Is a Secret Wedding Right for You? Key Considerations Before Saying 'I Do'

February 6, 2023
7 min

Some couples choose to elope in secret, without involving family or friends. In the modern world, you can plan and have a secret and intimate elopement online. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of eloping in secret online.

Keep in mind that getting married online might not be recognized as legal everywhere. Research and understand the marriage laws in your area. Make sure you and your partner agree with this decision before moving forward. 

Can I Keep My Marriage a Secret?

Planning a secret wedding can be a thrilling experience. This approach is perfect for couples who want privacy or have special reasons to keep their marriage private. It offers a unique way to begin their lifelong journey together. While secretly getting married comes with its own set of challenges, it can be deeply rewarding.

Many couples have come to realize that the secret to a happy marriage does not include a big, public wedding. It's the love, trust, and commitment between two people that truly matter. You can have secret weddings to focus on important things without a big public event.

A groom carrying his bride through a field

The Benefits of a Secret Wedding

1. Cost Savings Compared to Traditional Weddings

Getting married in secret usually has fewer guests, so these budget-friendly weddings cost less for catering, venue rentals, and other wedding expenses. Couples can spend their money on things that are important to them, like experiences or investments.

2. Personalization and Customization Options

Secret weddings allow couples to personalize and customize their ceremony without traditional expectations. This allows them to create a unique and special experience that genuinely reflects their personalities and love story.

3. Focus on the Couple and the Intimate Experience

Secret weddings offer a private and peaceful environment for couples to focus on their love and commitment without outside influences. This heightened intimacy fosters a stronger bond and a more deeply personal experience between the couple.

4. Reduced Stress and Pressure

Planning a traditional wedding can be stressful and challenging due to societal expectations and logistics. On the other hand, secret weddings are simpler, stress-free, and relaxed. They let couples focus on their commitment and the joy of their special day.

5. Privacy and Intimacy

Secret weddings enable couples to enjoy private moments away from the scrutiny and opinions of others. The couple feels closer and more connected because of the privacy, making the wedding day personal and special.

6. Greater Spontaneity and Flexibility

Secret weddings allow couples to plan their special day with greater spontaneity and flexibility. There are no rigid traditional timelines or the pressure of accommodating large guest lists. Couples can choose a special date, time, and place that is meaningful to them. This allows them to celebrate their love in a spontaneous way.

The advantages of a secret wedding can differ based on your preferences and situation. Couples should discuss their wedding plans before having a secret wedding.

The Cons of a Secret Wedding

1. Strain on Relationships and Potential Feelings of Hurt or Betrayal:

Having a secret wedding can strain relationships with loved ones who may feel excluded. Loved ones may experience feelings of hurt or betrayal for not being included in the celebration.

2. Lack of Shared Memories and Experiences with Loved Ones:

Secret weddings usually only have the couple, so family and friends can't be there to celebrate. This absence of loved ones can lead to a sense of missed opportunities for creating cherished memories together.

3. Difficulty in Maintaining Secrecy:

Keeping a secret wedding can be challenging, especially in our highly connected world with the prevalence of social media. It can be hard to stop news from spreading around before or after the ceremony. This might cause issues or strain in relationships.

4. Limited Support and Assistance:

If couples don't include their family and friends in wedding planning, they may not get emotional support or practical help. Planning a wedding on your own can be overwhelming and lead to increased stress.

5. Legal and Practical Considerations:

Secret weddings, especially those conducted online, may not always be legally valid in certain places. This can complicate matters when it comes to legal rights and responsibilities. Couples may need to undertake additional steps to legalize their union, which can involve additional paperwork and potential costs.

6. Missing Out on Traditional Wedding Experiences:

Secret weddings typically skip traditional elements such as walking down the aisle, saying vows in front of loved ones, and having a big celebration. This can leave couples with a sense of loss or regret for not experiencing these customary elements and the shared joy they can bring.

Couples should think about the cons and how they might affect their relationship and wedding. Open and honest communication with loved ones is crucial to mitigate any potential negative effects and ensure understanding and support.

Tips for Keeping Your Wedding a Secret

1. Importance of Planning:

  • To avoid stress and leaks, plan and organize your secret marriage logistics in advance.
  • Make a list of tasks and a timeline to ensure everything is well-prepared and goes smoothly.

2. Deciding Who to Tell and When:

  • Discuss and decide with your partner who, if anyone, you will inform about your secret wedding.
  • Think about how sharing the news might affect relationships. Decide if it's necessary to tell people before or after the ceremony.

3. Handling Reactions and Questions from Friends and Family Members:

  • When your loved ones find out about your secret wedding, expect different reactions and questions.
  • Decide in advance how you will respond and handle inquiries, keeping in mind your reasons for eloping.

4. Ensuring Necessary Paperwork and Documentation:

  • Research and understand the legal requirements for marriage in your jurisdiction.
  • Make sure your marriage is valid by gathering and filling out any needed paperwork, like licenses or permits.

5. Consideration of Hiring a Professional for Assistance:

  • If you feel stressed or need help, hire a wedding planner or elopement specialist. They can guide you and keep your wedding a secret.
  • They can handle logistics, provide vendor recommendations, and assist with legal requirements.

6. Taking Time to Relax and Enjoy the Moment:

  • In all the secrecy and wedding planning, remember to take breaks and enjoy each other's company. Also, take time to appreciate the meaning of your wedding day.
  • Take breaks from wedding preparations to focus on your relationship and the love you share.

To have a secret wedding, you and your partner must communicate and trust each other. It's important to agree on decisions and support each other.

How to Have a Secret Wedding Online

Getting married online can be a convenient and stress-free option for couples seeking to tie the knot. With the right resources and tools, an online marriage can be just as meaningful as eloping in person. 

Since 2020, the United States has allowed online marriage applications in Utah. People don't need to be physically present for the ceremony anymore. This development has opened up new possibilities for couples who prefer the convenience and flexibility of online weddings.

When opting for a secret wedding online, couples can explore the various online marriage options available, such as platforms like Courtly. These platforms offer convenience, legal recognition, and assistance throughout the application process. Couples also have the flexibility to choose a suitable time and date for their virtual ceremony, ensuring a personalized and convenient experience for themselves and their online guests.

To get started, couples can fill out an online application form, providing their personal information as well as details about their partner. It is essential to review all information carefully before submitting the form to ensure accuracy.

Once the marriage certificate is obtained, couples have the freedom to choose a time and date that suits their preferences and schedules. This flexibility allows for wedding ceremonies to take place at any time, accommodating couples who may be in different countries or even separated by other circumstances such as military service or incarceration. As long as both partners have a reliable internet connection and a webcam, they can use Courtly to exchange their vows.


Having a secret wedding online can offer couples a range of benefits, including convenience, flexibility, and the ability to personalize their big day. By embracing the convenience and flexibility of online weddings, couples can plan their ceremony according to their preferences and circumstances, ensuring a memorable and intimate experience. 

Platforms like Courtly provide a convenient and legally recognized option for couples looking to have a secret wedding online, offering guidance, assistance, and personal concierge services throughout the application process. By exploring the possibilities and advantages of online marriages through these platforms, couples can create a unique and meaningful wedding experience while maintaining the desired level of secrecy.

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

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