How to Elope in the UK

Wildly romantic and a less costly alternative to conventional weddings, eloping allows you to be wholly spontaneous with your vow exchange. If going away to marry on your own tickles …

Wildly romantic and a less costly alternative to conventional weddings, eloping allows you to be wholly spontaneous with your vow exchange. If going away to marry on your own tickles your fancies, here’s everything you need to know about eloping in the UK.

Establish A Budget

Essential Expenses: Eloping puts paid to the need for hiring a large venue, catering and throwing a full-on wedding party, which makes it a great option if you want to tie the knot on a budget. But there are expenses involved, including the legal documents, a wedding celebrant, your wedding clothes, rings, and transport. Some venues offer all of these elements in their elopement packages, but some don’t – so asking what is and isn’t covered should be one of your first questions.

Extras: spend on flowers and preening if you’d like to, but above all the extras, remember to book a photographer to document your day.

Map it out: Consider how you will start and end your elopement. A stay in a hotel perhaps, or dinner at a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try are all ways to ensure your wedding day stands out from any other day. Plus, because an elopement typically means you’ll spend less than you would on a conventional wedding, you can make your budget stretch further and splash out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience: a spectacular honeymoon? Why not head straight to the airport after your vows – an exotic destination is calling.

Settle On A Location

The great thing about eloping is that it really does give you the freedom to marry anywhere (within reason – see Make it Official, below). So decide where you would like to elope – use our list of the top 20 places to elope in the UK to help. Once you’ve decided, build your wedding plan from there.

Need help finding the perfect suppliers?

Explore our selection of wedding specialists for the most unique wedding.

Have questions? Ask anything, and our team of experts will be there to help you decide.

Make It Official

Legally, couples cannot marry outside in the United Kingdom. It’s the place, not the person, that’s licensed for marriage. You must marry in a licensed building with a roof. No roof, no marriage (although this law maybe changing soon).

If you want to elope in the great outdoors, you’ll have to obtain your marriage certificate at a different time. This involves a civil ceremony that can be conducted at a Register Office without any fuss.

Get your paperwork together – you’ll need paperwork before this can happen as well as a wedding date, place and time, and evidence of your name, age and nationality. The fee for your marriage certificate is £30.00 per person and once it’s signed, you are officially recognises you as married in the eyes of the UK law.

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Give notice – You will also need to give notice of marriage to the Superintendent Registrar of the district where you and your partner live, no later than sixteen working days before the wedding.

Source two witnesses – if you want to get hitched without a hitch, at least two witnesses are required to make your ceremony official. These can be family, friends or even strangers.

Find A Celebrant

A celebrant is licensed to create, write and conduct a wedding ceremony. They will work with you to design a personal ceremony where you will exchange vows in front of your witnesses.

The legal ceremony is like doing the paperwork for your wedding. Your celebrant-led ceremony is your opportunity to make a commitment to each other.

In our wedding directory, we have a selection of gay-friendly celebrants to officiate your marriage.

Meet Your Vendors Before The Ceremony

Yes, an elopement is seen as more of a spontaneous celebration of love than a traditional wedding ceremony. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t meet with your vendors (professionals you’ve hired for your day such as photographers, celebrants, florists etc) prior to the celebrations.

Build relationships with your vendors – in doing so they will develop a better understanding of who you are as a couple and reflect that in all aspects of your ceremony making it all the more emotional and personal.

Enjoy Your Day

You’ve designed it exactly how you want it to be – live and love every moment.

Want to be inspired by the best places to elope? View our hand-picked top 12 places to elope in the UK.

Kate Lovell
Author: Kate Lovell

Our very first writer for The Gay Wedding Guide with over 300 articles written. Unfortunately, she no longer writes for us as she left to focus on other copywriting and projects but she'll always have a dedicated place in our hearts here at The Gay Wedding Guide.

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