You want to elope, but you can’t imagine getting married without your friends and family members present. How do you walk the line of including them while still having an intimate experience? Just because you’re planning an elopement doesn’t mean you have to exclude your friends and family. In fact, there are countless creative and heartfelt ways to include friends and family in your elopement. From virtual celebrations to in-person ceremonies, this blog explores 30 different ways to include your friends and family before, on, and after your elopement day.

30 Unique Ways to Include Family in Your Elopement

Invite Your Family for the Ceremony

The ceremony is oftentimes the most important aspect of a wedding, so what better way to include family members in your elopement than by inviting them to the ceremony. Allow your family members to be present and witness the commitment you’ll be making to your partner.

Pro tip: If you don’t want to share your vows in front of your family members, opt for traditional vows for the ceremony and then have a private vow reading between the two of you.

Do a First Look With Your Family

This is one of my favorite ways to include family on your elopement day. Share a special moment with your mom or dad, siblings, or even friends as they see you all dressed up before the big day. This is often an emotional moment between everyone and makes for some heartfelt pictures you’ll look back on for years to come.

Have a Family Member Sign the Marriage License

Make a family member feel extra included by asking them to sign your marriage license. If they aren’t physically present the day of, you can bring the marriage license back home and have them sign it before sending it off to get filed. Most states allow for two witnesses.

Have a Family Member Walk You Down the Isle

Just because you’re not having a traditional wedding in a venue doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate traditional elements on your elopement day. Ask a family member to walk you down the aisle to your favorite wedding song. This is popular for brides and their dads, but I’ve seen siblings, parents, grandparents, and even friends walk the bride and groom down the aisle.

Have a Family Member Officiate the Ceremony

Ask a close family member to officiate your wedding ceremony. They know you best, so it shouldn’t be too hard to write a heartfelt script. You can easily become ordained online through the Universal Life Church for free. While you’re at it, you can even ask your best friend to be the Maid of Honor or Best Man and have them stand next to you as the ceremony is being officiated.

Do a First Dance With a Family Member

This is often an emotional and meaningful part of any wedding day. Invite your closest family member for a first dance, or stick to tradition and do a mother/son and father/daughter dance. These pictures will be some of your favorite to look back on.

Plan a FaceTime Call

If you have family members that aren’t physically present on your elopement day, a FaceTime call is a great way to include them. Plan a time where you can sit down and recap how your elopement went. Share fun stories, show them your outfit, or even show them the amazing location you got married at.

Create a Wedding Playlist With Everyones Favorite Song

Ask your closest friends and family members what their favorite song is. Then, create a playlist that you can listen to either on your elopement day or on the drive to your elopement destination. You can even share the playlist with everyone else when it’s complete. This is a fun way to involve your family, but also a fun thing you two can look back on for every anniversary.

Read Letters From Your Family Members

This is another one of my favorite ways to include family members that aren’t present on your elopement day. Ask your friends or family members to each write a letter that you can open after your ceremony. The letters can include fun memories, well wishes, or heartfelt messages. This usually includes a lot of laughs, smiles, and tears.

Have a Family Member Help You Get Ready

Ask a friend or family member help you get ready by helping you get dressed. You can even ask them to do your hair and makeup. This is a fun way to start the day and can help relieve any wedding nerves you may feel leading up to the ceremony.

Plan a Family Dinner Before, On, or After Your Elopement

Celebrate your elopement by planning a dinner before, on, or after your elopement day. Couples are always looking for different ways to include friends and family on their elopement day, and hosting a celebratory dinner is a great way to include them. If your family isn’t fancy, opt for pizza, s’mores, or hot dogs to end the night.

Go Shopping for Wedding Attire Together

If you have a large family or friend group, invite them to go dress or suit shopping with you. This is a great way to make family members feel included, especially if they’re unable to be with you on your wedding day. This is a big emotional moment, especially for parents, so take your time finding the perfect dress or suit.

Split the Wedding Day in Half

Or even consider having a two-day elopement! This is my favorite solution for the big “how do I include family in my elopement” question because it’s the perfect compromise. Have the first half of the day be all about family, where you have a ceremony and celebratory picnic. Then, the second half of the day can be filled with a private vow reading, hike, or even a private dinner for the two of you.

Have a Toast

Bring your favorite beverage and make a toast to your friends and family who traveled to be with you on your special day. You can even be more unconventional and bring other items to toast, such as sandwiches or s’mores. If you bring champagne, be sure to bring a few bottles for some fun spray pictures.

Create Personalized Invitations

Invite friends and family members to your elopement by creating personalized invitations. You can even include a handwritten letter in each invite. If you’re eloping with just the two of you, consider sending out elopement announcements, which will still make family members feel included in some way.

Include Family Heirlooms

You can be traditional and include something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue, all of which can come from your family. A popular way I see this is by including a small locket on a bouquet or a piece of the mother’s wedding dress sewn onto the brides. However, you can truly bring whatever you’d like to make your day more special.

Have Family Members Help You With Decor

Invite your friends or family members over for a planning party where you can DIY some decor. Make bouquets, signs, or other fun decor pieces you can include on your elopement day.

Have a Guestbook or Memory Jar

You can have a physical guestbook or memory jar where friends and family members can leave you well wishes and fun memories they’ve had with you. If they won’t be physically present on the day-of, there are options available online such as Wed.TV that allow your guests to write in a virtual guestbook you can then print later on.

Plan a Post-Elopement Celebration

Consider throwing a small reception or open house back in your hometown if you’re eloping out of state. This is a popular way to get both the elopement and big wedding experience. It’s also a great way to include family members that may not have been able to make it. Dress up in your wedding attire for the second time and celebrate!

Have a Family Member Throw You an Engagement Party

After you get engaged, allow a family member to throw you an engagement party where you can talk about wedding plans. Ask for input from friends and family and celebrate this exciting time in your life.

Plan a Bachelor/Bachelorette Party

A few days before your wedding, have a bachelor/bachelorette party where your friends and family can bring gifts and celebrate you before the big day.

Hire a Photographer to Capture the Day

Consider hiring a photographer or videographer to take pictures of your elopement. Not only is this a great way to remember the day, but it’s a great way to include friends or family on your elopement day, as you get to show them the gallery and talk about your favorite moments.

Send Cell Phone Pictures Throughout the Day

Snap a few cell phone pictures and send them to your family back home. They’ll be waiting to see how much fun you’re having and will feel just as excited as you! Send pictures of your outfits, the scenery, and even the meals you’re having to make them feel included and let them know that you’re thinking of them.

Include Family Photos Throughout Your Elopement

Bring a few pictures of family members that you can set up. You can set these pictures up for your ceremony, at your Airbnb, or even while you’re eating to think of them and honor them.

Let a Family Member Give a Speech

After the ceremony, allow your friends and family members to share some words of encouragement, fun memories, or sentimental stories. You can even do this during the ceremony by going around and allowing each friend or family member to say something heartfelt. A popular way of doing this is through a ring blessing, where the rings get passed from person and person, allowing them to say a few words.

Have a Watch Party After Your Elopement

If you’ve hired a photographer or videographer, invite your friends and family members over to show them the gallery and/or video. Walk them through how the day went and share any funny things or fun memories that happened that day.

Open Gifts From Loved Ones on Your Elopement Day

If your friends or family members want to buy you gifts, consider bringing them with you to open on your elopement day. This is always fun to photograph. Plus, it’s a great way to show your friends and family members back home the reaction you had to opening their gift.

Bring Home Elopement Favors or Mementos

If you’re traveling somewhere out of state, consider bringing back fun mementos or favors like personalized keychains, candies, or other fun goodies. This is a great way to let friends and family members know you were thinking of them throughout your trip.

Livestream the Ceremony

If you don’t want family physically present at your elopement, or you have family members who couldn’t make the occasion, consider live streaming or even recording the ceremony so they feel like they’re with you on your special day.

Stay in the Same Airbnb Together

If you’re bringing your family members along for the ride, consider booking a large Airbnb or cabins you can all stay in together. This is a fun way to spend time with family leading up to your big day.

Family Elopement Packages

I’m Brianna, an elopement photographer who specializes in adventurous outdoor elopements in the Pacific Northwest. I help couples all around the world plan elopements with or without family in the Pacific Northwest. Take a peek at how I can help make your vision come to life below.

  • 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage in the PNW
  • A personalized elopement planning experience with unlimited assistance
    • Personalized elopement location recommendations
    • Vendor, lodging, and activity recommendations
    • Assistance and information to help you with permits, licenses, etc.
    • 90+ page elopement planning guide filled with tips and tricks
    • Customized elopement timelines
    • Optional complimentary officiant services
  • Online gallery with full resolution images and printing rights
  • 24-48 hour sneak peeks to share with the world
  • Travel fees to anywhere in PNW is already included
  • Starting at $6,500

If you’re looking for similar inspiration for your elopement, be sure to check out my Artist Point elopement guide, national park wedding guide, and best places to elope in the US list.

DON’T FORGET YOUR FREE ELOPEMENT GUIDE!

An all-in-one planning guide for all things elopements! Whether you’re hoping to hike through the mountains of Washington or sip a margarita on the beaches of California, this comprehensive elopement guide has everything you need to know about how to plan the perfect elopement.


A girl holding a camera and smiling.

YOU? YOU’RE THE KIND OF PERSON THAT GETS A LIL’ TEARY EYED LOOKING AT AN EPIC VIEW.

That moment when you turn to the person you’re with and ask, “Are you seeing this?” I live for it. Places with trees and mountains and soft breezes that make you say, “I can’t believe this place exists,” I spend pretty much all of my free time searching for and exploring them.

These places have always felt like home to me. And if you’re the kind of person who also feels more at home surrounded by trees than by people? Then we’ll get along really well. The Pacific Northwest is full of secret spots that are too special to share with just anyone. But it would make me happy to share them with you on your wedding day.

If the mountains/beaches/Redwood forests are calling your name, go ahead…

(I promise you won’t regret it.)

P.S. I’m Brianna, and I plan, craft, and capture elopements around the Pacific Northwest. My mission is to create custom, one-of-a-kind elopement experiences in the Pacific Northwest that allow couples to fully immerse themselves in the highest levels of excitement and wonder on a day designed exclusively for them.

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