Shhh…eloping on Friday

I met a lovely couple who are choosing to have a quiet weekend away with their children… to get married.  They have a big family and many friends so they feel a wedding would get out of hand pretty quickly if they did the big wedding celebration and they wanted a stress free, small and intimate ceremony.

Shhh… they are eloping with the kids.

A choice like this can bring freedom, joy and ease and, understandably, the bride also had some moments of wondering if she would regret not having everyone around, building the excitement with family and friends. We talked and acknowledged the joys of elopement… and the mourning—the questioning and uncertainty.  We gave time for the tender trembling to emerge without discounting its presence, without trying to fix it—just letting it be, as it is.

Then, as the conversation unfolded we highlighted their needs—love, family, belonging and also: Ease. Joy. Simplicity. I mentioned that at any stage in the future they can have a renewal of vows and do the big party thing—that idea brought a feeling of relief and happiness.

I’ll share here some notes that I sent through to help prepare for this intimate ceremony with their two primary school aged children.

The Ceremony Space

As you think about creating the ceremony space, you might wish to talk with your children about what is special about celebrating your love for each other and your family. Ask them what would be important for them to have in the ceremony space. Shells? Flowers or a stone from your home garden? A design in the sand? You might want to draw a ‘map’. Should there be one circle? Four circles linked? Anything goes here. What will the decoration look like if it’s raining and the ceremony will be on the deck? Do you need to bring a rug for the deck? You might want to put all the rug/decorations into one or two bags in the next week or so.


On Thursday (the day before the wedding), find a kind couple willing to be your witnesses and direct them to the ceremony space to arrive on Friday at 3.25pm. If they need chairs let them know to BYOC and that they can call you if they have a change of heart. That will give us time to find another unsuspecting pair of over 18 year-olds.

Legal paperwork

Earlier Friday afternoon, I’ll call in at your holiday accommodation and I’ll sight your original birth certificates (with your driver’s license for photo ID) and/or your current passports. We will also be signing a second statutory declaration as discussed.  The legal wedding ceremony cannot proceed if this documentation is not provided so please ensure it is packed.

At the beach

Shortly before the ceremony: Set up your video cameras and I’ll set up my PA for the music. Please put your song playlist on an iPhone or iPad etc with your wedding playlist. Three songs: 1. Start of ceremony 2. Signing and 3. Close of ceremony.


Wendy to arrive at ceremony space at 3pm and set up PA and look after cameras while you go back to bring your family into the ceremony area. Witnesses to arrive at 3.20pm. Your family to enter the ceremony space at 3.25pm.


We can be creative here: either we start the ceremony with you all onsite or we can set the ceremony space up and then you go to the steps or shoreline or somewhere away from the ceremony space and walk in as a couple or family with music playing. Either way, I will support you to take a moment to pause, take a breath or two and become present to this wonderful moment: as even with an elopement the pace can get a wee bit busy as the day unfolds. Aim for simplicity in as many areas as possible.We can discuss your entrance next time we speak or when I come to do the legals on the day.

A few tips

By Thursday: have your clothes 100% in place, ironed if need be and ready to slip into with ease. All decoration for the ceremony circle in the bag ready to be carried to the beach. Have your Friday breakfast and lunch decided and, as much as possible, prepared so that there is no decision making on Friday. I understand you are having a catered lunch after the ceremony.

You may also want to bring special food for Saturday morning and have a fun ‘Wedding breakfast’ together to celebrate once again the joy of coming together.


Have a lovely breakfast, a walk along the beach. Put on some nice music, enjoy the preparation and have a relaxed lunch.

Come down to the beach when you’re ready and I’ll be there!

A day for ease, fun, joy, play and getting married.

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Sharon Orbell
1 year ago

Wonderful advice Wendy to your couple and so generous to share it with a wider audience. Always a nurturer and teacher, always inspiring. You hold space so beautifully for people.