What an Elopement Means to Me: the Heart & Soul of Escape and Adventure

On your elopement day, you can do whatever you want wherever you want! My heart is drawn to capturing couples experiencing beautiful locations in the great outdoors. This means that from the location to the timeline activities, no two elopements are ever the same. I think that’s what I love about elopements the most. My own elopement definition created the foundation for Escape and Adventure but yours can be just what an elopement means to you!

Horseshoe Bend Arizona Adventure Elopement

MY HEART AND SOUL: THE STORY OF ESCAPE AND ADVENTURE

I experienced my first wedding on Halloween 2020 during COVID. I helped a couple fly into Arizona from out of state to plan their elopement in three days. Being able to witness them getting married in a way that was true to them and broke traditions changed my perspective on weddings immediately.

I prefer elopements for a few main reasons: there is more flexibility to the day, the couple controls their own timeline, and there are endless possibilities to have an intentional wedding day. Photographing intimate weddings always felt rushed. There was a strict timeline we had to follow with very little personal time together for the couple to process the fact that they had just gotten married.

But, what an elopement means is unique to each couple. When I married my best friend in 2021, I originally wanted to elope (we still plan on doing so for our five-year anniversary!). We didn’t end up eloping for many reasons, but the main one was wanting to have our family and friends together to witness our day. 

I don’t regret a single decision we made, and I am so happy with how everything turned out. I knew what I wanted and we made that happen so that I’m able to look back at those memories knowing that the day was about us. 

WHAT AN ELOPEMENT MEANS: ELOPEMENTS DEFINED

An elopement isn’t running off to Vegas in secret anymore. Now, what an elopement means is so much more. An adventure elopement is an intimate and intentional wedding experience focused on your love story and celebrating your marriage the way you want while surrounded by nature (and a small group of loved ones if you go that route).

What an Elopement IS:

  • Going at your own pace with no stress or worries.
  • Traveling to new places you’ve never been to before.
  • Sharing new experiences together as newlyweds.
  • Having the freedom and space to do what you really want.
  • Planning a meaningful event that is true to your personality and a reflection of the relationship.

What an Elopement ISN’T:

  • A last-minute decision.
  • Only going to the courthouse and signing a piece of paper.
  • A shameful event done in secret.
  • Exclusive in a way that’s hurtful to family and friends (you can include your family!).
  • Going the cheaper route to get married. More about how much elopements cost blog coming soon!

THE MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A WEDDING AND AN ELOPEMENT

There is nothing wrong with having a traditional cookie-cutter wedding. I just want you to know that there are options out there and personally, I believe that planning to elope is such a better experience! The major difference between weddings and elopements is that weddings aren’t always about the couple. Instead it’s all about spending thousands of dollars to accommodate a good wedding guest experience. 

What an elopement means is that the guest experience is automatically included as part of the elopement adventure. The great outdoors, the adventure activity, or the intimacy of the elopement itself completely takes care of your elopement guest experience. 

I don’t want you to be so non-stop on your wedding day that you miss it. After elopement planning for months, you should enjoy the day with moments between just the two of you. You want to care for your guests, but the day isn’t about your parents or some friend you haven’t talked to in years. It’s about the two of you, your relationship, and personalizing the day to your tastes.

Don’t spend your wedding budget on stuff you don’t want or an experience you won’t enjoy. Instead, take your wedding budget breakdown and spend it on the experience of the day and what matters the most to you: your wedding night hotel/Airbnb, unique wedding attire, private chef to cook your favorite meals, or an activity you’ve been dying to do.

Here are some other elopement ideas to get you started…

Adventure Elopement Day Examples

  • Taking a nap in the forest on a hammock.
  • Camping + s’mores under the stars.
  • Stargazing & taking nighttime portraits.
  • Dancing with sparklers on the beach.
  • Taking a short hike.
  • Portraits in an epic location.

Adventure Elopement Day With Sample Timeline

  • 11:00 AM: Photographer arrives: getting ready & detail photos.
  • 12:00 PM: Leave for the first look location.
  • 12:30 PM: First look + portraits.
  • 1:30 PM: Leave for ceremony location.
  • 2:00 PM: Ceremony begins.
  • 2:30 PM: Ceremony ends: family portraits + marriage license.
  • 3:00 PM: Family departs: adventure ceremony location + portraits + picnic + painting.
  • 6:15 PM: Hike to second portrait location.
  • 6:45 PM: Star photos with couple.
  • 7:00 PM: Photographer departs.

HOW TO ELOPE: WHERE TO BEGIN & WHY YOU SHOULD TOTALLY GO FOR IT!

If you would like an adventure elopement but you’re worried that you’re not naturally adventurous enough for it–that’s OK! You can tone it down or amp it up to fit your personality. But, what an elopement means is breaking wedding traditions, so it will always have a little adventure packed into it!

There isn’t a rule about how adventurous your elopement has to be. If you randomly decide to hike 17 miles with a 1,900 ft elevation gain and you aren’t trained for it, then I wouldn’t recommend it. But, if you love trying new things, you’re physically able and mentally prepared, then why not test it out on your wedding day? 

“When in doubt, don’t” – Benjamin Franklin

An activity-based adventure elopement includes activities other than having a ceremony, taking portraits at a beautiful location, and experiencing new adventures together as a newly-married couple. It instead plans the day around a specific adventure activity for your day!

Activity-Based Adventure Elopement Day Options

  • 1. First look at the top of a mountain peak and exchange private vows.
  • 2. Off-roading to a secluded location for your intimate ceremony with your pets as your witnesses.
  • 3. Hot air balloon or helicopter ride watching the sun rise.
  • 4. Exploring a slot canyon.
  • 5. Kayaking in a lake or river.
  • 6. Rock climbing and watching the sunset.
  • 7. Taking a boat ride and snorkeling above a reef.
  • 8. Horseback riding after your ceremony.

Activity-Based Adventure Elopement Day With Sample Timeline

  • 3:30 AM: Photographer arrives: getting ready & detail photos.
  • 4:20 AM: Leave for sunrise hot air balloon ride.
  • 5:00 AM: Hot air balloon ride begins.
  • 6:30 AM: Hot air balloon ride ends: off-road to ceremony location
  • 8:00 AM: Ceremony begins.
  • 8:15 AM: Ceremony ends. Portraits.
  • 10:00 AM: Portraits end. Head back to Airbnb.
  • 11:30 AM: Brunch with a private chef in Airbnb.
  • 12:30 PM: Photographer departs.

YOUR ARIZONA ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER

Hey, I’m Kelcee!

As an Arizona born and raised local I know everything from the secret hidden elopement locations that aren’t overpopulated with tourists to the best time to elope!

I’m here to help you with all things adventure & elopements. From scouting out your ceremony location to planning your adventurous elopement timeline, I’ll help you plan your best day ever, take away any stress you are experiencing, and support you as your new best friend.

Your elopement is the experience of a lifetime and you deserve not only the support for doing what you love but also the best quality photos that tell your love story that will last a lifetime.

ADVENTURE ELOPEMENT STORIES

ELOPEMENT PLANNING RESOURCES