Wedding Reception Styling in Cornwall and Devon

Just the two of us

Just the two of us

How to elope

Love the idea of a small and super special wedding? Be inspired by our ultimate guide to elopements

Hannah May
Hannah May - Chief Features Writer

The word ‘elopement’ can conjure all kinds of images. In years gone by, it was most often associated with illicit weddings between young lovers or pregnant brides and their beaus, rushed and without approval.

Today, however, elopement (and micro) weddings are fast becoming one of the most popular and fashionable ways to tie the knot. With the traditional wedding rulebook well and truly torn up in favour of each couple writing their own love story as they go, elopements now signify the ultimate in freedom and creativity – the chance to escape and wed wherever and whenever you want. And while traditionally elopements involved only the couple, when we talk about elopements now, they often include a handful of guests.

Simply picture your dream wedding scenario and plan a smaller day to suit. You needn’t abscond or ditch your guest list entirely – the idea is to focus on just the two of you and then decide what ‘extra’ elements you’d personally like to add, in keeping with your place, season, budget, theme, time constraints and mood.

“I love elopements!” enthuses wedding planner and stylist, Sophie Walker from The Little Details by Sophie ( “They're such a beautiful way for the couple to show their love to each other without having to please anyone else at all.”

Rebecca Green from Rebel & Anchor ( fervently agrees. “The beauty of elopements is that you don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks!” she says. “Think about your favourite location, experience or time of year and start from there.”

A wedding day that is well and truly about you? There’s little more that you need to know. But for those keen on discovering more, we’ve compiled this mini guide on elopements to help.

Elopement Guide How To Wed Inspiration Intimate Devon Cornwall Bride Groom5Katie Goff Photography

An elopement essentially involves a couple getting married alone or with a very small number of guests. Unlike traditional weddings that often tend to follow a loose format (namely because they involve more than a handful of other people), there’s no modern-day blueprint for elopements. The only stipulation to make a marriage legal in the UK is to have two witnesses, making the smallest legitimately viable wedding a party of five (the couple, their witnesses and the celebrant).

Once you’ve given notice – and waited the pre-requisite 28 days – you’re at liberty to plan and conduct your wedding exactly as you please (within 12 months of giving notice), since there will only be a few, if any, other people to factor into the equation. Of course, you may wish to elope after or as part of a humanist or civil ceremony/partnership, which offers even greater scope for personalisation.

“Whilst traditionally, eloping referred to a couple ‘running away’ and getting married in secrecy, now it is simply a great way to say ‘I do’ in the exact way you want, with no pressures to put on a big show,” reiterates Izzy Blacher at Treseren (, which specialises in elopement and micro weddings. “Couples often choose to include friends and family in the run-up to the day, but if keeping it private feels right for you, then that’s OK too!”

It is a common misconception that elopement weddings can feel a little rushed, given there aren’t hordes of guests to speak to and speeches to hear. “At Treseren, elopement weddings include a two-night stay with exclusive use of your very own country house, so that you can really relax and enjoy your special time together,” says Izzy.

And the spoils don’t stop there. “You can add personal touches into your timeline – from heading off for a surf at your favourite beach in the morning to enjoying a relaxing massage. We love seeing the unique choices that couples make and we’re continually surprised and delighted at the different weddings we’re honoured to host.”

“If your dogs are super important then get them involved. If you’ve always fancied the zip wire at the Eden Project, then throw that into the mix!” says Rebecca, encouraging couples to tailor a distinctive day to their every whim.

A wedding that incorporates your favourite things to do at a place – and pace – hand-picked by you is at the core of elopements, allowing couples to design an utterly bespoke day that reflects all their loves during one ultra-personal celebration.

Elopement Guide How To Wed Inspiration Intimate Devon Cornwall Bride Groom4Ellen Sear

One of the main draws of an elopement is the opportunity to get married (almost) anywhere you want. Whether you’ve hosted a legal ceremony and wish to elope for a private wedding and minimoon elsewhere or are planning a micro wedding with a dozen friends and family members at your favourite place, the possibilities are endless.

From a clifftop ceremony to a sand-between-the-toes party for two, elopements come into their element with regards to the venue. You may wish to utter your vows in your garden or on a beach, in a registry office or a retreat; the trick is to follow your heart – then allow it to sing!

The same goes for the wedding date. Mid-week or weekend, summer or winter – it doesn’t really matter as you won’t be asking people to take time off work or travel to be there (or have to worry about their individual needs), so pick a date during your favourite season and plan from there.

Envision exchanging hand-written vows on the water’s edge in late summer, organising a private New Year’s Eve party at a plush hotel, hosting a wild ceremony in a bluebell wood during springtime or sequestering yourselves away to a remote venue for a few blissful days of peace and relaxation.

And don’t forget about other places you can incorporate into your elopement, from pre-wedding gatherings (for your and loved ones) to honeymoon destinations and photo shoot venues – both engagement and on the day. “There are a few amazing photographers out there, including Tom Frost and Verity Westcott, who love a good elopement,” says Rebecca about the importance of finding suppliers that are best suited and equipped to accommodate elopements. “They know the most dramatic locations to whisk you away to get beautiful shots. Make sure you give them the sense of who you are as a couple and what vibe you love, and they will help you get the memories that you will cherish forever.”

Elopement Guide How To Wed Inspiration Intimate Devon Cornwall Bride Groom6Thomas Frost Photograhy 

Though elopements, by their reduced-size nature, tend to be less expensive than larger events, there will be a number of costs involved – so always start and stick with a budget.

After whittling down your venue and date to within your requirements and budget, you’ll then want to think about the look and feel of your wedding. From the photography and dress code to the flowers and food – pared-back or maximalist – the choice is entirely yours.

“Styling can be very tailored to both of you as a couple, so do still consider flowers and the nice little touches,” says Rebecca. “In terms of suppliers, try to meet them before the day itself as they will become your support network and they’ll have your best interests at heart.”

Create a series of special dining or entertainment events, such as a romantic drinks reception with a harpist or an evening supper at a nearby jazz club. “Catering can be super fun to organise, from grazing picnics on a beach or clifftop to a seven-course tasting menu by a highly rated chef,” says Rebecca. “It’s also lovely to consider the whole day: breakfast on the beach, lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant and the golden arches for that fun evening soaker snack. One of our clients was a sailor, so for their evening meal they had a three-course meal on the beautiful Blue River Table, a 36ft traditional Cornish fishing boat.”

Sophie relishes the styling aspect of elopements. “You can go all-out because you genuinely don’t have the ‘what will they think?’ in the back of your head,” she says. “If you want a Moroccan vibe and to sit on the floor, you can – and you don’t have to worry about your great-aunt getting up! Your aisle can be completely unique, as you don’t need to worry about chairs for guests, and stunning backdrops and unique florals are also a must.”-

Elopement Guide How To Wed Inspiration Intimate Devon Cornwall Bride Groom3

With elopements also comes the opportunity to create a beautiful ceremony. “You can share words without the embarrassment or judgement of anyone else listening, and if you want that outside ceremony and it’s pouring down, does it really matter? Do you really mind?" she continues. “You’re the only ones that have to worry about it. It’s an amazing way of exploring where you’re eloping and taking time out as a couple.”-

She also suggests hosting an after-party to celebrate with friends and family in the knowledge that you’ve achieved your dream wedding in advance, exactly how you always wanted it. “If you want a party when you get home, then do so, but at least your ceremony and your marriage are yours to share as a pair.”

“Have a reveal party planned when you get home, to celebrate with some friends and family, show them the images and share your experience” agrees Rebecca. “It can be great to have had your own day on your own terms, but it’s lovely to be able to share it too. And make sure you tell the nearest and dearest before anyone else. In my experience, most people are happy for you, but parents and best friends will want to hear it from you directly rather than social media.”

Simply put, make your plans, share your plans (if you want to!) – and then enact your plans to suit yourselves for an elopement planned and executed with the greatest of ease, love and joy.

Elopement Guide How To Wed Inspiration Intimate Devon Cornwall Bride Groom1Ellen Sear

The experts share their top tips for a successful elopement wedding

Find local suppliers. Book people who you really get along with, as they’re the ones you’re going to be spending the day with. They will also know all the secret spots! Sophie

Put your needs first. This is one of the main reasons you chose to elope in the first place! Rebecca

It’s about you. Get rid of the “what will mum and dad think?” from your brain; they will likely just be genuinely happy you’ve married your love. Sophie

Wear what you want! Go full bridal if you want to, go sequinned jumpsuit, or dress comfortably – whatever you want! Do really let your style shine through; you don’t need 100 people to make you feel amazing. Rebecca

Yes, book the cake. Even if it’s just for the two of you, you can always have it as a midnight feast! Sophie

Whatever the weather. Don’t worry about the rain – your photos will look stunning and your experience will be incredible, whether it’s sunny or rainy. Sophie

Elopement Guide How To Wed Inspiration Intimate Devon Cornwall Bride Groom2Verity Westcott Photography

Head to for a directory of Cornwall’s finest elopement venues

words Hannah May

main image Thomas Frost Photography

Featured Directory Links...