How to Elope: The Ultimate Guide to Eloping

How to Elope: The Ultimate Guide to Eloping

April 8, 2024
April 8, 2024

There are hundreds of reasons as to why a couple would choose to elope instead of having a traditional wedding. Whether eloping just feels like a more authentic and fun option to tying the knot, or there are more personal reasons- I’m here to say I couldn’t agree more!
Many photographers love photography, but the connection and dedication I have with elopements is otherworldly. After being a photographer for nine years, I have found a way to truly have everything I love and value in life as a career, and I get to work with likeminded people every single day!
With extensive knowledge and experience designing and documenting epic elopement experiences in surreal destinations- I have created the ultimate “How to Elope” guide!

What This Guide Includes:

This guide answers all of the common questions, such as:

  • What is eloping?
  • What are the pros and cons of eloping?
  • What are the steps to planning an elopement?
  • Should we elope with family and friends, or just the two of us?
  • What vendors do you need for an elopement?
  • How can you plan an all-day elopement?

Elopement Photographer

First Things First… What does Eloping Mean?

We can discuss definitions per the dictionary all day long, but the reality is that choosing to elope opens the door to endless opportunities. While many traditions, standards, and influence play a huge role in the final product of big, traditional weddings- elopements have no rules, and no right or wrong!
That dream vacation you have thought about since you first discovered a destination? Elope there!
Those bucket list items you are waiting to check off some day? Make them part of your elopement!
Your wildest dreams can be turned to reality, and your options are truly limitless! The long and the short of it is- eloping is whatever you make it.

Best Places to Elope

The Pros and Cons of Eloping:

While I can be very biased in advocating for elopements over traditional weddings, the reality is that eloping realistically isn’t for every couple.

The Cons of Eloping:

  • Adventurous elopements are typically full of outdoor adventures, which may not be ideal to couples who don’t enjoy being outdoors, traveling, or having unpredictable weather.
  • Choosing to elope in a wild place typically means less guests, however you do have the option of having an “after party” or a “reception” at a later date after your epic elopement!
  • For those who dreams of large floral arrangements, cohesive d├ęcor, and dancing on the dance floor- eloping may not be your cup of tea. (Though I must say, waterfalls and distant mountains make for a killer aesthetic!)

The Pros of Eloping:

  • Elopements are much more relaxing, and go-with-the-flow. You do not need to cram your entire wedding experience into one day!
  • Instead of hiring a bunch of vendors that will provide a single-day service, you can plan activities for your elopement that you have always dreamed of! You’re guaranteed to have the most epic memories of your wedding day, and be able to invest more in your desires!
  • Nothing says “bad ass” like eloping on a mountain peak at sunrise, on a sailboat at sunset, or by a campfire beneath a clear night sky!
  • Elopements are much more personal, intimate, and romantic! There are no rules or boundaries, so you can do everything you dream of, and nothing you don’t!

Click here to read my article, “The Top 5 Reasons to Elope!”

Adventure Elopement

The 4 Steps to Achieving your Dream Elopement:

Step One: Dream!

If you were to imagine the best day of your life, where would you be? What would the weather be like? What would you do for the entire day? Dream of every detail that would make it epic, and then make that your elopement! Once you know that you want an epic elopement, you can book a specialized elopement photographer, like me, to handle the rest!

Step Two: Deep Dive into Logistics and Research!

If you have booked an experienced elopement photographer who will help you create the experience of a lifetime, you probably don’t need to worry too much about this step! You will want to gather information about:

  • Permits/ Guidelines
  • Routes
  • Local activities
  • Scenic locations
  • Weather and tourism Patterns
  • Average costs for airfare, car rentals, lodging, etc. for your destination
  • The process and requirements for a legal marriage in your home state/ country, or the state/country you will elope in!

Be sure to thoroughly research everything you will need to know about traveling to your dream destination and legally getting married there! (And don’t forget to pack and legal documents like your social security card, birth certificate, drivers license/ state ID, etc.)

Elopement Flatlay Photos

Step Three: Finalize your Plans!

Once you (or you and your elopement photographer) have looked through all of your options and learned more about eloping in your dream destination- it’s time to make it official! (The plans anyways!)
An elopement photographer is incredibly helpful when planning your elopement, as they will be able to assist in creating a timeline for your entire elopement day . This allows you to have all of the experiences you dream of at the best times to avoid crowds and harsh lighting!
First, determine what time of day you’d like to have your ceremony (for the dreamiest lighting and smaller crowds, opt for sunrise or sunset.) Then, plan the other scenic locations/ activities that you and your partner wish to experience before/ after your ceremony!

Step Four: Turn Your Wildest Dreams Into Reality!

After nailing out the details and finalizing your arrangements, it’s time to have the epic elopement of your dreams!
Be sure to stay hydrated, have offline maps if you’re going to places without cell service, establish a backup plan in case of inclement weather, and have the best time ever! A big part of eloping is going with the flow and being open for any and everything, so have fun with your epic experience!

Elopement with Bridesmaids

Eloping with Family vs. Just the Two of You!

As I listed as a con (though it can definitely be a pro to many couples,) elopements and micro-weddings typically have less than 30 guests (including the bridal party.) Elopements, especially adventurous elopements that are primarily outdoors, are meant to be intimate and nothing short of everything you and your partner dream of. If you dream wedding day involves lots of hiking, traveling, or activities, opt for family and friends to only participate in the ceremony, or eloping with just the two of you. You can also choose to have a “reception” or “After party” after your elopement, so that you can celebrate your marriage with family and friends!
When it’s just the two of you, there is a lot more flexibility and room for necessary changes (like in the case of inclement weather.) You also may have more options when it comes to where you elope, as family and friends won’t need to have accommodations to travel to and from your destination. If you choose to invite your closest supporters, be sure to give them ample time and a judgement-free decision on if they can attend your elopement.

What Vendors you Typically Need for an Epic Elopement:

Adventure elopements, unlike traditional weddings, are typically outdoors and involve a day full of different locations and activities. Photographers and videographers, like my team and I, help design and document your entire elopement experience, so you typically don’t need an elopement planner! However, if your photo/ video team doesn’t handle the planning, an elopement planner can be super helpful when trying to organize an epic day that is full of locations and activities!
Aside from a photographer/ videographer and planner, you can also book a hair and makeup artist, florist, and officiant! If your ceremony will be in an epic location that requires hiking or off-roading, be sure to tell your officiant and ensure they are up for an adventure, too! If you handle the legalities of marriage in your home state/ country, you can have a “commitment ceremony!” Commitment ceremonies are not legally binding, which means there are no rules or requirements, such as having an officiant that is ordained.
You can also look into hiring additional “vendors,” such as a private chef, off-roading tour, helicopter tour, and so much more! These service providers can create an even more elevated experience to your elopement!

Elopement Photographer and Videographer

How can you Plan an All-Day Elopement?

I’m a firm believer that choosing to elope doesn’t mean choosing less. Your elopement is still your wedding day, only it is free from traditions, standards, and limits! You can find several scenic locations in a part of your destination, plan activities like a private tour, dinner, kayaking, swimming- anything your hearts desire! You can view over 65 of my favorite elopement activities to get some ideas for your own unique elopement adventure!

Tips for the Day of your Elopement

While each elopement is different, here are a few things to keep in mind and remember to have on the day of your elopement:

  • Sunscreen! If your elopement will be almost entirely outdoors, wear a clear sunscreen and be sure to keep it on hand throughout the day! Even if it isn’t hot or even cloudy, it’s important to keep your skin protected from hours of UV rays!
  • Stay Hydrated! Whether you are planning a several-mile hike on your elopement day, or don’t plan on hiking much at all- be sure you stay hydrated! You need to feel your absolute best!
  • Don’t Skip Meals! I promise, the last thing you want to do is have a day full of adventure on an empty stomach. Your health is extremely important, so do not skip on meals and keep plenty of snacks on hand so that you don’t get light headed!
  • Don’t Stress the Hair! Trust me- no matter how much your hair stylist tries- a day full of adventure with wind, water, running, etc. is bound to mess up the hair! You can keep dryer sheets on hand to defrizz your hair, and have a set of rollers or bobby pins to keep any curls shaped while driving, resting, or taking long hikes!
  • Bring a Touch-Up Bag! Ask for samples if you hired a hair and makeup artist, or keep the products you used if you did your own makeup! This will allow you to make any necessary touch ups throughout the day!

How to plan an elopement

Ready to Plan your Epic Elopement?

Let’s create the experience of a lifetime in the most surreal place on earth! Click here to get started!
Click here to sign up for my free elopement guide and planning templates!