Written by Isiah Kurz
At Love and Latitudes, we believe in your wedding, your way. For our couples, this usually means an outdoor adventure through redwood forests or high desert landscapes in wedding attire and hiking boots.
But where you elope is just one detail. You should also consider the ceremony itself. Maybe you’re not interested in getting married in a church—but you still want a wedding that reflects your faith. Fortunately, it is easy to have a religious wedding even in the great outdoors.
Want a non-religious ceremony instead? Read how to have a secular elopement here!
There’s plenty of reasons someone would want a religious elopement including:
- Both you and your partner share the same faith and you want your service to reflect that.
- You’re religious, but your partner isn’t and you both agree that a religious ceremony works for you both.
- You’re not religious, but your partner is and you both agree that a religious ceremony works for you both.
- Your guests are religious and keeping that tradition is important to them and to you.
- You enjoy traditional wedding ceremonies and the religious meaning they provide.
- You enjoy contemporary religious wedding ceremonies because it mixes the best of the old with the new.
Whatever your reason, you can absolutely elope and have a religious ceremony at the same time.
A Religious Elopement Wedding Ceremony
What’s nice about religious weddings is that the traditions are filled with meaning and beauty. That’s because religious institutions have a long history of marking life’s major milestones—including weddings.
Of course, religious weddings can vary widely based on the cultural context. A Catholic wedding will look different than a Protestant wedding. Just like how a Muslim wedding, will look different than a Jewish wedding, a Hindu wedding, or a Wiccan wedding.
But no matter what your faith tradition is, your elopement officiant should be able to match your preferences.
Let’s take a look at some of the details, mentioning what can and can’t be modified:
- Processional (Optional)
- Walking down the aisle to an altar or wedding arch? Take this moment to ritualize the action. The wedding party goes first, then the couple (sometimes escorted by a parent or friend to give them away).
- Then again, some couples do not have an aisle or enough guests to walk past; in which case, this step can be skipped.
- Family Blessing (Optional)
- If you decide to have a family member or friend walk you down the aisle, the officiant will acknowledge this person, before dismissing them to take their seat. This step represents how your family member has walked with you till this moment or the special role that friend has played in your life
- If you don’t like the idea of being “given away” by someone else, you can easily eliminate this step.
- Welcome Statement (Necessary)
- The officiant thanks everyone for coming and begins the ceremony.
- If it’s just you and your fiancé, the officiant will greet you both and start the ceremony.
- Wedding Sermon (Optional)
- The officiant will share a short sermon about the couple, their commitment to each other, and what marriage means. This where the officiant will share a few scriptural readings, if the couple wants.
- Concentration (Optional)
- The officiant wishes the couple a long and happy marriage referencing a higher power.
- Wedding Vows (Optional)
- Traditional vows: The officiant guides the couple through their traditional wedding vows.
- Contemporary vows: The officiant guides the couple the vows, but the language is a little more natural and modern.
- Custom vows: The couple writes their own vows and shares them with their partner.
- Private vows: There’s no rule dictating that you have to share your vows publicly. Feel free to say your vows to your partner before or after the ceremony if you prefer. This allows for a very intimate moment between partners that is all their own.
- Declaration of Intent (Necessary)
- This is the all-important “I do” part of the ceremony that deems the marriage legal and binding.
- Ceremonial Activity (Optional)
- The couple participates in a symbolic activity of their union, whether that’s lighting a unity candle, handfasting, pouring colored sand into a vase, or nothing at all.
- Rings (Optional)
- The couple exchanges rings when prompted by the officiant.
- A lot of couples are surprised to learn that exchanging rings is completely optional.
- Pronouncement (Necessary)
- The officiant pronounces the couple married by law and by the church.
- Kiss (Optional)
- Even though kissing is optional, you’ll want to kiss your spouse!
- Presentation (Necessary)
- The officiant pronounces the couple married and, if guests are in attendance, everybody cheers.
- Recessional (Optional)
- To wrap up the ceremony, the couple walks away from the altar or wedding arch—typically to cheers and well wishes, if guests are present.
- Reception (Optional)
- Your post-wedding celebration is up to you! If you’re eloping you can hike, host a picnic, go swimming, dance, rock climb, or anything you can imagine.
- And if you want to wave the reception entirely, that’s A-OK too.
That sounds like a lot, right? Trust us—it goes by quicker than you think!