How to make an elopement ceremony special when it's just the two of you

How to make an elopement ceremony special when it’s just the two of you

While some couples decide to invite family or include a few guests to their elopement ceremony, a lot of couples realize that a “just us” wedding day is better for them! They feel that they want this intimate, meaningful experience to be one that’s shared just between the two of them, but at the same time, a lot of these couples struggle with feeling like their elopement ceremony won’t be as special or as meaningful. This is absolutely not the case, as elopements are just as meaningful and important as traditional weddings! But, if you decide to skip the celebrant, elope without any guests, and have a ceremony that’s just the two of you, this guide will give you some tips and ideas for how to make an elopement ceremony special, and how to make it feel personal and meaningful!

What Happens During a “Just Us” Elopement Ceremony?

Before we talk about ways to personalize and customize your ceremony, what does a typical elopement ceremony look like? What actually happens when couples elope just the two of them and have an intimate ceremony?

Just like all things elopement, the ceremony is can be absolutely anything you want it to be! But, there are a few things that are included in most elopement ceremonies.

How to make an elopement ceremony even more special - reading your own vows

First act at an elopement ceremony: Reading Vows

The first elopement ceremony staple is a vow exchange. This is how most couples begin their ceremony, by reading their vows to each other. In a traditional wedding ceremony with a celebrant, the celebrant begins by introducing the couple and saying a few words before leading into their personalized vows, but if you elope just the two of you, you’ll likely begin by sharing your vows. Writing your own is a really great way to make your ceremony special, and I also recommend using vow books or writing them on paper – it feels a lot more special and looks better in photos than holding up a phone!

How to make an elopement ceremony even more special - exchanging rings

Second act at an elopement ceremony: Ring Exchange

After you read your vows, most couples exchange rings. Traditionally, the circular shape of a ring symbolizes infinity, and means that your connection is unbroken! If rings aren’t your thing, one way to make your elopement ceremony special can be to replace this with something else. Many couples use another piece of jewelry, like a necklace, some couples get a ring tattoo on their finger instead, and others opt for exchanging gifts or doing something special without rings.

How to make an elopement ceremony even more special - first kiss

Third act at an elopement ceremony: A Kiss to Seal the Deal

The last thing that typically happens during an elopement ceremony is your first kiss as a married couple! After you make your vows, exchange rings, you share a kiss to make it official.

How Long is an Elopement Ceremony?

A question that couples often have about open ceremonies is how long they are. This depends on what you have planned! A simple elopement ceremony with vows and rings usually only takes about 10 minutes. But, in the next section we’ll talk about some ways to make your elopement ceremony special, some things you can add to personalize it, and all of this can make your ceremony longer!

How to Make Your Elopement Ceremony Special

If you want your elopement ceremony to feel even more special and more like you, you can personalize it to reflect your relationship! Here are a few ideas for how to make an elopement ceremony special.

How to make an elopement ceremony even more special - handfasting

Elopement ceremony idea number one: Handfasting

Unity ceremonies are a popular way to personalize a wedding ceremony and include something to symbolize the couple coming together, and handfasting is one way to do that! With handfasting, the couples hands are tied together with a cord or ribbon (many people use a braided cord to symbolize strength). 

You don’t need a celebrant to do this! Many couples just do handfasting themselves, and you can hold hands, stack your hands, or stand side by side – whatever feels right for you. A handfasting ceremony is a way to literally “tie the knot,” and couples typically exchange vows while their hands are tied.

How to make an elopement ceremony even more special - plant a tree

Elopement ceremony idea number two: Planting a Tree

Another way to celebrate the two of you coming together is by planting a tree. For this, couples bring two containers of soil – many couples get the soil from places that are meaningful to them – and a potted tree (you can also do this with a flower or a house plant). During the elopement ceremony, the couple then adds their soil to the potted plant, or put it in a new pot. This symbolizes the two of you bringing your own stories and personalities to the relationship, and working together to grow something new! Couples will usually water the tree together after it’s planted, and then you get to take the pot home and have it as a reminder of your elopement day.

How to make an elopement ceremony even more special - light a candle

Elopement ceremony idea number three: Lighting a Candle 

Another way to make your elopement ceremony more special is with a candle lighting unity ceremony. For this, you’ll have three candles – usually one big one in the middle and two smaller ones next to it. Each of you will light your own small candle, and then, together, use those candles to like the bigger one in the middle. 

How to make an elopement ceremony even more special - burning herbs

Elopement ceremony idea number four: Burning Herbs

For centuries, herbs have had different meanings in different cultures and can hold a lot of spiritual significance. Burning herbs before the ceremony is believed to be a way to cleanse the space, bring positive intentions, and rid your ceremony location of any negativity! Some herbs that people commonly burn include cedar, sweet grass, lavender, juniper, and sage.

How to make an elopement ceremony even more special - incorporate your own rituals

Elopement ceremony idea number five: Incorporate Traditions, or Make Your Own!

There are so many unity ceremony ideas and things you can do during an elopement ceremony to make it special. One of the ways that couples make their ceremony feel meaningful is by incorporating traditions from their culture, religion, or ones that come from their family!

Including the traditions in your elopement ceremony can make it feel really special, but you can also make it your own and start a new tradition! The most important thing to remember when it comes to how to make an elopement ceremony special is that it should feel right to you, and should be a reflection of who you are as a couple. You can surprise your partner with a gift, write and perform a song, or create your own unity ceremony – for example make two halves of a sandwich and put them together! What matters most is that the ceremony feels special to you, and that it feels like the right way to celebrate the beginning of your marriage.

Planning your special elopement ceremony

Planning an Elopement Ceremony

My job as an elopement photographer is to help couples plan a day that’s perfect for them. I’ll get to know you, learn about what you want on the day you get married, and give you personalized tips and recommendations for how to make your elopement ceremony special! For some more elopement ceremony ideas, check out this guide.
If you’re ready to tie the knot, contact me to start planning you’re one of a kind a day!

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