The Complete Guide to a Perfect Elopement Wedding

3 May 2024
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts

Eloping at Our Wedding Venues

An extravagant wedding, with hundreds of friends and family members in attendance, is the dream of many.

However, when it comes to tying the knot, an elopement wedding with just the two of you can be an equally joyous occasion that you'll look back on for years to come. 

Katie Harris, wedding and special events executive at Macdonald Bath Spa, has noticed a rise in enquiries about eloping at our hotels in recent months, with the idea of an intimate ceremony appealing for reasons including saving on costs and minimising any drama that may spoil the day.

Read on to discover all about eloping, including what it actually means, the advantages, how to go about it, and how our expert planners can provide a truly memorable wedding experience for two.

What is Eloping?

Eloping typically refers to a couple's decision to marry quickly and privately, often without the presence of any family or friends. This approach to getting married can be driven by many factors, such as a desire for simplicity, spontaneity, or intimacy. It's a favoured choice for couples who are less comfortable with being the centre of attention, or for those who wish to throw tradition to the wind and have a cosy ceremony instead of something elaborate (not to mention expensive).

For many of us, the word elopement brings to mind a dash to a Las Vegas wedding chapel, a celebrant dressed as Elvis, and no memory of it the next day! However, there are plenty of ways to elope in the UK - contrary to what some assume, it's perfectly legal - and it can be a truly romantic and meaningful event. While some might view it as unconventional, it's becoming an increasingly popular choice for couples seeking a loving and stress-free way to say "I do."

Bride & Groom Aviemore Hotel

Why is Eloping Becoming More Popular?

Katie predicts that the trend of elopement will continue, especially with celebrity couples leading the way in terms of private ceremonies to start off married life.  

"Covid changed the way we think about weddings, and even though normality has resumed, people's eyes were opened to the romance of a small, intimate wedding, as well as the cost saving benefits", Katie says.

"We have seen many couples come to us for a holiday, and book their wedding for one of the evenings during their stay, just like they would book any other activity."

While there will always be those who really want to put the "big" into their big day, our 'A Day For You, Made By Us' sentiment applies to all those who want to get married in our unique settings. We'll make your dream vision become a reality - no matter how lavish or private it may be.

Mr & Mrs Muldoon Married at Linden Hall

Why Should I Elope?

Eloping has plenty of advantages. Here are three of the biggest...

Less Expense

With the cost of living crisis set to continue, and with the average wedding spend set to hit £21,000 this year, you may not see the appeal of blowing your life's savings on a single day. Meanwhile, our  Just The Two Of Us package at New Blossoms Hotel, Chester, begins at just £273 for a civil ceremony, glass of fizz, and Afternoon Tea for two - over which you can consider how to spend that spare twenty grand...

No Drama

Whether your wedding day is big or small, the only thing you'll want to see flying through the air is the bouquet. So if you have friends who are foes, or family members that you don't trust to keep a lid on their feelings for each other, a simple way to keep the peace is to not invite them. When you elope, you'll be able to celebrate your day without worrying about any dust-ups during the disco.

You Can Please Yourselves

Do traditions make no sense to you? Do you despair at the thought of being "given away", hate wearing white, or does the thought of having to impress hundreds of guests make you want to hide in a cupboard? Obviously you can have your wedding, your way, no matter the size - but it's so much easier when you're only considering yourselves, and perhaps making new traditions personal to just the two of you.

wedding couple Compleat Angler

So, How Do I Elope?

Don't be fooled - eloping doesn't mean getting married on the spot. You'll still have to make a few plans.

Give Notice

You can't legally marry in the UK without giving 29 days' notice at your local registry office. They'll need to know details of your venue, so you'll need to book this beforehand. Our dedicated wedding planners are on hand to advise you through this process as well as organise your day itself.

Arrange Witnesses

You can't get married without two witnesses being present (and the celebrant doesn't count). Sure, you could just ask a couple of random strangers like they do in romcoms, but you may find it less stressful to organise them in advance. If you really want your elopement kept secret, we can offer people who'll step in as part of your elopement package.

Plan the Announcement

How are you going to break the news to your nearest and dearest? That's entirely your choice, but having a plan is key. Many couples share their happiness after the event - it's too late to be persuaded either way - and our advice is to keep it off your Instagram until those closest to you have had the big reveal.

Wedding at Inchyra, Image Credit Gary Boner

How to Elope in Our Idyllic Destinations

Many of our existing weddings packages across all our wedding venues can be tailored to suite your desire to elope, meaning altered costings for food, drinks, accommodation and more.

Our Just Us wedding package at Linden Hall in Northumberland is a perfect example. It includes a wedding planner to help plan everything you wish for on the day and answer your questions, as well as two witnesses for your ceremony if you're keen for it to be just the two of you.

A similar package at Leeming House, in the Lake District, is an ideal celebration for two. It includes private use of our ceremony space followed by a prosecco afternoon tea overlooking Ullswater, a delicious dinner in our restaurant, and a night in a Lakeview Deluxe bedroom from £995.

Bride, Houstoun House

Where to Elope in the UK

Whether looking to elope at a country house hotel or in a city centre setting just for two, we'll have a perfect destination that will truly sum up everything about your romantic journey together.

If you're looking for something extra special, consider our elopement package at Macdonald Bath Spa. We'll take care of every little detail, leaving you to enjoy the special moment. It includes a photographer for the "I do's" and a mini shoot, canapés and bubbly, and a three-course meal in our Vellore restraurant. It's priced from just £1,999 for four guests.

Alternatively, you could escape to the Lake District for an intimate wedding, just for two, at The Old England. Relax and celebrate your special day overlooking the beautiful Lake Windermere, from £1,020. It turns out that good things really do come in small packages.

Wedding table setup at Bath Spa