It's not every day you get married, so you should do it exactly the way you want to. If running away quietly to city hall sounds like the perfect wedding day for you, then by all means–make it happen! But you should know that even elopements require a bit of smart planning. And since, you know, you don't get married every day, we tapped somebody who kinda does for some great advice.
Katie Jane is an NYC-based wedding photographer who specializes in capturing elopements. She's been shooting professionally since 2008, and has traveled all around the world capturing all different sorts of wedding days for all different sorts of couples. In addition to some beautiful photographs (you can check out her portfolio here), Katie's experience has given her a lot of first-hand knowledge on how to plan the perfect elopement, which she was kind enough to share with Apartment Therapy.
Here's Katie's best advice for couples who want to elope...
Consider the Light When You Plan Your Ceremony
If you are hiring a photographer for your elopement and you want to get the best images possible, get married first thing in the morning, shortly after sunrise, or late in the afternoon. Light is incredibly important for photography, and the most beautiful light is the first few hours after sunrise, or the last few hours before sunset. Try to avoid solar noon whenever possible.
Consider Splurging on an Officiant
When you get married at City Hall, the ceremony is typically very short and impersonal - generally less than 3 minutes at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau. Some people love the quick and easy nature of City Hall, but if you want to include specific vows or you'd like to incorporate a family tradition of some kind, it's worth hiring an experienced officiant who can help you craft a more personal ceremony. The bonus of going with an officiant is that you can choose a more scenic location for your ceremony, and you have a lot more flexibility with the timing.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time on the Day
Time seems to disappear on your wedding day, so plan on everything taking slightly longer than you'd normally expect. If you think it will only take you 10 minutes to get dressed, give yourself 15 or 20. This is the number one piece of advice I give eloping couples.
Eat a Good Breakfast and Stay Hydrated
This seems so basic, but you'd be surprised how many people forget to fuel up before their elopement. I've made many an emergency food stop with my couples on the way to City Hall. Think about going out for a nice brunch, just the two of you, before you start getting ready. It's a great time to focus on one another before the day really gets started and it prevents blood sugar crashes later on.
Mail Announcements to Friends and Family
A lot of couples I work with mail the announcements a couple days before their elopement, so they arrive the day of or a day or two after the elopement. If you've hired a photographer, you could also wait until you get your images back and include one on the announcement, as everyone will be excited to see photos from your wedding.
Celebrate with Dessert
Just because you're eloping, doesn't mean you don't get wedding cake! (...Or wedding donuts or wedding cupcakes, whatever your dessert of choice may be.) Many couples I work with bring along a tiny wedding cake, or carve out time in between portraits to head to their favorite bakery for a celebratory snack. After all, an elopement is all of the best parts of a wedding condensed down, and dessert is definitely one of the best parts.
Trust Your Gut
Eloping has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years, but there are still people who may try to talk you out of it or try to convince you that you should do or have certain things on your wedding day. Ignore the naysayers, figure out what is really important to you and your partner, and go with your instincts. The wedding is just one day - what really matters is every day that comes after that.