how to include guests who can't be at your wedding

Just because you’ve decided to elope doesn’t mean friends and family can’t still be involved. No one has to feel excluded — whether you’ve decided to take the leap and plan an adventure wedding or are still on the fence as to how you’ll tie the knot, here are ten meaningful ways to include your loved ones in your big day.

1. Throw an engagement party before your elopement, or host a reception afterward.

One of the most popular ways couples choose to include friends and family is to have an engagement party prior to their wedding, or a wedding reception after their elopement. This can look like a formal event in a traditional reception venue, renting out your favorite local brewery for the night, or even a backyard BBQ. Throwing an engagement party or reception is a great way to allow friends and family to celebrate together, and it can also give you the freedom to plan the elopement you really want.

2. Ask for help in planning the details of your elopement, like your wedding outfit.

Asking friends and family members to play a part in your wedding planning process can help them feel involved in your big day even though they won’t get to be there when it happens. Whether it’s helping you put together your elopement look or supporting you with other details of your trip, this is a nice way to bond over the event without sacrificing the intimacy of your big day.

3. Invite your closest loved ones to be witnesses as you sign your marriage license before — or after — your trip. 

In the state of Colorado, you technically don’t need any witnesses in order to get legally married, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have them. If you aren’t signing your marriage certificate on your elopement day, invite some of the people closest to you to act as witnesses for this part of your marriage process. Or if you’re coming from another state, consider getting the legal paperwork done at your own local courthouse with witnesses before coming here to celebrate your adventure.

4. Bring family heirlooms to include in your wedding day. 

Whether it’s photos, clothing or another hand-me-down accessory such as a handkerchief, veil or even an old flask, bringing items along from your respective families can help you feel rooted on your big day and symbolize your attachment to the family members who are joining you in heart, but not in person.

5. Facetime, Skype, or Zoom with loved ones during your ceremony or at another time during your wedding day. 

If you’re going to elope in a location that has reception, you can set up a Zoom call for friends and family to watch your ceremony from afar. If your elopement itself won’t be in a location with good reception, but you’re staying at a cozy Airbnb with WiFi, you can arrange to Facetime or Zoom with friends and family earlier or later in your wedding day, or even over drinks the night before or breakfast the morning after.

6. Read letters from friends and family during your ceremony (or another time during the day).

A heartfelt way to include loved ones in your ceremony itself is to ask them to write letters for you that you can read either during your ceremony or another time during your elopement day. Aside from Zoom, this is the closest you can get to having them there with you in person. If there’s someone you wish could speak at your ceremony, but you still want to elope, ask them to write a letter for you to read on their behalf, and we can capture you reading it on video to share with them later.

7. Share photos and videos during your day, or at other moments along your trip.

Sending photos and videos during your elopement day can help friends and family share in the magic of your dream ceremony and all its little details. Posting or sending updates allows loved ones to feel included in your intimate moments even if you’re adventuring far away.

8. Open cards or gifts from loved ones on your wedding day, or another day during your trip.

Similar to reading letters from friends and family, opening cards and gifts from your loved ones while on your elopement is a wonderful way to feel close to them in spite of the distance. Better yet — do it when you can connect with them over Zoom or Facetime so that they can see and hear your excitement.

9. Bring little gifts or mementos back from your travels.

Whether it’s a souvenir local to the place you traveled to, or a speciality item you’re having made to remind them of your special day, a small wedding favor is a great way to let friends and family know you’ve been thinking of them. A quick Google search for “destination wedding favors” will give you plenty of inspiration.

10. Share your photo gallery and wedding video.

Once you’re back from your elopement, one of the best ways to help friends and family feel included in your wedding (and new married life!) is by sharing your photo gallery and wedding video with them.

You can even gift your favorite photos or a small elopement album to your loved ones, or use your photos to break the news of your elopement. They will love seeing the beauty and happiness of the adventure you took to celebrate your special day.

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