Destination weddings – often romanticised as ‘elopement weddings’ – have long been an OutThere trend. With many countries across the world, from Argentina to Scotland offering non-domicile couples the opportunity to tie the knot quickly (and in an exciting and exotic way) and start the honeymoon before even marrying (and the paperwork be recognised back home), there has been a boom in recent years of people heading abroad to marry, just them, or with only their parents or besties in tow. With travel locking-down making international weddings difficult – and the restriction on event sizes during the pandemic putting the kibosh on bigger, more ostentatious celebrations – you would think that the demand for weddings would slow, but there is a large number of savvy lovebirds going against the grain, maximising their budgets to ‘eloping’ and marking their union in a more personal and experiential way. And we believe that even when some sort of normality resumes, private, elopement weddings will continue to be in vogue. We recce a number of private spaces in the UK, perfect for an en experiential elopement or intimate celebration.
There are infinite benefits of a small, laid-back wedding if you’re the marrying type. Primarily, there’s less stress in organisation and guest-listing, but also the opportunity to maximise the budget per head for those who really matter, the wedding party. But smaller elopement weddings can also mean greater creativity and the option to get creative and go off-template, allowing for something all the more experiential and bring the magic of travel that you love into your big day … think about how cool the wedding photos could be! During the pandemic, many were ‘forced’ into smaller events, or postponing them altogether. But others saw it as an opportunity to ditch the big, over-the-top ‘template’ celebration in exchange for one more intimate. And it seems that happy couples are buying into these ‘minimalist matrimonies’ – from penthouse weddings, to ones in the wild – as bookings for small weddings (and interestingly, vow renewals) are soaring, way into after we expect the pandemic to be a thing of the past.
London is not short of mind-blowing penthouses, but The Royal Penthouse at Corinthia London is one fine place to escape to and throw a private wedding bash. The sprawling, duplex space has jaw-dropping views and an outdoor terrace that overlooks the British capital. It comes with a dedicated butler – we’ll choose to call him the wedding butler, for purposes of illustration – to cater to your every whim. That is alongside, in-house wedding (and by default, elopement weddings) planner Alexandra Pisani, who has the inside track on what would make this the most perfect, bespoke celebration fit for two kings, or queens. Bonus is, you can dive right into an urban honeymoon right after. And if you have to bring the folks, the kids or best friends … there are interconnecting rooms so you can party way into the night.
The storied, Grade-II listed Birch is set in 55 acres of countryside in Hertfordshire, just north of London. The heritage property has a hipster, “make yourself at home” feel – much more of a member’s club than that of a hotel, let’s call it Downtown Abbey with a touch of Soho House – so despite the grandeur (which will make for beautiful photographs), it allows for a more informal elopement. Do the deed in one of its fabulous wood-panelled rooms (we loved the library or Lang room) and as the hotel is quite the foodie find, your first dinner as newlyweds will be cooked by lauded chef Robin Gill, followed by drinks by the fire before returning to your sumtuous suite.
Near the Cornish surfer’s paradise of Newquay in the UK’s South West, you’ll find Treseren (meaning home under the stars), a Georgian country house with a beautiful secret garden complete with meandering paths. Your elopement will pinnacle in The Wedding Room, or in summer months, outside in the spellbinding garden. The locally-sourced food (and photography) is handled personally in-house by the owners, which makes for a truly private affair. As the sun sets on a clear night, you’ll celebrate under the stars (true to its name) around a romantic, roaring fire pit.
For the ultimate in outdoors elopement weddings, couples could run away to Scotland. While same-day weddings in Gretna Green are now a thing of the past, Scotland affords unique nuptials in the wild. With right-to-roam laws different to that in England and Wales, you’ll get some stunning photographs as well. And your celebration could be a lovely, boozy picnic just about anywhere in the majestic landscape. For ultimate privacy (and to access the real hidden gems), it is good manners to ask the landlord first, but a company like Wild Scottish Weddings can do that and arrange it all for you.