Sophie&Rob’s wedding was one of our last full day weddings in England. It may not have been a ‘tiny wedding’ as such, but it had that intimate, honest charm we love.
Nervous toes, and a tender moment – the last time they’d see each other before the ceremony.
Hosted within their own smallholding, Sophie’s uncle conducted an especially emotional ceremony under a home-made, flower adorned arbour, they had tipi for shelter, and a campsite for friends and family who wanted a short stroll to bed.
There was a wilder side of the fields for us to retreat to, where Sophie&Rob could immerse themselves in their moment together.
how to tell your family you plan to elope... or just did!
Many people are either overwhelmed by the thought of planning (and paying for) the whole wedding shebang, or simply can’t see themselves in that scenario – fuss and frills just isn’t their thing! We’ve heard time and again “I wish we could elope, but our families wouldn’t understand”. The thing is, if you handle it just right, you may well be surprised.
The safest approach is to sensitively discuss the idea of eloping with your closest family and friends beforehand. For some, it might help to sit down with your partner and sketch out a short and honest explanation as to why this is your dream wedding scenario – what an intimate ceremony would mean to you, and why it feels so right. Bringing up the subject of eloping as a discussion would give them an opportunity to express how they feel about the idea and may help them to feel included in the decision. That said, prepare yourselves for any negative feedback – some may not support your decision at first, but don’t feel you have to apologise, just reassure them – they’ll come round! Try not to question your decision or feel guilty. Those uneasy feelings will pass, so just go for it!
Once you have broken the news to your nearest and dearest in person, why not build up the excitement among the rest of your family and friends by sending out a little announcement of your plans, and reassuring them that you’ll be back with amazing photos!
A secret elopement may be far more inspiring for some – the ultimate romance of flitting off into the night to get married! Whatever you do, give yourselves plenty of time to take in the fact that you just got married before you make any kind of announcement. Enjoy that feeling – it’s amazing! The last thing you need is to be overwhelmed with questions or worse – any negativity that might take the shine off! The vast majority of people will be so excited to hear your news, psyched that you followed your heart, (envious even!), but how you handle the announcement is key. Shocking your closest family and friends with a Facebook update is a big impersonal no-no! Write in advance a list of people you should tell in person, and perhaps those who would at least appreciate a phone call. Break the news gently, but stand firm as a couple on your decision to elope. Perhaps follow this with some announcement cards – real ones, sent by old-fashioned snail-mail – something your family and friends can keep. Once all these more sensitive, thoughtful steps are complete… update your Facebook status to let the rest of the world know!
An informal after-party is something to consider whether your elopement is secret or not. Giving your family and friends the opportunity to celebrate with you will make them feel loved and included. There’s no need for wedding reception-style formalities – something as simple as projecting your photos and/or video on to a sheet in your back garden, accompanied by an ample supply of bubbles and popcorn could work a treat. We actually talked our favourite little weird and wonderful café into hosting our party! We learnt from our own experience, the importance of having an emotive set of wedding photos to tell the story of your elopement. Seeing the reactions of our loved ones as they watched our wedding video/slideshow was priceless to us – some even said it made them feel like they were right there with us!
Whatever you decide to do, remember, you know YOU! You know what feels right!
Define ‘tiny wedding’… so your average conventional wedding caters for around 100 guests and roughly follows the ceremony, drinks reception, group photos, couple shots, wedding breakfast, speeches, cake cutting, first dance route. A small wedding is likely to follow a similar pattern, but hosting around 50 guests. A tiny wedding (which nowadays can fall under the heading ‘elopement’) includes just parents, siblings and closest friends perhaps – maybe 10 guests at most and is unlikely to accommodate your typical wedding traditions, as the ceremony is the main focus. A tiny wedding celebrates what a wedding is at its core – a union of two people (or three or four… if they’re polyamorous), surrounded by their closest family and friends.
Intimacy is at the heart of a tiny wedding. A wedding ceremony with hordes of guests can feel like a theatrical production, where there is a sense of us and them – the cast and the audience. If you have just a handful of guests, they can all stand beside you, and feel present in the words and vows of your ceremony.
Do the unexpected and escape the word ‘should’. I hate the word ‘should’. It appears so simple, but it carries undertones of expectation, convention, assumption, discouraging imagination, individualism and expression. With a tiny wedding, you’ll have fewer people to please. You could even brainstorm with your select guests to involve them in the planning process. As it’s not a ‘conventional’ wedding, you may well inspire more creative thinking as there are less expectations to meet and traditions to follow. Plus you might just escape those family/guest list politics that often rear their head at the very utterance of a wedding, not to mention the table plan fiasco!
The Location: Having a tiny wedding opens up a whole world of ceremony venue/location possibilities, especially as you can venture further afield. Getting married pretty much anywhere except England (enforcers of ‘tradition’), means that your venue does not have to be licenced – so the world really is your oyster! Less guests brings less concerns over location suitability, so be guided by your imagination – if being by the water is your querencia, how about a cliff top, a lochside, a river boat, a cave, a cove, in the sea even… and don’t be phased by a spot of rain! How about at the foot of a mountain, or at the top?! As long as you have permission from the land-owner, you’re away! You should find most folk willing to allow small weddings on their land, as long as you reassure them you will be vigilant about shutting gates and clearing up afterwards, e.g. confetti/champagne corks, etc. You may not even need to pay for the privilege! If you’d rather be warm and cosy indoors, consider historic buildings (many only have space inside for tiny wedding parties), greenhouses with spectacular views, a holiday cottage maybe. Many of these non-traditional wedding venues may charge less, as they’re not bound by the typical mark-up that’s associated with the conventional wedding. Incidentally, if you are venturing away from home, you could easily extend your stay and combine your wedding with your honeymoon!
The celebration bit: Food is rarely overlooked when it comes to a celebratory gathering! How about a scenicpicnic, or a BBQ on the beach or outside your holiday cottage, or a table for 12 at a local restaurant, or you could go paintballing, I don’t know – whatever you love doing is very much a possibility as it’s so much easier to organise with just a handful of guests to accommodate, and so perfectly informal! And best of all, you won’t be spending all day saying hello to one guest then moving on to the next… you’ll actually be able to enjoy celebrating and spending quality time with the most significant people in your lives.
Far less to plan! Smaller weddings have fewer moving parts, so you can escape the stress of coordinating a gazillion wedding suppliers and cut your wedding planning checklist down dramatically. This was the deciding factor for us – we didn’t want our vows to be overshadowed by nerves or to have any niggles about what we did or didn’t forget to organise or double check! A tiny, simple wedding gives you the breathing space to enjoy every moment of the planning and of the day itself and allows you to be fully and emotionally present in the moment.
Budget is almost always a dictating factor in planning a wedding. For some, the most appealing benefit of a tiny wedding, is that you can save a considerable amount of money and splurge on the things that are most important to YOU! For some that may be the venue or the dress, for others, treating your very closest friends and family to a beautiful meal and vintage champagne or capturing the narrative of the day in photos or video. Whatever it may be, remember your photos, your rings, your memories and each other are the only things you get to keep!
You would not believe how long it has taken me to put this short post together! ve spent hour upon hour trawling through Government websites, Society/Association websites, wedding blogs, even Wikipedia, to gather information, and still had to make a phone call and send a couple of emails to clarify a few conflicts. The process of eloping to/getting married in Scotland is actually pretty simple, but you have to make your way through a virtual labyrinth for a basic wedding checklist! Anyway, here it is, in just three steps…
Step One – Find Your Backdrop
Wedding ceremonies in Scotland can take place almost anywhere – you are only really limited by the stretch of your imagination, so stop your search immediately for ‘wedding venues Scotland’, and instead begin the search for a wedding ceremony location that is yours and yours alone. All you need is permission from the landowner and you’re away! You should find most folk willing to allow small weddings on their land, as long as you reassure them you will be vigilant about shutting gates and clearing up afterwards, e.g. confetti/champagne corks, etc. You may not even need to pay for the privilege! On the other hand, if you need extra peace of mind, there are many elopement packages available with estates and hotels in Scotland who can make every last arrangement for you. We booked a little holiday cottage in the middle of nowhere for a week, and were married on the Wednesday morning a few yards up the track by the side of the loch. On our third anniversary, we revisited the little old tree we stood under when we said our vows. It was that extra bit more special knowing that that particular spot was our own!
Step Two – Choose Your Celebrant
There are three types of legally recognised wedding ceremonies in Scotland – Civil, Religious and Belief…
Civil Ceremonies are strictly non-religious and performed by an employee of the government, in a Registrar’s Office or at a place agreed with the registration authority on an individual basis. You are given three or four wedding ceremony scripts to choose from and you should be able to mix and match exerts to personalise the wording. You have the option to include readings and music, and to write your own wedding vows in addition to the statutory vows. A registrar is appointed on your behalf, so if the district Registrar’s Office is in a large town or city, you are unlikely to have the opportunity to meet them beforehand. However if your ceremony location is more remote, there would be far less registrars serving the area, so you may well be given the chance to sit down with them. If you have any more questions, it might be an idea to call the Registrar General.
A Religious Ceremony can take place almost anywhere is Scotland, and of course vary greatly from one religion to the next, so I’ll leave you to do your own research in to this! You should be able to obtain a list of approved celebrants in the area where you wish to marry from any district registrar.
A Humanist Ceremony falls under the legal heading of a ‘Belief’ ceremony. Humanism advocates the philosophy that you can live your life morally and with meaning, without holding religious beliefs. A Humanist ceremony is legally recognised in Scotland and allows you complete freedom in how, where and by whom your ceremony is conducted. You can set the tone that’s right for you as a couple, write your own script and promises to each other and choose which, if any, rituals you might like to include, such as hand fasting, candle lighting, sand pouring or even create your own, that is completely individual to you. Everything you need to know about Humanist wedding ceremonies can be found on the Humanist Society website. To choose a Humanist Celebrant in Scotland see the Humanist Society Scotland’s listings.
An Interfaith Ceremony can fall under the legal heading of either ‘Religious’ or ‘Belief’ as it caters for couples of any religion, mixed religion, spiritual, atheist or anything in between. An Interfaith Minister allows you to choose readings, poems and music based on your own values, wishes and beliefs, religious or otherwise and can be conducted almost anywhere. This option is particularly ideal for couples of mixed religious and cultural backgrounds as you can represent different faiths with appropriate rituals and wording. More details can be found on the Interfaith Foundation website, who also provide a directory of Ministers.
Step Three – The Paperwork
Around 10 to 12 weeks (or a minimum of 29 days) before your wedding date, you will each need to submit a M10 form by post, to the Registrar’s Office for the area in which you are getting married. They will then provide you with an Extract of Schedule – available for collection in person, from the Registrar’s Office from 7 days before the wedding date – which you, your celebrant and your witnesses will sign on the day of the wedding and you will then return to the Registrar’s Office by post within three working days.
You are required by law to have two witnesses present at your wedding. If you’re not planning to have any guests, we would be more than happy to be your official witnesses. You will need to submit a Witness Detailsform to the Registrar’s Office alongside your M10 forms.
(e·lope) verb: run away secretly in order to get married. “later he eloped with one of the housemaids”
synonyms: run away to marry, run off/away together, slip away, sneak off, steal away; run off/away with a lover “perhaps they’ll elope to Gretna Green”
Nowadays, the term elopement has a broader meaning. By all means flit off in the night for a secret ceremony the way the term once intended, but if you fear that your loved ones may be disappointed that they missed out, we’d recommend giving them a heads up. Perhaps a little gathering of your nearest and dearest after the fact, with bubbles and a slideshow of emotive photos may ease the blow! Alternatively, if you don’t want all the fuss of a big wedding, but can’t imagine getting married without your parents and best friends by your side, invite them along and have a ‘tiny wedding’. A wedding with a handful of guests could feel just as intimate and meaningful, but you’d still be breaking free from all the expectations of a so called ‘proper’ wedding!
Why elope? Privacy/intimacy/romance, spontaneity, break free from formality, escape the word ‘should’, get married wherever you want – even in the great outdoors, combine your elopement with your honeymoon, with do the unexpected, no people pleasing, save time planning, no guest list and/or table plan politics, avoid coordinating a gazillion wedding suppliers, save a considerable amount of money and splurge on the items that are important to YOU! After all, your photos, your rings, your memories and each other are the only things you get to keep!