Is A Flash Wedding (or Legal Elopement) Right For You?

Pop! Wed CoAll photo credits: Pop Wed Co

There are probably a trillion different ways to get married, even in the world of tiny weddings — from flash weddings to intimate event-type weddings, the options are endless and full of fun. And, by now, you might have heard of “flash weddings,” but how do you know if planning one is right for you?

What is a flash wedding?

Well, I’d never heard the term before our feature on NPR, but it’s kind of a fun way to describe what companies like Pop! Wed Co do. The term seems to mean pretty much the same thing as popup weddings, i.e. they happen in a flash! Or, we just pop up somewhere and marry you. A flash wedding is probably happening in a public place and feels spontaneous and unplanned to the unknowing bystanders (although it’s probably been planned for months!).

A flash/popup wedding is different from a ‘traditional’ event-type wedding, most obviously because of the lack of a booked venue. Flash weddings are small groups of people who show up at a public location and have an impromptu wedding ceremony. No microphones, aisles, chairs, or music — just a quick and simple wedding ceremony in a seemingly crazy location.

Pop Wed Co

Here are some of the major differences between flash weddings and traditional, event-type weddings. This should help you figure out if a flash wedding is right for you!

Flash weddings happen in public, without booked venues.

The thing about flash weddings is that there’s no booked venue. It’s an adventurous way to go about a wedding; without booking a venue there’s always a chance that someone might ask you to leave the location. On the flip side, if you’re willing to take that risk there are plenty of cool spots where you can have a quick wedding ceremony.

You won’t have the venue to yourself, so count on excited bystanders being a part of your wedding day (which makes it way more fun!). If you’re planning your wedding at a small business’s location, give them a call and ask if it’s ok before you show up there. When you explain that it’ll only take ten minutes with eight people and there’s no music, microphones, or setup at all, chances are they’ll be so excited for you and honored that you love their place enough to marry there that they’ll love the idea.

But the wedding details are missing!

Flash weddings have to be quick and flexible in nature, so a lot of the Pinterest-style details don’t make it. Which is kind of awesome, because you can plan to bring a couple details you love and pay extra special attention to them, but you don’t have to worry about creating eleven thousand centerpieces and programs and all sorts of stuff.

Pop! Wed Co

When setting expectations around what your flash wedding can be, make sure your plans don’t include disturbing your ceremony location. A group of ten people who stand in one place in a museum for five minutes is no different from a tour group (and way less disturbing than a class field trip with a tour group), so that’s no big deal. But you won’t be able to bring in microphones or chairs or anything like that — security will be all over those things, and they should be, because it’s a disturbance and you haven’t rented the venue. With flash weddings, the key is to make sure you’re not intruding on anyone else’s experience, since you haven’t paid the venue to be there. You want to have a quick and awesome ceremony, and then say thanks for having us and be on your way for some awesome photos!

With all the details gone, all that’s left is the beautiful authenticity. Without all of the Pinterest-y details of a wedding, you might feel for one split second like you’re missing out. But when you strip away the things you don’t care about, all that’s left is the parts you so obviously love. And suddenly, your wedding is filled with the things you love most in the world, and it’s authentically YOU down to the bone!

Pop! Wed Co

And you can plan your own after party!

You can have a tiny flash wedding with five of your favorite people, and then send out a huge Facebook invite for everyone you know to meet you at your favorite bar later that night. Or, you can elope with your partner and hang on the couch watching your favorite movie! The options are endless and way too much fun. And since flash weddings are so low-key and flexible, they’re easy to plan around!

So is a flash wedding (or popup wedding) right for us? It all comes down to the type of people you guys are — if the thought of not having everything locked down and planned perfectly freaks you out, or you hate the idea of bystanders at your wedding, a flash wedding is probably not for you. But if you love spontaneous awesomeness and exploring the city in your wedding outfits, and strangers high-fiving you all over the place, go for it! As a planner/photographer/proponent of this type of wedding I might be biased…but flash weddings are THE best!


Maggie WintersMaggie Winters is one half of Pop! Wed Co (the tiny, technicolor half), and an experienced designer at iStrategyLabs. She chases pure happiness with her camera and listen to ska along the way. She is also a contributing photographer to The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography. Find her most anywhere @moonstompmaggie.