Getting married is about you and your soon-to-be spouse. So why would you spend thousands of dollars to entertain the in-laws? Eloping can be impetuous and special without the traditional trappings of a wedding. Elope if you are looking to get away from it all, or save yourself from extra expenses and stress (you'll have enough of that when you have kids!).
Decide if eloping is right for you. There are pros and cons to eloping. The main drawback is that you may hurt the feelings of your close family members if they are not invited. Also, there is something to be said for all the planning and the ceremony and getting dressed up and having professional pictures done--you may appreciate the memories when you are older.
Get a marriage license. Marriage license laws vary state-by-state, but you should still follow some basic guidelines. Get your license at least a week or two in advance from your wedding date. Bring your ID, social security number (or if not a citizen, a translated and certified birth certificate), and documentation proving that any previous marriages are over to the county clerk. You will also need witnesses.
Find a venue. Las Vegas is a popular place to elope and you'll find tons of chapels on the Internet. But if Vegas seems sleazy to you, you might want to look into resorts. Be sure to check the rules for each place, such as if you can write your own ceremony, bring your own photographer or bring friends.
Plan a honeymoon. Kick off your marriage right! Plan a destination for you and your new spouse after the ceremony.
Book your travel. Buy airplane tickets and book reservations as soon as possible to save money.
Get married. Bring your license with you and anything else you need.
Eloping these days is less about running away and having a secret wedding and more about being unconventional and thrifty. Think of it as an alternative to a traditional wedding. Make plans with your friends and family, have a reception a couple months afterwards or theme the occasion any way you want. Many places offer elopement packages. They'll handle everything, including the license, ceremony, honeymoon, and even travel and accommodations. Go ahead and keep your marriage a secret from your family, but let flight attendants and hotel clerks know! They might boost you up to first class or give you extra perks with your room service. Eloping can still be fun for friends and family. Call it a destination wedding and invite everyone out to celebrate. If you are really looking for the bare bones marriage, you can always get married by the justice of the peace in court. Bring a witness and your license.
Don't rush into a bad decision. If you are unsure, maybe eloping isn't right for you. Make sure you actually want to go through with this. Don't just get caught up in the moment. Seriously consider the downsides of eloping. Are you not committed enough to plan a wedding? Do you have what it takes to make a lifelong commitment to one person? Will you regret not having a conventional wedding? Is your privacy worth excluding your family and friends?