My top tips on how to elope in the UK for couples doing things their way and hoping for a bit of an adventure on their wedding day.
Are you dreaming of a small but meaningful and REALLY romantic wedding day, preferably in breathtakingly stunning surroundings? Do you want to spend your first day as husband and wife not having to worry about pleasing others but quietly enjoying the simple things in life you love the most?
Maybe a big family wedding could easily cause friction or be super awkward because some family relationships are just a tad complicated. You may worry about mass gatherings full stop. Or the thought of being the centre of attention instantly makes you break out in hives. Big traditional weddings just aren’t for everyone and that’s totally okay!
If you’d much rather do things your way on your wedding day, here’s how to plan a small & meaningful wedding or micro wedding in Wales or elope anywhere in the UK.
elope now, celebrate with friends and family later
Not quite sure you actually want a big traditional wedding? Slightly overwhelmed by the whole wedding planning process and the stress (and the costs!) that comes with it? Eloping could be for you!
Planning an elopement
Elopements and humanist ceremonies are the perfect alternative to big weddings and there are many different options out there these days. While European elopement locations may still be a little off limit due to summer travel restrictions, you could definitely plan an elopement in the UK now. And still have a big party with friends & relatives later – if you wanted to. Or you could plan a Just Us wedding.
Just Us Wedding Packages UK
Just Us weddings are perfect for couples who want to get legally married in a Just Us wedding venue like the Millbrook Estate in Devon or elopement venues like Boho Elopements in Cornwall. They can arrange accommodation and a small and intimate micro wedding ceremony for you, and you don’t even need to bring 2 witnesses – they secretly love being witnesses and consider it an absolute honour to be yours!
To have a legal Just Us wedding in Wales you’ll need to get married at a local registry office (more about that a bit further down), book a romantic shepherd’s hut or a cosy log cabin via Air BnB or Boltholes & Hideaways and plan your dream day from scratch. Imagine spending your wedding day exactly how you want to – no stress or pressure! I love helping with planning romantic micro weddings in Wales, small and intimate weddings in Wales as well as vow renewals or proposals and will happily help you find you a totally dreamy location to have THE BEST DAY EVER!
If you don’t really know where to start but definitely want to start planning your very own elopement – here are my top tips on how to elope anywhere in the UK.
so, what’s the difference between getting married and eloping?
Back in the day, “to elope” used to refer to a couple running away together with the sole intention of getting married in secret, probably without the consent of their parents, and never to return to their place of origin ever again. In this day and age it’s probably more appropriate to call it a super romantic small wedding for two with no or only a very few guests that focusses just on you two rather than guest lists or seating arrangements. Couples nowadays are dreaming of beautiful elopement locations and many are seeking out the best places to elope in Europe.
There’s been a modern-day shift in wedding styles and couples love going away for weekends & adventure and it makes total sense to combine the two and elope! If you’re considering an elopement in the UK and are wondering where to elope to – it’s not guaranteed you’ll be basking in the sun on a hot sunny beach I’m afraid… But that’s half the fun, right?! And one of these lush love shacks in Wales may just be the ticket! Book a romantic weekend get-away in Wales, just the two of you, in one of the UK’s best elope destinations and get legally married – what an adventurous way to start married life! It could also save you money as eloping is far cheaper than having a big wedding.
Whatever your motivation to look into eloping – there are plenty of options out there for you!
what are the best places to elope in the uk?
Wales is famous for miles and miles of rugged coastlines and awe-inspiring National Parks and it’s a pretty cool country to live in or visit. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the country is friendly, with distinctive traditions, heritage and culture. We like a good sing song and myths and legends and Snowdonia’s rustic charm makes it the perfect destination elopement location.
Not sure where to start planning a UK elopement wedding or micro wedding in Wales?
Don’t worry, I got you covered!
Take a look at my Ultimate Snowdonia Elopement Guide and let’s get planning straight away!
Eloping in Wales – Legal Requirements
To make your elopement ceremony legal in Wales you have to get legally married in a licenced venue or register office. Hop on over to the Government’s page on approved premises for civil marriages and civil partnerships in England and Wales to find one that works for you. If you want to get married quite quickly you may also want to take a look at my post on how to plan a simple wedding quickly.
It’s a total myth that registry office ceremonies are less meaningful or romantic than those at beautiful venues because let’s face it – all that matters is how it FEELS and not what it looks like. Getting married at a registry office in Wales can turn out a lot more intimate than you’d think and it’s a really easy way to cut costs.
Once you’ve agreed on the ceremony venue or register office that works best for you, you’ll have to do the following:
1) Give notice – which means you have to complete and sign a legal declaration stating your intent to marry, this needs to be done at least 29 days before your wedding day and involves a fee which can range from £35 – £55 depending on where you get married;
2) Bring a valid passport, UK birth certificate or national identity card if you are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland;
3) Provide proof of your address and of any name changes;
4) If you’ve been married or in a civil partnership before, bring your decree absolute or former partner’s death certificate.
Humanists or celebrants at elopements in Wales
While you can get legally married by a humanist or celebrant without the need for a registered venue practically anywhere you like in Scotland & Ireland, humanist or celebrant-led weddings are unfortunately not (yet) legal in Wales. There may be some good news on the horizon though as the Law Commission wants to see changes in England and Wales so that couples can marry at home, outdoors – and even remotely.
can i have a celebrant for my elopement?
There are options available though for couples wanting to add an entirely hand-crafted and reflective element of their beliefs and values to their wedding day such as asking one of their relatives or a celebrant to conduct a very personal service. This could be done on the same day following the legal ceremony or on any day thereafter if you’re dreaming about an outdoor wedding elopement in Wales.A humanist or celebrant-led ceremony may appeal to some couples but as they are not legal in Wales – unless you have an unrestricted budget and it is super important to you to have a humanist or celebrate say a few words – you may as well ask much-loved family members to say a few meaningful words in a location of your choice and spend the money on other aspects of your wedding day, such as elopement photography :)
If you would like to add a humanist or celebrant element to your wedding elopement day – it is worth contacting www.humanism.org.uk to find out more.
How about an intimate riverside ceremony in the mountains conducted by a family friend though, followed by Krispy Kreme wedding doughnuts and a picnic with friends and families?
amazing places to elope in the UK
elope in Wales
Nantwen: an intimate elopement venue in Pembrokeshire.
Fforest Coast: small, intimate & secluded coastal venue near Ceredigion Beach.
Tyddyn Llan: a Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms for those that would love to combine a simple wedding with Fine Dining!
Penarth Fawr: a registered Ancient Monument which makes for a super romantic setting steeped in history!
The Gwenfrewi Project: a decommissioned church set amongst ancient yew trees – magical! Dog friendly.
elope in england
elope in scotland
What is the cost of elopement wedding packages?
Considering that the average cost of a wedding in the UK has now topped £16,000 – eloping could definitely save you money!
Prices for getting married at a registry office start from £120 but costs do vary so do check. A church elopement starts from £500 and elopement packages with a celebrant in the UK are available from around £650. Celebrants’ fees do vary though, depending on your location and what type of elopement you have in mind so please check.
You will probably also want to spend some money on wedding outfits (with thrifty ones making full use of gorgeous High Street or Etsy bargains), a beautiful bouquet or flower crown, wedding rings, and – of course – your love nest for the weekend.
Planning a small wedding for under £2000
Planning your elopement anywhere in the UK needn’t be daunting or difficult but it does take a little planning and some preparations so here are some practical tips:
what you need to know to plan your own uk elopement
The obvious one first. To legally elope in Wales, you need to actually get legally married first. You have to give notice at least 29 days beforehand. The registrars in North Wales are SUPER nice! Most couples read their own vows & bring their own tunes and, after a morning exploring some of the best views Dolgellau has to offer, this couple’s ceremony was heartfelt, emotional & super special! They married a couple of days before the nation officially went into the first lockdown with only 6 of us allowed in the same room at the same time. There were social distancing and plastic gloves involved and it was a little unusual but super special at the same time! After the ceremony we headed to the pub for the last pint before the pubs closed down and then spent a couple of hours on a super sunny Welsh beach in Spring.
Same-sex elopement packages
Same-sex elopements are also becoming increasingly popular in the UK and are perfect for adventurous LGBTQ+ couples wanting to start off married life their way!
Have your civil ceremony at a register office or any other venue approved by the local council such as a stately home or hotel. Then head into the mountains for some unforgettable photographs of your same-sex elopement in the UK and have dinner with your nearest and dearest afterwards. Or skip dinner and start your honeymoon in a cosy log cabin straight away! :) Wondering what to do next? Here are the 15 best things to do in Snowdonia after your elopement or on your honeymoon if an elopement in Wales is what you’re after.
You need at least 2 witnesses at the ceremony and a registrar must carry out, or be present at, your ceremony. You can easily book a registrar yourself for the cost of £46 at a register office or £86 at a registered building. Again – costs may vary at other approved premises.
can family members come to elopements?
You love absolutely everything about the idea of eloping but you also want to include some family members? Who says you can’t? Once-upon-a-time elopements were probably considered a *Just Us* thing. Times are changing though and an increasing number of couples now want to elope with family and friends in tow. There are no definitive guidelines out there when it comes to how many guests you can bring to your elopement. Up to 10 is probably considered an elopement while up to 20 constitutes a micro wedding and up to 30 is a small elopement wedding. Strictly speaking a real elopement in Wales is literally just the two of you and that’s it. But if you are considering eloping – or having a micro or small wedding – with family, here are my top 2 tips for eloping with friends and family.
keep the guest list small
Having an elopement with 10 or fewer guests will give you more flexibility when it comes to planning your perfect elopement day and less stress on the day trying to manage friends & family so more time to concentrate on just the two of you! It is much easier to find and access beautiful and somewhat secret elopement locations in Europe and Wales if there is only the absolute minimum number of guests at your elopement wedding and it also involves a much smaller carbon footprint.
Get them involved!
If you do decide to bring friends & family to your elopement – the best thing is that they get to be an important part of your elopement ceremony. Maybe they get to marry you in a special ceremony after your legal service, or they are your witnesses – being involved in your wedding ceremony can mean the world to them!
elopement venue or scenic location
Where to elope? As with weddings, there are different options for different budgets – the choice is all yours. If you want a legal elopement in Wales you will need to book a ceremony at a registry office or approved ceremony only venue such as Gwydir Castle, The Gwenfrewi Project or Penarth Fawr and plan all the other elements of your elopement wedding day – such as accommodation, food, what to do – around it. Snowdonia is perfect for romantic run-aways! Book yourselves a super romantic weekend hideaway on Air BnB, get ready together on the morning of your elopement, enjoy your ceremony for two and pick a super scenic spot for an elopement day adventure afterwards. I’m happy to guide you to some of my faves so do get in touch! Hike around rugged mountains overlooking Cadair Idris holding hands, have a First Look in an enchanted forest or twirl your heart out on a sun-drenched beach in your wedding dress. Wedding for two packages in Wales can be anything from shutting the world out for an entire weekend in your shepherd’s hut to visiting new places for a romantic dinner or tucking into a takeaway in your outdoor hot tub – make it an unforgettable one!
most scenic elopement spots in snowdonia
Wales is famous for its rugged coastlines and awe-inspiring National Parks and it’s a pretty cool country to live in or visit. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the country is friendly, with distinctive traditions, heritage and culture. We like a good sing song and myths and legends and Snowdonia’s rustic charm makes it the perfect destination elopement location.
Wales’ rawness magically draws you in and its epic backdrops make for romantic small weddings and elopements straight out of a fairytale.
Here are some of the best places to elope in Wales.
You may already have heard of some popular locations listed below; they are usually pretty busy with tourists but definitely worth a visit on a weekday :)
Llyn Padarn – glacially formed lake in Llanberis, landscape photographers love its famous tree!
Cwm Idwal – probably the most scenic (and popular, due to its easy access) circular walk featuring a mountain and a lake in the UK!
Snowdon – the highest (and busiest…..) mountain in Wales. An average of half a million people visit Snowdon each year which is quite a lot to deal with for such a small mountain & country.
what to wear for your elopement
One of the key elements most couples tend to agree on when it comes to eloping is that even though their wedding day may be less formal – they still want to look special! If you are combining a legal ceremony with an afternoon adventure you will need to find a compromise between formality and function. Pinterest makes walking up mountains in heels or sandals (great for beach elopements though!) look easy and fun – things can go wrong in an instant though and you don’t want to ruin your day (or weekend at worst!) just because you chose the wrong outfit and/or footwear.
You can find more detailed information in my post on Elopement dresses – how to pick one that’s perfect for you; here’s a short summary:
* If you’re hoping to go on a bit of a hike on your elopement day in Wales – go for adequate foot wear. Walking boots should be super comfy (make sure you wear them in and don’t be tempted to wear them for the first time on your elopement day – it’ll hurt!) and give you a bit of support in rough’ish terrain.
* If you need to carry car keys, mobile phones, food items, extra layers etc – put them in a great looking backpack or rucksack and not in a tatty plastic bag. Looks so much better on pictures :)
* Pick a wedding dress that let’s you move around quite freely and doesn’t fully restrict your arms – you want to feel comfortable walking and even HUG your partner which is difficult if your dress looks ace but doesn’t let you move around.
* Veils add a different dimension. Especially if it’s windy. Which happens often in Wales…. Make sure you practise reattaching it easily just in case it comes off.
* Suits. Are suits. They’re usually pretty restrictive so try and put together a suit look that’s comfy & a bit stylish – corduroy is a pretty classic looking material that’s pretty flexible.
Above all – wear something you like that makes you feel good about yourself!
Absolutely! The right UK elopement photographer for you will have hourly wedding photography rates and other suitable elopement photography packages in Wales if you want to spend more time with them. And if they LOVE love and the great outdoors just as much as I do – they will work super hard to help you plan your dream elopement in Wales and give you beautiful images so that you can relive your super romantic elopement whenever you look at them!
My advice would be to book a local Wales elopement photographer and other local wedding suppliers rather than bringing them in from out of area. It supports local businesses and helps to reduce the ecological footprint. Plus you can be rest assured you’re getting someone who’s super passionate about their business in Wales and knows all the hidden gems to give you a once of a lifetime REAL experience rather than just wanting to add to their portfolio work.
snowdonia elopement photographer
Serious about planning an elopement in Snowdonia or planning a simple wedding quickly anywhere in the UK and would like a photographer to get involved – I’m happy to help! I know the area like the back of my hand and am happy to help you arrange YOUR picture-perfect bespoke adventure elopement. I do have a dedicated elopement package so do contact me and let’s start planning your dream Wales Elopement today!
Find out if I'm free to photograph your elopement
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Babs Boardwell is a wedding & elopement photographer based in Llangollen, servicing Wales and the surrounding areas. Often provides services for weddings across the whole of the U.K. Specialises in capturing artistic portraits paired with unique storytelling moments to produce natural, romantic wedding photography. The Clwydian Range is home but available for travel across the whole of the U.K.