With elopements becoming more and more known and popular, I thought this was the perfect time to write a blog that is a guide for any couples that are not sure how to plan an elopement! You may not be planning a huge wedding, but it can still be stressful if you have no idea where to start. But that’s why I am here! I help all over my couples with full planning services. From the time you inquire and book with me, to the day you say your vows, I will be there with you every step of the way. Just an email or call away, I am here to take some of that stress off of your shoulders!
But even if you choose a different photographer, I want to be of some help to anyone that lands in this space. I truly believe that you deserve to have the best day ever. And I have a few tips and suggestions that I think will help you achieve that!
Before your start to plan your elopement, I suggest that you and your partner sit down and discuss what each of you do and do not want on your day. One thing I suggest to all of my couples who have no idea where to start, is to plan a date for this! Sit down with your favorite food and drinks, and talk about everything you’ve always hoped for. And then talk about the things you could live without.
I also suggest each of you closing your eyes and really think about all of the things you want. Envision your day. What does your surroundings look like? Who is there? Is it just you two and your photographer? Or are you thinking of having an intimate wedding with a few of your closest friends and family? What are you wearing? What are you doing that day to celebrate? After thinking about these things, write them all down! This will help you narrow down a location if you’re not sure where you want to elope yet! It will also help you decide on activities you may want to do, and how long of coverage you’ll need from your photographer and videographer.
And if you are a visual person like I am, you can even create a vision board! Once you tell me what you are think of and the vibe you’re going for, I actually make up one for you as well! That way, we can put all of our brains together to create the perfect day for you!
This is definitely the least fun part when you plan an elopement, but probably the most important parts to planning your perfect day. I am a firm believer that your wedding day isn’t something you should go into tons of debt for. You should keep your budget within your means, or within being able to pay off easily and not putting yourself at risk for financial stress. There’s no need to start your life off together with financial troubles! And I’m here to help you with whatever your budget looks like.
With that being said, it’s important to decide where you want to splurge, and where you can cut back or even DIY!
Here is a list of things to think consider when coming up with your wedding budget:
Now that you’ve sat down together and envisioned what you want on your day and have a budget set, it’s time to figure out where you’re going!
Don’t worry if you’re not 100% sure on the exact location — I can help you with that. But having an idea of what kind of landscape you want, can drastically narrow down your search. Do you want to be in the city or a secluded cabin? The mountains or the ocean? And if you want the ocean, do you want the white sand beaches and clear blue water of the Caribbean, or the rocky and forest filled beaches of the Pacific Northwest?
Or maybe you already have a location in mind that is either special to the both or you or a destination you have both been wanting to visit together. But you’re not sure where in that location you can or should say your vows. I can help you figure out those details, don’t worry!
Now that you have a location figured out, it’s time to decide when to plan your elopement for!
When deciding on a date, there’s a few things you’re going to want to keep in mind.
Depending on your jobs or if you have kiddos, there may be times of the year that just aren’t ideal. And we don’t want to add any stress to your day or trip! So planning around your schedules and giving yourself plenty of time, will ensure that you have a stress free wedding day!
What the weather is like where you are planning to get married, with be a huge factor in when you plan your day. Are you going to the desert? If so, summer months are very hot and not ideal. I mean, who wants their makeup melting off, pit stains, or their hair being wet with sweat on their wedding day?! Plus, those extreme temperatures can be very dangerous. Especially if you’re not used to that kind of climate.
Are you going to the mountains? The mountains are beautiful at all times of the year, but this will depend on if you want lush green forests, the autumn colors, or snow covered peaks as your backdrop. And if you choose the winter, just be aware that there may be sections of where you’re going that are closed off for the season.
Now, you can’t predict if it’ll rain or not, but looking into when the rainiest season is, can help you narrow down your chances of getting caught in a storm. However, if the day comes up and it’s raining, we’ll still move along and make the best of it! Just as long as the weather isn’t dangerous to be in, we’ll figure things out and still have a great day!
Let’s say you plan your elopement in a national park. There are going to be times of the year when tons of people visit that national park. Typically, the summer months are the most popular times of the year for people to visit, because school is out and families can take vacations. However, if that ends up being the case, we can plan for a sunrise or sunset ceremony. That way we’ll either get there before the crowds, or just as they’re leaving for the day to go find dinner. But we will make a timeline of your day when it gets closer to your date!
There’s a chance that you’ve already done part of this step, and have your photographer helping you find your location and pick a date. But if you haven’t, now is the time to find your dream elopement photographer! You’ll want to hire the ASAP, because the later you get into the season, the more likely it will be that they’ll be booked out for the season.
Your photographer will likely be the most expensive investment you make when you plan for your elopement. So figuring out who you want to capture your day, as soon as possible, will also help you know how much of your budget is left for the other things you want!
Hiring vendors for your elopement or intimate wedding, can help your vision come to life. And I am here to help you find the perfect vendors for your day! You can hire a professional HAMU, florist, cake baker, videographer, private chef… The possibilities are endless!
Every state and country is different. It’s very important that you get applications in ASAP, as this can take some time to process and be accepted. You’ll want to look into if a permit is needed wherever you are getting married. If you are not sure, your photographer should be able to help you figure it out!
Another thing to research, is how to marry legally where you are going. Do you need two witnesses to sign and someone who is ordained to officiate? Or can you self-solemnize? There are even some places where you can have you pet be your witness!
A good place to start, is to Google the marriage license requirements in your wedding location.
Maybe you are planning to truly elope with just the two of you. If that is the case, you can skip this step! But if you are planning to have an intimate wedding, this is the time to think of who you want to invite.
Intimate weddings are typically less than 25 people. This gives you the opportunity to truly spend time with each of your guest. When thinking about who to invite, I highly encourage you to only invite those who will add to your day and may it a joyful one. If there is someone on your list who may cause drama or doesn’t approve of your marriage, don’t invite them. You do not have to invite everyone, not even all of your family members. This is your day and it is supposed to be centered around you and your partner. Never feel guilty for not inviting someone.
Next, let’s think about how you want to invite your guests. Do you want to send out formal invitations? Just do an email or Facebook invite to be quick and more eco friendly? Just tell them by word of mouth? There are quite a few ways to announce and invite guests to your elopement or intimate wedding!
Yay! It’s time to plan the perfect attire for your elopement day! When figuring out your outfit for your day, think about how it will fit into the location you have decided on. This is the time to think about what you will be doing in your wedding attire.
I also want to encourage you to go outside of traditional norms with your wedding outfit, if that fits your personality! This is your day and you can wear whatever the hell you want. You should feel comfortable and like a million bucks on your day! So if you are an out of the box person, let that shine through in what you choose to wear!
Another element to consider is the weather where you’re getting married. Will you need a jacket or base layer? Are you ok with your dress getting dirty, or do you want to slip it on right before saying “I do”?
And what accessories do you want to add? You should definitely consider what details you want to compliment your wedding attire with!
If you have plan to have a destination elopement or intimate wedding, you’ll want to book things like your flights, car rentals, and a place to stay, as soon as possible. Often times, the earlier you book these things, the cheaper they’ll be. If you wait till the last minute, you’ll find fares to be more expensive. This could also lead to unneeded stress! And we’re all about avoiding that when possible.
Places can also start to get booked up depending on the time of year and location. So start looking for a special place to stay. There are TONS of unique Airbnb’s out there that would be perfect for your stay. And this is your wedding, so it’s okay to splurge a little (or a lot if you can)!
When deciding on where you want to stay, keep in mind how the lighting is if you plan of doing getting ready photos. If you want those photos, you’ll want to pick a place that has great lighting. Big or lots of windows that allow in lots of natural light are ideal!
Some ideals of what to look for could be a cute A-Frame cabin or somewhere that has amazing views all around where we could take some photos!
Yay! You’ve figured out most of the things you need to plan your elopement day! Now it’s time to figure out the timing of your day, so everything can go as smooth as possible. You’ll want to allow for plenty of time between each thing during the day, so there is no rushing or having to skip out on anything.
To give you a good idea on how long to allow for each activity, I’ve created a list with minimum time requirements you’ll need:
Now this one will depend entirely on how extravagant your hair, makeup, and wedding attire is. If you have hired a hair and makeup artist, I recommend allowing at least 2 hours for them to do their magic. But you should inquire with your artist on how long they recommend. They’ll know best on how fast they usually work!
After your hair and makeup is done, allow at least 30-45 minutes to get dressed. Your photographer will likely be there during this entire time, getting photos of both of you getting ready. These may not seem like important photos, but they help tell the entire storyline to your day! And this is great to have for the memories, or to share with those that weren’t able to attend.
If you and your partner plan to do a first look before your ceremony, I would suggest to plan for at least a half hour. That will give you time to take in the moment, be with each other, and for me to take photos of this intimate moment between the two of you! First looks are so special, and a moment to have with just the two of you before the whirlwind of the day happens.
The ceremony itself typically only lasts about 30 minutes. That is usually plenty of time for each of you to say your vows, your officiant to say some words, and even to have a couple of your loved ones say a few words if you want.
This can go for however long you want! This time can be as simple or detailed as you want. This is a great time to do something fun that represents the two of you and things you like to do together.
Here is a list of a few things you can do to celebrate your marriage:
When coming up with your timeline, it is important to map out how long it’ll take to get to each location for each activity you are doing on your wedding day. Figuring out things like drive time or hiking/walking time will help make your timeline go smoothly. And allow for extra time as a buffer for anything that could make things run behind a little bit.
If you are hiking to your ceremony location, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind, is planning for 45-60 minutes per mile of your hike. This will all depend on the elevation gain, how many breaks you will need to take, and if you want to stop for photo opportunities along the way.
When you plan your elopement, remember to factor in the best times for lighting in photos. The most ideal lighting times for photos is golden hour. This happens about an hour after sunrise and 1-2 hours before sunset. Blue hour is also a perfect time to make some magic happen! Blue hour happens about 30 minutes before sunrise and up to 30 minutes after sunset.
These are my favorite times to take photos, but I understand they’re not always the most ideal times for your timeline. If we have to shoot during the day with harsher lighting, don’t worry. I got you! But I would suggest planning your timeline around the best lighting times, so you can get the same results that you see in most of the photos you’ll find on my website and social media!
There is always the possibility that things will happen and you can’t go with your plan A. Mother Nature can be unpredictable, so making a backup plan with a second ceremony location will help you not stress the day of. There’s always the possibility or things happening like road and park closures due to weather, overcrowding, and wildlife in the area.
It’s finally here! You’ve planned everything out, invited who you wanted to, found your wedding attire, booked everything, and hired all of your vendors. Now it’s time to pack and get ready for your epic adventure!
As you are preparing to leave, I highly suggest making a list of everything you need to take so you don’t forget anything! I always make a packing list for my travels. If I don’t, it never fails that I forget something. Remember to include things like chargers, rings, vow books, wedding attire, accessories, clothes for your entire stay, and anything meaningful that you’ll want to include on your wedding day.
These are my basic tips for how to plan a successful elopement or intimate wedding, that will lead to a joyful and stress free day. But once you and your lover book with me, I will send you my complete 70+ page guide on everything you need to know and consider when you plan an elopement! I’m here to help you in plan in anyway you need, and to be your cheerleader along the way. You will never have to do all of this planning alone. I will be there with you every step of the way!