Many people think of an elopement and think of a hasty trip to Las Vegas or heading down to the courthouse to get in front of a judge post haste. However, when you go to plan an elopement, you have to ability to make it a beautiful experience that is special and unique just like a large wedding. The right elopement depends on the bride and groom. If you really just want to get it over with or want to do a simple courthouse, by all means, go ahead and do what feels best to you. It's your day and no one else's.
Some couples choose an elopement because they are limited by their budget and want to get more for their money. Other reasons couples choose to elope are family tensions, or they may simply be introverts. Couples who have these issues to consider may want to elope but still mark it as a special commitment to each other. When you elope, you are free to do whatever you want to do and are only limited what you can spend. If you want to have a big fluffy dress your sister would make snide comments about, go ahead! No one will be there to see but the witnesses. You can hire a photographer, have a small cake, have flowers and decor, all the elements of a bigger wedding just on a smaller scale. There are even elopement packages at many resorts and B&B's which can include all these elements and provide you with a few nights accommodation as well to help with your honeymoon.
If you do desire to make the event a little more special, take a look at the options in your area. You could get married in a park or chapel or on top of a mountain. Try to think of what you and your partner enjoy doing and if you can incorporate it into your day somehow. Creating a board on a pin site might also be an option to save ideas and get an overall feel for how the wedding will look. You can also save pictures you like to suggest to the photographer, wedding cake designs to show to the baker and floral arrangements to show to the florist. make it as extravagant or as simple as you like. Find a song that you can have a little first dance to and a song you would like to play as you walk down to your groom.
If you find you still want to include your family in some way, you can suggest a potluck dinner and show your pictures as a slideshow after you get back from your honeymoon. If you're up for it this can help appease some family members who may not understand your decision or are feeling left out or disappointed because they couldn't be included.
With these ideas and suggestions, you can see that when you plan an elopement it does not have to be a slapdash trip to the courthouse but can be a special event for just the two of you to remember and cherish the rest of your lives. You don't have to have people besides the bride, groom, and officiant to have your wedding be valid or a special experience.