Forgo the trip to Vegas: Many beach resorts offer elopement packages.

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Things to Consider Before Eloping

If you do run for the nearest padre with your beloved, you'll still need to mark a few things off your "to do" list. Check state (or international) marriage laws, filing times (some have waiting periods) and other details, such as blood tests or residency requirements. You'll both need official birth certificates, so if those aren't handy, factor in the time it takes to get them. You'll also need to establish a budget and destination.

You can tie the knot closer to home if a Bali beach wedding is out of your budget. Sure, Nevada doesn't require a waiting period or a pricey, hard-to-get marriage license, but a Vegas chapel isn't your only option. Head to nearby Reno, where public parks make good use of the Sierra Nevada Mountains (can you say scenic backdrop?). Or Ernest Hemingway's old stomping grounds in the Florida Keys where you can say "I do" in a dolphin-filled lagoon on Duck Key, a private island that's a favorite spot to get hitched.

And if you're worried about the long-term consequences of hurt feelings among family members, consider planning a party or reception to mark your return. It's a great way to launch your new life. That's what Fowler did. After their courthouse marriage, she says, "We had a huge party and got on with our lives together."