Eloping with Family | 17 Creative Ways to Include Family in Your Adventure Elopement

thirdeyesamuel adventure photography videography planning couple at national park

Eloping with family is made easy with our guide on the 17 ways to include family in your adventure elopement.

If a “just us” elopement experience isn’t the best fit for you there are plenty of fun and novel ways to include family. Eloping with family doesn’t even mean they have to be there for the official elopement. Wait what?

Before we dive deep into the specifics of including family in your elopement, let’s make sure we’ve got the fundamentals of eloping covered.

A lot has changed in the past several years regarding what an elopement really is and means.

So…what does it elope mean to elope?

Here’s what elopement has previously been defined as;

  • Elope (e·lope) – run away secretly in order to get married, especially without parental consent. run away to marry. run off/away together. slip away. sneak off. run off/away with a lover.

So things have changed…

The definition of elopement has evolved in the wedding universe as;

  • a “just us,” or intentional and intimate wedding experience with only the closest of family and friends (and us of course).
thirdeyesamuel adventure elopement couple with family below behind boulder rock formation


Simply put, an adventure elopement is an intimate alternative to traditional weddings, typically enjoyed outdoors at an epic National Park with mountains, canyons, or glaciers and so on.

You might also still be wondering, why should I elope?


  1. You want a “just us” experience that focuses on intimacy and intentionality
  2. You don’t want to plan a party for hundreds of people
  3. You want to avoid family drama
  4. You want way less planning and stress
  5. You value authentic moments over material things
  6. You want truly EPIC photos and video
  7. You want an adventure!

This intentional and intimate wedding experience focuses completely on you and your partner.

Each year, more and more couples are choosing to enjoy an adventure elopement or small intimate wedding experience.

Get married how YOU want to. It’s your big day after all.

adventure elopement bride and groom eloping with family at a national park

Now that we’re up to speed, we’ll adventure into how eloping with family can be enjoyed in a variety of creative ways.

1. Include your family in the elopement planning

Planning an adventure elopement can span many months. Bringing your family in for at least a portion of the planning will help them to feel valued and included in the process.

You can decide to do this at any stage.

Choose wisely which part you invite opinions for, as this can easily become a point of contention and spark family drama. It’s hard enough to plan an epic adventure elopement as it is, you certainly don’t need things made harder by an overly assertive family member.

2. Throw an engagement party

Partying is certainly a favored method of ours because it includes family in a way that is very upbeat and positive.

It can be hard sometimes for family to accept their child not having a traditional wedding and so setting the scene with a party can be just the thing to turn the whole perspective around. After all, it’s about celebrating union and infinite love, not parental control.

An engagement party could even be like a reception, where all of your family (or at least your favorites) and friends are invited. This can really help things to feel like a “normal” and traditional wedding experience. Consider renting a space like a restaurant, airbnb, or park.

elopement wedding reception red and pink floral arrangement and I love you so much neon sign at national park wedding venue for family

3. Have a send off dinner / party

If you’d rather have that party closer to the time you actually embark on your great adventure, a send off experience is a great choice. This timing of of a send off party really emphasizes and focuses on the actual adventure elopement part of the whole experience because the intention is about wishing you the best just before your journey.

This also creates a lot of family and friends eagerly awaiting the great story of your love and adventure. And we can assure you that you’ll be able to deliver an epic tale since you’ve got ultra high quality photos and video of the entire thing. Like the engagement party, a rented space at a restaurant, airbnb, or park are all great options.

That said, you could always just enjoy a cozy family dinner at the house too. Not everything has to be high profile with lots of people. In fact, most of our couples prefer a low-key elopement vibe from start to finish.

4. Bring family in on the final preparations before embarking on your adventure elopement

If you’d rather not have your family’s every thought and opinion about your adventure elopement experience but you still want them to feel like they helped in some way, bringing them in on the final preparations is an awesome way to accomplish this.

This one can really save the day because it instantly makes family feel valued and like they’ve played their parental (or other) role in your marriage. If you aren’t keen on inviting family to the actual elopement itself, this is solid choice.

5. Have a legal courthouse ceremony first with family present

Having family present at a legal courthouse ceremony is a power play so long as you aren’t heart-set on having the legal portion of the experience actually be at your adventure elopement ceremony.

This can also make things easier overall because sometimes it’s hard to get a marriage license just prior to the ceremony, especially when it involves traveling across the country and having to be done on a weekday. Family being at the legal ceremony will certainly make them feel like they were present for the “most significant” element of your elopement.

Even if you don’t think the whole legal part is that important, there’s a pretty good chance your parents do. And that’s great because it means they can be happy, and you can be happy without them by your side while your romantically adventuring with your partner in a far off distant and enchanted land.

6. Family can witness signing your marriage license

Whether in a courthouse or on a glacier, having family witness the signing of your marriage license is certainly a special and once in a lifetime (ish) thing. Now this would typically mean that they are present for your whole ceremony, so do keep that in mind.

That said, ceremonies are often very short, like 3-10 minutes short, so its a relatively small but significant amount of time to be with family. You can enjoy almost the entire duration of your adventure elopement alone with your partner AND still include your family for the most notable part if you choose this option.

All that said, you could also not have them present for the ceremony and just have a special marriage license signing moment with them hours, days, or even months later. In most states, you have 30-60 days to file for the actual marriage certificate from the time you pick up the license.

7. Read letters from family on elopement day

Warning, this one will result in tears for sure. Reading letters from your family and vice versa is a powerful way to bond from afar during the elopement experience. Reading them out loud makes for one epic video too.

Video is an absolutely magical way to remember your family’s love, especially if they pass from this world before you do.

Another amazing option is to invite them to record a voice message for you to listen to on your big day. This one is sure to strike deep into the heart. Hearing the emotion in their voice has serious impact. Either of these options are going to make for one emotionally supercharged elopement.

8. Incorporate family heirlooms or other significant details in your ceremony

Asking your family to share an important heirloom or item with you for your big day provides a psychological and spiritual presence. And sometimes, that’s more than enough. 😉 It’s also a great way to include deceased family in your elopement.

And even if family dynamics aren’t challenging, this is a perfect way to feel the energy of loved ones while you’re far far away on top of a mountain somewhere. This one’s also just about the easiest to do, which makes it a great choice any adventure or family dynamic.

These heirlooms can be worn, or carried inside a pocket, either way, we’d recommend in almost all cases to at the very least make this one of the ways you include family in your elopement.

9. Get ready with them just prior to the ceremony

If you’ve invited your family to be present in your adventure destination but want a ceremony that doesn’t involve them being there, this is a great way to bond on the big day. Perhaps your ceremony is on a glacier only accessibly by helicopter, or it’s a true adventure hike to get to, keeping it a “just us” ceremony experience is most appropriate.

And if you’ve seen your family for a while prior to the ceremony then you could also potentially enjoy (with peace of mind) the whole rest of the day and night alone with your newlywed partner. If family insists on traveling with to physically be at your elopement, this is an awesome way to involve them, and then not. 😉

Besides, the idea of hiking several miles or flying in a helicopter will discourage most family members from even daring to be present at the ceremony. There’s probably a direct correlation chart somewhere that relates the level of adventure to the absence of family.

chart for eloping with family on adventure elopement and how the more extreme the adventure the less family will attend
(I just made this)

10. Have a family member as your officiant or witness

To be the officiant of your adventure elopement is the highest honor a family member can receive. If you have even a single family member that you’d appropriate such a thing consider yourself lucky. They are basically a unicorn, or dragon.

Even to be delegated the important task of witness is a sacred thing. You cannot legally marry without one, at least in most cases. Either way whomever you decide is worthy, they will truly appreciate your decision and remember it for a lifetime.

If you decide that you don’t want family for either of these positions, remember that we do can serve as both an officiant, and a witness. 😉

11. Record or livestream the ceremony for them

This is literally the next best thing to being there in person at your ceremony. And in some cases even better. If you’re planning a bold adventure for your elopement ceremony, some family might not be into it. This can be a perfect way for them to enjoy the experience as if they were there, without the fear or discomfort.

And it just so happens that we’re the krew to totally make this a reality. In addition to photography, we offer full videography services, so your family and friends can vicariously live the experience. If there’s not enough service to livestream, there is always the option to record to be enjoyed later.

Even if your intention isn’t to record it for family, we recommend documenting your adventure in all the ways.

12. Send family photos and videos throughout the day

Regular photo video communication with family throughout your big day can feel almost as good as being there. The emotional weight behind each photo and video runs deep. This also makes family really feel like your thinking about them and considering their feelings. And it’s all very easy to pull off

We can help you to keep family up to date with the latest happenings on elopement day. We’ll document with both photo and video on our phones, and our professional cameras so you have real-time quick and easy sharing of all the best moments.

We also totally understand if this isn’t something you’re into. Sometimes people prefer to be more remote and present in their experience. Constantly communicating with the outside world can sometimes take us out of the magic. Fortunately, you’ll still be able to share all the epic moments on photo and video at a later date.

13. Open gifts from family before or after ceremony

Gifts are a great way to feel the impact of a family members love. Especially when they are perfectly timed in the emotional climax of the day. Opening a gift just before you begin your ceremony, or just after can really solidify that peak love experience. It also intertwines your family with that feeling.

Gifts can involve family without them having to be there for any portion of your adventure, and we can definitely support that. That said, you could have family present, and still have gifts. It’s just one of those nice extra aspects of the big day. Gifts also include family in the elopement experience long before the actual day. Your family will be contemplating for a long while on what would be most significant and impactful to you.

We think opening gifts, reading letters, or listening to a recorded audio message are all really great ways to feel the love without family present. And it’s really quite common for couples to not want family there on the big day, it’s definitely a wildly different vibe, and we understand this completely.

14. Propose a toast on video live or recorded

Toasts are always a highlight of an elopement wedding. Toasts give us an opportunity to speak deeply from the heart about loved ones. We rarely practice such a thing in life other than at a wedding, and because of this, they are remarkably sacred.

Because they are such a special thing we believe they should be captured with both photo and video, including the audio. Karly and I have trained ourselves to be able to do all of this for you. Our ultimate goal is to provide as much value as humanely possible with just the two of us.

We are a bonded couple ourselves, and so we’re able to unlock that emotional space within the Third Eye Couples we serve. Basically, we save you from needing to hire two full teams of photographers and videographers by having trained our craft to the highest levels. This also preserves the intimacy, which is paramount to the perfect adventure elopement experience.

15. Invite them to a reception on the day or on a later date

This is one of our absolute favorite options for including family in your adventure elopement. If you’d really rather not have the family vibe for your epic day we totally get it. However, there is an incredible value to inviting all of our family and friends to share a space at a single time.

There is usually never another time in a persons life where they will have an opportunity like this. This makes weddings and elopements a most sacred experience. Holding a reception at a later date is one of the best ways to accomplish the best of both worlds. You’ll get to have your private, intimate, intentional elopement experience, and see all of your family and friends bonding in one place.

A great example of this is from one of our most recent couples who enjoyed a multi-day adventure elopement by themselves (and with us) then held a large reception at a traditional wedding venue in their home city months later. And yep, you guessed it, we can be there creating magic for the whole lot of it. Adventures and parties are our specialty.

thirdeyesamuel adventure photography videography planning couple at national park with family

16. Plan a multi-day adventure elopement that includes family in one of the days

Hands down, this is what makes us come to life. And honestly…there’s really no other way to enjoy an elopement than by having a multi-day adventure. It takes a minimum 3 days to properly explore and enjoy just about any epic destination on earth. So why not go all out for the biggest day of your life.

The ideal elopement experience includes a multi-day adventure with us to document and immortalize all the most epic moments, followed by you and your partner alone with one another for several days, or weeks, afterwards. For one of those days, you can bring family in for a small portion of it. Sharing just a few hours with them can be enough to satisfy everyones deepest needs.

You can also have an adventure reception days later in whichever epic destination you’ve decided on. A ceremony at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park, hiking Half Dome the next day, then enjoying a reception with family at an Airbnb in Yosemite Valley the next. Sounds about as good as it gets to us.

17. Bring your family a memento from your big day

Imagine a beautiful and sacred memento sitting atop your family’s dresser in their bedroom to remind them everyday that their child has found true love. Perhaps it’s a wooden flower, bow-tie, champagne cork, or hand-fasting wrap from ceremony.

It could also be a framed printed photo. It could even be an epic massive piece of wall art, covering several square feet of their living space. Any opportunity we get to print our creations we support. We work with you to create a stunning, perfectly sized display of printed imagery for your (or your family’s) living space.


This is the way. Combine a party with family and friends plus all the best moments of your adventure elopement and you’ve got one of the most epic ways to include your family ever imagined.

Break out the whiskey and wine, or herb and psychedelics, and prepare yourself and those around you to witness real life magic. Jaws will be dropping, we’ll just say that.

This kind of viewing party where everyone is present and focused on the elopement is without a doubt the most powerful and impactful way to include family and friends without them actually being present on the big day. Even if they were there, a viewing party really showcases things in such a way that was not perceived or thought possible on the day.

I literally feel like a kid writing this because I am so excited by this. A viewing party should be included for every elopement, wedding, adventure session, or any other professionally documented and expressed experience ever. If you aren’t so hot with your family, and even if you don’t have any friends, a viewing party is still the way.

After we’ve delivered your photos and videos we’ll make all the necessary recommendations to enjoy truly seeing for the first time, and reliving your experience in the highest ways. We’ll help you with the tech, the vibe, and the setting to make sure it goes off perfectly. We even offer a service where we will literally plan and execute the whole viewing party for you.

You can hire us to create one of these unforgettable experiences right in the comfort of your own home, at a venue, an airbnb, and even in our camper van! We’ll come equipped with ALL the vibes and things to make pure magic.

19. [ULTRA BONUS] Don’t do any of it and just let them find out from Facebook or Instagram.

*Results may vary

adventure elopement wedding couple in sky on highline slackline together in wedding attire

May this guide serve you in the highest of ways. As you can see there are plenty of amazing options for including family in your elopement. Eloping with family doesn’t have to be hard, awkward, or a losing situation for anyone. There are creative ways to make people feel valued and like they’ve played their part in your epic adventure.

Author: Samuel - Founder at  ThirdEyeSamuel
Author: Samuel – Founder at ThirdEyeSamuel


If you found this post helpful share it with your partner or someone who you think it will benefit. Thank you. 🤠🙏🏴‍☠️

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  1. This is such a helpful resource! I know so many couples that are called to elope but can’t imagine not being able to include their family in some way. But your infographic is so true! The more people, the less adventurous you can be! I’ll definitely be using some of these tips when we elope. Great work!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! Haha I love that you commented on the info graphic, I actually humored myself and am a little proud of it too. 🤠 Keep up the great work yourself, I checked out your site and your doing big things over there!

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