Eloping is a simple, intimate, and cost-effective way to make it official with your special someone without the daunting prospect of pews filled with every friend and relative from here to Timbuktu.
But there are still certain aspects you will need to be in the know about – especially if you’re based overseas and are planning on a UK elopement.
We’ve put together a detailed elopement UK guide on everything you need to know about an elopement wedding in the UK as a non-national.
Read More: Wedding Dress Hire: 5 Things to Know
What is Eloping?
An elopement is simply a smaller-scale wedding. Many couples opt to have little to no guests, favouring instead to stick only to who’s required: the registrar, witnesses, the couple themselves, and a photographer (who may also double as a witness, for those looking to keep the headcount as low as possible).
Eloping is nothing new, although, in yester-year terms, it was often insinuated that to elope meant to wed in secret. However, nowadays, it’s less about sneakiness and more about personal preference.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw many countries adopt laws around how many attendees may legally be present at a wedding (which was often ten or less), which appears to have kickstarted the micro-wedding and elopement trend, with many couples realising that sometimes less is actually more.
There’s no doubt about it – an elopement or micro-wedding is cheaper than your big 80+ guest affair.
The average UK wedding can cost anything between £15k – £30k, whereas most micro-weddings and elopements can be kept under the £10k mark.
And nowadays, the cost can often be boxed up into one fabulous elopement package, making the organisation part of the process a breeze.
Easier to Organise
Speaking of organisation, as you can imagine, planning an elopement or micro-wedding is much less stressful than planning a full-blown wedding.
Planning a full-scale wedding – including everything from flowers to table arrangements to wedding favours – usually takes a minimum of 13 months, which can be unappealing to many couples.
With an elopement or micro-wedding, much of the hassle is taken out of the planning, leaving you to focus on just a handful of factors, such as location, outfits, booking a registrar, and hiring a photographer.
Very few of us have attended a wedding where there hasn’t been some sort of drama that kicked off after the prosecco started flowing!
Family dynamics, that one loose-cannon friend, and several hours of alcohol consumption can often be a deadly mix, and frankly, most of us could do without it!
The average elopement rarely has more than 10 people present, making the chance of any shenanigans much less likely.
Stage Fright is Eliminated
Being the centre of attention in front of potentially hundreds of guests isn’t for everyone.
An elopement allows you to enjoy the intimacy and romance of your special day without multiple sets of eyes on you!v
You’re Not Traditionalists
Not everyone sees the charm in the traditional (and sometimes outdated) rituals surrounding a ‘big white wedding’, including a white gown, being given away, speeches from inlaws, and so on.
A micro-wedding or elopement means you can do everything on your own terms without feeling the need to adhere to the traditions that go hand-in-hand with a bigger affair.
Scotland is a wonderful place to elope mainly because, unlike other countries in the UK, there are little to no rules around where you can have your ceremony.
This means you can get hitched at the top of a mountain, the lip of a loch, or in a plot of fairytale woodland somewhere. Just make sure the landowner/council’s permission has been granted first.
Scotland is a truly magical country and couples are spoilt for choice as to where they can have their elopement wedding. For example, there’s the beautiful outdoors of The Highlands, numerous castles that allow for weddings, and the white sandy beaches of the Hebrides – for those who want a seaside ceremony.
Elopement UK: Rules & Regulations
Depending on which country in the UK you plan on eloping in, there are varying rules. But the overall similarities include the following:
- The elopement must take place between two persons over the age of 16. Couples under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian present.
- Both persons must not already be in a marriage or civil partnership with someone else.
- The couple must not be closely related.
- For non-Brit couples, a marriage visa must be granted by your country’s authorities – this documentation will need to be present during the ceremony.
- The ceremony must be officiated by a person legally ordained to do so.
- You will need to ‘give notice’ at least 29 days prior to having your ceremony in a registry office.
As we mentioned above, you will need to give notice in order to elope in a registry office in the UK. Here are the other factors:
- To give notice, you will need to pay a small fee, which is usually around £35 (per person).
- You will need to book an appointment at the registry office. You won’t be able to turn up unannounced.
- Bring certain documentation, including your marriage visa, passports, and birth certificate.
- Bring proof of address for both persons and any documentation of previous name changes.
Elopement UK: FAQs
It really depends on what type of ceremony you opt for and where you plan on conducting it.
For example, registry office elopements can cost around £120, whereas hiring a church or other religious establishment may cost more.
One of the many great things about eloping is that depending on where you wish to perform the ceremony, you may only have to pay for the fee of a celebrant/registrar.
Absolutely. However, depending on where in the UK you plan on eloping, there may be different rules and regulations, so you will need to brush up on your knowledge of local laws and customs.
Eloping in the UK is much the same as it is anywhere else in the world. It’s the official unity of two people as conducted by an officiator. It is essentially the same as a wedding celebration but with fewer/no guests.
It really depends on your preference. The UK is made up of 4 beautiful countries: England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales – each with its own unique culture a charm – so it’s up to you and your partner to settle on the ideal place for you both.