HOW TO PLAN AN ELOPEMENT
You’re finally engaged and ready to tie the knot! Now What? I’m sure you’re here because you heard about the amazing way of having a wedding that is intentional and meaningful to you and your partner but you’re not sure how to elope.
Well, let me tell you a little secret. Eloping is less stressful than a traditional wedding. Sounds like your cup of tea, right?
Eloping use to be considered running off to the courthouse or Las Vegas and getting married quick and easy before telling anyone. Elopements are more than signing a paper in secret. It is another way to say I do and to experience a wedding that reflects who you are, together, as a couple.
If you imagine your day full of adventure, activities that are true to you, love, happy tears, and crossing off your bucket list with non-stop adventure, then you’ve come to the right place!
Here are some helpful tips to plan your just us wedding day.
How To Elope: Step By Step Guide
1. SET A WEDDING DATE
2. HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER/ PLANNER
3. CREATE A VISION BOARD
4. DECIDE WHERE TO ELOPE
5. DETERMINE A BUDGET
6. PICK OUT VENDORS TO HELP CREATE YOUR DREAM WEDDING
7. CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE WEDDING ATTIRE
8. PLAN YOUR TRAVEL AHEAD
9. SEND OUT WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENTS
1. SET A WEDDING DATE
Before hiring a planner, elopement photographer, or wedding vendors, it is more likely than not they require a wedding date so they can send you a contract and book you on their calendar. The date does not have to be set and stone and sometimes will need to be changed depending on the setting you would like for your wedding day (like during snowfall or when it’s not too hot to hike up a mountain).
Definitely take into consideration weather, as mentioned above, as well as does your date have a special meaning? Does it work with your family and friend’s work schedule if you plan on inviting guests? And also, if you really want a specific photographer to capture your wedding day but they are unavailable for that date, are you ok with accommodating with the photographer’s schedule?
Once you have your date marked on the calendar, then you can officially start wedding planning!
2. HIRE A PLANNER/ PHOTOGRAPHER
The first thing I HIGHLY recommend is finding an elopement planner or photographer. The reason why I say one or the other is most of the time an adventure elopement photographer will also be your planner!
Very often I receive messages from brides concerned about not knowing where to go or what to do for their elopement. The idea of eloping pops into their heads but stuck on where to go next. That’s why I’m here! I am here to help relieve the stress off your shoulders.
In my about page on my website I talk about how I can help you plan a stress free wedding day! Besides being your photographer I help you find your dream wedding locations, create a unique to you timeline, recommend vendors, and suggest fun activities you can do throughout your day!
From the first inquiry email to the day I send you your wedding gallery I will be in contact with you 24/7! Hiring a planner/ photographer who helps guide you to the resources you need while planning your elopement will take all the stress off your shoulders! 10/10 highly recommend (:
3. Create a Vision Board
I am a very visual person, so having inspirational photos that resemble what I am planning helps bring my dreams and ideas together more than just the photo in my head. It is also a fun idea when planning because it will help you and your partner think about what you really love and the ideas you could come up with when looking at photos together.
Do you want to have your ceremony on top of a mountain or on the beach? Would you rather have a picnic at sunrise or sunset? Would you both enjoy hiking or off roading?
THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE ENDLESS! (You will hear me say that a lot).
I find my inspiration from other elopement stories, Pinterest, and even contacting the photographer I am looking at for their favorite elopement ideas or what is on their adventure bucket list. There is no wrong way to how you dream up your wedding day!
4. Decide Where To Elope
Once you’ve talked to your partner and planner/ photographer about when your wedding day will be and how you vision your dream wedding, next is to decide where you want to tie the knot!
You can sometimes say to them “I want to elope in the forest” or “I want to hike to the top of a mountain with a beautiful view” and we will offer you a handful of different location choices to choose from!
Also keep in mind if you want to include any activities like 4×4 jeep off-roading, kayaking, snowboarding, or even camping.
Fun fact: eloping gives you the opportunity to spend your wedding day in multiple locations! Here’s a timeline example of how your wedding day can look adventuring:
SIMPLE ELOPEMENT TIMELINE EXAMPLE
5am: First look.
7AM: hELICOPTER TOUR AROUND THE MOUNTAINS.
11AM: PRIVATE CEREMONY.
1PM: LAKE BOAT RIDE & LUNCH.
3PM: EXPLORE SLOT CANYONS & PRIVATE VOW EXCHANGE.
7PM: RETURN TO AIRBNB AND ENJOY DINNER WITH A PRIVATE CHEF
Sounds like fun right?
That is just one of hundreds of different ways you can elope and include adventure in your wedding day! You don’t even have to choose adventure in your timeline if you don’t want. Not the biggest fan of hiking? No worries! As an experienced adventure elopement photographer your vision of getting married and your wants and needs comes first. I will help plan your wedding day to how YOU want it to be.
One quick tip when location scouting is sometimes you will need to require a permit regarding your elopement location. Speak to your photographer/ planner about permits and how they go about who covers what fees.
5. Determine A Budget
Figuring out how much you want to spend on your wedding day after deciding your wedding location helps with figuring out a few factors in mind.
Do you want to include activities such as off-roading, adventuring in a helicopter, or exploring slot canyons for your reception? Do you also want a hair and makeup artist to help you get ready before the first look and them travel to you?
Just because you are saving money eloping instead of having a traditional wedding doesn’t mean you should go cheap. It is still your wedding day after all!
You are saving money by not spending it on party favors, table linens, or centerpieces, but that money you are saving could go towards your wedding day experience that will tie into creating your dream wedding.
You deserve to spend money on things that are important to you, like finding your dream wedding dress, picking out your favorite flowers for your bouquet, or hiring your favorite pastry chef that makes the best cupcakes or fancy macarons.
6. Pick Out Vendors To Help Create Your Dream Wedding
The next step in how to elope is figuring out where you will need to outsource help from vendors. You have a photographer by your side but do you also want to include a videographer to document your wedding day? You’ll also need an officiant to legally marry you.
My elopement packages are created with my couples in mind to be go-to resources when planning an elopement. I send you a guide with endless information on vendor recommendations, tips and tricks you will need when picking out a wedding dress, or fun activities you could include in your wedding day!
After you pick out your vendors, connect with them, and include them in your elopement plans! Remember the vision board I told you about in step three? You can bounce ideas back and forth with visuals and details on what your dream wedding looks like.
7. Choose Your Favorite Wedding Attire
Let me remind you about something.. IT IS YOUR WEDDING DAY! YOU CAN WEAR WHATEVER THE HECK YOU WANT!
Now that we got the stress and judgement out of our heads, think about what you would feel comfortable dressing in. Want to break tradition and wear a black or hot pink wedding dress? DO IT! Don’t like dresses and would rather wear a jumpsuit or suit & tie? GO FOR IT! Or be just like Leah & Paul in the photo above and wear fancy cowboy style attire and be simple and comfortable during their wedding day.
Wear what makes you feel amazing. Wear what makes you feel like yourself.
One tip I do recommend when picking out your wedding attire is to remember the location, weather, and activities during your wedding day. If you are planning to hike to the top of a mountain, find something that can easily be tied or held up and won’t restrict movement.
8. Plan Your Trip Ahead
Alright, this is the step where you are getting ready to elope soon and you’re preparing mentally and physically for the previous months of preparation. I definitely recommend doing all of your paperwork/ making a to do list 2 months in advance.
Make sure you obtain your marriage license, book all the travel and lodging accommodations such as plane tickets, hotels, or airBnB. Also prepare for any unexpected weather like if it starts to rain, you may be cold and need to bring a jacket or blanket, or need to purchase hiking shoes for your 2 hour hike!
If you’re planning to elope in Arizona, here’s a blog post I wrote including some tips and things you need to know about Arizona marriage laws!
If you’re planning on getting married in a different state than your home state or out of the country, make sure you do your research! As your adventure elopement photographer, that is one of the first things I research when I team up with a couple booking an out of Arizona elopement.
9. Send Out Wedding Announcements
You finally eloped and lived out your wedding day dreams! Now it’s time to announce to friends and family you tied the knot. You can be as simple as announcing on social media or be as creative as sending out formal announcements with photos of your wedding day.
This step some couples worry about the most, but you must remember that you got married for YOU. Talk to your new lifelong partner about what you both feel comfortable with on how you want to announce your elopement.
You could keep it a secret from everyone until you’re actually married (like waiting to announce until you get your gallery sneak peeks) or you can announce you’re eloping the day you are about to leave for your adventure wedding.
You could also invite some of your closest friends and family to attend your elopement. Eloping doesn’t have to be a secret or just the two of you! You can have a micro-wedding for your ceremony or reception, this way you can still include your loved ones on your wedding day without feeling left out.
A great way to ease your mind off of the stress of announcing is by explaining why you and your partner decided to elope over having a wedding.
Correlating with sending out wedding announcements, you could also decide to include information on an elopement wedding after party.
If you still want to experience the authentic and intimate wedding but include family and friends in the celebration, this is one of my favorite options. You could throw a BBQ or call ahead at your favorite restaurant and reserve the party room to celebrate your marriage over dinner.
Another way to celebrate is getting married at your honeymoon location. Planning on having a honeymoon in Hawaii for example? Get married on one of the beautiful islands and then boat or fly on over to your honeymoon destination the day after you tie the knot.
Remember, at the end of the day you are getting married! That’s what matters most.
what your elopement can look like
YOUR BIGGEST SUPPORTER BEHIND THE CAMERA
Hey, I’m kelcee!
Your adventure buddy, nature loving, the one with the camera new best friend! I travel all around Arizona & beyond capturing adventurous elopements and unique weddings.
My job is to not only capture your memories that will last a lifetime but to make sure you are having the best adventure ever! I’m here to scout out all the hidden gem locations, plan your epic explorations, and to take photos you’ll look back on and say “we actually did that!”.
My passion is to inspire couples to include adventure in their daily lives & explore outside their comfort zone. You deserve the chance to find yourself within nature, escape reality, and adventure the amazing world we call home. I am here for you and I can’t wait to share your story!