Nine Tips for a Stress-Free Elopement

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Congratulations! Having resolved to kick tradition to the curb, you're about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. No longer the scandalous rebellion it once was, eloping is gaining newfound appreciation in the annals of matrimony for being not only economically more practical than a conventional wedding, but super romantic, too. Couples who are considering absconding can find some of their worries leavened with these nine tips for a stress-free elopement.

Pack a clothing steamer. Most lodging includes the amenity of an iron and ironing board, but a much easier and safer method for reviving your wedding apparel is to steam it. Using a fabric steamer (like this one available on Amazon) to effectively smooth any creases or crinkles that cropped up en route is more practical than grappling with a hot iron when you've got the butterflies.

If you hire a professional photographer, do your homework well in advance. Solidify payment options and expectations. Stay in touch with your photographer as much as possible prior to the date. Familiarize yourself with his or her body of work. Go so far as to conduct a background check if it puts your mind more at ease. Read reviews by other client couples if available, or reach out to them if you're already acquainted. Ask a million questions leaving nothing to fate so that on your special day you're not contending with a creative temperament or disputing conditions.

Plan everything together. It's great if you trust your partner's competence and taste, but avoid assigning or adopting any autonomous planning. Collaborate entirely on travel, lodging, and ceremonial decisions. There's a time and a place for sweet surprises, but overall strategizing that affects both of you should absolutely be a team effort.

Document everything. Take as many pictures and videos as you can, and travel equipped with adequate storage and power. Collect memorabilia wherever you go—from cup coasters to symbolic purchase receipts to some of the native foliage—things that don't take up a lot of room in your carry-on and which bear meaning whether or not you're a sentimental scrapbooker. You'll be glad you did.

Go tell it on the mountain! You don't have to be a braggart to share your news with strangers. Done tastefully, it stands to incur some perks. Whether they come in the form of complimentary cocktails, a comped meal, a discounted night at your hotel, or even a flight upgrade, you'll find that good tidings bring great joy. Just a casual mention of your recent or upcoming nuptials delivered with heartfelt enthusiasm can elicit unexpected generosities.

Handle family and friends with care. This is by far the most important area of your elopement, but as relationships are so complex and unique to the individual, your approach must be entirely true to you, the couple, whether you're riding off into the sunset alone or bringing a small entourage. By involving those nearest and dearest to you in discussions about your plan, you give the gift of inclusion in lieu of physical presence. Maybe your family thrives on surprises and breaks from custom—whatever the case, act with intuition, react with compassion, and follow your heart.

Research, research, research. Nerd out. Leave no stone unturned, from your flight itinerary to your ground transportation to your accommodations. Familiarize yourself with the lay of the land. You really can't plan too much. Even after what might seem like rigorous preparation for any eventuality, you will quite realistically still encounter one or two small glitches. Be open to spontaneity, but have a plan and know your options. 

Bring all the documentation. As part of your research, you should acquire a thorough understanding of your destination's specific marriage laws and licensing requirements. Among other things, what types of identification are required? Aside from your driver's license and passport (if you're traveling abroad), you may be required to present a birth certificate for yourself and/or a divorce decree or death certificate for a former spouse, if applicable. Not related to documentation but still relevant: You may be required to fill out a mail-in application ahead of time. You may have to take into account a stringent wait period between applying for and receiving your license, or a very brief period of license validity. You may be required to have a blood test. Long story short, it's usually a little more complicated than just showing up at the clerk's office unannounced.

Set a budget that is realistic and not beyond your means. One of the many perks of foregoing a conventional wedding and reception is the costs you end up avoiding, but a destination elopement can rack up unseen budgetary setbacks, too. Take into account the marriage licensing fee, checked bag fees, tolls, tips and taxes. Begin saving as soon as you get engaged. Investigate lending options. Take advantage of sky miles, coupons and other money-saving strategies. With your partner, determine a number that will get you there and back comfortably, with an emergency cushion and wiggle room to boot.

Grab a passport holder and all your other getaway essentials right here!

Posted by Katy Kirkpatrick

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