You’ve decided to take the rather unique approach of eloping. Great to hear! It’s truly a wonderful way to get hitched and consummate your love for one another. But what about the party? We get it, you don’t want to miss out on an epic celebration. However, what are the norms? Who do you invite? When are you meant to throw it? Is it even allowed? Questions, questions. Don’t worry, we are here to provide you the ultimate guide to elopement parties.
In just a few minutes, we explain everything you need to know about elopement shindigs. Having taken part (photographed) hundreds of elopements over the last 15 years, and advised countless brides on how to throw an awesome elopement party, we are experts in ensuring your elopement party rocks!
Without further ado, here is our elopement party guide!
What is an Elopement Party?
Before we begin, let’s explain exactly what an elopement party is. Ok ok, it’s not exactly the most complicated thing to work out. It’s basically a party after you have eloped. Yes, pretty simple!
When couples elope, it’s usually a very select number of guests. Most of the time, it will just be the couple and one or two witnesses. No one else. An elopement party is a fantastic way to celebrate your marriage with all your friends and family, without the added costs of an all out, traditional wedding day.
While there are no rules on what an elopement party must entail, some of the more popular options include hiring a smaller venue and inviting friends and family. Perhaps throwing a garden party, or even hosting a cookout at our local public park. There are plenty of options that are beautiful ways to celebrate with your loved ones. Now you just need to decide on the best option to suit your needs.
What is a post elopement party called?
With elopements being a relatively new trend, there is no clearly defined name for a post elopement party. While most couples opt for something similar to traditional names, “elopement reception”, “post-wedding reception”, we highly recommend you put your own spin on things. “Tim & Shauna’s Sensationally, Spectacular Soiree”, maybe even “Adam & Elen’s Electrifyingly Exciting Elopement Extravaganza”, too much? No matter your idea, you can call the party whatever you please. Provided you let the invitees know about the event, everyone will get the gist.
Why have an elopement party?
The idea of throwing an elopement party might seem a little strange. Especially after you’ve just decided on the more exclusive elopement style marriage event. While we understand that it might seem a little unwarranted, throwing an elopement party can be a great idea. No matter how big or small, there are many reasons to throw a post-elopement gathering.
We spoke to the planning team in the office and came up with a few reasons for going all out and throwing an elopement party.
A chance to celebrate with loved ones
While an elopement is a truly magical way to get hitched, you do miss out on celebrating those special moments with your nearest and dearest. While you don’t have to invite hundreds of guests, holding an elopement party and inviting the people that matter most to you, is a great way to celebrate your marriage with them.
It’s a party!
Without being too obvious. Who doesn’t love a good knees-up? A chance to kick back, enjoy a few cocktails and dance the night away with your friends and family. A post elopement party definitely provides an opportunity to get loose and party hard.
A chance to express yourself
One of the often overlooked reasons for hosting a wedding day is that it’s a chance to express yourself in your own style. Many bride’s and grooms will enjoy working on the wedding decor, or coming up with ideas that showcase who they are. While you might not get the full experience with a mini-party, it’s still an opportunity to put your own choices into effect.
An opportunity to look back on times-gone-by
While this might seem a little outside the box, many weddings will have some kind of homage to the couple’s story. Whether that’s a growing up slideshow of the pair, or images past vacations and holidays. Many couples will look to implement something into their wedding day.
An elopement party provides the perfect opportunity to put together something creative that you missed out on when skipping the wedding. Whether that’s a few hanging photos or a slideshow on a projector. Your guests will love looking back on the images of your story.
How to Throw an Elopement Party: Step-by-Step Guide
Now you are sufficiently guided through what an elopement party entails, it’s time to learn how to throw one. Well fear not, our step by step process is here to teach you everything you need to know to throw one epic post elopement bash.
Put together an invitee list
First things first, put together a guest list. Start with the VIPs (parents, siblings, best friends etc) and work down. Remember that the more guests you invite, the bigger the venue/hosting space will have to be. This, in turn, will increase the overall expenditure.
As with any wedding celebration, your guest list is a key part. It’s arguably the most important starting step. It can dictate budgets, venues, locations, style of wedding etc. It’s a crucial aspect that you need to get right. That being said, don’t overthink it. Invite the people you want to invite!
According to SimplyEloped, the average number of guests invited on the actual elopement is 10 . With this in mind, you can begin to formulate a plan and calculate the number of guests you want to invite to the party. If you’ve had a smaller elopement, you could opt to invite more guests however we always recommend inviting the guests that attended the actual elopement.
While it’s not a requirement, and you will need to consider your budget, we think it’s important you treat your invitees like you would at a traditional wedding. It’s a great idea to send out actual invites, just like you would on your big day. This will act as a lovely keepsake for both yourselves and your guests. It’s also an exciting experience for all involved. We have put together a guide on how to choose your wedding invites. While not strictly the same, it’s still a useful read.
Choose your party date
As we’ve already mentioned in this post, elopements are a newly emerging trend meaning that the set-in-stone traditions are few and far between. The same can be said about choosing a date for the party. Furthermore, you aren’t limited to just throwing the party after the event. It’s just as common to throw the party before eloping as it is after. It’s completely up to you and your wants and wishes.
But how do you actually set the date? Well first off all it’s important to do two things. Choose the date for your actual elopement and develop a guest list for your party. Once you’ve booked your travel plans you can go about deciding whether a post or pre elopement party is right for you.
You will need to consider the availability of your guests so it’s good to get an idea by talking to your closest family and friends. Once you have an idea, you can then begin sending out your invites and waiting for RSVP’s. Provided you receive enough responses then your date can be fully secured. If for some reason guests are struggling to make it, don’t be afraid to adjust your chosen date. Remember this is much more flexible than a wedding date and as long as your venue has availability then you should be able to adjust accordingly. Just make sure to give your guests plenty of time to prepare and make arrangements.
Decide on a location
Location, location, location. It’s all about location. Well not really in the case of elopement parties. The location you choose is completely up to you. Choose a location depending on your style preferences, budget and generally feelings. If you are looking for that intimate, romantic vibe, try renting a private room at your preferred restaurant. Maybe you are looking to enjoy a more summer vibe BBQ, your backyard might be perfect. Just remember to consider the number of guests you are inviting and how far they will have to travel to attend. This way you can’t go far wrong and it’s all about what you fancy for your celebration.
Book your vendors
One of the major reasons that couples choose to elope is to save money and reduce the budget. This way they can choose to spend that money in other ways. A great idea in our opinion. With that in mind, booking vendors for your elopement party might not be suitable as they are one of the most expensive costs associated with your wedding. That being said, many suppliers will offer a reduced rate if choosing to host your party out of season. You might be able to afford one or two to help take your party to the next level.
The decision you make with hiring vendors will generally depend on the type of gathering you are hosting. If you are planning to throw a more casual dining experience at a local restaurant, chances are you won’t need to hire a caterer. However, if you are throwing the party at home, on-site caterers might be just what you need.
Remember to contact any vendors with advanced notice as they may book up quickly for other events.
Story Amour Tip: While hiring a photographer would definitely be considered a luxury add-on, in our opinion it’s a great way to spend any left over budget. Being able to look back on your guests having fun, celebrating and enjoying your company, will bring you happiness for years to come. Professional photos will act as a perfect keepsake.
Finally, it’s time to consider any last minute additions to your party. Once again, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to elopement parties. If you want to hire a photobooth, go right ahead. Maybe you want to decorate your backyard in a Tahiti bar theme? Good idea. No matter what finishing touches you want to add, make sure to make decisions well in advance to avoid disappointment. Whether that’s buying your party gown, planning your toasts, or choosing a good music playlist, preparation will help everything run smoothly.
A few FAQs about Elopement Parties
Hopefully you’ve now got to grips for what it takes to host an elopement party, however if you are still unsure, we’ve put together a select list of frequently asked questions. These are the questions that our previous couples made most commonly when planning their event.
Is it OK to elope then have a party?
Yes. The most popular timing of an elopement party is after the marital event however it’s also commonplace to host it before. Try to plan the timing of your celebration depending on the availability of your guests and when best suits you. Whether you choose to host the even before or after, remember to have fun and go with the flow. After all, it’s your party!
Are there any rules I need to follow when throwing an elopement party?
Absolutely not. This is a party, not a formal event. Unlike weddings you can be as flexible as you like. There are no set-in-stone traditions you need to follow. Just remember to throw a party that reflects you as a couple. If you are happy, your guests will be happy to.
How much does a post elopement party cost?
How long is a piece of string? No in all seriousness there is no set cost when it comes to elopement party costs. It all depends on your number of guests, what suppliers you choose to hire as well as the location you decided to host your event.
The fewer guests you choose, the less you can expect to have to spend on a big enough venue. Furthermore, the less you will spend on catering (food and drink) costs.
One of the major benefits of elopements and any reception/party associated with them, is the flexibility to create an event to whatever your wants and requirements. It’s perfect feasibility to host an elopement party for under $1,000 however if you want to hire photographers, caterers and other entertainment, you can expect to pay anything upwards of $3,000. Just remember that the catering costs will be directly impacted by the number of guests you invite.
Do we need to have a wedding registry for our elopement party?
It’s not really traditional to have a wedding registry for an elopement or elopement party. With your celebration likely being smaller than a traditional wedding, we’d keep the requests smaller as well. Many guests will likely choose to give money or buy small gifts as a token of their appreciation, or to wish you well in the future. We asked the Story Amour team whether you should have an elopement registry and the poll came back as a resounding “No”.
Tips for an amazing elopement party
Despite elopements being relatively less stressful than planning a wedding, it can still bring on a good amount of anxiety for you as a couple. Below we have put together a list of tips to help you plan a legendary party that all your guests will love!
Go all out and hire a live band. Ok, we get that it’s a big expense and some might consider it a little extravagant but let’s be honest, rocking out to a live band is pretty unbeatable. The amount of awesome wedding photos we have captured at weddings in the past is unmatched. Your guests will love any sort of music and will be eager to hit the dance floor, even if there isn’t one!
If you can’t quite stretch to a live band, there are plenty of more affordable alternatives. How about a photo booth? Or even garden games? There are lots of options when it comes to entertainment. Time to get creative and come up with something you guests will love.
Consider hiring a photographer
We’ve mentioned it already so won’t keep going on about it, but hiring a photographer to document the memories you are making, can be a great and somewhat affordable option that you will absolutely NOT regret.
While hiring a well-known wedding photographer could come at an inflated cost, hiring a slightly less-experienced, but still awesome photographer, could save you money and still allow for a return of sensational images.
Having a beautiful little coffee book photo album will keep the conversation with visitors flowing for years to come.
Related Reading: Tipping Guide for Wedding Photographers
Plan your food
Arguably one of the bigger expenses if you are throwing an elopement party will be the food. That being said, one of the benefits of a party over a traditional wedding, is the flexibility of catering. Whether you’ve got the craves for a Texan BBQ, or maybe fancy a cheeky McDonalds, anything is possible.
Most couples will opt to hire either a private room at a restaurant, or perhaps a catering company if planning a backyard cookout. No matter what you decide, remember to plan for all your guests and their dietary requirements.
Choose your outfit
Just because you won’t be walking down the aisle (in the traditional sense), doesn’t mean you can’t go all out on fashion. If you want to rock a white dress, rock a white dress. It’s your party and you should stylize how you want!
While we would never fully rule anything out, we probably wouldn’t recommend hiring suits and gowns as unexpected spillages can increase costs quite dramatically. Try working with your partner to plan your attire and choosing outfits that you both love.
Think about small decor
While you probably won’t be buying 6ft tall centerpieces, that doesn’t mean you can’t implement your own small decor touches. Balloons (the eco-friendly ones) are always a good way to add a cute little touch to your day but really anything small, without blowing the budget, can go a long way to adding your own style to the party.
A few elopement party ideas
There are countless ideas when it comes to elopement parties. With no traditions that need to be followed, the world is your oyster. Below we have broken potential ideas down into two sections. Venue options, and general other ideas. These are some of the most common ideas that our couples chose to go with.
- Beach Party – why not host a party on a beach? Keep it casual and remember to stick to any rules and regulations but inviting close friends and family to the beach can be a great way to go.
- Local Park – Many local parks offer facilities for hosting a cookout, although you will have to find a location where this is allowed near you. Invite a few guests to a BBQ style party.
- Yours/Family/Friends Backyard – If you or a close friend or family has a backyard or garden, why not host an outdoor event. Whether that’s a BBQ or buffet style with everyone celebrating outdoors.
- Rooftop Terrace – Why not get cool and swanky by hiring out a local rooftop bar. Not only is it a great way to celebrate but watching the sun go down with your nearest and dearest is a moment that can’t be beaten.
- Vineyard – One of the more emerging trends is hiring out a vineyard for your celebration. Many vineyards will offer this service however if you don’t live near a vineyard, you may have to pack your bags.
- Hot Air Balloon Ride – While you would have to limit the numbers, hiring a hot air balloon ride with several of your closest friends and family can be a truly amazing experience!
- Sunset Cruise – If you live near the sea, or a lake, you may be able to hire a boat cruise for your party. Many companies offer function events on such boats and are actually quite a common option for couples hosting their wedding.
- Weekend Break – Why not hire a cabin or a cottage for a weekend? Take your closest family and friends away for a few days and have one long party. Why have just one night when you can have several!
And that just about sums everything up. Hopefully our elopement party guide will help you throw the best elopement party you possibly can.
Elopements are a magical way to get hitched, but many couples still opt to either throw a party before or after they elope. Sharing a connection with your family and friends still feels like an important part of your wedding experience.
No matter what type of celebration you choose, our step by step guide and general overlook on elopement parties, should ensure you plan a celebration fitting to your love.
As with most of our articles, there are usually two takeaways that we like to drive home every time. As long as you plan an event that you will love, plus allow plenty of time to plan everything, you are sure to throw a party that you will remember for the rest of your life.