Hey, I'm an elopement photographer based in Alaska! I love genuine moments between people and love that I get to document them for a living <3

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One of the biggest struggles couples have when it comes to eloping is deciding whether or not to invite family! Unfortunately, there’s not really a right or wrong answer I can give you if you were to ask me if you should invite family – that’s ultimately up to you and your honey, and what your dream elopement experience would look like. I CAN, however, give you some ideas about eloping with family, and how you can include them as much or as little as you’d like to! 

Keep on reading for 8 ways to include family in your elopement, whether you want them present on the big day or not!

Table of Contents

Is Eloping Right for You?

First of all, before we even TALK about inviting family, you need to decide if eloping is right for you! Luckily, I’ve got a whole blog post with 10 Reasons to Elope that’ll help you decide whether or not eloping is right for you two – pause and give it a read here before your continue, if you’re still not sure you actually want to elope!

eloping with family

FAQ’s About Eloping with Family

Let’s start off with some common questions I see asked a lot, both from my couples & through a quick search on Google.

Can you have guests when you elope?

YES!! Just because “eloping” used to mean you would run off with just your boo & rebel against all your loved ones, doesn’t mean that’s still what it has to be. The beauty of eloping is that you can do literally whatever you want, whether you celebrate just the two of you in private, you invite your 3 best friends, or you bring along all 20 family members – the world is your oyster, and you are free to do what you choose!

eloping with family

Who should I invite to my elopement?

That’s a big question that doesn’t have an easy answer! But the simplest way I can answer it is this: invite the people who mean the most to you. Don’t invite anybody just because you think you “have” to, or because you think that if you invite so & so, then you have to invite their spouse or that cousin or that long-lost aunt. There are NO rules, so invite the people who have the most meaningful presence in your lives, and who you wouldn’t want to celebrate without!

Should you tell your parents before you elope?

It’s totally up to you whether you want to tell your parents/family BEFORE you elope, or let them know after! Do what you’re most comfortable with and whatever will allow you to have the BEST, most stress-free elopement experience possible.

How do you elope without offending family?

That’s a great question, and it’s thoughtful of you to think of that when planning your elopement! If you want to elope without inviting any family along, chances are they may feel a little hurt, because they might’ve expected to be a part of your wedding for a long time now. I know it sucks hurting feelings, especially feelings of the people you love most, but in the end if they truly care about you, they’ll understand & support you!

eloping with family

If you do decide to tell them you’re eloping before you actually do it, explain to them gently that you’ve decided this is the best route that’ll allow you two to have the most meaningful experience possible.

Remember, even though they’re your family, you don’t owe them anything, so you can feel free to choose yourselves for this big day, and your family will likely forgive you & support you in the long run!

eloping with family

8 Ways to Include Family in Your Elopement

Now let’s get into the 8 ways to include your family in your elopement, whether you want them physically present the day-of or you want to elope in private without them!

eloping with family

If you want them present:

1. Host a private elopement dinner with them

Think about what your family loves to eat MOST, and host a private dinner with them on the day of your elopement! Here are a few fun ideas of what you could do for an elopement family dinner:

  • Pack a picnic to eat in the mountains, after hiking to a beautiful view & exchanging your vows
  • Hire a private chef to come to the Airbnb you’re holding your reception at
  • Book a food truck to come to your elopement location (as long as the area you’re in allows it)
  • Have a potluck & ask family to bring dishes
  • Cook a family-favorite meal together in your Airbnb
eloping with family

2. Only have them be a part of an intimate ceremony

If you’d like to have your family along for part of the day but also have some private time just for the two of you, you can totally invite them only to your intimate elopement ceremony, then say goodbye & enjoy the rest of the evening to yourselves! They’ll get to witness your vow exchange and get time to celebrate & support you, but you’ll still get plenty of time to enjoy the day and be present just with each other.

eloping with family

3. Invite them along for the whole adventure

Finally, if you want your fam along with you the whole day, freaking do it! Invite them to come along to every part of your elopement adventure, from getting ready in the morning to the hike to your mountain top ceremony allll the way to drinks & s’mores over the campfire at the end of the night. Enjoy your special day with the people who matter to you most in life!

If you don’t want them present:

4. Ask them to write you letters

One of the EASIEST ways to include your family & feel their love on your elopement day, even if they’re not physically present the day-of, is to have them write you letters. Then you can read them out loud or in private sometime during your elopement, maybe while you’re getting ready, during your ceremony, or while you’re enjoying dinner. It’s a perfect way to feel their support & celebrate with them there in spirit, while still getting all that time to yourselves!

5. Plan to Facetime them during the day

Thanks to technology nowadays, it’s sooo easy to keep in contact with our loved ones via text or Facetime. If you want to say hi to your loved ones & make sure they see you on your elopement day (virtually), plan a time that you’ll Facetime them and talk for a little while! This is the best way to talk to & see them on your elopement day, and let them be a small part of the day, while not having them physically present.

6. Livestream your ceremony

As soon as COVID-19 started, we alllll had to figure out how the heck to join Zoom calls and livestream events – including weddings & elopements!! If you have a phone, a phone tripod, and good cell service at your ceremony location, you can pretty easily set up a livestream on something like Facebook, or even your wedding website if you’re working with a company like Zola. Tell your loved ones when to log on & how to access the livestream, and then we can set it up so they can watch you exchange your vows (and they can drop all the heart emojis in the comment section❤️)!

7. Celebrate with an after party

If you’re struggling to decide between a wedding with a ballin’ party with all your favorite people, or a private elopement where you can focus solely on your honey. . . why not have both?! Celebrate your elopement day in private, and hold a party sometime after your elopement (whether it’s the day after, the week after, or months after) – bam! You get the best of both worlds: an intimate day with the focus placed on the two of you, AND a grand old time with your BFF’s & family members. Win-win!

8. Host a viewing party to watch your elopement video later on

Finally, if you hire a videographer to capture your elopement (which you TOTALLY should), you can host a viewing party later on once you receive your video back! Invite your loved ones to your home, grab some snacks & drinks, and relive your special day up on a projector or on your TV. This is such a special way for you two to feel all the feels & remember how amazing your day was, and also for your family to get an intimate look into the day, even though they weren’t there!

BONUS: How to Include Your Pets in Your Elopement

I HAD to include a fun little bonus about how to include pets in your elopement, because you know I’m a sucker for my own pup & all my couple’s pets!! Check out this blog post for a bunch of ways you can include your pet in your elopement!

Likin’ the vibe & feeling like I might be the perfect gal to capture the special moments your elopement day holds, whether with your family members or just the two of you? Reach out here and let’s start planning your dream day with your most special people by your side (or not)!!


Eloping with Family: 8 Ways to Include Family in Your Elopement

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