Let's face it: we've all thought about eloping for one reason or another. Maybe it's family politics, wanderlust, or personality type (I, for one, hate being the center of attention, and standing in front of dozens of people for a ceremony is something I'm not looking forward to for my own wedding). Right now, couples are torn between rescheduling their spring or summer weddings and trying to hold onto their date due to COVID-19, and some are choosing to elope or have intimate ceremonies on their original date. Whatever your reason for having a small ceremony, here are some tips, tricks, questions, and ideas.
Planning the Ceremony
Planning an elopement can be as difficult as planning a huge wedding, especially with many venues closed down due to the virus and vendors temporarily ceasing operations.
Many formal venues are closed, so we recommend calling, emailing, or tweeting the venue to confirm what their status is. Even some public parks and spaces are closing to the public or limiting parking/entry to encourage social distancing. They often post these updates on their social media (instagram, facebook, twitter) to make the public aware, so keep tabs on those locations to confirm they'll be open or have a place to park if you're driving.
In downtown Boston, some popular elopement spots are typically public spaces that can't easily be closed to the public, like the Esplanade, Christopher Columbus Park, beaches, Arnold Arboretum, Boston Public Gardens, Boston Commons, Franklin Park, Stony Brook Reservation, Morses Pond Beach, etc.
Who to invite/bring
Remember, social distancing is key. I've had couples invite witnesses, parents, and friends. It's completely up to the couple and their guests, but, from a photographer point of view, the composition of the photo is difficult to adjust when parties must stay 6+ ft apart. If you plan on inviting someone you haven't been quarantining with, or if you're worried about exposing them/being exposed, remember that it will be difficult to take photos as a group together.
It's okay to not invite family and friends, especially during these crazy times. You can send a marriage announcement to friends and family inviting them to view the photos or video afterwards.
What to bring
Depending on the location, you may not have access to parking close by. Bring comfortable walking shoes, a tote or gym bag to hold all your stuff in, and a jacket (just in case).
Bring some details you'd like included. Examples: "Just Married" sign, heirloom jewelry, cards from friends/family, vow books.
Bring your furry family member(s). There are many ways to include your non-human family in your elopement!
Bottle of champagne and glasses
A second outfit (if going to multiple locations)
Vendors to consider including
Besides your officiant, you may consider including other vendors:
Florist - many florists can create stunning backdrops, stands, and formations if you're worried about decorating or don't think the space you've chosen is spectacular enough. They can help with structures like an arbor, trellis, chuppah, aisleway, etc.
Photographer - to capture your big day (wink wink, we're available!)
Videographer - you can record the entire ceremony and share it with friends and family afterwards, or potentially live stream it!
Driver - if you're worried about getting to and from location(s), hiring a car might be easier than trying to find parking or call a Lyft
Baker - you can still have a wedding cake for 2!
Logistics of Elopements (from a photographer's point of view)
Are you planning to do a first look? If so, add 30 mins - 1 hour before the ceremony depending on whether the first look is held at the ceremony location or a different spot. This also determines whether you're bringing 1 or 2 vehicles to the ceremony, and account for one person arriving later than the other.
Ceremony: what time of day do you want to get married? Golden hour is typically 1-2 hours before sunset. Sunrise ceremonies, especially in parks and mountains, are gorgeous, but you typically need to arrive on location 15-20 minutes before sunrise to make sure your photographer can capture daybreak and sunrise during your ceremony. Mid-day ceremonies can lead to having deep, dark shadows when the sun is directly overhead, and can be hot. Discuss the start time of your ceremony with your photographer to make sure your vision for lighting is what you're expecting.
Post-ceremony celebration and photos: the amount of time a photographer can spend with you post-ceremony varies depending how whether you're heading to different locations. Be sure to factor in travel, parking, and walking time into how long you're booking your photographer for. Your photographer can lend a hand with planning locations and determining the best order depending on the time of day/sunlight available.
Tips & Tricks
Plan for wind and rain (especially in Boston). If you're getting married by the water (ocean, river, lake), there is often a cool breeze. Prepare your outfit, hair, makeup, and belongings for windy circumstances. We recommend bringing touch hair spray, pins, lip gloss, and tissues, just so you have them if a wicked breeze kicks in. Also, bring a jacket that you can throw on between locations, photos, etc. To prepare for rain, we suggest bringing 2 clear umbrellas (ask your photographer if they have some - we sure do!), a waterproof tote bag (I have one from IKEA I swear by, and shoes that can get muddy.
Plan food/water: because of COVID-19, it's hard to find a place to grab water or snacks. Consider bringing some with you.
Phones, keys, wallets either need to stay in the car, or should be placed in the bag you bring with you. Photos featuring bulging pockets during your ceremony can lead to some funny questions later on.
Let us know if you have any questions about eloping, are looking for an elopement photographer, or just want to chat! Stay safe, stay apart, and stay strong!