There are many reasons you might choose have a London elopement or have a micro wedding with only your close ones. Maybe your love suits a more intimate celebration? Or you need to save some sweet money for your future home? Is it that you just don’t like being the center of attention. Regardless of your reasoning, eloping or having a micro wedding is a beautiful idea.
This guide will cover all you need to know for your London elopement; the legal bits, the best restaurants and hotels to stay and most suited venues to hold your ceremony.
Whether it is your 1st time in London or you’ve been here for years, there’s always more to explore. You might head out to the West End to experience the legendary Lion King Musical. You can also hop on over to Covent Garden to have the best Japanese food of your life (unless you have actually been to Japan...) or take a stroll on the Southbank by the Thames for some culture with the BFI and Tate Modern. Whatever you’re looking for, be it a new and exciting experience or the perfect urban background for your photos, London doesn’t disappoint.
Unlike in the movies, eloping does require a little planning. However, please don’t let this put you off, it’ll be worth it. Alternatively you can just elope in London and do the legal part in your home town before or after your elopement or micro wedding.
Legalities for your London elopement
One important thing to remember is that in the UK, you must be at least 18 to get married or 16 with parental consent. You will need to go and register at the registry office at least 29 days beforehand.
Application for permit
You’ll also need to apply for a permit for where you want to marry.
Although all of this might feel a bit daunting, these are just a few simple steps to get your memorable day started!
Costs of your London elopement
In a recent survey, it was discovered that couples spent an average of £32,000 on their wedding. The great thing about eloping is that so many of these extra costs are eliminated. Overall, for the formalities, you shouldn’t have to spend more than £200 between the two of you.
As previously stated, you’ll need to give notice to your local authorities. In order to do this properly, both people will need to let their registrar officers know of their intent to marry. This process involves paying £47 per person to cover the cost of administration.
On top of this, you’ll need to pay the registrar’s fee. The typical registrar will cost around £46. However, if you want to get married in a registered religious building, this price could be £86.
Marriage certificate fee
Lastly, a typical marriage certificate will cost around £11.
So that’s £94 for administration for the both of you, £46 for the registrar and £11 for the marriage certificate! Around £151 + room hire fee/ the permit application fee (if outdoors), not bad to officiate the best day of your life!
Also don’t forget to book a hotel for your stay. You can find a list of the best hotels to stay during your London elopement here.
Planning the ceremony for your London elopement
Firstly, you’ll need to organise your marriage certificate for the ceremony. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have to hire a celebrant. Check out www.humanism.org.uk if you need any direction on getting a humanist celebrant. Whether or not you want a humanist (non-religious) ceremony,
Who to invite
If you don’t mind people knowing about your wedding but still want it to be small and intimate, why not invite ten or fewer than that of your family and friends? Perhaps you just want your parents to be there? Or maybe just your best friends? Whoever you want, it’s great to think of your loved ones but what’s most important is that you do whatever you want in order to have your dreamy, perfect day.
You’ll still need to have a witness for your ceremony. Legally, your witness can be anyone but officially they need to be able to understand what they are witnessing. This means they need to be of an appropriate age and understand the language the ceremony is hosted in! If you want your London elopement to be a secret, just grab one stranger to be your witness. This might seem a bit crazy but it’s all part of the fun!
Once all that is out the way, you can start planning the location and any decorations you might want to have for your ceremony. Is there a special flower that you’d like to be in all your elopement photographs? Do you want to play a particular song that’s meaningful to you and your partner? Do you have any significant vows, perhaps a poem or family tradition you might want to include in the ceremony? This day is going to be with you for the rest of your life so make sure to think about anything you might want captured forevermore.
Best outdoor ceremony locations for a London micro wedding or elopement
One great thing the pandemic has brought to the wedding industry is that since the 1st of July 2021 outdoor ceremonies have been made legal in the UK.
St Dunstan in the East Church Garden - Located in central London, this dilapidated church was originally built around 1100. It really is breath-taking with its creeping vines and fascinating greenery. Perfect for an intimate moment full of character.
Hampstead Heath - Imagine celebrating your love at sunset on the top of one of London’s highest point, in the midst of vast fields, overlooking the London skyline.
Battersea Park - This grade II listed park is situated on the South Bank of the Thames, opposite Chelsea. There’s something really spectacular at the thought of an autumnal wedding surrounded by orange leaves in the middle of this pagoda.
Kew Gardens - This botanical garden has the largest and most diverse collection of plants in the world and makes the most romantic background for an elopement in London.
Greenwich - The best part about Greenwich Park is that it’s full of secret places to explore and get totally lost in. Ideal for a deeply personal London elopement.
Best indoor ceremony locations for a London micro wedding or elopement
You can have your elopement ceremony in one of London’s town hall. Have a look here to see my favourite London town halls for elopements and intimate weddings.
If you decide to go for a more alternative venue, you can have a look at my list of London alternative wedding venues.
If you want a comprehensive guide, this link on the government website has all the approved premises list.
Asylum Chapel: Derelict chapel with lots of character.
Science Museum: One of London’s most iconic venue now holds wedding ceremonies and receptions too.
The Barbican Centre - The Barbican conservatory is a tropical conservatory nested in a magnificent brutalist building
Searcys at The Gherkin - A striking location where you’ll get to experience London from the top with a 360 view. The remarkable ceiling and view from The Gherkin makes this location absolutely jaw dropping. You can find an intimate wedding I photographed here
The London Zoo - The London Zoo is an eccentric yet memorable location to share your special day.
London’s best elopement experiences for a London micro wedding or elopement
There’s plenty to do if you want to have a romantic London elopement. If you’re looking for something affordable, why not check out
Both museums have a free collection.
For the foodies
I have made an exhaustive list of the best restaurants and places to go for a drink for your London elopement there
One thing is for sure, if you decide to elope in London, it’ll be an adventure! Whether you want to do something spooky like head out to the London Dungeons or have a classy stay overlooking the incredible London skyline at The Ned, there’s always something exceptional to experience.
Although it might initially feel intimidating just start with the basics: What do you want to get out of your London elopement? Do you want it to be posh and swanky or creative and quirky? Make sure you organise everything in advance and have a clear idea of how you want your special wedding day to be.
As a London wedding photographer, I’m always here to give a helping hand or offer any advice to a couple looking to have a unique London experience. Tell me what your favorite food is and I’ll help you book a restaurant. Tell me what kind of hotel you have in mind and I’ll give you a hand in choosing the perfect place for your stay.
After 16 years living in London I’ll be more than happy to share my knowledge with you and capture your unforgettable London elopement like I did for these two!
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