How To Include Family in Your Elopement

How To Include Your Family in Elopement, Micro-Wedding, or Minimony

If you’re thinking of eloping, you may be wondering how to include your family in your Elopement. There are lots of reasons to invite your nearest and dearest to your ceremony. But for a lot of couples, there may also be reasons you might not want to. Awkward or uncomfortable family dynamics, unsupportive comments, and past hurts can’t be ignored. Not to mention the gathering limitations due to COVID. And here’s the harsh truth: You can’t please everyone. I’ve tried. Instead of trying to cater to what everyone else wants – “You have to invite the whole family!” “You can’t invite them, or I won’t go.” “What will so and so think?” – Have the day that YOU want! Here are some creative ideas on how to involve the loved ones you do want to include!

Even if they can’t be there with you, don’t worry! With a little creativity and planning, those that you love can participate in your ceremony! Idea #4 will even work for your pets!

How to Plan your elopement series:
1. – How to plan an elopement
2. – What to do during your elopement
3. – How to plan an elopement ceremony
4. – Here’s how to write elopement vows
5 – What to wear to your elopement
6. – How to personalize your elopement
7. – Including Family in your elopement – You are here!
8. – How to include your cat in your elopement

1. Paper Wishes 

A wonderful way to feel close to your family and friends if they’re not at your elopement takes just a little bit of preparation. Send everyone a slip of paper. You can personalize them by sending out beautiful custom stationary (and support a local artist!). Have the recipients write their best wishes for you and mail them back. There is something romantic, whimsical and meaningful about a hand-written note. Giving loved ones time to think about what they’d like to put on paper can be an advantage! This can translate into a flurry of mini-toasts for you both to read. Children can draw on the cards, so truly everyone can participate! Imagine reading out a dozen letters of love from your people, feeling their humor and heartfelt wishes for you!

Depending on how many paper wishes you get, it’s up to you to decide how to share them! Some couples like to read them out over a picnic charcuterie. (Also known as “adult lunchables on a shark coochie board”, according to This Couple.) Or display them at your ceremony in a bowl with a rock on top to keep them from blowing away. Read them along with your vows. You could even string them up in your Airbnb or open them after dinner together in front of a fire. Trust me, it will feel like christmas morning! Or put them in a time capsule and read them on your first anniversary, or open a few every day of your honeymoon to make it even more special. 

2. Digital Letters

If snail mail isn’t your thing, ask everyone to email a story or bit of well-wishing before the elopement. For emails, you can have a calligrapher write them all out. Bind them into a book, or print them and turn them into paper flowers or origami. How adorable would that be? Better still, you could also ask everyone to record video of themselves reading out their wishes and support. Bust out the laptop! Watching a playlist of these messages from your friends and family will be priceless! The best part is you can enjoy them anywhere – at the top of a peak or on the shore of a lake at sunrise. And because they’re recorded, you’ll get to “keep” their toasts!

Erin got to view messages from her parents just before walking in to her ceremony!

3. Community Cording

Many couples are embracing the tradition of handfasting, and I love this! This ancient practice has become popular again in recent years and involves tying a cord around the joined hands of the betrothed. The cord symbolizes the binding together of two people in love. The colors of the cords can also have special meaning. If you choose to be handfasted, involving your family and friends is easy. Have each of them send you a ribbon. You may choose: 

  • Your wedding colors
  • Neutral shades
  • A wild, joyful rainbow of colors 

Each color traditionally has a significance as well! Share this list with your family so they can choose what to wish you.

  • Red is for love, strength, and health
  • Orange is for kindness, encouragement, adaptability
  • Yellow is for harmony, balance, and confidence
  • Green is for prosperity, fertility and luck
  • Blue can be safety, longevity, patience, and understanding
  • Purple signifies power, progress and health
  • Black is for wisdom, vision, and power
  • White is for truth, peace, devotion, and purity
  • Pink is for unity, honor, and happiness
  • Brown means earth, nurturing, and healing
  • Silver is for protection, inspiration and creativity

Braid or twist them all together to create your very special, personalized handfasting cord. Once the community cord ceremony is over, you can tie the ribbons into your hair! Or keep them in decorative knots for display in your home. Just don’t untie or cut your handfasting ribbon, as traditionally this symbolizes the end of the marriage. Yikes!

Aimee & Tian Yu’s huge handfasting knot was so full of ribbons and color!

4. Include your Family by Printing Them Out

I’m a dork, so I’m a big fan of life size cardboard cutouts. This isn’t a practical option when you’re hiking, though! But if you do this, I will basically jump for joy! Still, there are so many ways to include your family in your elopement by bringing a print. Consider writing your vows on the back of photos of your family – so your partner can see them as you read! Bringing framed photos can also give you that feeling of your family being “there.” This is especially helpful if you’re hiking pretty far.

5. Virtual Vows

Zoom has become the go-to for virtual gatherings, but it’s not the only option you’ve got, particularly if you don’t need to interact with those viewing your ceremony. Twitch, Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook—all provide a platform to livestream your event, giving friends and family the chance to watch you tie the knot and exchange promises. Twitch and Facebook have text chat options so you can go back and read their well-wishes as you view your ceremony after your big day. If you want voice interaction, you have several options there as well: 

  • Skype: supports 50 people
  • Facetime: allows 32 guests
  • Zoom: connects up to 100

All of these platforms can record your gathering, so you can rewatch it! This makes a virtual broadcast one of the most popular ways to include your family in your elopement. However, you’ll have to plan ahead to get cellular service! If you want your ceremony and the words you share with your partner to stay private, that’s ok! You don’t have to include anyone that you don’t want to. You could use this virtual option to connect with people over dinner and tell them all about the amazing day you had!

Carrie and Brook had a hiking elopement, but were also able to find a patch of cell service to connect with 30 of their extended family!

6. Include your Family in your Elopement Day

This is perhaps my favorite option, because it’s like having your cake and eating it! You can choose to have an intimate ceremony with your family to witness it. Then take off together as newlyweds – hike to a sunset overlook. Or have an intimate dinner where you don’t have to make small talk with anyone but your new spouse. You can even flip the script and keep your ceremony to yourselves. Meet up with your families for dinner afterwards and share the joy of the day that way. It is YOUR day, and you can include or not include people in whichever way feels right to you!

I hope that these ideas inspire you, and help you feel close to those that matter most on your special day!


Co written by Rae Redford-Beyer

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