Can You Elope and Have a Wedding Later: The Complete Guide

Can you elope and have a wedding later?

Eloping now and having a big wedding celebration later is becoming an increasingly popular option for modern couples.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about planning the elopement of your dreams now and hosting a fabulous wedding bash when the time is right.

Why Elope Now and Have a Wedding Later?

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Eloping now and celebrating later allows you to start your marriage journey on your own terms, while still hosting a big party when it’s safe and affordable. It’s the best of both worlds – an intimate elopement focused on your commitment and love, and a larger wedding focused on bringing everyone together to celebrate you. With flexibility, creativity and proper planning, you really can have it all!

The Logistics of Planning a Post-Elopement Wedding

Once you’ve decided to elope now and celebrate later, it’s time to start mapping out your wedding plans. Here are some logistical factors to consider:

  • Guest list – Decide who you’ll invite to the full wedding celebration.
  • Date – Choose a date 1-2 years out to allow time for planning.
  • Location – Scout wedding venues that fit your vision.
  • Vendor hiring – Lock in photographer, caterer, florist, etc.
  • Attire – Shop for wedding dresses and tuxes.
  • Stationery – Design invites, programs, signage.
  • Registry – Create gift registries since you’ll be celebrating after already marrying.

With some organization and forethought, you can craft a meaningful wedding day that honors your elopement while also celebrating with loved ones.

How to Break the News to Friends and Family

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Telling loved ones that you’ve eloped and are planning a wedding celebration later can come with some challenges. Here are some tips for breaking the news gracefully:

  • Emphasize that you’ll still be hosting a wedding – just at a later date. Reassure them they’ll still get to attend a celebration.
  • Explain the personal reasons why you decided to elope first – focusing on your love and commitment.
  • Announce your elopement news along with your future wedding plans together. This helps avoid misperceptions.
  • Send elopement announcements with save-the-dates for your future wedding date.
  • Address concerns head-on. Make it clear the wedding will be just as meaningful.
  • Get your closest loved ones on board first. They can help explain it to others.

Bringing your nearest and dearest ones into the planning process can help smooth the transition from elopement to wedding celebration. With understanding and open communication, you can help others share in the joy of your marriage journey.

Tips for Planning Your Dream Wedding After Eloping

Once you’ve taken the leap and eloped, it’s time to start planning a wedding celebration that lives up to your dreams. Here are some useful tips to make it magical:

  • Get clear on your must-haves. Focus on the most important elements like venue, food, and photography.
  • Be upfront about your budget when interviewing vendors. This helps set realistic expectations.
  • Prioritize personalization. Incorporate meaningful details that tell your story as a couple.
  • Splurge on what matters most, save on what doesn’t. Allocate budget accordingly.
  • Send digital invitations. This cuts costs and enables video clips or music.
  • Consider an off-peak season wedding. You’ll likely get discounts on venues and vendors.
  • Hire a day-of coordinator. They handle all the details so you can relax and enjoy.

By focusing on your top priorities and working with supportive vendors, you can plan a deeply personal wedding celebration that reflects your love story. The magic is in the details!

Saving Money by Eloping Before the Big Day

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Eloping before the big wedding celebration allows you to save money in a few key ways:

  • Lower elopement costs – An intimate elopement is usually much less expensive than a large wedding.
  • Lock in top vendors early – Securing your dream photographer or band for your later wedding will be easier and potentially cheaper if you book them right after eloping.
  • Negotiate wedding deals – After already being married, you may be able to negotiate great deals from wedding vendors.
  • Shorter guest list – Your wedding guest list can be smaller since you’ve already eloped.
  • Lower stress – With the pressure off, you can enjoy the process more rather than striving for perfection.

Eloping first gives you flexibility. You can channel the wedding budget into elements that matter most to you both. The celebration becomes more about cherishing your love with dear ones than impressing a huge crowd.

Incorporating Your Elopement Ceremony into Your Wedding

Your elopement and wedding celebrations can beautifully complement each other when you thoughtfully incorporate meaningful elements across both events. Here are some ideas to connect your intimate elopement with your larger wedding:

  • Feature any special elopement location or decor at the wedding – For example, use the same flowers or setup.
  • Highlight your elopement rings, clothes or accessories at the wedding.
  • Display elopement photos at the wedding or reception.
  • Share a short video from your elopement ceremony at the wedding.
  • Recreate special moments like your first kiss or dance.
  • Have a symbolic ceremony like tree planting to represent putting down roots.
  • Read the same readings or vows from your elopement.

With thoughtful planning, your elopement and wedding can harmoniously blend together to collectively tell the story of your love. Both events can hold special meaning while staying true to your values.

The Pros and Cons of Having a Wedding After You Elope

Deciding to have a wedding after eloping comes with both advantages and drawbacks. Can you elope and have a wedding later? Here is an overview of some of the key pros and cons to weigh:

The Pros

  • You can celebrate your marriage with all your loved ones after an intimate elopement.
  • It allows you to have a larger guest list and event.
  • You may receive gifts and well-wishes from additional friends and family.
  • You can experience a more traditional wedding if desired.
  • It gives you an additional opportunity to gather with loved ones.

The Cons

  • It requires extra planning and costs after already eloping.
  • Some may question having a wedding after already being married.
  • You’ll need to navigate logistics like whether to wear wedding rings.
  • It can feel repetitive for you and your partner.
  • You lose the novelty and excitement of having one wedding.

Overall, the decision depends on your priorities and resources. With open communication and creativity, you can find the right balance to meaningfully celebrate with all who matter most.

Advice for Traveling to Your Elopement Destination

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Traveling to the place where you’ll elope comes with its own special considerations. Here are some tips to make your elopement travel smooth and stress-free:

  • Book accommodations, flights, and activities well in advance since you may be traveling during peak seasons.
  • Factor in travel to and from the airport as well as around your destination.
  • Confirm any vendor reservations 1-2 weeks prior to leaving.
  • Consider travel insurance in case of any last minute changes.
  • Pack medications, comfortable shoes, and items to make your ceremony special.
  • Have a backup plan if weather may interfere with outdoor plans.
  • Allow time to get adjusted to any time zone changes.
  • Make sure your lodging and transportation meet your needs.
  • Research options for easy, romantic meals to minimize planning.
  • Most importantly, go with the flow and focus on enjoying every moment together!

With some thoughtful preparation, you can minimize stress and make the most of traveling to the special place where you’ll say “I do.” Bon voyage!

How to Make Your Wedding Special Even If You’ve Already Eloped

Having a bigger wedding celebration after eloping can still feel special if you get creative. Can you elope and have a wedding later? Here are some ideas to make your post-elopement wedding meaningful:

  • Incorporate elements from your elopement like using the same flowers or playing your elopement song.
  • Display photos from your elopement during the reception.
  • Have a symbolic ceremony like a handfasting or unity ceremony.
  • Write your own vows to share your unique love story.
  • Splurge on highlights like an extravagant cake or champagne tower.
  • Surprise guests with a choreographed first dance.
  • Have a small bridal party with those closest to you.
  • Take portraits in a special location before the reception.
  • Change into a dramatic reception dress.
  • End the night with a sparkler send-off or fireworks.

Even if you’re already married, thoughtfully incorporating personal details will help your wedding live up to your dreams. Focus on celebrating with loved ones, and the rest will fall into place beautifully!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do we need to send out new invitations?

Yes, you’ll want to send new invites about 6-8 weeks before your celebration wedding. Make sure to include details like date, time, location and any other information guests need to know.

Can we still have a bachelorette/bachelor party?

Absolutely! Even if you’re already married, pre-wedding parties are still fun. Focus on quality time with your VIPs, rather than typical wedding traditions.

Is it normal to get married and then have a wedding later?

Yes, it is becoming more common for couples to legally get married before having a big wedding celebration later. This allows them to begin their married life together while still having a wedding ceremony and reception with family and friends.

Should we elope before our wedding?

Eloping before the planned wedding is an option some couples consider. It allows them to be legally married privately and then have a symbolic ceremony and reception on their planned wedding date. There are pros and cons to weigh.

What is the second wedding after elopement?

A second wedding after eloping refers to hosting a full wedding celebration after the couple has already legally gotten married. This gives them the best of both worlds – an intimate elopement along with a traditional wedding.


Many couples who want an intimate elopement still crave the celebration of a traditional wedding. The good news is, you truly can have the best of both worlds. Eloping then hosting a wedding reception party later has become a popular trend. This allows couples to elope on their own terms, then include loved ones in a big celebration after the fact. So yes, you absolutely can elope and still have a beautiful wedding party later if you wish.

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