Eloping has become an increasingly popular choice for couples seeking an intimate and personalized way to tie the knot. In 2023, elopements continue to offer a unique alternative to traditional weddings, allowing couples to create meaningful memories while simplifying the planning process. 

Whether you envision a romantic destination elopement or a small ceremony close to home, this guide will walk you through the key steps to plan a memorable elopement in 2023.

Things to Consider Before Eloping

​​Planning an elopement requires thoughtful consideration of various factors. Taking the time to think through these aspects will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Below are some key considerations before eloping.

1. Location and Style

When it comes to elopements, the possibilities are endless. Think with your heart and envision the location and style that truly resonate with you and your partner. Do you dream of exchanging vows on a picturesque mountaintop, by a serene beach, in a charming cityscape, or amidst nature's beauty? Consider the ambiance, aesthetics, and overall atmosphere that will make your elopement truly special.

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. It could be just the two of you, a small group of close family and friends, or a handful of loved ones who mean the most to you. Keep in mind that a smaller guest count allows for more flexibility and an increased focus on your connection as a couple.

3. Elopement Planner or Vendors

While eloping can simplify the planning process, you may still want assistance from an elopement planner or vendors who offer related services. Consider whether you would like professional help in organizing the logistics, such as finding the perfect location, arranging accommodations, or coordinating photography and videography. Hiring experienced professionals can alleviate stress and ensure that every detail is taken care of, allowing you to fully immerse yourselves in the joy of your elopement.

4. Legality and Paperwork

Before eloping, research the legality of your chosen location and understand the necessary paperwork required for your marriage to be legally recognized. Different jurisdictions have varying requirements, such as marriage licenses or permits. Ensure you fulfill all the legal obligations to make your union official. Consulting with local authorities or seeking legal advice can help you navigate through this process smoothly.

Planning a Budget for Eloping

Planning a budget for your elopement is essential to ensure you allocate your resources effectively and make informed decisions. The cost of eloping can vary significantly, depending on your preferences and the type of experience you desire. While elopements generally tend to be less expensive than traditional weddings, they still incur costs associated with the ceremony, outfits, and any additional activities you choose to include. 

Here are some tips for budget planning. 

1. Finding a Location

Selecting the perfect location for your elopement is a crucial decision that may impact your budget. Some locations may require travel expenses, permits, or venue fees. Consider the costs associated with your chosen destination and factor them into your budget accordingly.

2. Selecting a Look

Your style and preferences will play a significant role in shaping your elopement. Decide on the overall look and aesthetic you want to achieve, and allocate a portion of your budget to your attire, accessories, and any styling elements you desire.

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 additional expenses such as travel or trial fees.

4. Flowers for Your Elopement

Flowers can add a touch of elegance and romance to your elopement. Determine whether you want to incorporate real or synthetic flowers and consider your color scheme and the local availability of blooms to help keep costs manageable. 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. This could involve arranging a romantic meal, hiring a private chef at your Airbnb, or finding a nearby restaurant that offers an exclusive and intimate dining experience. Consider your budget and choose an option that suits your preferences.

Consider an Online Elopement with Courtly

If you're considering eloping, an online marriage could be an excellent option to explore. Choosing an online elopement offers several advantages, including simplified processes, cost-effectiveness, and the freedom to have your wedding on your terms. You have the flexibility to elope to any location you've always dreamed of, and with online officiation, you can obtain your marriage certificate in under 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 that specializes in guiding couples through the entire process of getting legally married online. They offer a seamless and hassle-free experience, enabling you to obtain a valid US marriage certificate swiftly and without the burden of paperwork. Here's a breakdown of how the process works with Courtly:

  • Your license will be obtained with help from Courtly's concierge using their secure ID verification system. They will check everything for flaws and work with the authorities to ensure that everything is ready for your big day.
  • Once you select a time and date, they will pair you up with a US officiant from the Courtly network who is authorized to officiate online marriages.
  • You can hold a straightforward virtual wedding ceremony in the comfort of your own home (or any other place with a strong internet connection). The actual ceremony should just take a few minutes.
  • You’ll receive a copy of your US online marriage certificate shortly after the ceremony and a physical copy will be delivered to you within 1 to 2 weeks. You can also download a copy of your marriage soon after the wedding.

Choosing a Location for an Elopement

When planning an elopement, selecting the perfect location is a crucial decision that sets the stage for your intimate celebration. Here are some options to consider for your elopement location.

1. Destination Wedding

Consider having a destination wedding elopement in a place that holds special meaning to you as a couple or that you've always dreamed of visiting. Whether it's a serene beach, a picturesque mountain, a charming cityscape, or a lush garden, destination weddings offer a unique and memorable backdrop for your elopement.

2. Camping in the Woods

If you and your partner love nature and seek a more adventurous elopement experience, camping in the woods can create a magical atmosphere. Find a scenic campground, national park, or forested area that allows you to exchange vows surrounded by the beauty of nature. Embrace the serenity and simplicity of the great outdoors for an unforgettable elopement.

3. Visiting a New Country

For those seeking a truly immersive experience, consider eloping in a new country. Explore different cultures, traditions, and landscapes as you embark on a romantic adventure together. Research marriage requirements and legalities in your chosen country to ensure a smooth process. Hiring a local planner or guide can help you navigate through any language barriers or unfamiliar procedures.

4. Taking 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. From breathtaking coastlines to charming towns, a road trip elopement allows you to create meaningful memories while enjoying the journey to your destination.

5. Choosing a Romantic Venue

If you prefer a more traditional setting, consider choosing a romantic venue for your elopement. This could be a historic mansion, a cozy chapel, a beautiful garden, or a luxury hotel. Many venues offer elopement packages specifically designed for intimate ceremonies, providing an elegant and romantic atmosphere for your special day.

Picking the Wedding Date

Choosing the perfect wedding date for your elopement is an important decision that can have a significant impact on your overall experience. Consider the following factors when selecting a date.

  1. Consider dates that hold personal significance to you and your partner. It could be the anniversary of when you first met, a special shared memory, or a meaningful date that symbolizes your love and commitment. 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 factors such as work schedules, family commitments, and any prior engagements that might affect your availability. Choose a date that allows you and your loved ones to fully participate 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 venues may book up quickly, so it's advisable to inquire early to secure your preferred date. Additionally, if you plan on hiring vendors such as photographers, officiants, or caterers, ensure their availability aligns with your chosen date.
  4. Decide whether you prefer a weekday or weekend for your elopement. Weekdays are generally less busy and may offer more availability and potential cost savings. Weekends, on the other hand, maybe more convenient for guests who need to travel and can accommodate larger gatherings if desired.
  5. Some couples may choose to incorporate astrology or numerology in their decision-making process. If you have a particular affinity for certain astrological signs or meaningful numbers, you can explore those aspects when selecting your wedding date. However, it's important to balance these considerations with practicality and availability.

Including Friends and Family

Many couples who choose to elope in the modern era often opt to include a select group of friends or family in their ceremony, deviating from the traditional notion of secrecy and solitude. It is perfectly acceptable to invite a small number of loved ones, particularly if you have chosen a picturesque destination or tropical paradise where you wish to share the joyous occasion. Many couples even turn their elopement into the start of a memorable family vacation. However, it is still advisable to keep the wedding guest list limited. It is important to remember that the essence of eloping lies in prioritizing the intimate union of the couple rather than the grandeur of a traditional wedding celebration.

Selecting Outfits and Accessories

When selecting your attire for an elopement, it's crucial to consider your style, the setting, and the dress code. Reflect on your individuality by choosing outfits that make you feel confident and comfortable. Whether you prefer a classic, bohemian, modern, or alternative look, let your attire align with your unique style. Additionally, coordinate your outfits with the elopement location, taking into account the scenery, weather conditions, and any cultural or environmental factors that may influence your clothing choices. Opt for formal attire for elegant venues, while more casual and relaxed outfits are suitable for adventurous elopements.

Seasons and styles play a significant role in determining the perfect attire for your elopement. Consider the season you're getting married in and choose fabrics, colors, and styles accordingly. Light and breathable materials like chiffon and linen are ideal for warm summer elopements, while heavier fabrics like velvet and wool work well for winter ceremonies. Layering your outfits can add versatility, especially if you're eloping in a location with unpredictable weather. This allows you to adjust your attire throughout the day for comfort and practicality. 

Don't forget to select accessories and details that enhance your ensemble. Statement jewelry, veils, hats, belts, and scarves can all complement your outfit and add a personal touch. Remember to choose comfortable footwear that suits the terrain and location of your elopement.

Writing Vows for the Elopement

Crafting heartfelt and meaningful vows is a beautiful way to express your love and commitment during your elopement ceremony. Begin by reflecting on your journey as a couple, recalling significant moments and the growth you've experienced together. Incorporate these reflections into your vows to showcase the depth of your love and the unique bond you share. 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. Consider the tone and style you want for your vows, whether 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. Make promises and commitments for the future, pledging to support and encourage one another, and to always choose each other. Incorporate personal stories or memories that highlight the unique aspects of your relationship, demonstrating your love and admiration for your partner. Express your appreciation for their qualities, big and small, and let them know how grateful you are to have them in your life. Share your hopes and dreams for the future as a couple, discussing the life you aspire to build together and the adventures you want to embark on. Conclude your vows with a powerful and heartfelt statement that leaves a lasting impression on your partner and those witnessing your vows.

Making Travel Arrangements

When planning your elopement, it's important to make necessary arrangements for accommodations and transportation to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. 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. Determine the mode of transportation that best fits your elopement plans, whether it's driving, renting a car, or flying if you're traveling long distances. Additionally, plan for local transportation if your elopement involves multiple 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. Research the requirements for obtaining a marriage license in the jurisdiction where you plan to elope and complete the application process in advance. Ensure that you and your partner have valid identification documents, such as passports or driver's licenses. Familiarize yourself with the legal requirements for getting married in your elopement location and be aware of any specific documentation or translations needed. Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances, and review different options to find a policy that suits your needs. Stay informed about travel restrictions, health and safety guidelines, and COVID-19 protocols in your elopement destination, and be prepared 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 officially register it with the government.

It's essential to note that each county may have different requirements for filing the marriage license. In some cases, it may be the responsibility of the officiant to file the license after it has been signed. However, in other cases, the couple may need to file it themselves. It's always advisable to inquire with your officiant about the specific filing process to ensure the legality of your marriage.

In the case of online marriage, such as with Courtly, a platform for online marriages, the officiant takes care of filing the marriage license after the ceremony. This alleviates any concerns or responsibilities you may have regarding the filing process, as the officiant handles it on your behalf.


Courtly offers couples a convenient and flexible option for their wedding through online marriage. It prioritizes simplicity, affordability, and privacy, making it an appealing choice for couples. With Courtly's streamlined process, couples can quickly obtain a valid US marriage certificate, often within 48 hours, bypassing the long wait associated with traditional weddings. Online elopement provides the freedom to choose any dream location without worrying about legal complexities, making it perfect for destination weddings and unique settings.

In summary, Courtly provides an efficient and hassle-free online marriage experience tailored to the needs and preferences of modern couples. It offers a secure platform for obtaining the necessary license, connecting couples with certified officiants, and conducting virtual ceremonies. With its convenience, speed, and flexibility, Courtly's online elopement is an appealing option for couples seeking a personalized and meaningful way to exchange vows and embark on their marital journey.

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

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