How to elope in the UK

Planning how to elope in the UK sounds more and more tempting these days, doesn’t it? With many weddings postponed and restrictions on large gatherings in place for the foreseeable future lots of couples are thinking about doing things differently. There are so many things you can do to make your day personal to you and if you don’t want a big wedding, you can make it as adventurous or as relaxed as you like!  

But what exactly does it mean to elope?

Technically it means “run away secretly in order to get married” but there is so much more to it nowadays! First of all it really doesn’t need be secret and doesn’t have to just be the two of you. These days probably the best way to describe it as an intimate wedding with no or few guests where the main focus is on you two and it is fully tailored to you. It’s a true reflection of your relationship rather than a big performance. You can make it as unique to you as you like, there are no outside opinions or expectations.

Where to elope in the UK?

In short – anywhere you wish. This is the beauty of elopements, it is entirely up to you. You do not necessarily need to climb mountains or find some dramatic cliffs if you would like to elope in the UK. There is no right or wrong when it comes to planning your own unique wedding day. Elopements are not just for adventurous couples!
You can simply choose your favourite location near you and build your day around it. If it is in a forest, a city, a little hotel you like, a romantic venue that you had your eyes on, your back garden, a cafe or a rooftop, it is entirely up to you!

Do I need to plan in advance?

Unfortunately as romantic as it sounds, you can’t just run away and secretly get married. Elopements need a lot of planning. If you would like to get legally married on your elopement day, you must ‘give notice’ to marry at the local registry office at least 29 days before, which includes details of your final venue. It’s not currently possible to legally get married outside in England or Wales without a fixed shelter that is licensed so if your plan is to sort legalities on the day too, you need to make sure you have a licensed venue. You can get around the requirements for an outdoor ceremony without a licensed structure is by having your civil ceremony before your elopement day and then hiring a celebrant for a humanist ceremony. Celebrants will work very closely with you to tailor your ceremony to you so again this will be a true reflection of you and your relationship.
If you are not planning any formalities on your day, you still need to plan. You need to find your perfect location, the time of year, accommodation, travel(if you are planning to travel) and all your suppliers. Consider weekdays and Sundays rather than Saturdays as this will give you more options!

How about the budget to elope in the UK?

Elopements are not necessarily about being the very low budget option, it is more about the experience. You will save a lot of money by not catering for hundreds of guests and not hiring large venues but some of that can go towards for example a stunning location or choosing amazing suppliers, maybe have more personalised, handmade items that you will treasure for a long time. If you can, invest in a local wedding planner. They can arrange the venue, paperwork, suppliers, whatever you need and also help you with your timeline and ideas for the day. You can include as many or as little traditional elements as you like. If you are keeping everything local, you can certainly keep costs a lot lower. Be creative with your activity choices as that’s again where you can save a lot of money.

Are elopements a more sustainable option?

You can certainly and easily make them super sustainable. First of all by choosing your location – look around in your local area and avoid long travels. No flights or long drives are definitely a more planet friendly option! Find a pretty spot in your local woodland, speak to your favourite cafe or restaurant, use your garden. If you are lucky enough to live near near the sea, consider a beach elopement or even your local fish and chips shop. Search for hidden gem venues in your area that offer elopement packages – there are more and more of them!
If you are struggling to find somewhere you really like, ask your photographer as they will likely know amazing places that you might not have thought of.
(kkhhmmm I do know places you might not have thought of 🙂 )
By having a low number of guests, you will cut down on any possible waste. (just simply think about how much paper you will save by cutting down the numbers of save the date cards, invites, place cards and all!) Try to use reusable, real vintage, recycled and handmade items wherever possible. Choose your suppliers who share the same values. Pick your wedding dress carefully, they can have big impact on the environment. Consider buying a vintage dress, you will be surprised how versatile they are!

How long do I need a photographer for?

Your elopement day is your wedding day. It is still a full day of experience and isn’t just a photoshoot, you deserve your story fully to be told. Your timeline and activities might be different from a traditional wedding day but it’s certainly not just some photos of you saying your vows and a couple of portraits after.
There is a lot more to your story than that. You will likely spend your morning together and start getting ready a little later. You can do anything you like doing together, let it be relaxing or walks or exercise. Imagine a perfect day together, make it happen and ask your photographer to document it for you. When you look back, you would like to relive the whole day and not just a few hours of it.

If you would like to elope in the UK, but lost on where to start, get in touch and let’s start planning!

Check out some amazing suppliers who can help you elope in East Anglia

Horsley Hale Farm
Upthorpe Wood
Bohemia St.Neots

Wedding planners
Amulet Events
Green Soul Weddings

Laura Gimson
Natalie Raybould

Wedding dresses
Cambridge Vintage Bridal
Poppy Perspective

7 Fireflies

Wild Stems
Thatch and Roses
Feather and Ferns
Clare Jones Floral Design
What The Fleur
Willow and Wolf Flowers

One Part Love Bakery
The Iced Vegan
Two Little Cats Bakery

Kate Atalay Bespoke Hair