The Case For Eloping And How To Pull It Off in Style
Planning a wedding? How’s that working out for you? If you’re getting married soon or in the next year or so, prepare to answer these questions at least once a week. And “Great” or “OK” won’t do. People want answers. How will you transport the cake? What kind of flowers are you having? Is your DJ organised? Who is he/she? Can I invite my aunty Jane? If any of this sounds unpleasant, allow me to offer an alternative: The Wedding Elopement!
When my husband and I got married, a few people joked that we should just elope. I wish we had taken them a little more seriously, as even though our day was lovely when I look back on it I cringe. The pain we went through to make others happy was beyond crazy. So let me present my case to anyone out there who may be considering Eloping or as I call it having a “Short n sweet, romantically painless, cost effective wedding”.
If You’re Not a ‘Wedding Person’, Don’t Have a Wedding, Have a Stress Free Wedding Elopement
Some people know exactly what they want from their wedding. They have pictured it for years, they have every detail planned, and they know how to get started.
Before getting engaged, I never gave much thought to a wedding. Why would I?
I don’t like throwing parties, I suck at planning them and I get nervous when the spotlight is on me. If that sounds familiar at all, wedding planning might not be a fun process for you. Most of us already struggle with time and stress. We’re all busy. We all have packed schedules. As busy as you are, imagine adding more work to your schedule every week: Arranging the Hairdresser, makeup, book transportation, find a muso, and then of course there’s the dress and of course the bridesmaids dresses, the venue………. AHHHHHH. Kill me now!!!!!
For some people, these extra tasks are welcome and fun. If you’re not a wedding person, they’re probably just going to stress you out.
Plus, you’re not the only one who’s busy.
Your friends and family are, too, and as much as they offer to help in the beginning, they might not be there as much as you’d like them to be, and that’s stressful, too. Of course, then there’s the “Having to Please everyone” and having to invite all the cousins syndrome… now that can be a real downer.
Everyone reminds you that all the planning is worth it because it’s your special day. That’s sweet, but let’s be honest: A wedding is mainly for a bunch of other people, which is why they’re so damn expensive. If this is truly a day for you and your fiance, and neither of you are wedding people, eloping just seems like a better and a more romantic option.
Weddings Are Expensive
And then there’s the money. The average wedding costs something like $25 – 60,000, and can be a lot higher depending on your venue. Sure, there are ways to cut costs, but even frugal weddings are expensive. We spent $5,000 48 years ago which was equivalent to almost a year’s income and today people spend a lot more than that. However you want to look at it, whatever you spend, its going to be a hell of a lot of money to spend on a single day. Lets just call it what it is…a first home deposit.
The worst part about spending that much is that your guests will almost certainly judge, criticise or complain about every part of it. 100% The music wasn’t to their taste, the food was cold and there was no “this or that” then there was your dress that looked like you got it out of an old ladies closet.. blab la blaa.
“You sure you’re not going to have the ceremony in a church?”
“Tacos? Is everyone going to like that?”
“You should have used the florist Sandra used instead. They were better and cheaper.”
Unlike any other party, people seem to think every aspect of a wedding is up for review. To be fair, I’ve done it, too. It just seems to be a natural part of wedding culture. I’ve definitely said, “the party was fun, but the food could have been better”. Meanwhile, the couple spent thousands of dollars and a fair amount of time on their guests, and I’m rating the food like I’m Manu.
After a while of putting up with this, you start to get resentful, and that makes things even more stressful. Worse than that, many people don’t even like going to weddings. Jokes you once laughed along with, start to annoy you. Do you remember this conversation?
“You can’t help but feel annoyed when people have no idea how much time, effort and money it takes to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for your guests. And when those guests start to complain, you’ll really wish you would have just eloped”. YES we have all heard it.
There Are Just Too Many Rules
Before I started planning, a married friend warned me that friends and family would have their input about what’s appropriate and inappropriate for a wedding. “Noooo, my family and friends aren’t like that,” I said. Oh yes… I was wrong. I’ve had to address everything from why we’re not having the wedding in a church to why we’re decorating with succulents.
Especially if tradition isn’t a priority for you, be prepared to spend a lot of time scratching your head over wedding rules when you plan. A few etiquette issues I’ve had to address and research:
Find a Celebrant
Even when you elope, you need someone to officiate your wedding. This could be a celebrant at your local Registry Office, or a religious celebrant if you get married in a church or a chapel, or a friend or family member who is a qualified authorised marriage celebrant. You could also just find a celebrant online.
If you want a friend to conduct your ceremony, they will have to become a celebrant. Becoming a celebrant requires the completion of a Certificate IV (takes up to 9 months and costs around $900) in Celebrancy, the payment of a $600 fee and an annual registration charge of $240.
Complete a Notice of Intended Marriage
You need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage and give it to your celebrant no less than one month and no more than 18 months prior to your elopement. (The one month period may be shortened in certain circumstances by a prescribed authority.) The celebrant can help you complete the form.
You will also need to provide the celebrant with evidence of your identity, date and place of birth, and the termination of any prior marriages. Your celebrant might ask you to sign a statutory declaration confirming these facts.
Sign Your Marriage Certificate
Your marriage celebrant will provide you with the marriage certificate on the day of your wedding. You, your partner, your celebrant and your two witnesses will need to sign two marriage certificates, and a Declaration of No Legal Impediment. The decorative certificate you will keep and once your marriage has been registered Births Deaths and Marriages will send out your official marriage certificate.
If you plan to elope overseas, research how the process works for that particular destination remember:
- Research the marriage licence requirements for marriage in that country
- Ensure that you have all the information and documentation required.
- As your wedding planner to inform you if the marriage is legal or not
Christine Walker Celebrant says ”I get at least 10 – 15 weddings a year of couples that have been misled and thought that their marriage was legal and binding only to find that it wasn’t after spending thousands of dollars.”
Don’t get caught out especially if you’re eloping somewhere far from home.
File Your Marriage Certificate
Finally, after you read your vows and the ceremony is over, the celebrant must then register the certificate with the Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages within 14 days. They must register it in the state or territory in which it took place. If you were married overseas, you cannot register your marriage in Australia, so look after your marriage certificate. Once in Australia, it is all the evidence you have that your marriage has occurred. Also have the licence checked by a solicitor to ensure that it is legal.
As attractive as eloping sounds to me right now, a wedding can be fun, too. It’s one of the few times in life where almost everyone you love and care about is in a room together. And best of all, those people get to witness an important, beautiful milestone in your life. As stressful as all of it can be, the older you get, the fewer of those moments you have, so you might as well enjoy them, whichever route you take.
Many couples now choose to elope and then hold a BBQ in their back yard or at a restaurant and invite all the family and friends and announce that they got married. This also works. Nothing better than a surprise….