Not every wedding is planned years in advance. In fact, many couples prefer to get married on short notice, with minimal preparation. This could be for a variety of factors. For example, work may be very demanding, not allowing for the time commitment typically associated with wedding planning. Or, the couple may be adventurous and non-traditional, and decide to tie the knot quickly. Regardless of the reason, we are here to share ideas about  how to successfully pull off a last minute wedding elopement. This includes everything from the marriage license to vendors and venues, and also advice on making the wedding day uniquely your own.

1) Research The Marriage License

First and foremost, make sure you know the requirements for your state marriage laws. There may be a waiting period for documents along with varying regulations on the type of officiant that can perform the ceremony. There may also be a defined number of required witnesses that must be present.

Luckily, California has one of the simplest state marriage laws. For example, couples are able to receive a marriage license the same day they submit the application. Also, the officiant can be a rabbi, minister, or priest of any denomination (for the full list of acceptable officiants, click here), and only one witness is needed.

For couples on a time crunch, a classic courthouse elopement is a popular option. This is because it consists of  a straightforward ceremony with minimal preparation required. In San Diego, our recommended courthouse venue is the Downtown San Diego County Courthouse. This is because of its proximity to the San Diego Bay and gorgeous architecture. Additionally, most couples are able to book an appointment on short notice, with the ability to hold ceremonies indoors or outside.

Wherever you decide to get married, completing the legal paperwork is essential for a smooth elopement ceremony. With all of the documents sorted out, our next step is exploring venue options that provide convenience and availability.

2) Select a Location For Your Last Minute Elopement

Finding a venue thats always ready to go may seem like a stretch, but in San Diego, it’s never out of reach. Besides the San Diego courthouse, there are miles of immaculate beachfront, lush gardens, and small private locations that are primed and ready for ceremonies running on a tight deadline.

Elopements are perfectly suited for backyard celebrations or local parks, but you might find yourself wanting to spruce up the scenery to make it ideal for guests and photoshoots. When time is of the essence, setting up decorations, chairs, and equipment isnt ideal. You may be better off booking a location that is already set-up with appealing decor or architecture, or accessible to a beach. To make your last minute wedding elopement plans come together , consider these places that dont need a ton of preparation and already look great on camera!

Last Minute Elopement Ceremony Locations Include:

If these spots dont strike your fancy, a sure-fire way to get instant inspiration is by searching Google for keywords for near-by locations. Looking up orchards, berry farms, vineyards, courtyards, gardens, museums, and any other setting you could think of can help narrow down your search for an ideal elopement venue. Or, ask our team and we will be more than happy to make recommendations!

Stay Local For Your Elopement

When planning a last minute elopement, it is always best to stay close to home. This is because  anything outside of your local area will involve added preparation for travel and accomodations. Not to mention the myriad of issues that could occur if plans go awry while youre in an unfamiliar place. Your elopement will be more likely to live up to expectations if done in a familiar setting. So, as youre planning, keep in mind that sticking to your immediate area will make your last minute elopement easier to manage.

3) Find Your Essential Wedding Vendors

Now that weve discussed the marriage laws and location options, it’s time to find the vendors you will need to make your elopement unique. To make things simpler, here are the “last-minute maneuvers” that should be made as you wrap up your planning:

Pick a Dress / Tux / Outfit

The attire for an elopement is entirely up to the wedding couple. There is no rule that you have to wear traditional wedding dresses or tuxes. In fact, you can arrive at your elopement in any outfit you deem appropriate. If you have time to spare, you can get your garments tailored for the occasion. Otherwise, it may be better to browse local wedding boutique shops for the best-fitting look. It’s your moment – and if it’s just you and your partner, thats even more reason to stick to whats comfortable!

Find Flowers or a Florist

There’s always the option of popping into a local store to purchase a bouquet. Or calling a San Diego florist at the last second and hoping for the best. But if you do so, you will be limited to the arrangements on hand. And, you will be running around when you could otherwise be enjoying the day. We suggest looking for an elopement package (like ours) that includes a floral bouquet. This way, you will be taken care of on your big day. Whether your style veers towards formal or casual, you are likely to find what you are looking for.

Locate an Amazing San Diego Elopement Photographer

A highly sought after photographer can be difficult to find at the last minute. Also, many professional photographers have minimum packages that do not accommodate elopements. A service like ours makes it easy, with guaranteed coverage from San Diegos most respected photography company. With multiple photographers on our team, you dont need to worry about last minute cancellations or problems. We will always come through for you, with amazing photos to show for it. Our studio has been photographing weddings for over 20 years, and we know the ins and outs of elopement photography.

To increase the chances of photographer availability, we recommend choosing a midweek date for your elopement, if at all possible. This way, youre not competing with weekend dates that book out far in advance, especially during summer and high peak calendar dates.

Keep Your Officiant in the Loop

Once you speak with your officiant, be sure to  keep them up to date with your last-minute elopement plans. This way, your officiant will be aware of your timeline for the day, along with any expectations or challenges they may expect. . By being  in San Diego, you have the option to have someone ordained by the state of California in as little as a day to perform your marriage ceremony. So your officiant should be able to get up to speed quickly, to ensure you are married on your timeline!

Keeping up with this checklist may look easier said than done, and it does help to have assistance in your corner. If pulling off a last minute wedding elopement seems daunting, lets explain further how an elopement team can streamline the entire process and work with you every step of the way.

4) Hire a Last Minute Elopement Team to Help With Wedding Preparations

A local elopement team is by far the easiest way to handle the ins and outs of last minute wedding preparations. This includes licence arrangement, location selection, service offerings, and day-of timeline. A well-established San Diego vendor team will have familiarity in working together, with rave reviews from past clients. The earlier you are able to start planning, the more likely you will be to find your perfect team available. Because of this, be sure to reach out to a vendor team as soon as you are able. With advance notice, your elopement company will be able to advise you on the best days for ideal weather and photography conditions. They will also be a trusted source for insights and suggestions pertaining to your elopement.

Our long-established, expert San Diego Elopements team is dedicated to making your last minute preparations as streamlined as possible. For example, you will have all of your vendors included in one elopement package.  This includes a wedding officiant, photographer, videographer, flowers, and hair and makeup, along with a wedding resource specialist. We pride ourselves in being a one-stop service that will handle every detail, each step of the way. Get in touch with us to make your San Diego elopement a fun, easy and stress-free experience!

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