You’ve come across the idea of eloping and you’re intrigued, am I right?! You now have a million questions racing through your mind that you want answered. Don’t worry, I got you!! As an experienced Adventure Elopement Photographer I’ve documented and have helped many couples plan their elopement day from beginning to end! Through working with my couples I’ve noticed that there seems to be certain questions that always come up and I’ve put them all down here for you to read and to help you get started on the right path to plan your dream elopement!
Keep scrolling to get 11 Common Questions About Eloping Answered!
1. What exactly is an elopement?
ELOPING IS ALL ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE
Most couples who choose to elope want to have a special experience on their wedding day! An elopement allows for intimate and adventurous moments that truly reflect your relationship and what you two are all about. While every aspect is important the bigger picture is about crafting the ultimate day for the two of you! It’s about creating the most amazing day that the two of you could imagine from start to finish and actually want to do it all over again!
Larger and more traditional weddings don’t typically allow for such moments during the day, because the focus is entertaining the guests and making sure that they’re happy. You might be able to sneak off for 20 minutes during sunset for some pictures, but it’s usually rushed and more about getting the pictures rather than capturing and documenting your experience. There’s been SO many couples who have a traditional wedding who look back on their wedding day and wish they had eloped. They realize that their wedding day wasn’t actually about them!
By eloping you eliminate having to worry about your guests and get to actually focus on the two of you. It’s your wedding day–isn’t that how it should be?!
2. Is there a difference between an intimate (very small) wedding and an elopement?
You may think that the difference between having an elopement and an intimate wedding is defined by how many people you choose to have witness your marriage, but I don’t think that is an accurate definition.
Choosing to have an elopement comes down to the type of experience you want to have on your elopement day. If you want to have your closest friends and family with you, then do it, because it’s your day! I tend to cap elopements at 25 people, because anymore than that it because extremely difficult and next to impossible to keep the day about the couple rather than your friends and family and eloping is all about keeping the focus on the two of you who are getting married. So, if you want to have your closest 5 or 10 or 20 friends or family celebrate with you then take them along, because it’s all about celebrating how you want.
Vise versa to the couples who feel having a ‘just us’ elopement is what you really want then be brave and do that! Don’t let other influence your decision to get married in the way that the two of you feel is right for you.
2. How far in advance should I start planning my elopement?
This is different for every couple. I’ve had couples hire me a year out and even two months out. Typically most of my couples start off with a very, very fuzzy vision of what they want and have no idea how to get started planning their elopement. I spend a lot of in depth time with my couples helping them pull together a complete vision and help them step-by-step to plan their dream elopement! This process can take time and the more time we have to plan the better so that we can dive deep into everything together. However, that doesn’t mean things can’t be can last minute if you decide that’s what you want to do! That being said the majority of the couples who hire me, which is when we start the in depth planning process, is usually 6-9 months out.
3. I love the idea of an adventure elopement, but I don’t want to hike. Can I still have an adventure elopement?!
Heck yes!! Adventure Elopements aren’t limited to hiking! There are SO many different ways to include adventure into your elopement day. For example, you could take a helicopter tour to an epic remote location for your vows. You could go off-roading through the desert or take a 4WD jeep through a mountain pass. You could even keep it simple and drive through a national park hitting up your favorite locations!
There are no rules to eloping! If you can dream it up, you can do it!
4. How exactly does an elopement ceremony work? It is legally binding?
Are you wondering what a symbolical ceremony is and how it all would work? A symbolical ceremony is just that. It’s not a legally binding ceremony. Couples who choose to go this route will usually get all the legal paperwork done near where they live and then have their elopement ceremony be symbolical. The couples who choose to have a symbolical ceremony realize that to them the day they say their vows to each other and commit their lives to one another is the day they actually get married – not the day they sign paperwork.
Going this route is best when you have a destination elopement of some kind. If you’re eloping abroad, I will 100% of the time recommend this route, because dealing with all the logistics of getting legally married in another country is usually pretty difficult and can add a lot of stress.
EVERY STATE HAS DIFFERENT MARRIAGE LAWS
If you’re eloping in a different state then the logistics are typically much easier, but nevertheless can prove to add some difficulty. Every state has it’s own marriage laws to be sure to look into those before you decide to move forward with a legal ceremony. In some states you have to apply in person, some have a waiting period before you’re able to use your marriage license, and still others have mail in options which will make getting your marriage license in another state much easier.
Even more than the just the logistical parts of getting legally married somewhere else is that in most states you’ll have to have an officiant. Certain states like Colorado allow you to self-solemnize which means you can get legally married without an officiant! How awesome is that?!
Think about the type of activities that are required to get to your adventure elopement ceremony location. For example, if you’re hiking to your location you’ll have to find an officiant that is okay with hiking to the ceremony spot. I think it’s also extremely important to get an officiant who is well-versed in elopements, because elopements tend to be more ‘go with the flow’ and it’s possible your ceremony might start earlier or later than planned!
With all of this in mind you’ll be able to make the best decision for you two on whether you should have a symbolical adventure elopement ceremony or not!
5. What do we do during our all day elopement?
Definitely don’t overthink this! I can’t speak for all elopement photographers, but for me as an elopement photographer my job is to document your day and to tell your story. So, when you think of an all day elopement definitely don’t think of it as an all day photo shoot. That wouldn’t be fun for anyone!
I love to help paint a picture to my couples by asking them some questions like this:
What would be the best day that the two of you could create from start to finish? What do you want the view to look like when you wake up in the morning? What do you want the weather to be like? What would be the backdrop of your dreams for your vows? How do you want to celebrate that? What type of adventure do you want to go on together?
As soon as they start to think about these things and dream it all up, their mind is opened up to all of the possibilities. The things that they come up with to these questions they could with out a doubt spend doing and fill up time for 8 or more hours!
You can spend time exploring multiple areas, checking out different views and enjoying multiple activities to celebrate.
Elopement Timeline Example
Every timeline is crafted specifically for each couple around their desires. When you look at this timeline view it as inspiration only, because your day will most likely look completely different! Every day has a different look, because every couple is different has a different vision for their elopement!
Here is an example of a 10 hour consecutive elopement timeline!
- 1:30pm: spend time getting ready–hair, makeup, getting fancied up
- 2:45pm: send groom off to first look location while bride finishes getting ready and puts dress on
- 3:00pm: have a romantic first look and a few portraits
- 3:30pm: hop in jeep for off-roading adventure and head to ceremony location, stop and get out along the way for epic portraits
- 5:30pm: arrive at ceremony location, explore and adventure around, find the perfect ceremony spot
- 6:30pm: enjoy a picnic with cheese, crackers, wine–whatever you want!
- 8:00pm: ceremony and vows, enjoy a first dance
- 8:30pm: sunset and final portraits
- 8:45pm: head back to Airbnb
- 10:00pm: arrive back at Airbnb and enjoy a bonfire with s’mores
- 11:30pm: photo coverage wraps up!
I hope this timeline helps you see how a full day elopement could go! There are so many different ways to plan out your day. There are no limitations!
6. How long should I hire my elopement photographer for?
Every couple has a different vision for their day so I can’t answer this directly without chatting with you about what you’re looking for! How my process works is that when a couple inquires with me the first thing I do is set up a call with them. During this call we get to know each other, answer all their questions and chat all about their vision! Once we chat about their vision and what they’re hoping to have for their day I’ll suggest to them how many hours of coverage will suit their day.
Since I can’t directly answer this for you, here are some things to think about as you start to think about your vision!
CRAFT THE DAY YOU WANT–NOT WHAT OTHERS THINK YOU WANT
As you start planning your day or considering eloping you might hear ‘Oh you only need a few hours’ or you shouldn’t go that far away for your wedding. You’re eloping for a reason–to be able to have the day that you truly want and not to impress friends or family.
The day will go by so fast and memories fade away, but images will last a lifetime. Be sure you actually value your day and the time that you spend with each other on such an epic day!
ALLOW TIME SO THAT YOU CAN TRULY ENJOY YOUR DAY
As I had mentioned above–time flies, but I want you to, and you should be able to fully enjoy every moment throughout your day. The more time you have you won’t feel rushed like you have to hurry up for the next thing.
While creating an elopement timeline is an important aspect, it’s also important to remember to allow and leave time for those adventures so you don’t have to rush. What if during that drive you spot a place that you love and want to enjoy? You should feel rushed through that experience.
Remember that it takes time to get in and out of cars and to walk here and there. This tends to be something that couples will initially overlook, but it’s critical to implement those transition times into your elopement timeline as well!
REMEMBER–THERE ARE NO RULES TO ELOPING!
There are no rules to eloping. Don’t forget that.
Leave all logistics behind when you think of how you want you day to go–I’ll help you and guide you through the actual planning and logistics! Do you want to go on a helicopter ride? Do you want to go skiing or snowboarding on your elopement day? Do you want to take a sunset boat ride? Do you want to go jeeping through the mountains?
However you want to celebrate–I’ll help you make it happen.
7. Why are elopement photographers a bit expensive when it’s just the two of us?
There is a misconception that elopements are less work than a traditional wedding because there are less people, but if you’ve read everything in this article you’ve probably gotten an idea that this couldn’t be further from the truth. When it comes to larger weddings, for a photographer, it’s more of a book a couple and all you have to do is show up, shoot and deliver the gallery. They typically aren’t involved in planning in anyway.
An experienced and good elopement photographer will spend hours upon hours working with their couples. I spend a LOT of time getting to know my couples through video calls. I spend HOURS location scouting for my couples and helping them plan out their elopement day down to the itty bitty details. I customize ever experience for that couple, recommend likeminded vendors, secure permits and figure out what’s need for that specific location, etc. This is all BEFORE I even show up to document their elopement day! Elopement photography is a very specialized niche that involves an incredible amount of work on all the behind the scenes. Not many people realize this! It’s a vast amount of work, but it’s worth every second for me to help create the elopement day of their dreams!
8. Is my family going to be upset if we elope? If I want to include them, is that possible?
Now, I can’t tell you if your family is going to be upset. You know them better than anyone so approach the situation in the way that you think is best! However, if you’re looking for some tips be sure to check out 5 Tips for Announcing Your Elopement to help you out in that arena!
To answer the next questions: You can absolutely elope with your friends and family! This is your day and if eloping with family or friends is something that matters to you, then take them along on the adventure! There are so many different ways that you can include family into your elopement day and I’m here to help guide you through this. Ultimately, the options on eloping with family are endless and it’s up to you on how you want to include them!
I’ve written an in depth article on ways to include your family in your elopement with them physically there and ways to include them when they’re not physically there! So, be sure to read Eloping with Family to give you all the ideas!!
9. Can I still where a dress and have a hair/makeup artist if I elope?
Absolutely!! I’ve had many couples hire a professional hair and makeup artist and I’ve seen them do it themselves. That is totally up to you! This is your wedding day and you can wear that gorgeous dress and look as dolled up as you want!
When it comes to putting together your wedding attire for your adventure elopement, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be comfortable! You’ll be thankful to have a dress that’s easy to move around in. Not to mention, when you elope in the outdoors you might encounter some wind. Wearing a dress that has a lot of movement to it will make for some pretty epic images throughout your adventure elopement!
For the grooms out there this might mean wearing a more casual look or a suit instead of a tuxedo! When you go to pick your suit or outfit, try to get materials that are a lighter weight and have stretch. This will keep you comfortable throughout your elopement, too!
10. How do I begin to decide where I want to elope?
First, decide whether you want to elope in your state, if you’re open to anywhere domestic that fits what you’re looking for, or if you want to have a destination elopement in another country? This will help you to narrow it down to a general location making your list smaller and you probably won’t feel so overwhelmed!
Second, think about the type of scenery you’re hoping to have for your elopement. Do you both love the desert and want to elope surrounded by epic sand dunes? Are you completely obsessed with waterfalls? Does hiking in the mountains fill your soul? Do you love to be immersed in nature in a forest? Take some time to think about the type of scenery you want to have and this will really start to narrow down your possible locations.
Third, go to your elopement photographer for help! I suppose this isn’t what every elopement photographer does, but it is part of what I do for my couples. I chat with my couples. I get to know my couples. I help you dive deeper into what you actually want for your elopement day. Then, based off of everything we chat about I pick out locations that are a perfect fit for you based off of everything you told me and I send you a list of epic spots for you to check out!
Lastly, choose a place that will be meaningful to you both in some way, shape, or form! It can be particular hike, national park, state, or country that you both love and have fond memories at. You could also choose a location that you’ve both never been to, but would absolutely love to visit and spend time in! Choosing a location that you’ve both never been to adds its own sense of adventure! How awesome would be to start out your lives together in an epic place you’ve both never been to?! That would be so meaningful to you both to create those new memories together!
No matter where you decide to elope, remember that this is your wedding day and they’re the moments you’ll keep coming back to. So why not get married in the location of your dreams? Why not get married in that gorgeous national park? Why not get married with the most incredible backdrop?! There’s no reason not to! Just go for it!
Here’s some ideas to help you get started!
11. How do I get started planning my elopement?!
The best place to start would be to contact a photographer who specializes in elopements and who’s style you love! Every photographer will have a different process, but an experienced elopement photographer will be able to answer all your questions and guide you through how everything works. I recommend hiring a professional early on in the process so that they can help you create a smooth and stress-free process for you!
Interested in learning more?