“Rather would I have the love songs of romantic ages, rather Don Juan and Madame Venus, rather an elopement by ladder and rope on a moonlight night, followed by the father’s curse, mother’s moans, and the moral comments of neighbors, than correctness and propriety measured by yardsticks.” – Emma Goldman
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The word “elope” is defined by Wikipedia to mean, “to run away and to not come back to the point of origination.” The term “elopement” is most often used to refer to a marriage conducted in “sudden and secretive fashion,” sometimes involving a quick getaway from your place of residence together, with the intention of getting married.
Maybe you’ve decided you don’t need a large wedding ceremony, and an elopement sounds pretty good to you. If you’re like most couples, you’ve probably considered Idaho or Las Vegas, mainly because you can get a marriage license and be married on the same day in both states…but if you’ve also considered all of the added expense, travel time, stress and distance, it’s a lot of hassle to go through just to save a little time!
Why not elope right here in Washington state, without the hassle of booking a judge or reserving a venue? Washington doesn’t require a blood test, so all you have to do is visit the County Recorder’s office, pay about $65 for your License, and wait a measly three days. During the waiting period, you can find a local, non-denominational wedding officiant who’s available on short notice.
The reason for utilizing a non-denominational wedding minister is that they’re authorized to perform virtually any kind of wedding ceremony – civil, religious or spiritual – and most have flexible schedules and offer very affordable pricing. A simple online search for “non-denominational wedding minister” should bring you plenty of names to contact.
You can elope virtually anywhere and usually without much hassle or expense: your own backyard (or that of a friend), a local or State park, a restaurant or the beach. Usually, if the location is nearby, there won’t be any travel fees. Non-denominational wedding ministers are used to performing weddings in unusual locations, and most have a favorite place, or places, where they regularly marry eloping couples. Be sure and ask your potential wedding Officiants about their preferred location, as this can help you decide on the one you would like to work with.
As with any Washington wedding ceremony, you still need two witnesses to the elopement. If, for personal reasons, or reasons of privacy, you’d rather not have friends or family attend, or be witnesses to your ceremony, and your wedding location is reasonably public, you can usually elicit the help of folks hanging out or passing by. Most people are overjoyed to be part of such a happy event…and bring home a fun story to tell their friends and colleagues! If that won’t work for you, then your Officiant may also be able to provide witnesses for a small additional cost. In any case, it’s not necessary for you, or your fiance, to know the witnesses personally.
If you decide not to include wedding vows or a ring exchange (neither is legally required), the Officiant will simply ask you if you take one another in lawful wedlock, pronounce you husband and wife, and sign the official papers.
It may sound romantic to proclaim your love before 300 people…but be sure that’s really how you want to be married. Maybe you don’t want to be the center of attention for the 25 friends and family members you actually know or the 275 assorted great aunts you’ve never met, second cousins you haven’t seen since 1958, husbands and wives of your daughter’s co-workers…or total strangers!
If you decide, instead, to make the day just about the two of you, and not about guest lists, venues, hairdressers, rehearsals, a “something for everone” buffet, or pleasing everyone in your two families, then an elopement may be just what the doctor ordered!