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How To Include Family In Your Elopement

Updated: May 19, 2020

How To Include Family In Your Elopement

Including “Love Ones” in Your Intimate Wedding Day - Eloping with the Family

When you dream about your own Adventurous Elopement, we hope it’s like seeing the stars perfectly aligned in the midnight sky. As if this wedding approach was made specifically for the two of you: an epic adventure with the one you love to start your journey. A gorgeous backdrop with pure intimate moments with your fiance as you commit your lives to one another. A truly once in a lifetime experience that you'll cherish for the rest of your lives.

However, you realize there is something missing in your dream wedding. “What about my family and friends?” No matter how perfect your dream elopement can be, or how much your heart craves to stand at the summit of a mountain, or kayak to a glacier, or even helicopter to your secret destination, you just cannot imagine saying “I Do!” without your family or close friends there standing with you.

Problem solved! You can still have your epic adventure AND have family and friends there with you. Gone are the days when eloping meant running off secretly without your family. Today’s elopement absolutely can include family, friends, children, and even pets and still be considered an epic adventurous elopement. You can still have the “Just Us “ elopement if you desire, but no one said that the only way it's done. Some of the most beautiful and heartwarming elopements have had 10 - 15 people there with the bride and groom.

To us, an Adventurous Elopement is an intimate and tailored wedding day that is completely focused on your dream ceremony.

What makes eloping so special is that the decisions and choices are yours and yours alone. It’s not about putting on a production or giant show for your friends. It’s a day about you two and what YOU want and how YOU want to spend it; wherever and with whomever, that may be!

I can hear your thoughts. Many couples have asked these very questions: “Well, This sounds great! You may even have helped solve my problem. But, how does this all even work? I mean, what would our wedding day even look like with everyone at the ceremony?”

To help answer these very important questions, we have compiled a list of some unique and meaningful ways couples can incorporate family into the elopement. We hope these ideas will inspire and assist you in finding a way to include your loved ones in your dream wedding adventure.

How To Include Family and Friends?

To begin, there is no right or wrong way to include your family and friends. As long they understand it is your dream day, they can be as involved or as hands-off as you want them to be.

Don’t compromise. Don’t be a victim of expectations. Don’t let anyone tell you how to celebrate your day. That's what big, stressful, traditional weddings are for, and you took the brave leap to say “No!” to that day and said “YES!” to this epic adventure.

The One Ceremony Approach

For couples that want their family and friends joining them on the adventure, and to be alongside them when they say their “I Do’s,” it’s always beautiful to have a single, intimate ceremony where all can attend. The beauty in having those people who mean the world to you right there as you make the leap into marriage usually doesn’t leave a dry eye from tears of joyment and love in the group.

You always have the option of including them in as much or as little as you seem appropriate. Include them in getting ready, the ceremony, the reception or none of the above. It’s all up to you. Just because they are there doesn't mean they have to be a part of every littler minute.

The most important thing to consider is you may need to make some compromises in your dream location or how the guests are to reach the ideal wedding site. Based on the age and physical ability of your guests you may have to rethink some of your plans.

We both would like to be clear! By no means, do you have to rethink about having an adventure elopement, nor turning down the epicness of this adventure because of family and friends joining you. What we are suggesting is if you have your heart set on having family and friends at the ceremony site, then you may want to trade in the 10-mile backpacking hike to the mountain peak for a ceremony at a more suitable trailhead. Now if you don’t want to compromise on your ceremony spot then there are many ways that you can bring family and friends along with you.

elopement couple with kids in mountains in washignton

Divide The Day

Dividing your wedding day gives you the best of both worlds: adventure and loved ones. You two don’t have to compromise on your ceremony location, and you still get to have all the family and friends you want along with you on this epic Adventurous Elopement.

One of the most common ways couples divide their day is by having their own private and intimate adventure and wedding ceremony. They hike out together alone at sunrise to the mountain top, or paddle out at sunset in their kayak to experience this adventure in privacy, and have the stunning location where they can commit their hearts to one another, all to themselves. They don’t have to worry about anyone else, and they get to experience all this joy and beauty together. Then once the ceremony is completed they hike back down the trail or paddle back to the beach to meet and celebrate with their guests. Maybe even to have another smaller ceremony with them, have a unique reception at a brewery or backyard or a combination of the two.

When you divide your day, you are giving yourselves the freedom to have those intimate and quiet moments with each other where it's truly just the two of you, alone in the beauty of nature. Holding each other in the breathtaking location knowing you're about to embark on this beautiful journey as one. Then you are able to come back and celebrate with family and friends.

If this is something you want to do, then as the saying goes “You can have cake and ice cream!” You can have that intimate ceremony at your private location then come back and have a similar ceremony with family and friends. They’ll be just as excited and it will be meaningful and beautiful, as the first time.

You don't have to compromise. There's no obligations, and there's no missing out. It's an epic adventure without any sacrifice.

Make your Epic Adventure Two Days

We both love the idea of breaking up your one day so you can still have your private, intimate ceremony where you dreamed it to be, and still be able to celebrate with your friends and family. An adventure with no sacrifice. However, it does make for a very long day. If that's for you, then that's great!

If the “one day” idea makes you feel stressed or nervous, or you want to slow things down to soak up every moment of your adventure, you probably want the option of spreading it out over 2-days. This idea might be better for the two of you.

You can take the first day all to yourselves and have your own private elopement ceremony. Hike out somewhere intimate and special; charter a helicopter to a glacier; drive that 4x4 off the beaten path and hit some mud puddles on the way to a hot spring. Make your Adventure Elopement epic and memorable. Then the next day join your family and friends for a small ceremony and an unique reception that they helped plan. Or “flip it” and hang out with the family and friends first then you two run off together for your own intimate day of adventure wedding ceremony.

Either way you cut it, spreading it out over 2-days allows the two of you to soak up every possible moment and memory of this grand adventure.

mom kisses bride as she goes off on adventurous elopement

Include Them In Other Moments

You don’t necessarily need to have your family standing right next to you during your ceremony. You can have your family be a part of the preparations for the day. Getting ready, putting the dress on, tying the tie, the first look before they send you off for your private elopement ceremony. If you just want your ceremony to be just two of you, then include them in these intimate moments. This could be a beautiful and meaningful option.

elopement couple facetime family to show wedding ring

elopement couple facetime family to show wedding ring


Your family friends don’t have to physically be a part of your adventure. If you want to include family or friends in your day, yet for some reason they can't physically be there with you, having them on Facetime or Skype is a great alternative. Whether it's revealing your dress or saying goodbye before you hop in the helicopter using Facetime or Skype is a great way to ensure that no one is missing out. Just make sure there is either internet connection or cell phone reception a few days before the wedding. This will allow you to make adjustments before the big day.

elopement bride reads family letters forrest blake photo

Private Letters and Videos

If you want to be out in the remote wilderness where you can't get a reliable Facetime signal or cell phone reception, then private letters or videos this is a great alternative. The Maid-of-Honor and the Bestman can make arrangements to surprise you with letters or pre-recorded videos for you to read or watch prior to saying your “I Do’s.” This is a perfect way for family and friends to show their love and support of the couple without physically being there. Whether it's a letter of best wishes and love, or a video of the family toasting and sending off the couple, to private individual memories shared by mom and dad is a special way to include all family and friends in this intimate and beautiful moment.

Some Things To Consider With Family

If you do plan to include family and friends on this adventure, whether it's to the ceremony location or just the reception there are a few other logistical things that you will have to be mindful of. They aren't a bad thing but they will need some extra thought and attention.

  • Accessibility - Can everyone physically make it to the location? Does that matter to you? If they can’t, have you considered moving it to a similar more accessible location? You can also take the approach one couple did with their 10 mile hike and wanted to include family. They took the approach of “We will see you at the top! If not, we’ll party together when we get back.”

  • Make sure their basic needs are covered. You’d be surprised how far food and water can go in boosting morale.

  • Transportation - How is everyone getting to and from the ceremony location or to the reception?

  • Terrain of the ceremony - Is it rocky or slippery? Is it all sand or a mixture of both? Make sure all guests are atiquilty prepared for the terrain and the activities planned. Heels on top of a mountain or in the sand are never a good mix.

  • Have you been entirely clear on the expectations that you and your partner have for the day? - There are so many pros and cons that come with including your family and friends. However, there are a few specific things you need to look out for.

    • Make sure you’re defining what you and your partner want.

    • Make sure they all know “Safety” before glamour. Nothing can ruin a day quicker then Aunt Annie breaking an ankle because she had to wear her lucky heels.

    • Make it clear what you need help with, and what you will take care of yourself.

    • Above all, don’t let anyone try to shift the focus away from your elopement.

Extra Tips To Keep The Day About You Two

When you elope with your family and friends, there are likely a few adjustments you’ll have to make in your plan. Even though this day is about you two, there are some complications that arise when including other people. Again it’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, it’s important to remember that even though you are including family; THIS IS STILL YOUR DAY. IT IS STILL YOUR ELOPEMENT!

Eloping with family can be just as epic and wonderful, but it can easily sway the focus away from the two of you. That's where these tips can help.

  • Understanding that bringing family on the elopement will change the nature of the day - If you're set on having your family and friends joining you, then there will be some small compromises to make. Try to come up with some creative solutions to the changes, so you're never truly compromising what YOU want.

  • Don’t let things change focus - Once your elopement stops focusing on you two and what you dreamed your day would be like and starts becoming more about pleasing others, that's when it stops being an epic adventure elopement and turns back into a traditional wedding. Ask yourselves if the focus is on you as a couple or is it more on the guest and including their “needs.” That's the difference. It’s no fault of the couple, but if you truly want an elopement that includes family and friends then do your best to control the day.

  • Always, Always be upfront with your family and friends - We understand with family it can be hard to set boundaries. But if you and your partner have a specific vision then that needs to be relayed firmly and clearly to everyone. Be kind and be “Direct!” You want to create the day that you truly want, and you still have friends and family there with you. Can they keep the focus on you? Can they get on board with the plan and decisions you’ve made, and the boundaries you have set?

In Conclusion

Bringing your family and friends along with you on this adventure can be a beautiful thing, especially if you are a close group and want to spend intentional time with them. There are endless ways of including the ones you love on your adventurous elopement. These were just some ideas. In the beginning, we said there is no “right or wrong” way to include them in the day. Well, there is one wrong way. The only wrong way to do this is when you start sacrificing your wedding dream and you start to focus on pleasing others. Remember, this is your day and “no one” has the right to ruin your dream wedding day.

This is your adventure, and you are choosing to bring them along. It should never look anything less than the vision you have for your Dream Epic Adventurous Elopement.

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Hey, We're Forrest & Cindy!

You're Husband & Wife team of Adventurous Elopement Photographers and Guides!

We love being able to take couples out into the world on an epic adventure, completely tailored to them so they can have a wedding day completely unique and different from traditional weddings. 

Documenting every little detail and hidden moments of stolen kisses, hand squeezes and I love you's. A day that set apart to truly focus on you two, wherever and however you dreamt it. And we'll be with you every step of the way to tell your love story. Your truly individual love story. 

We believe in Elopements and creating an intimate, meaningful, intentional, stress-free wedding experience.

Let's start planning your Epic Adventurous Elopement!

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