Elopements now carry a different meaning than they once did. THANK GOODNESS!! Having a traditional wedding where you have to pick out table linens and worry about centerpieces isn’t for everyone and for those who desire to get married in a different way you have an alternative option. But, would you even know How to Elope?!
Elopements are all about crafting a day that truly reflects the two of you! There are no rules to eloping so however the two of you want to celebrate and spend your day you can do it! You can take a helicopter ride to an epic remote location, you can hike or not hike, you can take a boat ride, you can stroll through a forest. If you can dream it up you can do it!
Would you even know where to start or how to elope to plan your dream day? I totally get that you might have no idea, but don’t worry, I got you! After helping many couples plan their dream elopement day I’ve put together this list on How to Elope so you can know where to begin to get the ball rolling for your epic day!
How to Elope–Planning Your elopement
I wanted to touch on a little something before diving into these steps on how to elope. When starting to plan your elopement don’t forget that this is your wedding day. This is the day that you will look back on and celebrate for the rest of your life! I believe that you deserve to have the day of your dreams and that you should have your day documented from beginning to end. You deserve to have more than just a few hours of celebrating. Why not make it the most epic adventure you two have been on?! There are no rules to eloping so if you can dream it up you can do it!
What’s the best day that the two of you could create from start to finish? That’s the day that you deserve to have and you deserve to have it documented and captured so that you can share it with your friends and family back home and look back on your gorgeous images and remember it like it was yesterday. It’s all about creating a memorable and epic experience that’s all about the two of you! To dive a little more into this check out What Does Eloping Mean?
Okay! Now keep scrolling for the guide on how to elope!!
How to Elope
1. Dream Up the most incredible elopement day
First things first! It’s time to sit down and dream up the most incredible day that you two could possibly imagine! Don’t think about logistics yet. If you could create the most epic day, what would you want to do? Take a helicopter ride? A seaplane? Go hiking? Camping? Kayaking? Take a boat ride? Jump off a cliff? Skydiving? Skiing? Snowboarding? Jeeping? Ride an ATV?
Where would you be? Alaska? The PNW? New Zealand? Europe? Local? A national park?
What does the scenery look like? Is it snowing? Is the sun shining? Is it moody and overcast? Are there mountains? A lake? Waterfall? The beach?
Is it just the two of you or do you have a few of your closest family members with you?
There are just a few questions to get the wheels in your brain turning!! As I said, don’t think about the logistics. If you could do whatever you want what would that look like?! Make a date night of it and sit down together and take some time to dream up your elopement day!
2. Come Up with a Rough Budget for your elopement
While some people think couples choose to elope to save money that really isn’t the case–for the most part! The thing about elopements is that you can be very intentional about where you spend your money! You have more freedom and have the ability to spend your money on what really matters to the two of you since you don’t have to pay for a wedding for a whole crowd of people.
Coming up with a budget correlates to what is most important to the two of you! Is it getting married in that epic location you’ve always dreamed of going to? Is it hiring a photographer you really love and connect with? It is getting that dream elopement dress? Consider everything that truly matters to you. Elopements allow you to spend your money on exactly what you want to create the day of your dreams! As a side note, when I mentioned budget don’t think that that doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible with where you decide to spend your money.
Here are a few things to take into consideration when planning your budget:
- Elopement Attire
- Location permits and fees
- Hair and makeup
- Marriage License
- Decor and florals
- Food and beverages
- Travel costs
Of course, you definitely don’t have to include all of these into your elopement day! For example, only about half of the couples I work with decide to have an officiant on their elopement day and opt to have a symbolic ceremony on their elopement day and get all the legal stuff done in their hometown. Couples that choose to do this usually don’t want to have to go to a county clerk’s office during their elopement trip and to those couples the day they say their vows to one another is the day they get married and not the day paperwork was filed!
As I mentioned earlier take some time and decide what is most important to the two of you! Sit down, leave all the logistics behind, and dream up what would be the ultimate experience you would like to have on your elopement day. When you start to create a vision in your mind of what you’re looking for, your priorities will start to get clear!
3. Pick Your Dream Elopement Location
Now, this is one of the best parts about eloping!! I totally understand that this part might be slightly overwhelming since there are so many incredible locations all around the world. Picking out your location definitely correlates to your budget and how much you want to spend on travel! Again, what’s most important to you?!
When deciding on a location–when I say location you don’t have to pick a specific spot to say your vows! It could be a general area like the PNW, a certain country or state!–think about the type of scenery you want. Do you want mountains? A forest? An open meadow? Definitely take into consideration the time of year you want to elope and the type of weather you want to have on your day as that can heavily influence the location you choose!
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when picking out a location:
- Are you an outdoorsy couple?
- Do you love to travel?
- What activities do you want to do on your day?
- What type of weather do I want on my elopement day?
- What’s my favorite type of scenery/landscape?
- Do we want to stay domestic or elope internationally?
Here a few articles for inspiration to get your mind running with ideas!
4. Pick Out Your Photographer to Capture Your Elopement
Most of the couples I work with tend to contact me around this spot when they have a general vision for their elopement day, but now need help to pull it all together. It’s such a blast when couples come to me with a general location in mind and sort of know what they want because I love to help them take that general and fuzzy vision and make it clear as day for them and help them craft their ultimate elopement day!
Once you have a photographer who can help plan your elopement you’ll start to be able to nail out everything you need for your elopement to pull your plan together! If you don’t have a photographer who helps with all the planning then I would suggest hiring a planner local to where you’re eloping to help you with all the logistics.
5. Pick the rest of your vendors and plan out the details for your elopement!
The next part of how to elope is to get in touch with the people who can complete your elopement! After you hire your elopement photographer you’ll, again, if they help with the planning, they’ll probably be able to recommend any additional vendors that you’re looking for.
A few other vendors that you might consider would be a florist, hair and makeup artist, videographer, and maybe an officiant depending on where you get married and if you want your elopement to be symbolical or not.
Now, an important thing to think about is this: You decided to elope because you two desire to have a wedding day that’s more intimate and focused on the two of you, right? Every vendor you add that will be present throughout your day will change the vibe of your elopement. I’ve seen some vendors try to make the day more about them than the couple and it just breaks my heart, because as an elopement photographer my whole focus is on the couple and allowing them to enjoy their day. So, when deciding on vendors think of who will add to your day and not take away!
Also, just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean that you can personalize your experience with details or certain activities! If you two have always dreamed of taking a helicopter ride, book a helicopter tour to an epic location for you to say your vows. If you love skateboarding, take along skateboards and plan out a time to ride!
This is your day and you can include whatever you want into your day!
6. Make your marriage legal
Don’t forget to hit the county clerk’s office to get the paperwork done! If you are getting married in another country or even state I highly recommend that you get married legally in your hometown and then have your elopement day be symbolical and be the day that you say your vows to each other and commit your lives together. By doing this you will save a lot of hassle and keep your elopement day as stress-free as it can be!
If you live in the U.S. and get married in another state that is, of course, much easier to be legally married on your actual day. It all comes down to what you decide to do on your elopement day and if you want an officiant to tag along or not! It totally depends on your situation and what you want so this is usually something I go over with my couples and help them decide what’s best for them on a case to case basis!
If you decide to get married legally on your day don’t forget to send in your signed certificate to the office you got it from! You can usually mail it in or walk in and give it to them. If you have an officiant sometimes they will send it in for you, but be sure to have that conversation with your officiant! It can take up to 6-8 weeks to receive your official marriage license so if you need to get is sooner for a particular reason I would suggest to go do it in person and let them know!
How to Elope
7. Get your Elopement attire!
How fun picking out your attire can be!! For the bride, I highly recommend picking out a dress that is flowy and allows you to move with ease. During your elopement, you’re usually more active–walking around a lot, exploring your scenery, and maybe even hiking. So, something that is comfortable for you is definitely key! As for the groom, you can wear a suit, nice pants with button-down and suspenders, etc.
You can get creative with your outfits to add some personal touches to your day! I’ve seen some fun touches such as jewelry, socks, and fun ties. Most of the brides and grooms I’ve worked with will wear hiking/outdoor boots so that your feet will be comfy all day long! If you opt for a winter elopement then you’ll have to take some extra precautions to stay warm such as wool leggings, wool socks, a winter jacket to stay warm, possibly a cute jacket if you wish to switch off for a few pictures and some ear muffs.
When picking out your attire consider where you’re eloping and how easy or not easy it would be to travel with it! Some materials travel much better than others like polyester, spandex, knit fabrics and tencel are all great fabrics for traveling and won’t wrinkle! You could easily fold or roll a dress made from this material while traveling or hiking on your day.
8. Share the News with friends and family
This can always be a touchy subject for some people. It totally depends on the relationship you have with your closest friends and family, but it would probably be a good idea to tell them you’re eloping beforehand. I have written up a couple of articles that provide some more tips and insight!
However, one thing I want to distinguish is that if you WANT to have your parents or your closest friends with you on your day then do it! The amount of people you choose to celebrate with you on your day doesn’t define what an elopement is. An elopement all comes down to the intention you have on your day! So, as long as you want the focus to remain on the two of you and have an intimate and adventurous day take those who really matter to you along if that’s something you desire!
WHOO!! That was a lot of information, but I hope this has helped to give you an idea of how to elope and given you some insight on where to begin with planning your adventurous elopement! If you’re searching for an elopement photographer I would love to chat with you! You can contact me >HERE< and in the meantime, you can check out these other related articles.