As you can imagine, there are infinite ways to do elopements. You could do the courthouse wedding. You could find a meaningful or scenic location and do it there. You can hire an Elopement Planner to assist you will decor, design, venue selection, and vendor selection. You could do a destination elopement. You could have a few friends and family to witness the event…the options are endless really.
Check your State Laws
Once you get an idea of what type of elopement you want to have, check out the state marriage laws. In the state of Georgia, it is legal to get married at the age of 18. There is no waiting period or blood test. County probate courts grant the marriage license to couples in Georgia. A Georgia marriage license fee is $56-$76 without a premarital education certificate or $16-$36 if you have completed the qualifying program. If either you or your partner is a resident of Georgia, then you may apply for the license in any county, regardless of where in the state the wedding will take place. However, if neither person is a Georgia resident, then you must apply for the license in the county where the wedding will occur. Both of you must apply together in person at the probate court for the license. You can use the license immediately, and it is valid for up to six moths after the date of issuance. The marriage license authorizes the officiant to perform the ceremony. The marriage certificate certifies that you are legally married. If you are planning an elopement outside of Georgia, you can check into self-solemnization which consists of you and your partner getting married without the presence of a third-party officiant.
Selecting A Venue
Now that we have the legalities out of the way, it’s time to start planning out the detials. This can be completely laid back or low key, or you could get a little more involved if planning a destination elopement, etc. You will need to research some venues and locations of your interest, keeping in mind your budget, guest list and date for availability. Here are a few locations for inspiration in the Atlanta area. Take a ride while getting hitched on the pontoon boat. What a fun and beautiful way to start your life together! Or what about the Atlanta Botanical Garden? They have a gorgeous set-up any time of the year providing an amazing background for an intimate wedding. Another great place for an elopement would be the Georgia mountains. Get in touch with nature in this calm and serene setting. Whatever you choose, make sure it is something that reflects your style, so that you are most comfortable on you’re the big day.
Start looking at vendors that you will need for the wedding, and requesting quotes. Photographers can book out far in advance, so be sure to start looking as soon as you can. They are commended photographers for small and intimate weddings. Get help from a professional wedding planner if you don’t want to do the work. Even though elopements are typically small events, a lot of planning is involved for a wedding regardless.
Plan Your Guest List
Decide on your guest list and send out the invitations. Work with your partner together to create a master list that includes absolutely everyone you want to invite, and remember to be willing to compromise. Keep your budget and limitations in mind. You might feel that you want to keep everyone happy but just remember that at the end of the day, it is your wedding, so don’t let your families get you down.
Gone are the days when all elopements were simple, courthouse affairs (though that’s okay too!) These days, if you want beautiful décor or lots of blooms, you can make it happen. Just be sure to decide if that’s something that’s important early on, so that you can include it in your budget. Also think about how you will get all of your decorations to your chosen destination.
Here are a few additional items to plan for and consider:
- Who will witness the event?
- Are there any travel plans that need to be made?
- Will you exchange rings?
- Do you want to come up with your own vows? Will you use your officiant as a guide?
- Will you wear a wedding dress or a fancy gown? Maybe nothing fancy at all and you wear your hiking boots!
- What about hair and makeup?
- What will your partner wear?
- Don’t forget some beautiful flowers.
- Will you go out and celebrate after your elopement?
Ultimately, you’re probably eloping because the traditional wedding wasn’t right for you as a couple. If that’s the case, embrace the fact that you’re going an alternative route and make sure that every bit of your day reflects what you want. Both weddings and elopements have the same goal: to honor and celebrate you, your partner and your love together.