Destination elopements are one of the most exciting and intimate experiences you can have. It’s a romantic adventure with just the two of you and memories that last forever! Eloping on Oahu gives you beautiful scenic views and lets you kick off married life with a built-in honeymoon.
While the definition of an elopement is just two people, I believe there are no rules! You can easily include family and friends! It is all about creating a custom experience. Whether it is just the two of you, you two and your parents, or you and your pets, it is whatever you want it to be.
As an elopement photographer, I get asked many questions about how to include your closest loved ones on your elopement day. So I wanted to share ten ways to have family (and friends!) in your destination elopement. Hopefully, this will give you some fun ideas to incorporate as you plan your experience!
1. Invite A Few Family Members
Including some of your close family members and friends can still keep things quiet and intimate. For elopements, I recommend under 10 guests so that the focus is on the two of you. If you can’t imagine getting married without your parents or siblings there, then invite them!
Or, if you want to keep your ceremony private, invite your family and friends to the reception, but have your ceremony and vow exchange be just the two of you. This will allow you to get the best of both worlds – a private ceremony and a reception! You can invite guests to join you at dinner after your ceremony and portraits and customize the day to fit your needs.
Looking for insight on the perfect elopement day timeline? Check out my post, where I share all my elopement timeline tips!
2. Include Family Traditions or Special Mementos
One of the biggest questions I get asked as a photographer is how to still include family traditions in the elopement. There are so many things you can do! You can wear a family heirloom, like your mother’s veil or a father’s cufflinks. Some couples have bouquet pins with photos of loved ones on them, so they are with them as they walk down the aisle. Or if you have a special sign someone made for you for the day, bring it with you! As your photographer, I love to capture these heirloom pieces from your elopement.
For this wedding, our bride had a beautiful Cambodian blessing at their ceremony from her grandparents and wore a traditional Cambodian gown and jewelry.
3. Have An Engagement Party
Just because you are eloping doesn’t mean you can’t have the traditional parties! You can host an engagement party, a bachelorette, or a bachelor party. Even if you do not plan on having a bridal party, you can still invite those closest to you and celebrate. Not feeling a formal get-together? Host a BBQ or game night, and just enjoy the time together.
4. Go Wedding Attire Shopping
When you elope, you won’t have a bridal party. So, you can still have one of those special moments with them by going attire shopping with them! Pick the people you would have had in your bridal party, and let them help you pick the perfect gown or suit. Asking them to help will make them feel like they are still part of your wedding day.
5. Host A Send-Off Party
Before you head off for your elopement, host a party to celebrate with those closest to you! This can be a simple dinner or more large elaborate themed party. Your guests can give their well wishes and spend some time with you before you’re officially married.
Or, if you are looking for something unique, plan a complete weekend! Host a wine tasting, or go on a camping trip with your friends. During this intimate party, you can celebrate with those you love while painting a picture of your elopement to come.
6. Include them at the ceremony by streaming them virtually (if service allows)
Many elopement locations on Oahu will have cell phone reception, and some may even have WiFi. This way, you can live stream on a platform like Zoom, or a wedding-specific service like Livestream. You can allow everyone to witness this moment, even if they couldn’t be there in person.
If you decide to live stream your wedding, have a virtual toast! After the ceremony, ask your close family and friends to share a toast with everyone. Everyone will feel included and get to enjoy the stunning Hawaii views.
If you are looking for the best venues on the North or East Shore of Oahu, check out my list!
7. FaceTime With Them That Morning
If you have an elopement with just the two of you but still want to have your family see you get ready, set up a FaceTime call! They can spend the morning as you get ready and see your final look. Or you can have them be there to see the two of you before you head off to your ceremony. Even if they’re not present, they’ll still have a really special memory of the moment you shared just before you said I do.
If your parents or friends will be there, but not at the ceremony, they can still help you get ready. This will give them some time to spend with the two of you before the elopement and still feel included on the big day.
8. Read Letters
Ask your closest family and friend to write letters and messages that you can read at the elopement. You can do this before or after your ceremony, or even open up a special letter before saying your vows! These letters are not just an incredible memory you will have from your day but are also things you can re-read on your anniversary. You can relive your wedding day by reading to each other your favorite letters from loved ones. You can even frame a few as keepsakes in your home!
9. Have a Post-elopement Reception
A post-elopement reception gives you the best of both worlds! You can enjoy an intimate elopement, plus a larger reception where everyone can come celebrate. It also lets you have some of those more traditional elements, like a first dance or dances with family members. (Only if you want to, of course!) You can have it immediately after or wait several months after to host. No pressure- it’s about whatever works for the two of you!
At your reception, you can wear your wedding attire, include speeches, and dance the night away. You can also have your elopement pictures play on a slideshow, so guests can feel like they were right there with you. And where you host this is up to you! You can pick your favorite restaurant or a resort where guests can spend the weekend away with you. Or, you can rent a venue – some wedding venues will allow receptions to be held separately from wedding ceremonies.
If you are looking for more post-elopement reception ideas, I have a blog post to guide you!
10. Send Out Announcements
No matter how many guests attend your elopement, make sure to send out an announcement! Brides created a roundup of beautiful elopement announcements that can help inspire yours. I suggest having it include a picture of the two of you at your Hawaii elopement, along with a personal note inside. At the end of the day, your family and friends will be happy for you!
10 Ways To Include Family in Your Destination Elopement
As you plan your destination elopement, there are countless ways you can still include your family and friends. From having a true elopement with just the two of you to inviting a handful of your closest loved ones, you can do whatever you want!
The love between the two of you is the most important part and the part I love to celebrate. As you plan, I would love to answer any questions you have on elopement in Hawaii and document this experience. When we work together, I will help you find the perfect location, assist with your timeline, and you will have access to my hand-selected vendors. Reach out any time, or visit my blog for more helpful articles about eloping in Hawaii!