How to Plan a Memorable Post-Elopement Party Everyone Will Love

We love this unconventional celebration.
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated Feb 16, 2023

If you're planning to elope or have recently returned from your private elopement ceremony, you might be wondering how you can have a gathering with all your loved ones after the fact. The answer is a post-elopement party. Some people consider this event similar to a wedding reception full of love, food, entertainment, drinks and much more. If you want to know more about post-elopement parties and how to plan your own, read the expert advice below. Plus, check out our favorite reception after-eloping ideas you can use for your party.

In this article:

What Do You Call a Party After an Elopement?

Holly Gray, expert wedding planner and stage designer for Anything But Gray Events, describes a post-elopement party as "a celebration, of any size with family and friends, that takes place after a couple has chosen to elope privately on their own." Mike Hall, operations manager at Island Sound, adds that this event is sometimes considered "a wedding reception without some of the typical formalities."

Why Should I Have a Post-Elopement Party?

If you're unsure if a post-elopement party is the right thing for you, Heather Schneider, owner and photography expert of Dark Roux Photography, explains why it can be a happy and memorable occasion your guests will enjoy. "Some people really want to show their love and support, and some may be a little upset they were excluded from or couldn't make it to such a big day. This party's purpose is to celebrate the newlywed couple with everyone."

Another reason couples have a reception after eloping is that they want the intimacy of a private ceremony with no guests, but still want to celebrate with loved ones. "This opens up the possibilities for celebrations on different days, locations or inviting select groups of family and friends. Just like when it comes to how you want to celebrate your wedding day, a couple can decide how they want to celebrate their post-elopement party," Gray says.

Post-Elopement Party Etiquette

Having a reception after eloping is a territory many people haven't ventured into before. This means you might not know the etiquette rules that come with this kind of event. Read below to learn how to go about your post-elopement party, the right way.

Announce your elopement as soon as possible.

First, announce to your loved ones that you've eloped. You will most likely tell your close friends and family this news in person, but we suggest telling others about your elopement too. You can do a formal announcement by sending it on stationery or go the casual route and announce via social media or email. Secondly, assuming you've decided to have a post-elopement party, you need to send save-the-dates just like you would for a traditional wedding. The sooner you figure out your date and venue, the sooner you can send out your save-the-dates, whether they're paper or virtual, so your loved ones can have time to check their calendar and add your party to it.

Consider having a registry.

Just because you've eloped doesn't mean you can't have a registry––remember, you and your partner still need help building your future. Creating your registry involves the same steps someone else would take for a traditional wedding. Make a wishlist through The Knot Registry and add anything from a honeymoon fund to your dream blender. Couples tend to opt for a small registry since a reception after eloping is a small event, but the choice is yours. We suggest having a gift table so your guests can bring gifts to your post-elopement party too.

Have drinks and food.

"You should make sure your guests have food and drink at a minimum," Hall says, and we agree. Feeding your guests and having a beverage for them to wash everything down is a party must-have as a host. You can be conventional with your event and have a seated dinner and wedding cake to juxtapose your elopement or have fun with your unique circumstances with multiple food stations and a doughnut wall for dessert. Don't forget about offering signature cocktails, wine, craft beers or elevated mocktails. But no matter how you want your post-elopement celebration to look, we encourage you to have fun with your decisions.

How to Plan a Post-Elopement Party

If you don't know how to start planning your post-elopement party, there's no need to worry. Read below to learn what steps you need to take to host the party of your dreams.

Set your party budget.

Just like you would when hosting any other event, you need to set a budget so you don't overspend. Make a list of everything you want to be included on your special day and write down the estimates of how much each of those things will cost. Your party can be as casual or extravagant as you'd like as long you keep your budget in mind.

Another thing that goes hand in hand with figuring out your budget is your event's date since it determines how much time you have to save for your party, how much your vendors will cost, if your desired vendors are available, and much more. Schneider believes the post-elopement party date depends on the couple and can be anywhere between after the honeymoon to on the couple's first anniversary. However, Gray recommends couples keep the event within the same calendar year as their elopement, "ideally within a month of their elopement when possible as a way to contain and share the excitement and euphoria of their big day with those they love." So speak with your partner about your ideal planning timeline and budget so you can finalize your date.

Pick a fun theme.

Picking a theme isn't required, but it could help you determine the look of your post-elopement party decor, invitations, food, entertainment and more. If you and your partner love all things "Star Wars", consider having lightsaber party favors, Mandalorian helmet-shaped wedding cake or "Star Wars" themed attire. If a rustic theme is more your speed, include flowy lace fabrics, wooden event signs and outdoor activities. There are so many theme options to choose from so have fun making your choice, no matter your taste.

Send invitations.

Once you've sent out your elopement announcement, you'll need to send reception after eloping invitations. Some people use the invitation to announce their elopement too so it can take one thing off their to-do list. For the post-elopement party invitation wording, you need to ensure it's clear that you've already married and the event is a party, not a wedding. Here are some invitation wording examples:

  • "You are invited to celebrate the marriage of [Your Name] and [Your Partner's Name]"

  • "We Couldn't Wait. Now It's Time to Party!"

  • "We eloped and want to throw a party to celebrate. Please join us!"

  • "We Said 'I Do,' Now It's Time For a BBQ"

Two other things you should include on your invitation suite are what type of event it is and if you have a registry, the latter goes on the event details card. For example, if you're hosting your party at a nice restaurant for a seated dinner or doing a post-elopement cocktail party at a rooftop bar, put that information on the invite. This gives guests a better idea of what to wear and what to expect.

Choose a creative party venue.

Pick a post-elopement party venue that speaks to you, matches your theme and fits your budget. Since a post-elopement party isn't the norm, people tend to be more adventurous when deciding on their venue. You can be among nature at a garden venue, toast to your marriage at a history museum, or host your party in the backyard of your home. Just remember the options are endless, so start searching to book a venue you'll love.

Figure out your entertainment.

Deciding what entertainment you should have for yourself and your guests is arguably one of the most fun parts of planning a post-elopement party. The reception activity you choose helps keep people engaged and makes your event memorable. This can be anything from a tarot card reader to a pop-up casino. We suggest involving an interactive activity, like wedding lawn games, too, so your guests can get to know one another.

Post-Elopement Party Ideas

Once you've sorted out the planning logistics, it's time to start looking at inspiration for your event. Read below to see six ideas you can incorporate into your reception after eloping.

Have a casual backyard BBQ.

Not only does having a backyard barbecue come with a catchy phrase, "I Do BBQ," but it also is a tasty and easy idea. Book your favorite barbecue joint to cater your party or step into the kitchen and make your own sweet and savory food offerings. This option is great for couples who have a large guest count since barbecue results in large portions and numerous servings and for those who want a laidback vibe.

Plan a boozy brunch.

Brunch is a perfect post-elopement party idea for couples who want the best of both worlds. Have breakfast favorites like chocolate chip pancakes and mimosas, plus mouthwatering lunch options like margherita pizza.

Incorporate fun wedding traditions.

Just because you're going the unconventional route doesn't mean you can't include wedding traditions in your party. "Casual events that mix in a few traditional wedding activities are really great to see. A dad dancing with his daughter in front of everyone is a tear-jerking moment whether you're wearing formal attire or barefoot in jean shorts on the beach," Schneider says.

Get a food truck to cater your post-elopement event.

Food truck catering is a wedding food trend we love, and we don't think we'll ever tire of it. Food trucks add a personal and fun touch to any event. This idea can be a main meal or a late-night snack option for your guests.

Rent out your favorite restaurant for dinner.

Depending on the size of your guest list, consider renting out the entirety of your favorite restaurant or a private room for an intimate dinner. Ask the the chef if you can work together to create a special menu for the event. You can also book a brewery, winery or distillery for the same vibe.

Wear your elopement attire again.

You and your partner can go shopping for new post-elopement outfits or wear the attire you wore when you eloped. The latter saves you money and will be a nice surprise for your guests.

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