It’s important to know that elopements don’t automatically mean getting married in a Las Vegas drive-through chapel. In fact, elopements are becoming increasingly popular as a way to spend special time with your partner without the fanfare of planning and enduring a 150-person wedding, and thanks to wedding blogs big and small, wedding planners are finding that even elopements can be full of beautiful pictures and DIY details.

Elopements might be especially appealing for gay and lesbian couples because of the limited number of states that allow gay marriage, and to avoid conflict with anti-gay family and friends. Instead of jumping through a million hoops, same-sex couples can enjoy getting married in a way that is intimate and rewarding.

Here are some ideas for making your elopement feel special and unique to you:

circle_1 Make it right for you and your partner: Since you don’t have to account for so many people, eloping makes it possible to get married in an unexpected place that perhaps means more to you than a run-of-the-mill reception hall. Best Elope Ideas has some suggestions for elopements in various regions, including details on how to elope in New York and Iowa.
circle_2 Avoid the court house: Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you have to get married in a court house. Real Weddings couple Gee and Juan eloped in Connecticut for an intimate, spiritual celebration that was right for them. They held their wedding on the beach.
circle_3 Plan ahead: Even though there are certainly fewer details to consider than a big wedding, make sure you take into consideration the waiting time for a marriage license and whether you need to reserve the place you’re interested in having the ceremony.
circle_4 Invite your closest friends: Today, elopements don’t necessarily mean running away with just you and your partner. Consider inviting some of your closest friends to act as witnesses but also to share in the special day with you.
circle_5 Spend the money somewhere else: Obviously elopements are significantly cheaper than weddings with a couple hundred attendees, which means more money can be spent on the honeymoon or toward the down payment on a house. But spending less doesn’t mean sacrificing the specialness of the day. Consider Judie Guild who specializes in officiating small weddings throughout New York City. She’s willing to officiate your wedding in any number of locations and has over 20 ceremony ideas to help you find what’s right for you and your partner. She has done a number of same-sex weddings, and she can also suggest photographers to help capture the day.