Far from being a, “grab the suitcase and run” event, elopements are very often sweet, personal ceremonies that include the closest of friends and family (and the officiant, of course!). The very private vows exchanged that day are very often renewed at a bigger party later on. What they do have in common is that they are the expression of a couple who wants to keep their actual wedding ceremony intimate meaningful.
For couples who choose a town clerk or an Elvis impersonator, the options to personalize that ceremony may be few; Tuesday night or Thursday night…..”Love me Tender” or “It’s Now or Never”. But for couples who choose a compassionate officiant, there are may ways to personalize even the tiniest wedding.
If the family or close friends are there, they might choose a “ring warming”, a beautiful ritual in which the the guests each hold the couple’s rings, infusing them with wishes and dreams for their future. They might all share a toast, noting that wine is most always shared in fellowship and community. They might include a “Wedding Wisdom” ceremony, where each guest would read a tiny quote about love and marriage.
If the couple has chosen to be alone with their Officiant (and in most states, a witness or two) they could certainly write their own vows, read out of an antique diary or printed on beautiful paper. They might seal their union with a handfasting, a Celtic ritual in which their hands are wrapped with colored cords as blessings are bestowed. One of my couples, who met at a chocolate tasting arranged by the groom’s company, chose to share chocolate together. I spoke about the possibility that life would be bitter and sweet; dark and light; probably always nutty.
The possibilities are truly endless, and each decision adds to notion that an elopement can be a romantic, poignant and meaningful choice for any couple.
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Celia Milton is a wedding officiant and celebrant who creates and performs lighthearted wedding ceremonies and civil unions in new jersey and new york.