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eloping with family 15 creative and fun ideas small family standing around couple at an alpine lake

Eloping With Family 15 Creative & Fun Ways To Include Family & Friends

Is eloping with family possible? Yes, you can elope with your family. No, you don’t need my permission to do so, but yes, I’m going to spend the next three minutes of your life reminding you that the start of your marriage and the celebration of it is absolutely worth running with every beautiful idea you have.

couple with eloping with family standing around them with a mountain view in the background
“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” these lines from this famous song keep coming to mind as I begin to think about what beautiful truths I’m about to share with you about how you can elope with your family, friends or even your fur babies!

couple helping their dog ink their paw in safe ink to sign the marriage license

Pro Tip: Did you know in Colorado your dogs can sign your marriage license? Check out more on How to elope in Colorado!

The biggest thing I want to take pause and address is that most likely if you’re asking for permission to do something there is a 75% chance (is that the exact number, I have no clue. But it sounds nice, does it?) that yes, you can do that beautiful idea you have for your elopement including eloping with family and or friends.
emmy smiling with mountain in the background
Hey beautiful soul, my name is Lumalia and I’m your guide here at Celebrate Again. Together with my team of photographers we’ve been serving couples since 2009 in Colorado, Oregon, and Hawaii. I really believe to my core that these freaking wild, awesome, simple, beautiful ideas we have for our wedding day experience NEED to get executed because it’s really from this place of making our deep desires come to life that we experience the most beautiful parts of life.
Ok, before I get too philosophical for you, let’s just say I believe your idea is worth exploring and that’s EXACTLY what I’m here to support you. So let’s get to it, you want to elope but you want to elope with your family.

15 Creative & Fun Idea On Eloping with family and friends

couple eloping with family standing around them on a sandy beach and cliff in the background

Is it an elopement if anyone is there? Is it an elopement if your family is there? Yes, an elopement is not about the structure of the wedding day but the focus. Elopements get to focus on the couple getting married, celebrating them, versus hosting a big party.

If you want your family at your elopement, you want your friends or even your fur babies, bring them. It’s really that simple.

Now how do you elope with your family and friends? Here are 15 ideas to get you started on ways to include your family and friends in your elopement.

1 Plan A Ceremony Or Two With Your Family

Two ceremonies? I know, before you get all squirrely on me let me explain. Instead of feeling like your wedding has to “look” a certain way, why not ditch that “should” and feel into what is right for you and your partner. Does reading your most intimate words to each other in front of anyone make you get squeamish? You’re not alone.

couple sharing private vows on top of a mountain with mountains in the background

Many of our couples elope because they are more introverted or really prefer smaller groups to large gatherings. While we know you may absolutely adore some of your family and friends you may not feel super amazing at the thought of sharing your deepest passions with them as you exchange vows.

couple eloping with family with family in chairs sitting around them and mountain views in the background

Instead, we really encourage couples to have two moments, two ceremonies. A time for private vows and a time where there is a more traditional-looking ceremony. (If you’re curious what a self solemnizing script could look like check it out here.)

Your time for private vows really can also include an adventure just for the two of you that maybe your family couldn’t or wouldn’t want to join you in. Want some ideas on how to make your elopement special check this out!

2 Letters, Videos, Voice Memos : Eloping with family

If any family members or friends cannot be at your actual ceremony have them send you a letter, video recording, or voice memo. This can be a really intimate way to have them feel like they were a part of your day without having to deal with the hops of trying to get them to your wedding when a lot of impossibilites are in the way or you really just want a “just us” wedding day.

3 Spread Out Your Celebration: Celebrate Again

couple in water snuggling together in swim suits

In so many other cultures weddings are celebrated over multiple days. Somehow, in many western cultures, the wedding tradition has become a one-and-done thing. But what if you gave yourself the freedom to spread your celebration out over a few days, include activities you and your partner really love, and time eloping with your family, or even host a celebration again with everyone months later. Have the small elopement you are really dreaming about then the gathering more geared towards family and friends later.

We’re a little bit biased but we love this idea of Celebrating Again. 😉

4 Include Activities You All Love

Do you have a family tradition like, all going to have brunch on a Sunday afternoon or hiking together? Why not include that into your celebration as a family?

5 Create A Circle

couple eloping with family and friends circling around them near a waterfall

I’m super big on symbolic spaces which is why I really love the idea of creating a circle during your ceremony when eloping with family and friends.

I know when you’re in a small group and don’t have chairs it can feel awkward to stand around. What if, instead you created an intentional circle to hold the sacredness of your marriage by all of your amazing witnesses?

This could be as simple as making a circle with your bodies, drawing in the sand, laying out rocks around you, or as grand as laying down a rug and flowers around you working with a florist to create something truly magical!

We really love this idea for a ceremony especially if you are a blended family wedding elopement.

6 Include Their Photos

family and friend photos of a couple eloping

We know sometimes family making it to your wedding isn’t possible, especially if you’re eloping overseas or your family lives overseas.

In the past, we’ve loved seeing our couples include photos of their family on their wedding day to make it feel like they were there.

Now, if only we were in Harry Potter world and they could talk back to us, that would be quite hilarious I’m sure. I’m just saying the Fat Lady is not invited to my wedding, unannounced Oprah isn’t my cup of tea.

7 Call or Video Chat

Take time to chat with your family on your wedding day. If they cannot be there set aside a time to video chat or give them a call. If you’re in a really good area for cell phone reception you can also designate someone to stream your ceremony live on zoom or set up a tripod.

8 Share A Meal

couple eloping with family cheering around a table

I know this can sound like a given for a wedding celebration but let me give you an extra dose of permission. Just because your family is at your wedding doesn’t mean you have to share every meal with them.

If you love a private breakfast, romantic beach fireside lunch or dinner with your partner do it! Just let your family and friends know one meal you’ll have with them and the other is going to be an intimate one with your partner.

Remember this is what makes it an elopement: your wedding day is focused on you two! So, give yourself a high five and keep choosing you two, and know we got your back!

9 Have Speeches

We all have that relative that can turn one question into a monolog where we may or may not wish we were just reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand instead. So, you know it’s up to you if you give them the “mic” but it is a great way to make family feel included on your elopement wedding day.

10 Let Them Give Blessings

friend reading a blessing to a couple eloping with family and friends
Blessings, speeches, I know they can feel the same. I like to think of speeches more around a meal or a fire, and blessings something your family can give during your ceremony. This can be a great way to include family even if they aren’t there too. Have them write a blessing to read during your ceremony or let them have a moment if they can come!

11 Art Together

family making sand art together for eloping with a blended family
Our family loves art, our kitchen table is always covered with drawings and papers, and if you’re anything like us doing something like this together on your wedding day could feel really special. Pull out that canvas, put down tarps, bring a poncho to make sure you don’t get paint on your clothes, and have a blast. Or bring crayons or whatever you want. You could even get crafty here. Let your creative juices flow and know it’s about bonding together, more than doing the right thing anyone else has done before.

12 Find A Tradition

I didn’t grow up around very many cultural traditions other than praying before meals, which is why I love to look up other cultural traditions. Some cultures tie a knot or handfast, some will have the bride’s parents make a basket to give for their home. Whatever the tradition spend some time looking it up and see if it’s one you’d like to respectfully adapt for eloping with family!

Check out our elopement timeline ceremony ideas blog post for ideas!

13 Have First Dances

couple dancing in the snow on wedding day

We know this is borrowing from traditional wedding parties but, hey, its a great way to elope with family and make  your your family feel include on your elopement! Still have a time of dancing, grab a blue tooth speaker under the stars, around a campfire, or layout a rug at your ceremony site

Leave No Trace Tip: Make sure to follow Leave No Trace rules placing a rug on a durable surface like sand or rocks with no plants being killed in the doing!

Then let your parents have those father-daughter, mother-son dances with you! And yes have your first dance as well!

14 Make It A Vacation

couple in an accessible elopement location because of jeeps and a mountain view in the background with couple dancing

Most of our couples travel from out of state to Colorado, Hawaii, or Oregon for their elopements, which is why we absolutely adore sharing our tourist guide insider info with them. So, while you may not want to spend every waking second with your family on your wedding day, having a few days or a week of vacation time with them can help them feel better about a wedding day that isn’t centered around being together 24/7.

15 Find Locations that are accessible

couple in an accessible elopement location because of jeeps and a mountain view in the background with couple dancing

This is the biggest concern most couples have about eloping. They want to have an adventure elopement but don’t know if their family will be able to go to the epic locations that they want to go to.

This is exactly where our expertise comes into play! We love to help couples like you plan out a wedding day experience that honors all your desires and all the needs of your family and friends.

Do you want that epic view and to hike five miles or chase a waterfall? Your family cannot make it so why not have to ceremonies? Or spend one-day adventuring and another with just your family. We’re here to help you find the places that your family can make it to, and yes they exist! We promise! Let us show you a few.

Ready to start dreaming about your elopement with your family? Let’s schedule a dreaming call!

Let's Hang Out.

We’re here to be your elopement day BFF’s and share our expertise through the entire planning process.Schedule a call with us to get this party started! 

Two Oregon elopement photographers snuggled up in the door of their RV

We believe in intention over tradition and that your wedding day should feel like you! 

Let’s craft a wedding day experience that lets you run wild. 

Learn more about hiring us as your Oregon elopement photographers.

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Have more questions about eloping with family and Friends?

Here are some other FAQs about eloping with family

Should you bring your kids to your elopement?

bride being walked down the aisle with her daughters

Yes! If you’d like them to be there you can. If they are younger, we highly encourage having some support with you on your wedding day and including time with just you and your partner whether you’re on an adventure together or just having a private meal or moment like a first look.

I’m also a mama too so make sure to be mindful of snack times, naps, and other needs of kids based on their age. Know when you hire us for your Oregon, Hawaii, or Colorado elopement I can help you navigate all of these needs more easily too!

We also love this article about eloping with kids!

Should I invite family to my elopement?

mall family standing around couple at an alpine lake
I’m gonna get all coaching on you here, and say that if it feels like a “should” versus a “get to” that is a sign you already know the answer.
Pro Tip: This is very controversial but just because someone is family doesn’t give them a free pass to be at your wedding, especially if you are estranged or they are not a significant part of your life.
Where ever you are with your family look back at our 15 ideas to think of a way that feels best to include them if you really feel like you must, which could be from a distance in a way that is safe and honoring to you and your partner.

Should I feel guilty for eloping?

Hell, the F*** no. I know that’s passionate but friend, this is about you and your partner no one else. If you’re feeling really uncertain about if you should elope check out our should I elope quiz where we share some insights from past couples! You can also check out our Elopement  vs Wedding deep dive to decide what you’re most drawn to!

Should I elope to avoid family drama?

bride and groom rock climbing as bride watches groom rappel down a mountain

We totally get family can be stressful sometimes, so if you know that it’s going to be more burdensome for your family to be there in person really consider if you could use the 15 ideas above to include them creatively without feeling like you have to be managing anyone on your wedding day.

Have more questions? Drop them in the comments or schedule a consult call with us, we love to help couples dream about their elopement ideas knowing most of the time it really is all possible!


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Feeling like you want some extra support right now? We gotcha bb. Check out some of our fave elopement guides we’ve made just for you:

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About the Authors

Lumalia with her hand in her hair leans to the side smiling
Sam with her hands in her jean jacket pocket smiles at the camera with a happy welcoming face

Hey, we’re Lumalia (Emmy) and Sam, the leading voices behind Celebrate Again (Lumalia) and our sister elopement company The Dropped Pin (Sam and her husband Kyle). Here you’ll find ways to live the Celebrate Again lifestyle.

We want to help you embody life’s joy by learning to Celebrate Again in everything from practicing intentional breathing to taking on major life events. I believe your life should be full and be what you make it.

Whether you’re joining me to plan your wedding, dive deeper into your couples connection, celebrate an anniversary, adventure around the USA, stay connected to your beloved, practice yoga or whip up a plant-based recipe, I’ve got you covered, friend.


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