As an elopement photographer, I get this one a lot! It might seem like a weird question to ask but trust me, there’s a reason why.
Traditional weddings already have their structure of how the ceremony is going to go, and everybody knows what to expect. But elopement ceremonies are like the wild west.
So to help you answer the question, “What to do during your elopement ceremony?” we have to first break down the possibilities for your ceremony.
Different Types of Ceremonies
First, let’s break down the different types of elopement ceremonies that you can do:
Just Us Ceremony
In this type of ceremony, it is just the two of you and no one else, not even an officiant. This type of ceremony is only possible if you elope in a state that allows self-solemnization, or a state that doesn’t require a witness.
In this type of ceremony, an officiant is present to present the legal script and sign the marriage license (this can be me!). You can have guests attend this ceremony or you can keep it a Just Us experience.
This type of ceremony is not legally binding, but for couples that are already legally married, plan to get married another time, or have no intention of becoming married but still want to pledge their love to one another, they can have a ceremony.
What Happens During The Ceremony
There are a few words that need to be said by an officiant to make your marriage legal in most states. It is important to check your local laws to make sure your ceremony script includes words required to actually make your marriage legal. The officiant has to say a declaration of intent (ex: “Do you __ take __ to be your lawfully wedded ___?”) while the couple answers with a proclamation ( ex: “I do!”).
Elopement Ceremony Script
Reveal & Intro
This is where the groom sees the bride walking down the aisle for the first time and when someone says, “Friends and Family, Thank you for coming to X & Y marriage ceremony”. Really take this time to breathe and be fully present in the moment. The introduction can be spoken by just you two if you are having a Just Us ceremony or an officiant if you are having an official ceremony. This is where you will speak on your excitement about what is going to happen.
These do not have to be formally spoken as they would be in an official ceremony. This is your opportunity to express your love for one another, sharing your favorite memories, what you love about one another, and your excitement for your future together. Vows can be done in front of others, or privately with just the two of you, where I will capture this moment from afar.
Proclamation & Declaration
Technically, this stage of the ceremony exists for legal purposes but it’s still fun to say “I DO!”. If you are not having an official ceremony, this can be a part of your pledge to one another.
Ring Exchange & Union Ceremony
This is just like it sounds! But you don’t have to use rings and typically couples like to do something else to physically represent their union. Example: sand, candles, etc…
Presentation & Exit
“I now pronounce you…” This is where you present to the world that you are married! Your love can be sealed with a kiss, a hug, or your hands in the air; whatever way you are most comfortable pronouncing your love to the world!
You can do whatever feels right for your day. This means switching up the order, adding things in, or taking things out. It’s completely up to you!
You can do whatever you want honestly. But I like to categorize the ceremony into 3 different structural types…
Have a normal traditional ceremony.
Structure your ceremony traditionally, but throw your own special way of Introduction, Vows, Proclamation, Ring Exchange, and Presentation
Literally whatever the hell you want. You do a scavenger hunt together and call that your ceremony! It’s something pirates do….
Now that you know what kind of ceremony you want, and how the ceremony structure works, how do you make it special and unique to you?
“There are no rules!”
Number 1 & 3 are pretty self explanatory. With that in mind I’m going to go over number 2 and give you some unique ideas you can do for the Introduction, Vows, Proclamation, Ring Exchange, and Presentation.
Let’s get into it!
How to Make Your Ceremony Unique?
Elopement presents a great opportunity for you to make your ceremony unique. Without being bound down by traditions, you can do whatever your heart desires! But with all this freedom, couples are faced with overwhelming amount of choices. So here are some ideas if you’re feeling stuck!
Reveal & Intro
Flowers & Rings
You don’t have to include children in the introduction. You can ask the best man to be the flower girl or let your dog carry the rings! Whatever you want!
Blowing of the Conch Shell
In Hawaiian culture, blowing of the conch shell by the Kahu (caretaker of the conch/ceremony). This symbolized the start of an important ceremony. So if you’re planning on eloping in Hawaii, I do I have a perfect blog for that here
This is the legal script that the officiant will have you speak to one another.
Sing a Song
This is where you express your musical talents!
Write a Poem
If you like to express yourself through a creative outlet, you can write a poem about your love for your significant other.
Gift & Letter Exchange
Exchanging gifts or letters can be a good way to express your love for one another if gifting giving is your love language.
Saying I Do
There are not many ways to say I DO. I mean you can say it in a different language, or say “fuck yeah!” instead!
Take a shot
After saying I do, you can follow that with a shot of your favorite drink if you’re into that kind of stuff!
Ring Exchange & Union Ceremony
Mixing of the Sand
This is where you take two different colors of sand and pour it into one vase.
This is where you take two lit candles and combine the flames to light a new one. This might not be the safest option and it depends if open fire is allowed in your area.
Tie the Knot (literally)
This is an old tradition. Usually an officiant or someone is the one that helps you tie the knot. But you can also tie a fisherman’s knot as well.
Brew a cup of coffee
If you’re a big coffee drinker, maybe mixing two different types of coffee beans and grinding them together and brew it can be a unique way to do it!
Plant a Tree
The couple will each add dirt, seeds and water to a pot. They then bring this back to their home to symbolize the growth and longevity of their marriage
Presentation & Exit
I think you know how to kiss by now XD
This is a perfect exit if your ceremony is on a plane and you love an adrenaline rush. I’d be down to capture you guys skydiving in mid air!
Ski down the mountain
If you imagine a winter wonderland for your elopement, and you’re into winter sports, then skiing would be the perfect exit!
If you’re an adrenaline junky this another option for you! What better way to exit than diving next to a majestic waterfall.
Bubbles or Confetti (Eco Friendly)
Release the eco friendly confetti for a little extra excitement! Or Bubbles! Both are great options for photos! This would require many people to be at the ceremony for it to look good
Feeling fast and furious? (lol ok I’ll stop) But there’s something romantic about driving away with the love of your life into the sunset.
DO WHATEVER YOU WANT
Seriously guys, this is your day and you can incorporate anything into your elopement ceremony.
Ceremony is a very emotional part of your day and as an elopement photographer I want to make sure that your ceremony and your whole elopement experience is everything you’ve ever dream of
So if you want me to help you plan your elopement, let’s talk!