How To Elope

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Do you find the idea of planning a big wedding overwhelming? You’re not alone! Every year, couples from around the world decide to forgo traditional wedding plans and instead opt for a “just us” elopement experience. Eloping is so much more than just exchanging vows at the courthouse. It’s a whole adventure in itself. Whether it’s exploring a new city or finding hidden gems off the beaten path, there are countless possibilities when it comes to planning your perfect European elopement. But where do you start? From choosing your destination and booking travel arrangements to finalizing details and announcing your big news – here’s a step-by-step guide on how to elope, so you can begin your adventure of planning your elopement in Europe today.

Table of Contents:

An elopement in Ireland, the couple stands on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher
Ireland Elopement by Wild Connections Photography

Brainstorm Ideas

When it comes to choosing where to elope in Europe, there are endless possibilities. Start by considering what type of experience you want and research destinations that match your vision. Do you want a beachfront ceremony? A mountaintop view? An ancient cityscape? When deciding on the setting, think about the places you love to visit the most. You may also want to consider if you want to visit somewhere new, or somewhere you’ve been before which holds special meaning for you.

Next, think about the season you want to elope in. Are you looking for a winter-wonderland vibe in the snow, summer sun, or fall colors? Remember that some destinations may be busier during certain months of the year.

What about any activities that you would like to include as part of your elopement? It could be hiking or skiing in the Alps, watching the northern lights in Lapland, or riding a gondola through the canals of Venice.

Some great places to search for inspiration include:

– Instagram
– Pinterest
– Wedding blogs
– Travel blogs
– YouTube
– Facebook Groups
– Reddit

Set Your Budget

While you’re in the initial inspiration-finding stages, it’s important to review your budget for your elopement. While elopements generally cost a lot less than a traditional wedding, you may still have a number in your mind of how much you want to spend. Your budget may influence which destinations make your shortlist, as there are some destinations in Europe that a a lot more budget-friendly than others.

Legal or Symbolic Ceremony?

When choosing your destination, you’ll want to consider if you want to get legally married in Europe, or whether you’ll do your legal marriage at home, and celebrate your elopement with a commitment ceremony or vow reading. Many European countries do offer the possibility for non-residents to get legally married there, but there is also a number that don’t. That doesn’t mean you can’t elope there. It just means you’ll have to do the legal paperwork at home before or afterwards.

Faroe Islands Elopement by Wild Connections Photography

Choosing a Destination

When it comes to eloping in Europe, there are a variety of countries and destinations to choose from. Once you know what sort of scenery you want for your elopement, and whether you want to get legally married there or not, you can start to narrow down which countries and regions align with your vision.

Now that you’ve chosen a destination, it’s time to start finding local vendors who can help make your dream wedding come true.

Finding Local Vendors

Working with local vendors has many benefits, including supporting sustainability. By working with local vendors, you get the benefit of working with people who are local experts, as well as knowing that you are supporting small businesses in the area (all while reducing the environmental impact of your elopement). Additionally, working with local professionals will ensure that your ceremony reflects the culture and respects the rules of where you are getting married; something that may be difficult to achieve when working with non-local vendors who don’t understand the nuances of a particular region or country’s customs and traditions.

When hiring vendors for your elopement, I recommend making sure you no only work with locals, but also choose a team who are experts in the type of elopement that you are planning.

Finding local vendors is a great way to ensure your elopement wedding in Europe is unique and tailored to you. Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to book travel and accommodation for your special day.

The most popular elopement vendors couples book are:

  1. Photographer
  2. Elopement Planner
  3. Videographer
  4. Hair & Makeup
  5. Officiant / Celebrant
  6. Flowers
  7. Cake
  8. Local Guide / Transport / Experiences

> Search our directory for expert vendors across Europe.

Book Travel & Accommodation

After booking your main wedding vendors for your elopement, booking travel and accommodation is one of the next big steps. Bear in mind that while you might be able to book your wedding vendors over 12 months in advance, many flights and hotels won’t be bookable until inside the 12-month window. Don’t forget to consider any additional costs such as special insurances, visas or vaccinations needed before entering certain countries in Europe. Be sure to budget accordingly so that there aren’t any surprises along the way.

When planning an elopement in Europe, it is important to book your travel and accommodation after you have booked your vendors. Your vendors may be able to provide you with recommendations for hotels or Airbnbs that are in the best locations for what you are planning.

When booking flights, consider flying into a major airport such as London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Milan or Paris, as these airports often offer more flight options at better prices than smaller regional airports. Once you are in Europe, there are usually lots of budget airlines that fly to the smaller regional airports. 

Remember that July and August are peak summer vacation months in Europe. Across the continent flights and accommodation book up fast.

If you plan on having any guests join you for your elopement celebration, then it’s important to factor their needs into account when selecting a hotel or Airbnb rental property too. Make sure there is enough space available for everyone who will be attending and check out reviews online before committing to anything – this way you know what kind of service and amenities they offer ahead of time.

Booking travel and accommodation is an essential part of planning your elopement in Europe. Now that you have the basics sorted, let’s move on to preparing the paperwork for a legal ceremony.

A bride and groom stand in a boat at Lago di Braies in the Dolomites in Italy
Dolomites Elopement by Wild Connections Photography

Prepare Paperwork For Your Legal Ceremony

Depending on the country you are eloping in, there may be different requirements and documents needed. It is best to research the specific laws of the country before beginning your preparations.

Depending on where in Europe you choose to elope, different paperwork may be required for a legal marriage ceremony abroad – especially if either partner isn’t from the country itself. Contact embassies or consulates in advance for information about what documents are needed prior to getting married legally overseas. It’s also important to check if witnesses are required at weddings held outside one’s own country – this could involve bringing friends/family members along with them, which would add extra cost to their trip.

In most cases, couples must provide proof of identity and residency when applying for a marriage license or certificate. This could include passports, birth certificates, driver’s licenses or other forms of identification from both parties. You may also need to provide evidence that any previous marriages have been legally dissolved if applicable.

If either party has changed their name since birth (e.g., through marriage), then they will need to bring along documentation showing this change as well as copies of their original birth certificates with them when applying for a marriage license or certificate abroad. In some countries, additional documents such as medical records might be required too so it’s important to check what each individual country requires beforehand.

It may also be necessary for couples who plan on getting married abroad to obtain permission from their local government before doing so; this process can take several weeks depending on where you live and how quickly your application is processed by officials at home and abroad, so make sure you allow enough time for all paperwork involved in the process prior to setting off on your trip.

Alternative: Because many couples don’t want the added stress or costs of the paperwork for getting legally married in Europe, many couples choose to sign their marriage paperwork at home and hold a symbolic ceremony or vow reading for their elopement instead.

Norway Elopement by Wild Connections Photography

Shop For Your Outfits

Consider the Weather

Depending on where you choose to go and when, temperatures can range from cold and snowy to hot and humid. Make sure that whatever outfits you pick are suitable for the climate.

Get Creative With Accessories

Once you have picked out your main pieces (dress/suit), don’t forget about accessories. This is a great way to add personal touches to your look without breaking the bank – think jewellery, hats/veils/headpieces, shoes etc.

Once you have selected the perfect outfits for your elopement, it’s time to start finalising all the details of your special day.

Finalising Details

In the months ahead of your elopement, your elopement planner or your photographer will help you put together a timeline for the day, so that everybody knows where to be and at what time. That way, when the day comes around, you can enjoy it without having to worry about whether you’ve got enough time to do the things you want to do.

It’s also wise to think ahead about how you’ll celebrate after the ceremony has ended – whether that means having dinner at a local restaurant or throwing a post-elopement party back home with friends and family who weren’t able to attend the event itself. Whatever route you decide on, make sure it fits within both your budget and timeframe so everyone involved can enjoy themselves without worrying too much about logistics afterwards.

German Alps elopement by Made in the Mountains Photo


Your elopement is finally here! Enjoy every moment. From exchanging vows surrounded by breathtaking scenery to sharing champagne afterward – savor each second of your adventure together.

Announce Your Elopement

Before You Elope

When it comes to announcing your elopement, you have a few options. The first is to tell your family and friends before you elope. This can be done in person or over the phone, depending on how close they are to you and if they live nearby. It’s important to let them know that while this isn’t a traditional wedding, it is still an incredibly special moment for both of you and should be celebrated as such.

After You Elope

Once the big day has arrived, there are several ways to announce your elopement after the fact. One way is through social media – post photos from your ceremony or honeymoon with captions about how happy you two are. If you want something more personal, consider sending out announcements via mail or emailing friends and family directly with news of your marriage. For those who weren’t able to attend in person, make sure they feel included by sharing stories about what made the day so special for both of you.

Sharing the news of your elopement is an exciting part of the process. Now that you’ve announced it, let’s move on to planning a post-elopement party.

Plan A Post-Elopement Party

Once you’ve eloped, it can be a great idea to plan a post-elopement party. This is an opportunity for friends and family who weren’t able to attend the ceremony to celebrate your marriage with you. It doesn’t have to be as big or formal as a traditional wedding reception; in fact, many couples opt for something more low-key.

Germany Elopement by Wild Connections Photography

FAQs in Relation to How to Elope

What is the difference between getting married and eloping?

When getting married, couples typically plan a large ceremony with family and friends present to witness the union. A wedding day usually has a formal series of events, starting with the ceremony and ending with the wedding reception. An elopement, on the other hand, is when a couple chooses to forgo the traditional wedding ceremony in favor of something more intimate and meaningful to them. This often involves just the couple traveling to an exotic location or destination without any guests or witnesses present. Elopements can be planned ahead of time but usually involve much less planning compared to a traditional wedding. Ultimately, both options are valid ways for couples to celebrate their love and commitment towards one another.

How do you elope without a wedding?

Eloping without a wedding is possible, but it does require some planning. First, you need to decide where and when you want to elope. Consider the legal requirements for marriage in the country or countries you plan to visit. Make sure all necessary documents are obtained before your departure. Next, consider what type of ceremony will best suit your needs and desires; this could be anything from a simple courthouse ceremony to an intimate outdoor gathering with friends and family present. Finally, make sure that all necessary arrangements have been made prior to departing on your journey so that everything runs smoothly once you arrive at your destination.

Is getting eloped a real marriage?

Elopement weddings can be legally recognized marriages, as long as all of the legal requirements are met. Depending on the country, you may need to meet certain requirements such as residency and proof of identity in order to get married. Once these requirements have been met, an officiant can perform a legal ceremony that will be accepted by the government. Eloping does not change the fact that it is still a valid marriage with all of its associated rights and responsibilities.

Many couples choose to plan the legal aspect of their elopement separately and to enjoy their elopement day to the fullest without having to worry about paperwork.


Planning an elopement in Europe can be a daunting task, but with the right guidance and preparation, it can be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. By following our step-by-step guides on how to plan an elopement, you will have all the tools necessary to make sure that your special day is perfect. From choosing a destination and finding local vendors to preparing paperwork for legal ceremonies and shopping for outfits, you’ll have everything taken care of so that when it comes time to elope, you can do so with confidence. Eloping may seem like an overwhelming experience at first, but by taking each step one at a time, you’ll soon find yourself ready for this incredible journey!

Related Reading:
What Is An Elopement?

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