If you’re reading this, you probably already know that elopements are awesome! They’re all about the right things: two people in love, promising forever. You can slow down and take in the moments. Less stress, more love. Less fluff, more real. If you’re dreaming of the perfect elopement, read on!
Decide on a Date + Location
I think this is one of the most exciting parts of planning an elopement. I personally love researching amazing travel spots and local hidden gems. But before you start searching, talk as a couple about whether you want to stay local, travel within your country, or venture overseas. And talk about what matters most to you in a location. Do you envision yourself standing on a cliff with the wind whipping through your hair? Are you avid scuba divers who want to be near excellent diving water? Does your ideal travel vacation include trying local cuisine and enjoying new cultures? This will help you narrow down your ideas, so you can make the most of your research time. Pinterest and Google searches are a great way to get inspired for best vacation spots, off the beaten path locations, and past elopements. If you’re flexible with your date, choose a location and then decide what season or month would be ideal. If you have a small window of time available for your elopement, look for locations that are in their prime during that window.
Look for Amazing Vendors
Now that you’ve got a rough plan for your elopement, it’s time to start searching for the perfect wedding vendors to be a part of your day. No pressure, but I think this is a pretty important step. You want to elope because you want a super special, simple day with just the two of you. So make sure your vendors align with that. A good vendor will understand your vision and have the knowledge and experience to execute it while you enjoy the day. If you’re traveling for your tiny wedding, your officiant can help you navigate the legal side of things by handling paperwork and letting you know about local marriage laws. If you decide you want to add any major decor to your elopement (a sweetheart table for dinner, a floral arch for the ceremony, etc.), I’d highly recommend hiring a wedding planner or stylist. That way, the burden of planning and executing the perfect day isn’t on you, and you can be in the moment. Your coordinator can also point you in the direction of other amazing vendors who would be a good fit for your intimate wedding. If you decide you’d like florals at your ceremony, find a florist who shares your vision, whose creations suit your style, and whose work you love. And the same goes for your photographer! I know I may be a little biased, but I think your photographer may be the most important professional you hire. Your photos will be what you share with friends and family, what you look back at for years to come, and what carry the memories of your day. Choose a photographer who fits the personality of your elopement and whose work you adore. A photographer who specializes in elopements is a great find, and don’t be afraid to bring in a traveling photographer! (More on that over here.)
Share the News
You can decide whether you want to make your upcoming elopement public or keep it quiet until after the wedding, but I would highly recommend telling your closest family and friends before. Sometimes it can be a tough conversation, letting them know that you won’t be inviting anyone to your private ceremony. Explain your reasons for choosing an elopement, and make sure that they know you still greatly value their relationship. (Check out these tips on how to break the news.) It may be a good idea to include them in some of the planning process (like trying on wedding dresses or researching your ceremony location). You could even set up a post-elopement celebration that could be as intimate as brunch with your parents or as big as a backyard BBQ with all your friends. You may also want to consider sending out an elopement announcement after your intimate wedding.
Finalize the Details
Even super simple elopements have a few details to consider! Decide what you and your fiance will wear on your wedding day, and order any items you don’t already have. Gather up any details you want to include in your day, like vow books, your grandmother’s handkerchief, or love poems you want to read. Make sure you have all the paperwork lined up to make your marriage official. And if you’re traveling for your elopement, book your flights, accommodations, and any special activities you plan to do on your trip. Check in with your vendors and make sure you’ve finalized plans with them. If you’re getting married at a National Park or public lands, check into any permits or fees that you’ll need to take care of to be married there. If you’re adventurous and plan to have a hiking elopement, work out the logistics of how long the hike will take, what gear you need to take, and if your trail will be open and accessible that time of year. And work with your photographer on the timeline of your ceremony and portraits so you’ll have perfect lighting.
Relax, and Enjoy!
Seriously, don’t worry about anything! Be in the moment with your sweetheart and enjoy the day. If something doesn’t go quite according to plan, don’t sweat it. After all, the reason behind everything is your love and lifelong commitment, and nothing else truly matters. Soak up every smile, laugh, and touch. Happy eloping!
Hey, friend! I’m Julie – an adventure wedding & elopement photographer who loves the outdoors and traveling! My photography is fun and heartfelt while highlighting the beauty of love and nature. I’m based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but wedding photography takes me throughout the southwest, to national parks, and all over the world! To find out more about destination wedding photography, check out my travel page. And if you want to get some great elopement planning tips, check out planning and advice section of the blog.