What's the Difference Between an Elopement and a Traditional Wedding?
Off the cuff, you might assume that elopements and weddings are simply about weddings being all carefully planned, while elopements are those hush-hush, small ceremonies, right?
The major theme when it comes to having a big wedding: it’s designed around the guests & how to optimize their experience. Your focus is what they will see, what they will eat and drink, how to entertain them, will they have a good time, and what they will remember about the event.
All too often, the dream of throwing a big celebration turns into major overwhelm. What seemed like a romantic idea at first becomes a real circus. You end up tinkering with the seating chart for an exhausting number of hours when all you want is a lovely celebration with your soon-to-be spouse.
Elopements (or intimate weddings), on the other hand, are designed to be about the couple & what they want, rather than on the experience of the guests (although you can of course plan an elopement that provides an incredible experience for everyone!). Eloping is about choosing love over drama, stress, and the pressure from family or society. Elopements are often held out in nature instead of a traditional venue, maybe somewhere the couple has never been & really wants to go, or a place that means a lot to them.
The guest count is significantly smaller (usually 5-15 for elopements, 15-30 for intimate weddings), which means the couple gets a lot more privacy throughout the day + time to themselves. Most couples plan elopements anywhere between 2 weeks to 16 months in advance. And the great thing about elopements is that they don’t need to follow a strict timeline, since there aren’t as many guests to take care of, and the focus is more on letting the day flow naturally than planning out every minute. This leaves much more room to plan activities + fun experiences for everyone to enjoy!
The choice seems pretty simple, huh? But whether you go for eloping, a cozy intimate wedding, or a big, traditional bash, the decision is actually a big deal. Everyone's got their opinion (including me), but at the end of the day, you gotta go with what feels right for you. Don't just follow the crowd, a trend or give in to the pressure. Do it because it's what you really want, and because you're making that choice on your own terms. Remember, you're not a cookie-cutter couple.
Keep scrolling down for "10 Easy Steps for Eloping"
10 Easy Steps for Eloping
Now, how are you going to do it? Are you thinking of saying "I do" while at the local beach, state park, on your favorite hiking trail, in your grandma's backyard,? Or maybe a simple courthouse ceremony is more your style. The options are endless, and it can feel overwhelming. So, how to elope, right?
This guide is here to help you figure out how to elope and make it truly your own. Here are 10 steps to help you on your elopement journey:
Step 1. Dream and Scheme:
Before diving into Pinterest, take a moment to envision your day. What's your vision? Close your eyes, picture it, write it down, and discuss it. Let your imagination run wild before seeking inspiration from Instagram, and, of course, starting that Pinterest board.
Step 2. Determine Your Budget:
Even though elopements are generally more budget-friendly than traditional weddings, you still need to consider costs. Create an Excel spreadsheet to estimate and track your expenses, and remember that investing in a professional photographer is crucial.
Step 3. Decide Where to Elope:
The world is your oyster. Visualize the location where you want to say "I do" - on the beach, on a rooftop overlooking downtown, the woods, next to a lake, or a serene field. Consider the season, activities, and the destination for your dream honeymoon.
Step 4. Lock Down the Date:
Don't procrastinate. Plan your date well in advance, considering factors like weather, budget, and season. And here's a tip: choose a weekday to avoid tourist crowds.
Step 5. Choose Your Vendors:
Start with booking your photographer early. They can connect you with reliable vendors. Think about hair, makeup, flowers, and other details well in advance.
Step 6. Make That Guest List (if any!):
Decide who you want to share your intimate day with. It's your day, so don't compromise on your guest list.
Step 7. What to Wear:
Plan your attire based on the location, weather, and season. Consider comfort and practicality, and remember that your clothes can make or break the day.
Step 8. Paperwork, Legalities, and Logistics:
Ensure you have all the necessary documents and licenses in order, but don't stress the small stuff. It's your love that makes it official.
Step 9. Make Travel Arrangements:
Get those tickets and hotels booked. Consider a credit card that gives you bonus points for your expenses. Look for discounts and make your reservations for lodging, transportation, and fun activities.
Step 10. Have the Best Dang Elopement Day Ever:
This is the fun part! Enjoy your elopement day like crazy kids in love.
And that's how to elope! So, go out there and make your elopement day truly special. You've got this!
Keep scrolling down for "Where to Elope in the Greater Houston, Tx Area"
Where to Elope in the Greater Houston Area
AT HOME ELOPEMENTS
Your home is a special place. Not only will this make the venue very affordable, but it will allow you two to be comfortable in an intimate, sweet, and private setting. Consider places like your childhood home, a friend's dope backyard or maybe your brand-new home (think wedding & housewarming party - two birds, one stone).
Anytime I think about hosting people in my home, I stress about the food. Is this you, too? If so, just park a food truck in the front yard and consider it DONE. Bonus: no kitchen cleanup required!
HOUSTON COURTHOUSE ELOPEMENTS
The courthouse is a classic location for a private wedding. If you go here, you will have a judge ready to marry you, and outside the courthouse could be a wonderful elopement photography location.
In Harris County, you're looking at a strict cap of just six people for your wedding guest list.
Here's the thing, you can't set your wedding date until you've snagged that marriage license, so your date might not be entirely in your hands. If you're up for a courthouse wedding, you can easily schedule it at a Harris County Municipal Court on their website.
But don't think for a second that a courthouse wedding can't still be awesome. How about a low-key ceremony followed by a nice dinner at one of Houston's fanciest restaurants with your closest friends and family? It's a great way to make your day special and keep it intimate.
1910 Harris County Courthouse - This historic courthouse takes an entire city block downtown and easily the most beautiful courthouse in Houston.
HOUSTON HISTORIC ELOPEMENTS
1891 St. John Church - St. John Church is a one-room church with elements of the Gothic Revival style of architecture evident in the arched windows and shutters. Unique to St. John Church and the German tradition in Texas is the coved ceiling with its rounded corners. The historic building is a museum with permanent collections, and has air-conditioning and heat for climate control.
1847 Kellum-Noble House - Entertain in the oldest building on its original foundation in Houston.
1850 Nichols-Rice-Cherry House - Entertain in the Nichols-Rice-Cherry House that overlooks Jane Ellen’s Tree and the Connally Plaza. Once owned by William Marsh Rice, this antebellum home is furnished to reflect the Rice’s occupancy in the mid-nineteenth century. Perfect for hosting an executive dinner or dinner party.
Staiti Garden - Entertain at the Staiti Garden which is behind the Staiti House. The Staiti House, built as a speculative home in the Westmoreland Addition, was purchased by oil pioneer Henry T. Staiti in 1905. The Staiti House was moved into Sam Houston Park in 1986. It is furnished to depict the lifestyle of the Staiti family in the early 20th century. The Staiti’s used the garden for many family gatherings and socials.
HOUSTON MUSEUM DISTRICT ELOPEMENTS
Houstonian couples can also utilize the elegant, artistic, and unique appearance of the Museum District. Your elopement photographer can pose you in front of gorgeous garden locations across Hermann Park or locations in or around the many museums and beautiful architecture.
Milford House - Houston's Best Kept Secret. The Milford House is over 100 years old, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and seats amidst Houston’s beautiful Museum District, at 1101 Milford Street.
1940 Air Terminal Musuem - Celebrate your special event in Houston’s Historic Airport Terminal , a beautiful and rare example of classic Art Deco architecture from the golden age of flight. With its intimate setting and rich aviation history, our grand central space and museum exhibits will provide your guests with an unexpected and unique experience during your wedding or special event.
Hotel Zaza Museum District - In Houston's vibrant Museum District, you'll find the chic and sophisticated Hotel ZaZa. The Black Label Elopement Package (starting at $250 per person plus the cost of the hotel suite) is for up to 15 people. Create your memories inside or on the balcony of the Black Label Magnificent Suite, which is more than 2,000 square feet and has a chandelier, a marble fireplace, and all the glam you could ever want on your big day. Dinner for 15 in the suite is included, as well as a couples spa treatment. You'll be within walking distance of The Museum of Fine Arts, the Miller Outdoor Theatre, the McGovern Centennial Gardens and much more.
If you and your partner are fans of the great outdoors, Houston has many outdoor locations for natural, rustic, and romantic vibes. Houston Arboretum, McGovern Centennial Gardens, and Buffalo Bayou are just a few of your choices.
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens - Bayou Bend’s opulent gardens are now available for wedding, family, commemorative, and bridal portraits!
Session fees are based on portrait type, party size, and day selected. A session pass is good for two hours and permits access to the entire 14 acres. As session times may only be selected when the estate is closed to the public, your access to the gardens will be both exclusive and intimate.
The Houston Zoo provides a range of fun and versatile event spaces for corporate functions, birthdays, weddings and more – from very small to very large.
Jane Ellen’s Tree - Many marriage proposals and engagements have happened here over the years. This majestic oak tree is a beautiful place for I do’s. Connally Plaza, right by Jane Ellen’s Tree, is also available for rental as an outdoor reception area.
Cockrell Butterfly Center - Filled with tropical plants and over 60 species of the world’s largest and most colorful butterflies, this three-story glass cone is sure to leave anyone breathless.
HOUSTON PARKS/ ARBORETUMS/ NATURE CENTERS
The Houston Arboretum - The Houston Arboretum is a perfect elopement location for you and your closest friends and family. Take in the sounds of nature and be engulfed in rich green foliage as you exchange vows. This 155 acre sanctuary is peaceful, serene and conveniently located on the western edge of Memorial Park in Houston. You can say "I do" near their lily pond or on one of their meadow decks. It's one of our favorite venues!
McGovern Centennial Gardens - the epitome of class and sophistication. This well-manicured garden has perfectly green grass, tall hedges and pruned shrubbery. It is a true garden oasis in the middle of the bustling city! Exchange vows with your closest friends and family as witnesses in this private venue. Your photos will be stunning and you'll have memories to share forever.
Memorial Park Eastern Glades
Baldwin Park - 1701 Elgin St, Houston, TX 77004
Sunset Coffee Building Rooftop - BBP’s Sunset Coffee Building at Allen’s Landing has breathtaking views of downtown Houston and the Buffalo/White Oak Bayou confluence. This raw, industrial building, constructed in 1910 and renovated in 2016, is a venue guests will remember.
HOUSTON SPACES/ STUDIOS/ GALLERIES
The Studio Htx - Want a clean, modern look? This downtown Houston spot is the perfect blank slate for the light and bright lovers
The Creative Chateau - This Galleria area house is styled like a vintage French chateau nestled in the city. Only available for very small ceremonies for you two.
The Julia Ideson Library - Beautiful and classic architecture make every photo taken here dreamy and romantic.
Gremillion On Sunset - Gremillion Sunset is a multi-faceted event facility that allows your vision to become a reality for you wedding.
Lots of Houston venues have options elopement packages, usually on weekdays, see a list of our favorite wedding venues in Houston.
THE WOODLANDS / CONROE
The Oak Atelier - This venue nestled in the woods in Conroe has a gorgeous glass house for ceremony and an indoor space for small receptions.
The Woodlands Waterway
The Woodlands Parks
Tomball Museum Center - Our Historical Chapel is located on the beautiful grounds of the Tomball Museum Center in Tomball, Texas. This German Style Chapel which was built over a 120 years ago. Weddings are priced on a sliding scale depending on the length of time needed and the number of people attending. The wedding cost starts at $500.00
Galveston Beach Or Seawall - Sandy beaches are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Texas but, believe it or not, just 45 minutes West of Houston lies a stretch of beach perfect for your small elopement! If you love watching the sunrise with your beloved, you will love watching it from Galveston beach and exchanging vows with your one true love. Take your first walk as a married couple on the beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Talk about magical! We recommend this spot for early morning. The sunrise is gorgeous, and you'll beat the crowds and the heat! The City of Galveston, for example, doesn’t require permits for weddings held on public beaches so long as the event doesn’t disrupt the public use of the space and doesn’t involve the use of chairs or amplifiers.
The Bryan Museum - Set in an exquisite Renaissance Revival-style building surrounded by beautiful landscaping in a historic neighborhood, The Bryan Museum is an oasis in the heart of Galveston. Bring your guests to The Bryan Museum for your next event and experience the magic of our stunning facilities and grounds.
Venue 116 - Experience the magic of the great outdoors in our picturesque ceremony space. Nestled amidst nature's beauty, this open-air setting provides the perfect backdrop for your special moments. Say 'I do' beneath the open sky, surrounded by the serenity of nature's embrace.
You are not a cookie-cutter couple, I’m not a cookie-cutter photographer
If you're looking for a photographer who comes, shoots and leaves, then I'm not the one for you. I'm so much more than just a "girl with a camera" when it comes to your elopement day! I'm your wedding planner, cheerleader, pack mule, best friend and more. Why? Because I'm 110% in this for you! Whatever you need, no matter what -- I've got you. I'm the photographer who wants to be with you every step of the way because you deserve someone who will go all out for you and get to know the REAL you.
ready to plan your intimate wedding or elopement?
let's do this thing!
IN ORDER TO MAKE YOUR DREAM ELOPEMENT DAY HAPPEN, IT'S SUPER IMPORTANT THAT WE CONNECT AND THAT YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH ME! THE BEST WAY TO DO THIS IS TO REACH OUT AND SCHEDULE A CALL SO YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT ME AND I CAN LEARN ABOUT YOU TWO SO I CAN DOCUMENT WHAT'S REAL + THE MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU.