28th July 2021

Eloping in 2021: Planning Your Shotgun Wedding

WRD icon

When my parents got married at the tail end of the 90s they planned and executed their wedding in just two weeks. Nobody really batted an eyelid at this rock and roll, homespun affair which featured a very cool gold dress and a casual boutique restaurant meal. As times have changed though, my parents’ DIY wedding has become a far cry from the years planned extravagant affairs we have come to expect today.

Pre-Covid, couples spent on average 12-18 months planning for their big day. This could translate to up to 500 hours of work! A Google search for wedding planning brings up endless wedding planning checklists, which just goes to show the huge expectations for couples to have every detail marked down to a T.

Things have began to change over the past few years. The main reason for this seems to be cost; as the price of weddings go up, so do the number of elopements. Did you know eloping can save you 90% on your wedding? It is also fair to say that since living through a global pandemic and having everything cancelled time and time again, priorities for weddings definitely seem to have shifted.

Marrying in a hurry? Here’s how you can get rings fast!

Why Eloping is Overtaking Traditional Weddings

It saves you money. The average cost of a UK wedding in 2019 was £31,974, up almost £7000 from the 2017 average of £25,090. Imagine your honeymoon budget if you didn’t have to worry about feeding the 5000 at your wedding breakfast! Not to mention that an open bar is wildly more possible when your wedding consists of just the happy couple and witnesses. Many couples find eloping appealing because instead of putting your life savings into your wedding day you can save them for your marriage.

Safety first. Singular to 2021, safety has become a real concern for couples when planning their nuptials. Despite restrictions being lifted in England, for many large gatherings are still not desirable. Eloping provides the opportunity to keep gatherings small and intimate, ideal for those with compromised immune systems or vulnerable loved ones.

It is the more environmentally friendly option. Fewer guests = less waste. Did you know that a wedding of 120 people produces on average between 400-600lbs of waste? Not to mention the power used to cook meals, keep lights running and music playing.

Eloping is romantic! For some people confessing undying love in front of hundreds of friends and family is the ultimate romantic gesture. But for others, there is nothing more swoon-worthy than throwing traditions aside and running away with your love to marry. Without the pressure of making small talk with people all day you can focus on your partner instead.

Eloping in the UK

While elopements are somewhat hassle free, they still require some planning. You cannot just rock up on the day to get married and you will need at least 29 days notice before the big day.

The first things you need to arrange for a wedding or civil partnership are an approved venue and a registrar.

The cost of a registrar is:

  • £46 at a registry office
  • £86 at a registered religious building

There are also legalities that have to be completed before the wedding such as giving notice. This has to be done at least 29 days before the wedding and within a year of the wedding. This usually costs £35 per person.

To give notice you will need:

  • Details of the ceremony venue
  • A valid passport, UK birth certificate (if you were born before 1 January 1983) or national identity card from the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
  • Proof of your home address
  • Proof of any name changes

For church elopements: in the Church of England, the equivalent of giving notice is having the ‘banns of marriage’ read. This must happen on three Sundays at any point during the three months before your marriage.

You need at least 2 witnesses at the ceremony, but anywhere up to 12 guests is normal for an elopement. These can be strangers, but you may want to choose your close friends, or family. The witnesses can act as Best Man and Maid of Honour.

How Can You Make Eloping Special?

Some venues offer elopement packages: at Gretna Green an elopement package including a photographer starts from £490 and a simple ceremony starts from as little as £195. If you want to go luxury, there are some phenomenal options for elopements in the UK. Check out Berwick Lodge where the elopement package starts at £1,999 and includes post-ceremony Champagne, a six-course tasting menu with wine flight and a photographer for an hour. This package also gets you two nights in a deluxe suite and in-room massages! Find a comprehensive database of worldwide elopement packages here.

Think outside the box when it comes to your wedding attire. Eloping means you don’t need to go for the princess ballgown if it’s not your style. Why not consider a wedding jumpsuit, tailored suit, or slinky silk gown for your elopement.

Have an announcement party! Later down the line you can invite all of your loved ones to a casual (or glamorous) party and announce your elopement there. This is a great time for speeches and other wedding traditions that you might not want to miss out on.

Stuck on your bridal manicure? Check out some minimalist cool bridal nail ideas here!