Eloping in Australia is easy and fun! There’s very few mandatory tasks that are required to make the wedding legal and plenty of stunning locations and options to choose from to celebrate in your own special way.
From micro weddings to secret weddings and elopements, Australia has all the options you could ever need to plan precisely the kind of small wedding you want. And without the worry of having to pay for a hundred extra heads, you’re free to create the wedding you deserve.
Here’s how to make an elopement in Australia everything you hope it will be...
Decide what’s important!
Why are you eloping? It may be to skip the fuss of a huge wedding ceremony and perhaps you’re keen to keep costs down. But there’s also a vision you want to achieve that involves a more intimate audience.
Plan an elopement that fits with who you both are. Image: Cavanagh Photography
Talk to your partner about what you both value and what getting married means to you. Think about what you’re going to say with your wedding and what it says about you. Then find people who share your values to help you bring your wedding vision to life.
Find a celebrant
To put it simply, the celebrant is the most important person at your wedding aside from you and your future spouse. All Australian weddings need at least five people present: the people getting married, two witnesses and a celebrant. Your witnesses can include your photographer, videographer or anyone else you invite. However, it’s the celebrant who sets the tone of your wedding ceremony and joins you together in marriage.
Choosing the right celebrant is crucial to having a meaningful celebration that resonates with everything you believe in together. Think about who they might be. Fun? Easy going? Speak another language? Warm hearted? LGBTI friendly? Willing to travel?
When you elope, there's no crowd of guests to rely on for atmosphere at your ceremony. For this reason, it's important to choose an experienced elopement celebrant as they know how to create an intimate atmosphere with just a handful of guests present. Find a celebrant from this list of Australia’s most recommended elopement celebrants.
Choose your invitees
Yes, you might have chosen an elopement so that you don’t have to worry about who gets invited quite as much, but you still need two official witnesses. If you haven’t already decided who to bring with you, consider what’s most important to you when choosing who needs to be at the wedding.
There are no real hard and fast rules for who to invite or how many to invite. Generally, a guest list of under 8 is considered an elopement, under 20 is a micro wedding and 40 or under is a small wedding.
Any of your wedding vendors, with the exception of your celebrant, can act as a witness to your wedding.
Book a photographer
Your elopement will be one of the biggest moments of your life, so you’ll want to make sure all the wonderful feelings & moments that you experience on the day are captured beautifully.
Australian elopement captured by Cavanagh Photography
Australia has a huge range of amazing wedding photographers, including some who have been named amongst the world’s best by leading international publications. You may be surprised by how affordable these elopement photographers are.
Another option to consider is the addition of a wedding videographer to capture your special day. They can create a short highlights reel that you can publish and share online. You can even have the ceremony live streamed for family and friends to watch as it all happens. Video packages range from simply filming your wedding ceremony to the addition of pre & post wedding footage and drone imagery - which is definitely something to consider if you’re having a destination wedding in one of Australia’s landmark locations.
Tell those who need to know
You’ll probably want to tell your family and closest friends about your wedding. Think about when, where and how you will share this information. Will you tell them before, during or after the big day?
Sydney Harbour elopement captured by Cavanagh Photography
Whoever you tell, tell them directly! Hearing the news directly from you will help them feel included in your big moment. They may be curious as to why you are choosing or chose to elope. Have an explanation you’re comfortable with at the ready and be prepared that some people may require time to digest the news. If this happens stay positive and be understanding.
Decide on a budget
Weddings are pricey, even small ones. To give you an estimate of how much your Australian elopement will cost, here’s a rough guide on pricing.
How much does an Australian Elopement cost?
The average cost of an elopement in Australia is between $8,000 - $15,000. This includes the following expenses:
- Ceremony Venue Hire: $0 - $5,000
- Wedding Celebrant: $650 - $1,800
- Wedding Photographer: $600 - $5,000
- Flowers: $300 - $1,200
- Wedding Videographer: $600 - $5,000
- Champagne & Nibbles: $150 - $400
- Hair & Makeup: $120 - $300
- Planner &/or Stylist: $400 - $3,000
On top of these costs you’ll need to budget for outfits for both of you, the rings, the reception venue or restaurant for celebrating after your ceremony, travel costs and accommodation. Most couples who elope in Australia choose one or two items from this list to ‘splurge’ on, and look to save on the budget in other areas. Your wedding is a very special moment in your life. So think about what you want the most from your special day and be generous to yourself in those areas.
Australia has many beautiful places to elope. Image: Aleksandar Jason Weddings
Choose a location
If you haven’t chosen your wedding location yet, you can start with these 24 amazing places to elope in Australia. Once you’ve decided on a region, you’ll want to look for wedding venues that offer the kind of aesthetic you have in mind. We have a huge range of elopement venues right here on Wedlockers. Simply filter by ceremony spaces, views, location etc to see what each elopement venue has to offer.
Australia has plenty of small wedding venues for an intimate elopement
Check on legalities
The legal requirements to get married in Australia generally include: not already being married, not be marrying a person who is immediately related to you, be at least 18 years old, understand what marriage means and freely agree to be married, use the specific words required during your wedding ceremony as directed by your celebrant, submit a notice of intended marriage via your celebrant between 1 to 18 months before your wedding and be married by an authorised marriage celebrant.
You’ll need to provide proof of identification and place of birth, as well as a divorce if there have been previous marriages. Documents your celebrant may ask you for in order to submit your paperwork to legalise your marriage include an original birth certificate or extract and an original passport.
Find the perfect gown
Australia is home to an industrious industry of internationally renowned fashion designers including those who create wedding suits and couture gowns. And in addition to the industry’s big names, there’s many local city-based design houses where dream gowns, pant suits, two pieces and more can be tailored, by the designer, off the rack.
Australian wedding gown designer Suzanne Harward
Any of the designers listed on Wedlockers will provide you with a custom fitting on your arrival in their city. Make sure you enquire early to get the required appointments prior to your wedding. Australian designed gowns generally start at $1,500 off the rack and custom tailored couture ranges from $5,000.
Don’t forget the rings
When it comes to the rings, narrow your options down to the metals and gems you want to use, then consider what style fits best. Do you want simple bands, brushed metal, single stones or something more embellished? As a rule, don’t worry too much about whether your rings match or not. You can each have your own unique design that fits with your lifestyles in mind.
Having your wedding rings designed locally is a wonderful experience to enjoy together in the lead up to your wedding. Small Australian jewellers will walk you through the process, discussing who you are and what matters to you, to create designs that speak to your personality and relationship. If you’d like recommendations for small, local jewellers who offer this service in your area send us an email.
Think about what comes after
What will you do after the wedding ceremony? What kind of wedding reception do you want? A candlelit table for two catered in a private location, dinner at a restaurant in the city or an outdoor table under the stars at your private country venue?
Elopement in Australia styled by E Squared Design Co
Hiring an elopement planner to take care of all your wedding logistics is a good idea if you’re not getting married in your home town. They’ll organise your wedding ceremony, book your chosen suppliers and get you the best table at our most popular venues. You can find Australian elopement planners right here.
Announce your marriage
Even if you’ve given a lot of people close to you the heads-up, you should still think about how you’re going to make your introduction as a married couple. Your wedding photos and video can be used to help you share the news on social media.
You can also create stationery or other custom-made wedding favours to send to your nearest and dearest so that, even though they weren’t there, they have something to celebrate the big day with. Feel free to make a big fuss about it. It was a big moment in your lives together!
It’s easy to elope in Australia! There’s a multitude of beautiful elopement locations, fabulous wedding celebrants, very few restrictions and lots of venues that cater to small elopements and weddings. Decide on your favourite Aussie destination and enquire with an experienced elopement celebrant to kickstart your wedding plans in Australia.
Cover image: Cavanagh Photography