At first thinking about planning an elopement might seem like a complete breeze, and while elopements are definitely more stress-free and laid back than a traditional wedding there are some details that you definitely don’t want to forget! The best part about deciding how to elope is that you can keep your elopement day as simple as you want or you could include as many details and activites as you wish! So, to help make your elopement planning easier I’ve created the best Elopement Checklist for you!
Planning out all the Elopement Logistics
In order to get started with planning your dream elopement, there are a few questions you should be asking yourself. By starting to think about these things you’ll be well on your way to planning the elopement your dreaming of!
Figure out what’s most important to you and start to come up with a budget!
I totally understand it might seem overwhelming when trying to come up with a budget for your elopement day. Where do you start?! This will be different for every couple, but when I say budget that doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible! There are things you might not even know about till you actually start planning. You’ll probably get ideas along the way as you start to plan!
The best way you can get started on planning your budget is by figuring out what is most important to you to have on your elopement day. You can start this process by brainstorming and dreaming up your ultimate elopement experience. Start to ask yourself these questions and your vision will start to appear!
What general area do you want to elope?
Do you want to stay domestic or go international?
What type of scenery would you like to have on your elopement day?
Do you want to be in the mountains, the forest, in the desert, on the beach, a cliff overlooking the ocean? You don’t have to come up with a specific location! Just try to think of what your dream backdrop would be!
Are we inviting anybody along?
Are you the type of couple who wants to have a ‘just us’ experience on their elopement day or do you want to include your absolute closest friends or family? There are ways that you can absolutely get both experiences so be sure to check out my article on Eloping with Family to get all the ideas and see what would be best for you!
What time of year do we want to elope?
Are you both obsessed with winter or do you prefer when the sun is shining?! Your location and the weather you’re hoping to have are directly correlated to one another so be sure to look into the weather patterns for the particular state or general location – for example the PNW – you’re considering!
What activities do you see yourselves including?
Are you hoping to go hiking or canoeing on a lake? Do you want to take a drive on a mountain pass road and enjoy the sights?! Do you want to have a bonfire and roast s’mores?! Anything you dream up for your elopement day you can absolutely include!
Hire an Elopement Photographer
As an experience elopement photographer most couples contact me when they have a general vision of what they’re looking for, but don’t know where to go from there. I love this because I work closely with my couples to help pull together their vision and turn their dream elopement into reality!
Once you have your photographer who can help you tie your vision together you’ll start to dive into the nitty-gritty details! If you have a photographer who doesn’t help with the planning then consider hiring a planner in the location you want to elope to help you with everything.
At this point, you probably know the type of scenery you’re looking for, but aren’t sure about which state or location would be best for you. Again, helping couples pick out the perfect location for them is part of what I do for my couples, but again, if you have a photographer who doesn’t do this or even if you just want some inspiration check out these articles below!
Check out some location recommendations here!
Booking Your Travel for your elopement
No matter if you are staying local, domestic or international be sure to nail out your travel plans! If you are traveling internationally make sure you don’t forget about any train, taxi or bus fees that might come up. Of course, you need to wait to nail out these details till your specific location is picked out so that you can decide on the best flights and Airbnb location! I’ve written a guide on How to Plan an Airbnb Elopement so be sure to check it out!
1 – Book your flights!
2 – Book your lodging whether that be an Airbnb, hotel, or resort
3 – Get your car rental
Get Your Marriage License
Once you have decided where you want to elope you can start your process of getting legal. This should, of course, be a priority on your elopement checklist! If you are eloping in another country there can be some hurdles to jump over, but if you want to avoid the hassle get married legally in another country, you can always get legally married where you live at your local county clerks office and have your ceremony on your elopement day be symbolical. I have seen couples do it both ways and they are equally as special!
Even if you’re eloping in the states don’t forget that every state has its own marriage laws. Be sure to look at what’s required to get legally married there! There can be some hurdles to jump so if you’d like to keep it as simple as possible go the route of having a symbolical elopement ceremony and doing the paperwork where you live.
Here are a few things you need to look into when figuring out the legal process of getting a marriage license!
1 – Do you need an appointment in order to pick up your marriage license or is there a mail in option?
2 – Do I need an officiant or any witnesses?
Most places require you have an officiant and witnesses if you want a legal ceremony on your elopement day, but certain states like Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Wisconsin allow you to self-solemnize your marriage meaning you don’t need an officiant! In Montana, anybody can marry the two of you-like, literally anybody! You don’t need to be ordained to marry a couple in Montana! How cool?!
3 – Is there a waiting period before I can use my marriage license?
Some states require up to a week between when you file for a marriage license and when you can legally get married!
4 – Are there any other legal documents or problems that might come up?
You never know, so keep birth certificates, divorce papers from previous marriages, and all other important documents on hand.
Write Your Vows
If you decide to write your own vows then take some time to sit down and think about what you want to say to your fiance on the day you commit your lives together. I wrote a complete guide on How to Write Wedding Vows for Your Elopement that will help you out a ton!!
Be sure you have your rings!
All I can say is don’t forget these! You don’t have to go crazy with super expensive rings if that’s not your thing. A few alternative options are silicon rings or you can find some nice and cheap rings on Etsy!
Elopement Checklist – Add Whatever Personal Touches You Want to Your Elopement Checklist
You might be eloping, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add fun details to your day if that’s something you want to do! Adding things like florals, vow books, jewelry, a veil or a hat can be a great way to add personalized details to your elopement!
You can customize your ceremony and activities to things that you love both to do or even things you’ve been dreaming of doing. Think of things that would matter to the both of you and add meaning and value to your day however that looks for you!
There are no rules to eloping! If you can dream it up you can include it on one of the most important days of your life!
Pick out Your Elopement outfits
The choice is yours! You can do and wear whatever you want so if a big fancy dress isn’t your think that’s totally okay! I wrote a helpful article on the best dress styles for eloping so be sure to check that out as well. However, I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is to be comfortable during your elopement day. This might look like wearing a flowy dress instead of a fitting dress or wearing a suit with stretchy material instead of a tux.
Here are a few things to ask yourself when picking out your outfits:
- Do I want to wear my dream dress? Or not. You don’t have to wear a dress if you don’t want to.
- Should he wear a suit, tux or something else?
- What’s the weather going to be like? Do I need a jacket and base layers to stay warm?
- Am I going to do my own hair and makeup or should I hire a makeup artist?
- What shoes are we going to wear? Pro tip: I will always recommend outdoor boots or shoes for couples eloping! Even if you aren’t hiking there will still be a lot of walking and exploring around during your elopement day and having sore feet wouldn’t be fun!
- Am I going to wear any jewelry or a watch?
How will you let your loved ones know your eloping?
Every couple is different and only you know the best way to announce your elopement or the best way to celebrate afterward – if you want! You can check out a few articles I’ve written that you’ll find helpful– What to Do After Eloping, 5 Tips on How to Announce Your Elopement, and Eloping with Family for ways to include them during your elopement even if they aren’t physically there with you on your elopement day!
This is your elopement day and no matter what you should stand strong and get married exactly how you want to. After all, that is what eloping is all about!
If you’re searching for an elopement photographer who will guide you through planning and help you through every step I would love to hear from you! You can contact me HERE and I can’t wait to chat with you!
Check out these related blog posts!