It’s probably obvious that the ceremony is pretty much the most important aspect of any elopement or wedding! It’s where you promise forever to each other & get to say those vows you’ve been working on for days/weeks (months? No judgment here). So it’s safe to say that you want your elopement ceremony to be super meaningful, personal, and special to the two of you + any guests you bring along. That’s why I wanted to give you 8 unique elopement ceremony ideas to get your creative juices flowin’, and to help you have the most special ceremony possible!!
I’ve also included 5 unity ceremony ideas because I know a lot of couples like to consider the idea of a unity ceremony within their elopement ceremony. Make sure that whatever you choose to do during your ceremony will be meaningful to the both of you, and isn’t just some tradition you’re following because you think you’re “supposed to” – I promise you’ll be SO much happier doing whatever YOU want to do.
Happy ceremony planning!!
8 Unique Elopement Ceremony Ideas
1. Read letters from your friends + fam
There are two different ways you can do this:
- If you have loved ones that couldn’t make it to the actual elopement day (or that weren’t invited, but you still want to celebrate with), you can have them write you letters before the big day. Then, read them aloud at your ceremony and you’ll feel the love from afar, & I’m sure they’ll love being there with you in spirit!! Sara & Matt had their friends all read letters from the parents who couldn’t be there on the big day.
- If your most special loved ones will be present at your ceremony, then you can have them write letters & read them aloud themselves during your ceremony. Or you can have your officiant read them. This is what Kori & Sam did and it was suuuuper sweet and emotional!!
2. Write down your intentions, then burn ‘em
Sara & Dan wrote down their intentions for their marriage before their ceremony, rolled up the papers + tied them to some sticks, and burned ‘em during their ceremony. It was such a cool way to send those intentions into the universe and start their marriage off with a spark (pun intended)!! 😉
3. Include your pet(s)
Including your pets in your elopement ceremony is ALWAYS a good idea. If you follow me on Instagram then you know I carry my cat(s) around with me literally everywhere I go, so you bet I’ll always encourage bringing your furry besties along to celebrate on the best day of your lives.
There are sooo many ways you could include your pets in your elopement ceremony – here are a few:
- Have them sit next to you while you say your vows (or literally on top of your dress train during your first kiss, in Sara’s case)
- Have them be your ring-bearer/flower dog
- Walk down the aisle with them
- Have them dip their paws in (pet-safe!) ink, then put their paw prints on the marriage license you sign & frame
Just make sure you have an assigned guest or two who can be in charge of them during your ceremony, so you can focus on each other!
4. Listen to recorded audio/watch recorded videos
If you’d rather listen to the voices of loved ones than read a letter from them, you can totally have them record some audio & play it during your ceremony! Whether that means your friends who couldn’t be there send in silly audio recordings sending their support, or you even play a slideshow with recorded videos from them, this is a great way to feel the love from your fav people on your special day. Marissa & Stanley had their children read a Bible verse, and played that audio during their ceremony!
5. Invite your guests to participate
There are tons of ways you can invite your guests to participate (if you are having guests present). Have them come up and shower you with (environmentally-friendly, biodegradable) confetti during your first kiss, bring them up for a prayer if you’re religious, or just invite them all in for a big hug and have them stand by your side while you tie the knot. Whatever allows you to feel all their love!!
6. Celebrate your culture
If you come from a culture that has special wedding traditions/ceremony activities, include those! Maybe you’re from Mexico and you want to follow the tradition of draping a beaded or floral “lasso” around the two of you. Or maybe your family is from the Philippines and you want to celebrate through the tradition of releasing doves at the end of your ceremony! Wherever you may be from, your elopement ceremony is such a great time to beautifully celebrate your culture however you’d like to.
7. Walk down the aisle together
Wanna know one of my fave totally non-traditional ceremony ideas?? Walk down the aisle together. I know, I know – all the wedding tradition gods are going nuts over the idea. But walking down the aisle together is a super special way to start off your ceremony united together, and to celebrate in a way that feels more meaningful to you than the tradition of one of you waiting at the altar while the other is walked down the aisle by a family member!
8. Perform a “unity ceremony”
A “unity ceremony” just means some type of little ceremony you include in your elopement ceremony that symbolizes your unity. There are so many ways you can perform a unity ceremony, so below I’ve given you 5 fun ideas to consider!!
5 Fun Unity Ceremony Ideas
1. Plant a tree/plant together
This is the perf unity ceremony idea for any tree or plant lovers: buy some seeds of a tree or plant you love, and plant them together during your ceremony!! Make sure your have a pot/planter prepped with soil and that you bring some gloves + a shovel. Then you can watch it grow over the years – so cute!
2. Release butterflies
This is a really fun one that I’ve seen done a few times: release butterflies during your ceremony! Butterflies symbolize new beginnings & rebirths, so they’re the perfect little creature to release to represent your love and new journey together.
Handfasting comes from a Celtic tradition where the couple ties something around their hands to symbolize their commitment to each other. You could buy some simple rope at a craft store, have a date night before your elopement & create a pretty DIY macrame cord together, or opt for satin for a softer route. Perla & Absolon went with a pretty pink piece of satin to use for their handfasting ceremony in the forest!
4. Braid a unity cord
If you’re religious and want to bring that into your ceremony in a meaningful way, braiding a unity cord is a great way to do it. Marissa & Stanley braided a “unity cord” during their ceremony, which is a three-stranded cord that symbolizes the marriage of you, your partner, & God!
5. Mix up some “unity” cocktails
And finally, a fun one that I totally made up on the spot (because who gets to make the rules for what is/isn’t considered a unity ceremony??): mix up some unity cocktails/mocktails! Pick out each of your fav drink ingredients and figure out a yummy cocktail that combines them together. Then bring the ingredients up to the altar, mix up your drinks, say cheers, & drink up!
Bonus tip: these cocktails/mocktails can be your special elopement cocktails that you give to your guests after the ceremony if you’re having any type of reception!
Woooo you made it through! I hope those 8 unique elopement ceremony ideas & 5 unity ceremony ideas got your ideas flowin’ and that you’re feeling excited about all the possibilities of making your ceremony super meaningful & special. If you’re looking for a photog who will help you plan your dream elopement ceremony and photograph it so those memories last forevaaa, I’m your gal 😉 Reach out to me here and let’s get plannin’!!
More Adventure Elopement Resources + Inspiration
Looking for more adventure elopement planning tips? Below are some of my most popular info-packed blog posts + past elopements to give you real-life inspo!