The Modern Melbourne Elopement
You know you want to marry your favourite human, but your soul is calling out for so much more than that three-course sit-down, bouquet-throwing soirée you’ve been to before. You are craving a sense of adventure, celebrating your own way and want to know you’ll be experiencing genuine, ecstatic joy the whole day.
Since he who shall not be named (yes, the virus and Voldemort have a lot in common!) came to town, more and more couples are seeing the incredible opportunity that an elopement provides over a big, traditional wedding as they realise what is deeply important to them. Eloping gives you more time to soak up and enjoy all of these special moments with your closest friends and family, and curate an experience that feels right for the two of you, where you say ‘Hell YES’ to joy over the status quo!
So, to define ‘elope’: it’s not what your grandparents think it is. It’s evolved considerably and for the better – no more secretive Vegas connotations! The meaning of elopement today is centred around closeness, curated experiences and freedom. Simply put it’s a small, intimate wedding with a hand selected group of your favourite people where you truly celebrate the kismet involved that brought the two of you gorgeous humans together in this complex, exciting world and the lives you have ahead of you, together. I love the freedom and authenticity it gives couples to make their wedding day their own – like a wild choose-your-own-adventure, with only the best champagne!
Why consider a modern Melbourne elopement? In addition to giving you more time with loved ones, it’s less stressful, easier to plan and gives you far more control over your wedding budget. Score!
We are so lucky to have such wonderful elopement locations here in Melbourne and regional Victoria, and as an elopement photographer in Victoria, I’ve helped many couples plan their epic day. To help you get started, I’m so glad to share my guide on how to elope in Melbourne. I’ll be by your side the whole journey, capturing every little memory!
Eloping in Victoria, Australia: What you need to know
OK, let’s tackle the legal, less sexy, but super important side of how to elope in Victoria. This process is overseen by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Victoria, but is fairly simple. You’ll need to file a Notice of Intended Marriage at least one month before your elopement. On the actual day of the wedding, an authorised celebrant or minister will need to officiate, with at least two witnesses present.
To find out how to elope in Australia in other states, always contact the respective state government office.
The right wedding celebrant will take the stress out of this part for you – if you need a celebrant recommendation here in Melbourne, I’d love to introduce you to some of my faves!
Now the serious stuff is out of the way, here’s how to get started on the fun stuff!
1. Arrange a meaningful destination
If you could elope anywhere, where would you go? The world is your oyster, but if you are looking for something closer to home we are truly blessed with spectacular locations right here in Victoria. You could keep it simple at the registry office in Melbourne near many of our fave CBD restaurants, plan an adventure in regional Victoria in a location you have both been to before and fallen in love with, or even arrange a multi-day destination elopement including hiking, wineries or fine dining.
With destination weddings where guests travel to regional areas for your celebration, you can spend additional time together to create memories, so this is a great option. I find that destination elopements are really special to my couples, since spending a few days in the country gives you more quality time with your friends and family, making memories and sharing experiences together.
While you can find all-inclusive elopement packages in Victoria, many couples love to roll up their sleeves and DIY their wedding celebration, making it all the more personal to them. To help with this, think about a private property wedding, which is one held in a home or Airbnb, like this beautiful rustic property with barn in Lysterfield. It’s much more intimate than booking a restaurant or venue, and you’ll get privacy, more family time and fewer time constraints.
I absolutely love elopement photography in Melbourne and the rest of our gorgeous state, and have been fortunate enough to photograph many of the best parts of Victoria. Some great spots to elope in regional Victoria include Loch Ard Gorge in Port Campbell, Warburton’s Californian Redwood Forest, RJ Hamer Arboretum at Olinda, Grampians National Park, and the epic Great Ocean Road.
We’ll be sure to schedule extra time for sunset photos with all the gorgeous natural landscapes around us as well. These golden hour photos are the ones you’ll look back on with a smile for years to come – the ocean breeze in your hair, the gentle touches and sweet smiles.
If the ocean is calling your name, I’m glad to arrange bespoke beach elopement packages in Victoria, ensuring I can be there to capture each smile, laugh and tear throughout your day.
2. Check out elopement pricing for your location
How much does it cost to elope in Melbourne? This depends on your vision, after all, serving Grange and Lobster to your closest friends in a private dinner at a premium clifftop AirBnB will cost you significantly more than celebrating with a DIY, rustic picnic in your favourite park. So let’s explore this.
If you’re dreaming up a city elopement, you can tie the knot at the registry for a few hundred dollars. Then, hop in an Uber and celebrate with your loved ones at your favourite restaurant! Chin Chin (how romantic and stylish were these Chin Chin shots for Elise and Ben?) and Stokehouse in St Kilda are personal faves for intimate wedding dinners.
For city elopements, I have a specific package for the Melbourne registry office that is just under $1000, one of the best value elopement packages in Victoria for photography. Oh, and if you’re planning a destination wedding within one of Victoria’s parks, you may need a permit for photography, but I’m glad to give you tips on how this works.
No matter what kind of elopement you plan, you’ll want to factor in costs including accommodation, venue hire, registry fees, flowers, venue hire and travel.
3. Find your celebrant and elopement photographer
After you’ve decided on your picture-perfect location, you need a celebrant and photographer! Finding the right people is really important, since they’re such a big part of your day.
I can recommend some amazing celebrants, but it’s key to look for someone you really click with. Will this person bring the right vibe to your day? Are they as excited about your elopement as you are? If it’s an outdoor destination elopement, are they prepared to hike to the cliff at sunrise?
And selecting your photographer isn’t just about making sure you love their images (although this is obviously very important!), it’s also about making sure that they ‘feel’ right to you. You’ll spend your entire day with your photographer – they will be documenting the heart of your day that many of your friends or family won’t be there to experience first hand. Too high energy and it can make the day feel draining, too low energy and the spark just won’t be there. You need a photographer that feels like grace and ease, who will give you your space to take in each moment, is brimming with EQ so they can read you throughout the day and has the experience to guide you when you get stuck. They need to feel like an old friend.
Maybe it’s during a Zoom call before you book, or perhaps it is just from watching their personality shine through on their Instagram stories, but I promise you that if you’ve found your photographer, you will feel in your core when things just ‘click’.
As you can see, elopements really aren’t about throwing caution to the wind and just getting hitched. They require planning and considered conversations around what each of you wants for your special day, helping you craft a wedding that’s representative of your love.
Planning your elopement in the heart of Melbourne? I love hearing from couples to learn more about their elopement plans. The beauty of human connection just gets me every time, so I can’t wait to hear your story and share some planning tips along the way!
Are you planning your modern Melbourne elopement this year?
MELBOURNE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER – MEET MARISA FROM CADENCE & GRACE
I’m Marisa from Cadence and Grace Photography and I’m not your average Melbourne Elopement Photographer. To me, a wedding is the greatest celebration of the depths of human connection. When you know in your core that ‘your person’ makes you light up inside and that you can’t imagine a world without them. A Modern Melbourne Elopement is a celebration of you finding each other in this crazy world. It’s your declaration screaming ‘Hells YES!’ to a lifetime of daily adventures, holiday planning, long brunches, eternally lost socks, long drives, trying to keep indoor plants alive and fights over which movie to watch together on Netflix. It’s a celebration of the real you, together and the perfectly imperfect.
Above all, when I document your modern Melbourne elopement, I’m documenting a story and connection that is unique to the two of you. I’m showcasing its beauty in a day filled with fresh florals, champagne toasts, smiles (and often tears), proud grandparents, first kisses, cheese towers, drunken cousins and dance floor antics. The big moments and all the little moments in between.
I only take a limited number of weddings each year. To see if I’m available on your wedding day, drop me a message on my contact page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Marisa xx