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Wedding or Elopement?


Hosting your ultimate wedding is something so often fantasised about, it has become a cliche. One that most people love to indulge – and why not!? Having scores of friends and family file in around bushels of gem-encrusted flowers and flower accented gems; all in awe by the fairytale kingdom you managed to book as your venue. These lavish parties are the perfect way for many people to celebrate love and life at their wedding, and pursuing this dream is a fantastic way to be married. For others, the realisation comes that the love that has bloomed in their life doesn’t suit an enormous wedding. An Elopement, as small, intimate weddings have become know, is a far better match for this love. It is personal, intimate and subtle.

Sometimes, an Elopement is the right choice at the time. Covid saw a sharp rise in small weddings and when you fold together not just you and your partner’s, but the lives of your guests, the simplicity of an Elopement can be the best decision for celebrating your love. Especially if you have a destination wedding on your radar. A large, far flung wedding requires threading a lot of needles to pull off, but a destination Elopement always proves much more manageable.

The most common reason however, couples choose an Elopement over a traditional, larger wedding, is simple: they just can’t wait! Weddings take time to plan and save for. The timings need to be just right and couples can wait years to see through carefully laid plans. Elopements can be the perfect alternative, offering flexibility, lower costs and the opportunity to start married life (and your honeymoon) without any more delay. Although, the question remains, without big budgets, all the time in the world and extra room for guests and other garnish, how do you plan your perfect Elopement?

Pick a vibe

You don’t need to start setting details in stone right away, but you should get a clear image in your head of where you want to get married. Small churches can be a cute option, but choosing a natural style venue is the ultimate Elopement life-hack. The time and money you can save on decorating, styling and florals is huge when your ceremony space is already surrounded by beautiful vistas and has gorgeous flora blooming all around it. So when you’re scouting a venue, think natural, think beach or rainforest. (If you’re considering a beach wedding, be sure to do lots of  research first, they are deceptively tricky.)

Once you have chosen your vibe, pick a venue. Keep an open mind and try and find a venue that let’s you stay flexibile. Look for places that offer Elopement packages and can cater on-site. This allows you to combine a ceremony and reception style celebration, on the day you say your vows. It’s also much simpler than haggling down a full wedding package, and simple is the name of the game. You should also try and secure somewhere with spaces for all weather. A great Elopement is fast, flexible and fun. They don’t usually involve standing on the beach being attacked by wind and sand. Shop around for somewhere that’s friendly and accomodating.

Choose your highlights

Creating an Elopement is about knowing what’s important to you. Choose one or two features of your Elopement to splurge on. Something that will make it uniquely yours. A gorgeous arrangement of fresh flowers, a particular vintage of wine or a bank-breaking dress will add personal flourish and anchor the most special moments of your day. Be sure to consider your venue’s liquor licensing, kitchen and amenities and their staffing and service when making this decision. If it’s going to be the hallmark of the day, it needs to be able to shine.

Because planning an Elopement doesn’t exclude the experience being memorable, special or cherished. In this vein, while it seems counter-intuitive, you should also still consider documenting the ceremony with a photographer. While keeping a strict budget is important in lots of Elopements, many years later, you’ll gaze at those photographs and be glad for the expense.

You can visit Fleay’s instagram page for inspiration and see real Elopements.

The guestlist

The biggest difference between a traditional, large wedding and an Elopement is the guestlist. Keeping the list under control is the key to managing your budget and planning the day. That’s all well and good, but how do you cut down a list? The great thing about the Elopement is it lets you off the hook with a lot of potential wedding guests right away. You can skip right past your co-workers and acquaintances. Third and fourth cousins won’t be startled at the lack of an invite and you can cut out all of the wildcard plus ones that bloat the guestlists at traditional weddings.

Finding those 20 to 30 people you should invite is simple at first. The people you can’t imagine not being there. Your Mum and Dad, brothers and sisters. Your best friend and that cousin who lives a few blocks away. When it starts to become harder to decide, try setting some rules. Think about people you see more often, talk to the most or have visited more in the last year. Ultimately, if it feels right, you should invite them. After all, what’s a few extra friends, among friends?

Catering and Styling

The last major layer of your Elopement is probably going to be the food and decoration. One of the other benefits of an Elopement is you don’t need to compromise on the little things, to account for the large scale of the affair. When you have 150 guests, adding a third course to a plated dinner can blow your budget out of the water, but with smaller numbers, you can add those decadent touches, without seeing big jumps in your spending.

When adding styling and decorating, a beautiful bouquet is a nice touch that won’t be too extravagant. In a bigger picture sense, when adding your catering and styling, the best advice is don’t reinvent the wheel. See what the venue can include as part of their package, what touches come as standard, what can they add to your day for little or no extra cost. Then think about how you can add your own flourish, accents or make small adjustments to suit your tastes. This is where a fantastic, flexibile venue partner becomes so important to your day.

Choosing to be married in an Elopement or small wedding can feel like a difficult choice. While many worry they are missing out on that special day they always dreamed of, a well-executed Elopement can be the most rewarding, intimate and special way to celebrate you marriage. An Elopement built on a strong foundation, and a clear vision can save you months of stress, years of time and ofcourse mountains of money.


 If you’re considering an Elopement or small wedding, contact the team at Fleay’s to discuss our Elopement and Wedding packages, and talk to our specialist event team. Fleay’s is a rare venue that offers natural, rainforest serenity, just minutes from the heart of the Gold Coast.

You can get in touch with the Fleay’s team and make an enquiry here. Call us on 3210 2281 or visit us any day of the week until 2pm.

To see more of the work that features in this article’s photographs, check out the supplier’s Instagrams here:

@_untamedcreative_ (Photographer)