For a lot of couples, the pressure of having a big, traditional wedding is real. If everyone you’ve known has had one, it can be difficult to think you even have other options! Once you’ve realized that eloping might be for you, you might not know where to start. Because eloping is a pretty new concept (well, Vegas elopements have been around for a while. Adventure elopements are new! Check out this blog post if you want more info on what an elopement is today, and how it’s so much different than it used to be), you may not have people to turn to for advice. But don’t worry, that’s what I’m here for! As a photographer who specializes in elopements, I’ll be your guide to the outdoors as you learn how to plan an elopement! Here are some planning tips to help you get started.
Tip number one is to dream big! You may have been confined to the boxes of how weddings “should be” and what you’re “supposed to do,” but now’s the time to dig deep and figure out what you really want out of your wedding day. There’s no idea that’s too crazy – you can jet off to elope on the other side of the globe, or you can have a small ceremony at your favorite park. You can take a helicopter tour or hike a glacier, or pack a picnic and have a relaxing day at the beach. In the early stages of planning an elopement, talk about any and all possibilities with your partner!
I recommend making a guest list, or deciding that you don’t want any guests and skipping this step entirely, early on. This one can be difficult – a lot of couples are afraid to hurt people’s feelings if they decide to elope on their own. But remember, this is your day! You deserve a wedding day that reflects who you are, and one that truly feels like the best day of your life.
After you’ve decided who you want around you when you elope, you can start thinking about realistic elopement locations and activities that they’ll be able to join you for.
After you’ve decided on the guest list, or lack thereof, make a plan for how and when you’re going to tell your friends and family. Some couples let everyone know right away, others keep it a secret until after the knot is tied. Whichever route you choose, make sure you and your partner agree so that one of you doesn’t accidentally let it slip at the wrong time! If you anticipate some backlash for your decisions, make a plan for how you’ll answer questions and handle emotions. If you need ideas for how to break the news, I have a blog post all about that!
When you’re figuring out how to plan an elopement, you’re going to need to choose an elopement location. My advice for this is to start by thinking about what kind of scenery you want to see, and what kind of landscapes you want to be surrounded by on your elopement day. Do you see yourself saying your vows on a mountaintop, or tying the knot by the ocean? Do you like desert scenery, or walks through the forest?
After you decide what you want to see and experience on your elopement day, start brainstorming where you can find what you’re looking for! Start with broad searches for which country or state you want to elope in, then narrow it down by looking at state and national parks, or by finding potential hiking trails.
Your elopement isn’t just about the ceremony – it’s about the whole day, and the entire experience! When you’re figuring out how to plan an elopement, don’t think of it as a downsized wedding or an “easy” solution. It’s still your wedding day, and it should be meaningful and special! Think about activities or adventures that you can do and have on your elopement day. Like I said, dream big! The beauty of elopements is that there are no rules – anything you want to do, you can do when you elope. If you’re traveling away from home, consider staying for a week or two and having your honeymoon too!
There’s a misconception out there that elopements are cheap, and that couples who elope are just trying to save money by not investing in their wedding day. While elopements are usually less expensive than renting a venue and buying dinner for 100 guests, they’re still an investment, and may require some budgeting! It’s important to talk to your partner and figure out what’s important to each of you, and what you’re willing to spend on the day. One of my favorite things about elopements is that you get to spend money on the things that matter to you, and you pay for experiences rather than material items.
It can be hard to let go of expectations and pressure, but the most important thing about planning an elopement is that you do what feels right to you. When you remember your wedding day, you’ll want to have memories of being there with your partner, spending the day the way you wanted to, and having the time of your life. That looks different for everyone, but that’s what eloping is all about – a unique experience that’s true to you.
With the misconception that elopements are less important or less meaningful than big weddings, some couples often wonder if they should skip the photographer, or just hire one for the ceremony and “a few photos” after. But, you deserve to look back on every part of your elopement day – from getting ready and making coffee together in the morning, to watching the sun set at the end of an amazing day.
While most wedding photographers also take on elopements, there’s a huge advantage to booking an elopement photographer! You’re doing something exciting and out of the ordinary – and your photographer should be someone who gets it, and someone who can guide you through the whole process. As an elopement photographer, my job goes beyond taking photos. I help with everything from finding the perfect ceremony spot, to getting all the right permits, to building an elopement timeline and planning out the day. So if you’re ready to plan an elopement, contact me! I’ve got more tips up my sleeve, and I’m always willing to share.