantic adventure to explore diverse cultures, traditions, and landscapes. Make sure to research the marriage requirements and legalities in your chosen country. This will help ensure a smooth process. If you hire a local planner or guide, they can help you with language barriers and unfamiliar procedures.

4. Take a Road Trip

Embark on a road trip elopement and let the open road guide you to your special day. Choose a scenic route and stop at picturesque locations along the way. With a road trip elopement, you can make special memories while traveling to your destination. From beautiful coastlines to quaint towns, there's so much to enjoy along the way.

5. Choosing a Romantic Venue

If you like traditional settings, pick a romantic place for your elopement. This could be a historic mansion, a cozy chapel, a beautiful garden, or a luxury hotel. Many places offer packages for small weddings, creating a lovely and romantic atmosphere.

Picking the Wedding Date

Picking the best wedding date for your elopement is an important choice that can affect your experience. Consider the following factors when selecting a date.

  1. Consider dates that hold personal significance to you and your partner. You can choose an anniversary that marks when you first met or a special memory you both cherish. Celebrating your elopement on a date that holds sentimental value can make it even more special.
  2. Assess the feasibility and practicality of potential dates. Consider your work schedule, family commitments, and prior engagements when determining your availability. Choose a date that allows you and your loved ones to take part and be present for your elopement.
  3. If you have a specific location or venue in mind, check their availability for your desired dates. Popular places may fill up fast. It's best to ask early to get the date you want. If you want to hire vendors like photographers, officiants, or caterers, make sure they are available on your chosen date.
  4. Decide whether you prefer a weekday or weekend for your elopement. Weekdays are usually less busy. They might have more available slots and could be cheaper. Guests who need to travel may find weekends more convenient. Weekends can also accommodate larger gatherings if desired.
  5. Some couples may choose to incorporate astrology or numerology into their decision-making process. When choosing your wedding date, consider your favorite astrological signs or special numbers. But, it's important to balance these considerations with practicality and availability.

Including Friends and Family

Are you wondering how to plan an elopement with your family? In the modern era, some couples who elope choose to invite a few loved ones to their ceremony. They don't follow the traditional idea of keeping it a secret and being alone. If you have picked a beautiful place, it's okay to invite only a few loved ones to celebrate with you. Many couples even turn their elopement into the start of a memorable family vacation. But, it is still advisable to keep the wedding guest list limited. When eloping, focus on your union, not the grandness of a traditional wedding.

Selecting Outfits and Accessories

When choosing what to wear for an elopement, think about your style, the location, and the dress code. Reflect on your individuality by choosing outfits that make you feel confident and comfortable. Let your outfit match your style, whether it's classic, bohemian, modern, or alternative. When choosing your outfits for the elopement location, think about the scenery, weather, and culture. Choose formal clothing for fancy places. Wear casual outfits for adventurous elopements.

The seasons and styles help decide what to wear for your elopement. Think about the time of year you're getting married. Pick fabrics, colors, and styles that match. For warm summer elopements, choose light and breathable materials like chiffon and linen. For winter ceremonies, go for heavier fabrics like velvet and wool. Adding layers to your outfits can make them more versatile when the weather is unpredictable. This is especially helpful if you are eloping. On the wedding day, you can change your clothes to be more comfortable and practical. 

Don't forget to select accessories and details that enhance your ensemble. You can enhance your outfit with statement jewelry, veils, hats, belts, and scarves. When eloping, pick shoes that are comfy and appropriate for where you'll be.

Writing Vows for the Elopement

Writing sincere and important vows is a lovely way to show your love and commitment to your elopement. Start by thinking about your journey as a couple. Remember important moments and how you've grown together. Include these thoughts in your vows to show how much you love each other and the special connection you have. Be authentic and personal in your words, speaking from the heart and avoiding clichés.

Focus on the specific qualities and experiences that make your relationship special. When writing your vows, think about the tone and style you want. You can choose to be heartfelt and emotional, light-hearted and humorous, or a combination of both. Keep the length concise to maintain the focus and impact of your words.

When writing your vows, include elements that capture the essence of your relationship. Begin by expressing your love for your partner and sharing the depth of your emotions. Promise to support and encourage each other in the future, and always choose each other. Share personal stories or memories that highlight the special aspects of your relationship.

Express your love and admiration for your partner. Let them know you appreciate their qualities, big and small. Tell them you're grateful to have them in your life. Talk about what you both want in the future, like the life you want and the adventures you want to have. End your vows with a strong and sincere statement that impresses your partner and witnesses.

Making Travel Arrangements

When you plan to elope, be sure to arrange for a place to stay and transportation for a good time. Start by researching and exploring accommodation options that suit your location and style. Consider factors such as proximity to the ceremony venue, amenities, and your budget. Whether it's a hotel, resort, Airbnb, or unique lodging option, choose accommodations that meet your needs.

Decide how you will travel for your elopement - by driving, renting a car, or flying far. Additionally, plan for local transportation if your elopement involves many locations or activities. Provide information on nearby accommodations and transportation options to any guests you've invited.

Taking care of important documents and requirements is crucial for hassle-free elopement. Before eloping, research how to get a marriage license where you plan to go and apply ahead of time. Ensure that you and your partner have valid identification documents, such as passports or driver's licenses. Before you elope, make sure you know the marriage laws and any required documents.

To protect yourself from unexpected situations, think about buying travel insurance. Look at different options to find the right policy for you. Keep yourself informed about travel restrictions, health and safety guidelines, and COVID-19 protocols in your elopement destination, and prepare yourself for potential changes or adjustments to your plans.

Obtaining the Legal Marriage License

Once you and the officiant have signed your marriage license, there is an important final step to make it legally recognized. You must file the marriage license with the appropriate County office to register it with the government.

It's essential to note that each county may have different requirements for filing the marriage license. The officiant may be responsible for filing the license after signing it in some cases. But, in other cases, the couple may need to file it themselves. Always ask your officiant about how to file for marriage to make sure it's legal.

For online marriages, like with Courtly, the officiant files the marriage license after the ceremony. The officiant takes care of the filing process, so you don't have to worry or be responsible for it.


Courtly provides an easy and flexible way for couples to have their wedding online. It prioritizes simplicity, affordability, and privacy, making it an appealing choice for couples. Using Courtly's efficient process, couples can get a valid US marriage certificate. It usually takes 48 hours, avoiding the long wait of traditional weddings. Online elopement allows you to pick any dream location without legal complications. It's ideal for destination weddings and unique settings.

In short, Courtly offers a convenient online marriage experience that suits modern couples. The platform helps couples get licenses, find officiants, and have virtual ceremonies. Courtly's online elopement is a popular choice for couples who want a customized and special wedding. It's convenient, fast, and flexible, perfect for couples planning their elopement online.

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