If the thought of eloping with your fiance’ for an intimate, private wedding ceremony makes you seriously happy, but you don’t want to disappoint all your family and friends, there is definitely a way for both you and your loved ones to get what you want. If you truly want a private affair, you can plan pieces of your wedding that you can have without guests and still include them in other ways. Think about how you need to structure your wedding that will give you those intimate moments to enjoy.
Florida couple Kristy and Pedro wanted to share their day with their family and closest friends but also desired a more intimate ceremony. They compromised by exchanging their vows in an early morning ceremony at a private setting followed by a relaxed lunch and ceremony for their loved ones at home. “We played with the idea of eloping but we also wanted to be surrounded by those we love and celebrate with them. We wanted our day to feel simple and personalized though – true to us. It was important to us that we got time to spend with each guest and have quality time with each other.”
Some couples will limit their ceremony to just the two of them. Others might want to allow parents, siblings, or best friends to witness the vows and throw a big party later in the day or even following their honeymoon. Kristy and Pedro held a second unity ceremony in front of their guests which included their mothers and Pedro’s son. “We decided to “elope” the morning of and say our vows and exchange rings in private, at rock springs, and then have a small unity candle ceremony at home to include Pedro’s son, our mothers, and all of our guests.”
By planning something special to honor their family members, everyone felt a part of the special day. Adding a unique element that allows your family and friends to participate in your event makes sure that they know how important it is to have them celebrate with you and should go a long way in easing any hurt feelings from being excluded from your private ceremony.
Whether your event is semi-private or a full-on elopement with just the two of you, you will want to incorporate small details that are personal and special. Pedro is a musician, so guests signed a beautiful guitar that was added to his collection.
Kristy designed simple florals and relaxed, garden-style tables for their event. “We wanted a simple feeling day where people felt relaxed and at home.” The couple added family-style dishes from their home countries of Puerto Rico and South Africa to honor their roots. Food is a wonderful way to incorporate your culture or just a location that you both love. Are you dreaming of a New Orleans elopement, but feel like you’ve got to get married in your hometown? Add some cajun-style entrees and warm beignets or serve up world-famous hurricanes at your bar.
If you don’t feel comfortable excluding guests, look at the schedule of events for your day. Are there some spots where you can carve out private time to share? Besides the first look (which includes a photographer and sometimes a few others), where can you steal some time to be alone? Some couples have asked for a separate room or location where they can share their first meal as newlyweds away from congratulatory guests. Slip into the reception area for a sneak peek while guests are mingling during the cocktail hour. Take a few minutes when your guests leave your reception for your grand exit. Have your planner dim the lights and ask the dj to play a special “last dance” song for one final wedding day dance. Make sure your photographer knows if he needs to stay away or if she can capture the moments from afar. You don’t want to be posed or interrupted for staged photos during this time.
Whether you full-on elope by leaving town or holding a private event, or you simply decide to keep part of your day to yourselves, be clear about your desires with your family and friends. For Kristy and Pedro, their vow exchange was something sacred and a reflection of the private time they share as a couple. Once you have made the choice to keep parts of your event private, tell everyone firmly that it is important to you as a couple and stand your ground. Don’t feel pressured to start including people. Once you agree to add guests, you will have to add one more, and another one, until your intimate, private time disappears.