91% of millennials who plan on getting married reported that they would consider eloping, and 60% of millennials who were already married said that they would elope if they could go back and do their weddings over again (Sims, 2019). Elopements are on the rise, pandemic travel and visa restrictions are being rolled back, and the world is beckoning. Would you consider eloping?
A number of countries and destinations are offering attractive elopement packages to adventurous couples who’d like to tie the knot abroad, whether by themselves in a private ceremony, or surrounded by a small (or big!) group of family and friends. If elopement might have a place in your wedding story, read on for our favorite elopement packages and destinations, followed by some more affordable and more adventurous DIY elopement possibilities.
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Caribbean Elopement Packages
Sandals offers a plethora of gorgeous Caribbean elopement packages from which to choose, in locations including Jamaica, the Bahamas, Antigua, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, and Curacao. Their packages include a range of 5-star inclusions. We’re talking gourmet dining. We’re talking water sports like scuba diving, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and kayaking–and these even come with free professional instruction. There are live shows galore, and access to a private offshore island is even included in some of their packages. And get this: Couples who stay 3 nights or more get their weddings for free (Sandals, 2022)!
Adventure in Cyprus
Cyprus actually has a whole elopement industry, catering mostly to middle-eastern couples who cannot marry in their countries because they practice different faiths or because their wedding dreams and backgrounds might not fit rigorous requirements for compulsory religious ceremonies recognized by the state in their countries of origin. They flock to Cyprus in droves every year and are greeted with open arms and wedding packages galore. Because of this, Cyprus is used to receiving eloping couples, and their seasoned planners have made it into an art form. There are a myriad of bargain elopement packages on offer in Cyprus; just one we surveyed boasted a full-service wedding package for only €2,145 (Intimate Weddings Cyprus, 2022). And Cyprus itself is a sight to behold. It’s an absolutely gorgeous mediterranean island with turquoise blue waters and plenty of local culture to explore at a reasonable price. Cyprus certainly takes the cake in terms of value for money.
Elope in Europe
Peach Perfect Weddings offers customizable wedding and elopement packages in an assortment of European destinations, including Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Austria, Spain, and Portugal. Prices vary based on the services chosen by the customer. For example, a wedding in Germany minus the venue rental and ceremony planning but including photography, bridal hair, makeup, and bouquet, a boutonniere for the groom, live solo music for the ceremony, and coordination on the day will cost you €5380 (Peach Perfect Weddings, 2022). For travelers wanting a European elopement package but with a more modest budget, elopement packages for Portugal tend to be substantially less expensive than other European destinations, are just as lovely, and probably offer higher odds of good weather on the big day (Peach Perfect Weddings, 2022).
DIY Elopement Ideas
For more adventurous couples who appreciate the freedom that comes with arranging everything by themselves (or who prefer a little extra work in exchange for a lower price), we’d like to recommend a few elopement-friendly destinations and walk you through some of what’s necessary to elope in these places. Be warned: There is some paperwork involved, but we’re sure it’s nothing you can’t handle.
Side note – looking to change your name after marriage? Check out this site that makes it super easy.
If you oohed and aahed over Sandals’ Caribbean packages above but can’t justify the expense of something like that, you can still experience the magic of the Caribbean without forking over your life’s savings to Sandals. Grenada is one of the best destinations in the Caribbean in terms of natural beauty, affordability, friendliness of locals, and variety of things to do–and it’s very easy for foreigners to get married there.
All you have to do is arrive in Grenada at least one day before heading over to the Ministerial Complex (located in some gorgeous botanical gardens, of course) to apply for a marriage license from the office of the prime minister. The various fees involved will set you back about 12 US dollars (we’re serious) and the process usually takes about two days, though it might be a bit longer if one of you has been divorced before (Pure Grenada, 2022).
You will need to bring the following documents:
-Sworn Affidavit (or letter from a Clergyman, Lawyer or Registry), confirming that neither of you has been married before
-Decree Absolute, if either of you is divorced
-Deceased’s Death Certificate if either of you is widowed
-Legal proof if either of you has changed your name (Pure Grenada, 2022)
We don’t have exact figures on how much it costs to book a venue and put together a wedding in Grenada–you’ll have to do that part yourself. However, we can assure you that if you do your homework and ask for recommendations from locals, the wedding will be far less expensive than in the US. Grenada is a lower-income country, and outside of amenities catering especially to wealthy tourists, it’s a very affordable place.
To stay somewhere comfortable but no-frills on a budget, check out Divine Apartments or Sea Breeze Hotel. Both are about a 5-minute walk each from a gorgeous beach with crystal clear water.
Mexico is one of our favorite elopement destinations because of the range of climates, landscapes, and cultural experiences it offers, its proximity to home, and its affordability. Mountain lovers will adore the charming town of San Cristobal de las Casas, while both the pacific and Caribbean coasts offer beach towns galore for every budget and travel style and a rich culture and history are to be found pretty much everything. If Mexico sounds like an appealing elopement possibility to you, here are the documents you must present in order to obtain a marriage license in Mexico:
Passports valid for at least 6 months (originals + photocopies)
Tourist permit (originals + photocopies)
Chest x-rays and blood tests, done locally in Mexico and with documentation in Spanish. (Not all states require this; check the requirements of the Mexican state in which you’d like to elope.)
Marriage application formsBirth certificates
Divorce decrees or death certificates of former spouses (if applicable) (Mexperience, 2022).
Aside from your tourist permits and passports, all of these documents will need to be translated into Spanish, apostilled in the country where you live, and notarized by the Mexican consulate nearest your home (Mexperience, 2022).
Four witnesses are also necessary, and they can be local or foreign. Each of them must bring valid government-issued identification (Mexperience, 2022).
You’ll also need to get your marriage certificate legalized in Mexico in order to ensure that it will be recognized back home. Also, in Mexico there are two types of marriage ceremonies: civil and religious. Most Mexicans have both, but in order for your marriage to be legal, you’ll need to opt for the civil one (Mexperience, 2022).
If your dreams of a Mexican elopement feel further away after reading about all of this paperwork, you can hire a wedding planner to help with this and still pay a fraction of what you would for a full elopement package. Alternatively, you might opt to do your legal marriage in the USA and then elope for a symbolic ceremony in Mexico (Mexperience, 2022).
If you have a little more time and are willing to travel a little further away for your elopement, Thailand will not disappoint–and the money you spend on plane tickets will more than be made up for in high-quality amenities and experiences at staggeringly low prices. Here’s what the procedure for foreign marriages looks like in Thailand.
-Go to your embassy with your passports and arrival card.
-Complete declarations attesting that you’re both single and free to marry
-Have these declarations translated into Thai
-Take the documents, their translations, and copies of your passports to the legalization division at the consular affairs department to authenticate the consular official’s signature. This usually takes 2 days.
-Submit the documents and translations to the district registrar, who will have you sign a few more forms and then register the marriage and issue a marriage certificate in Thai. This can be done at any district office or minor district office in Thailand (Thai Embassy, 2021).
If you plan to elope in Thailand, you should fly into Bangkok since you’ll need to take care of the embassy paperwork, translations, and authentication there. For simplicity’s sake, you may as well get your marriage certificate there, as well. But although Bangkok is an adventure in its own right, is not the reason Thailand is on this list. After you get all the paperwork done, we recommend taking a quick flight to Hat Yai followed by a minivan to the port town of Pakbara and a 1.5-hour speedboat to the picture perfect island of Koh Lipe, sometimes nicknamed ‘the Maldives of Thailand’ for its water that looks like someone put an instagram filter on it. It’s one of the most affordable and most paradisiacal places in the world to celebrate an elopement (google it–you’ll see). You might even arrange a symbolic ceremony on the beach there.
We hope these elopement ideas have inspired you to plan the wedding of your dreams. But make sure you don’t leave out the most important part…
When you’re planning your elopement, make sure you leave enough time to thoughtfully arrange your prenup. Eloping couples are serious about marrying on their own terms, and a prenup allows you to set the tone for your marriage on your own terms, too. Couples who don’t take the time to draft their own prenup are effectively subject to a default prenup in the form of the laws of their state. Prenups involve laying out financial plans and arrangements for how assets will be distributed and managed during your marriage, as well as contingency plans in case of divorce that give you peace of mind and allow the two of you (instead of the state and a judge) to decide how assets would be allocated, just in case.
If you’re not sure whether a prenup is right for you, you can take our prenup quiz to gain some personalized insight. If you do decide to opt for a prenup, our interactive software allows you to draft your own customized prenup from the comfort of your couch. Here’s how it works. It’s also a lot cheaper than going the traditional route and using attorneys–you can save at least $1900 and a lot of stress (that’s a conservative estimate) by using our software. We’re here when you’re ready to get started.
Intimate Weddings Cyprus. Wedding for Two – Elopement. Retrieved from: https://www.intimateweddingscyprus.com/weddingfortwo
Mexperience. 2022. Guide to Getting Married in Mexico. Retrieved from: https://www.mexperience.com/mexico-essentials/getting-married-in-mexico/#Legal
Peace Perfect Weddings. 2022. Wedding Packages for Germany. Retrieved from: https://peachperfectweddings.com/germany/
Peach Perfect Weddings. 2022. Wedding Packages for Portugal. Retrieved from: https://peachperfectweddings.com/portugal/
Pure Grenada. 2022. Legal Requirements. Retrieved from: https://www.puregrenada.com/romance/legal-requirements/
Sandals. 2022. Elopements. Retrieved from: https://www.sandals.com/elopements/
Sims, M. 2019. This is the Wedding Trend Millennials are Considering Most in 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.theknotnews.com/millennial-wedding-trend-eloping-41031#:~:text=But%20there’s%20a%20new%20trend,who’ve%20previously%20married%20too.
Thai Embassy. 2021. Thailand Marriage. Retrieved from: https://www.thaiembassy.com/family/marriage-in-thailand
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected]