10 Tips to Planning your European Elopement!

Allison and Bryce invited their closest family to their intimate wedding in Germany. Photo: https://www.madeinthemountainsphoto.com/

I love my outdoor Weddings, and especially those next to glacial lakes, by mountains and woods, in castles and palaces….and I have to say, my experience of Elopements has been absolutely awesome!

They are simply brilliant: relaxed, intimate, special, personal, meaningful, unique, magical….. I could go on!  But suffice to say that any couple that has decided to elope, has not taken this decision lightly.

There are so many pressures on couples when it comes to their Wedding Day, in terms of venue, budget, suppliers of every tiny wonderful detail, and there is often a feeling of overwhelm with simply the practical elements that need decisions, let alone the complete barrage of well meaning advice and opinons of what, in their minds anyway, constitutes a “proper wedding” 🙂

I have to smile because I am sure some of you reading this are already grimacing and feeling the strain of the emotional and mental gymnastics that have been coming into your lives since you mentioned that magic couple of words “We’re Engaged”

So many couples want to be fully present on their wedding day.  They accept that tradition is something that may well have been determined through family values, family experiences, faith, heritage and whilst they may respect those traditions and customs, they still want something that becomes, for them, a meaningful and memorable start to their marriage.  And so, if the overwhelm is simply too much, or perhaps for other reasons, more and more couples decide to Elope and invite everyone to a relaxed party back home.


There are many reasons to Elope, or to just have a very small number of closest family accompany you on what is an amazing adventure for you and those going along with you.  Eloping means your budget might not be about keeping costs down either, as many couples choosing to hold a smaller wedding or an intimate two person elopement will often decide they will book the lux package, or splash out a bit more on accommodation and gastronomie.  But it can be done of course on any amount of budget – it simply has to be a decision that’s made together.

A wintry landscape walk with a couple holding hands and walking together. she is wearing a green wollen cape with a hood. He is wearing a Bavarian wool jacket in the traditional style
V and C Eloped in January 2023 in Allgau, near the “Disney” castle. The loved the snow! photo: https://www.instagram.com/moonymane/


Eloping is not the “running away and getting married” of vintage films and folklore,  but now more often combines a beautiful personal wedding ceremony in magical surroundings, often including time beforehand where they can indulge themselves in their favourite hobbies or passions, followed seamlessly with the honeymoon.

An Elopement is moments that build from anticipation, excitement, adventure and then becomes a totally unique experience.

A bride and groom facing away from camera, looking across at the lake Eibsee and the mountains behind, in Bavaria
M and B eloped to Lake Eibsee. Photo: https://wildconnectionsphotography.com/

So as a Celebrant, what are my To 10 Tips for Elopement success?

  1. Discuss your reasons for eloping, what this means to you both, and to your family and friends, and make sure you are on the same page with the decision as some will really be questioning you about this and may feel disappointed that they will not be there.  Tell your parents first if you are going it alone, and do this face to face if possible.
  2. Let family and friends know that this is part of a process for you both, and that Eloping is simply the most fitting solution for you when it comes to honouring your views and values. Some couples will send out post elopement After Party invites where they share the elopement videos and highlights and celebrate in a more relaxed way.
  3. Pick a location, or destination, that offers all the things you love : whether that’s happy memories, gorgeous scenery, a place you can take part in your favourite sports,  allows you to celebrate your own or your partner’s heritage and culture, gives you some really modern urban vibes or just a beautiful natural place that sings to your soul, ….many of my couples have combined all these features!
  4. Decide on where you are holding your legal ceremony – in my experience, doing this at home with close family as witnesses and doing a fun activity together afterwards is often the easiest! And it works well too in terms of taking the costs and stress away.  The arrangements for Legal weddings in Europe vary country by country so it would be best to check with either the local Courthouse or Embassy to find out what paperwork/residential/notice/translation/fees etc might be needed.  Symbolic Ceremonies are often chosen because they are free from most restrictions and are of course totally bespoke.
  5. Book local Vendors and Suppliers, from a practical as well as cost POV: they will have local knowledge, speak the language and you will be supporting sustainable practice.
  6. Hire a film photographer to accompany you to capture the moments you will always want to look back on.  I have some absolutely awesome recommendations!
  7. Ask your Celebrant to create a beautiful ceremony for you, that honours you both,  is filled with sincerity, authenticity and originality,   includes those with you in the ceremony at various points of the ritual, and holds space for those who are not with you on the day.  Your Celebrant will also advise you on how to include local traditions, making them your own, which you can repeat at future anniversaries 🙂
  8. Send out post elopement invitations if you decide to go ahead with a party or reception when you are back home – changing the traditional wording to signify they are celebrating your marriage!
  9. As with most wedding planning, there may be a few hiccups or glitsches, but do your due diligence with your vendors, book regular catch up calls, and follow them on socials etc so that you always feel “connected” and get the reassurance you need.
  10. My own experience with over 50 Elopements has been expanded by working with excellent teams and professionals, and so my personal nuggets of wisdom are:
    • Be prepared for weather changes at the last minute if in the mountains – we now have micro climates and therefore snow in summer can happen – so always have some plan B or even a plan C ready , whether that’s for a change in location, time of day, transport, and any support items (by this I really mean coffee and cake!)
    • Be flexible and don’t get stuck trying to pack too much into one day – allow yourselves to really feel the place, vibes and also find time to relax together to enjoy the complete experience fully.
    • Do exchange your vows in private if you wish – we can add other elements to the ceremony that will have a similar symbolism or meaning.
    • Don’t forget to pack or buy snacks for energy en route to the ceremony space or during your before and after photo and video shoots, because half the time you will be too excited to eat properly!
    • Stay hydrated, water is probably best although we might have a glass of bubbly immediately after the ceremony!
    • Ask us lots of questions about anything to do with the day, or the days you have planned, whatever you are worried, concerned or even confused about, tell me/us as we will do everything we can to help you have the most amazing time!
       A bride in a long white dress is twirling and letting her dress fly out in the wind. She is smiling and wearing a flower crown, and the lake and mountains are in the background.

I hope these tips and my experience will help you when it comes to making this choice or deciding whether you still want to bring your nearest and closest family along for the ride!  Europe has so much to offer, and my experience of elopements and intimate weddings in Germany, Switzerland and Austria really has filled me with wonder and excitement and the absolute conviction that it was the right thing for each and every one of my couples to do.

If you want to talk this option over with me, I would be delighted to help you make your choice and of course, should you need a friendly “local” bilingual Celebrant in Europe, then let me check my diary!  🙂  As always, our first chat is an hour with no obligation at all, simply a way for you to ask questions, and find out if I might be the right Celebrant for you.

My diary is open for 2024 and is beginning to fill, so let’s speak soon.

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