While some women dream of a huge white wedding, for others it’s their worst nightmare. If you’re trying to save money, avoid drama, or you just want your day to be intimate, eloping could be the answer.
There are many reasons why people might choose to elope instead of a traditional wedding. If you’re dealing with a tricky family situation, short on funds or the thought of 100 people watching you say your vows is terrifying, then consider a simple ceremony with just you, your celebrant and your witnesses.
Get your paperwork in order
There are processes that you have to follow in order to elope and be legally married. In New Zealand, you need to have:
- A marriage licence that needs to be obtained at least three days prior to the marriage and used within three months of issuing
- Two witnesses. They don’t even need to know you or be any specific age- they just need to understand what marriage entails
- If you’re marrying in a registry office, you’ll be married by a Registrar of Marriages who is appointed to you. You can get married at a NZ registry office on weekdays in Auckland, Manukau, Wellington or Christchurch.
- If your wedding is elsewhere, you need to choose a celebrant. Choose anywhere you want- a mountaintop, beside the river, in your backyard or somewhere that’s special to you and your future spouse.
If you intend to marry overseas, the rules might be different. Check out the legalities in the country you intend to get married in. Some require a certificate of no impediment which can be obtained from the Department of Internal Affairs.
How much do you want to spend?
The very cheapest a wedding can be is a registry elopement. The total cost is $240, and this includes the marriage certificate and the fees for the Registrar of Marriages.
Over and above this, costs can be as small, or large, as you like. If you decide to helicopter to the top of the Swiss Alps, that’s going to be more expensive than an officiant in your backyard. But the choice is up to you. Set a budget and spend to match.
Consider having a wedding photographer, even for a simple ceremony. You want to capture these moments—and, people will ask to see photos. Because you won’t have guests to remind you of your day, the photos will record these moments forever.
How will you tell people?
This is different for every couple. Some may tell everyone beforehand, ensure no feelings are hurt, and that everyone understands your decisions. You might prefer to tell no-one at all, or just a few close friends or family members. Whatever you want to do, do it your way—after all, that’s what an elopement is all about.
However you tell people, do it tactfully. While a big Facebook announcement might seem the easiest way, telling people in person or over the phone is much nicer. Most people will be excited for you—perhaps a bit sad to have missed out on your day, but it’s a very romantic adventure that people find inspiring.
Have a party anyway
If you want to, throw a party to celebrate. It’s not a wedding, so the rules don’t apply. But If you want to allow people to celebrate with you, this is a low-stress way to do it. This can also go some way to smoothing ruffled feathers if someone is upset. Give them a job to do- in charge of the music, or wine choices, or baking a cake.
Wear what you want
While some people want to dress up a bit, it’s up to you what you want to wear. It’s a great opportunity to buy an outfit you’ll be able to wear again, and each time you wear it you’ll be reminded of the happiest day of your life. Separates, a formal gown, a pretty dress or jeans and a hoodie- it’s up to you. And if you want a big white gown then that is amazing too—why skimp on glamour or tradition if you don’t want to?
Make it special for you
An elopement is the ultimate expression of your love. No frills, no fripperies, just you two and a whole lots of love. When you’re thinking about how to plan an elopement, make sure your day is special. Whether it’s a meal out that night with your new spouse or doing an activity you love together, do something memorable.
This is going to be a beautiful day and all on your terms. True love stories never have an end, but this is your beginning.