One of the best features of adventurous elopements is the fact that they aren’t one-size-fits-all experiences. Even though wedding days can hold their own unique touches, they generally follow a standard run of events. Since wedding days are tied to an outlined structure, they are limited in the amount of tweaks that can be made in creating a one-of-a-kind experience. That’s where elopement planning steps in to save the day! Here’s the process I walk my couples through to narrow down their own elopement ideas!

Horseshoe Bend Arizona Adventure Elopement

3 Questions to Discover the Elopement Ideas That Fit You Best

Not every couple wants an elopement day that’s never been seen before, but most want their day personalized. The choices you make in which elopement ideas fill your day will determine just that!

Here’s the 3-question process I use to help couples choose their elopement day adventure:

Horseshoe Bend Arizona Adventure Elopement ideas

Question #1: What are your favorite kinds of activities to do together?

Every couple has that thing that they love to do. These couples activities can range from visiting a new coffee shop every Saturday morning to sunset walks on the beach. Or it can be trying something you’ve never done before like underwater photography.  It can be quirky, unique, or completely ordinary–the only requirement is that it’s your thing.

Often, the shared activity is one that brought you two together or it’s tied to your first date. Another way to approach these activity choices is pulling from what you did for your engagement session.

I tend to recommend doing an activity or going to a location that’s either part of your love story or that you already enjoy. We can incorporate this same place or activity category into your elopement day!

These are some couples adventure ideas to get you started!

  • Local breweries
  • Vintage shopping
  • Hiking and/or camping
  • Going to the movies or theater
  • Speakeasy or local pub
  • Walks in local parks with your dogs
  • Taking cooking, pottery, painting or other creative classes
  • Running or working out
  • Traveling internationally or on road trips nationally
  • Skiing, snowboarding
  • Surfing or lounging at the beach
  • Night on the town in the city
  • Wine-tasting
  • Going to local farmers or flea markets

Once you know the one or several kinds of activities that you enjoy doing together, you’ll be better prepared to narrow down your elopement day timeline.

couple stands on edge of rock at boho elopement

Question #2: How much of your wedding budget do you plan on dedicating to your selected activity?

There are many ways to split how you budget for what it costs to elope. I have broken this down into more details and also created an Elopement Cost Calculator to make this as simple as possible! Once you have a general idea of whether your day is long or short, with or without guests, and if it includes any outside vendors, you can then better plan for your elopement activity.

After skipping larger costs like a wedding venue and reception catering, most of your budget will go to the photography elopement package. Hiring me as your adventure elopement photographer also provides you with elopement planning and day-of coordination. I’ll do the research, location scouting, connecting you to the best local vendors and creating a timeline personalized to your wedding day.

Some couples will DIY their own hair and makeup, borrow or use what they already have for the wedding dress and suit, and get local flowers for the bouquet/boutonniere. This means that the remainder of the budget can be reserved for capturing the day and for the adventure itself. There isn’t an exact recipe you must follow, but if you desire to go with particular kinds of adventures then these are the two spots I suggest putting your main investment!

couple floats on air mattress as lakeside elopement ideas

Question #3: How adventurous would you like your elopement activity to be?

Little Known Fact: you do NOT have to be adventurous in order to elope. Does that seem a little hard to believe? While I’ve already broken down the major differences between a wedding and an elopement, here I would like to touch upon what it means to be “adventurous.”

According to my own definition, going down the adventure elopement route at its basic level is doing something that’s adventurous to the two of you. If it’s hiking on a trail you’ve never visited before or driving around your favorite national park, it can truly be what you make it. Even though elopement ideas generally pull from more adventurous activities, you can choose which level most appeals to you!

couple enjoys picnic as elopement ideas for horseshoe bend elopement

Wedding Day Timeline Examples for Your Elopement Ideas

Now, with the answers to these three important questions under your belt, it’s time to actually put your elopement adventure ideas into an elopement day timeline. These vary primarily according to the time allotted (elopements can range from four hours to two days) and the chosen type of activity.

A traditional wedding has the basic timeline of getting ready, portraits, first look, ceremony, family portraits, newlywed portraits, dinner, toasts and dancing. Without all of these activities, it’s OK if you have no idea how to fill an average eight-hour elopement day. When you’re eloping in nature there’s so many possibilities! I literally have endless elopement ideas based on your style and answers to the previous three questions!

Here are fun elopement activity ideas separated by more or less adventurous! 

family cheers alongside couple at monument valley arizona elopement

Low-Key Elopement Adventures:

  • Cook food and mix fun drinks
  • Stargazing
  • Horseback riding
  • Getting ready and writing your vows together
  • Having family join for the ceremony or just for a reception
  • City Ideas: carnival, Go Kart racing, roller blading, bowling, bar hopping, visiting a garden, etc.
  • Picnicking at the beach
  • Hiking
  • Experiences: painting, yoga, apple picking, etc.
  • Photos with alpacas!
couple holds hands walking to skydive at adventure elopement

High Energy Elopement Adventures:

  • Off-Roading
  • Skydiving
  • Scuba Diving or Snorkeling
  • Helicopter Ride
  • Hot Air Balloon (though this can be super peaceful if you’re OK with heights!)
  • Paragliding
  • Rock Climbing or Rappelling
  • Backpacking overnight
  • Canyoneering
  • Kayaking

Here are some elopement timeline examples pulling from different length elopement days and elopement ideas:

couple embraces for skydiving adventure elopement

Elopement timelines

Hot Air Balloon / Off-Roading Adventure Elopement

  • 6 AM — Meet Photographer at Hot Air Balloon location. Take portraits while balloon is filling up.
  • 7 AM — Enjoy hot air balloon ride
  • 9 AM — Head back to Airbnb for breakfast with private chef
  • 9:30 AM — Enjoy breakfast
  • *BREAK*
  • 12 PM — Photographer arrives to capture getting ready with Hair & Makeup Artist.
  • 1:30 PM — First look with bride and groom
  • 2 PM — Leave to portrait location
  • 2:30 PM — Portraits
  • 3:30 PM — Leave for off-roading ceremony location
  • 5 PM — Arrive at off-roading ceremony location. Ceremony begins.
  • 5:30 PM — Ceremony ends. Champagne spray & picnic to follow.
  • 6:15 PM — Sunset Portraits
  • 7 PM — Sun sets. Off-road back to Airbnb. Photographer departs.

Painting & Stargazing Elopement Timeline

  • 11 AM — Photographer arrives for getting ready photos
  • 12:30 PM — First look + Portraits
  • 1:30 PM — Leave for ceremony
  • 2 PM — Ceremony begins
  • 2:30 PM — Ceremony ends. Group portraits with family.
  • 3 PM — Family departs. Hike to private spot for private picnic.
  • 4:15 PM — Hike to second location. Paint together at location
  • 5:45 PM — Sunset portraits.
  • 6:15 PM — Hike back to cars. Drive to stargazing location
  • 8 PM — Car headlight photos + star photos
  • 9 PM — Elopement ends. Photographer departs.

Sunset Helicopter Elopement Timeline

  • 12 PM – Photographer arrives for getting ready portraits – hair & makeup and getting ready photos in Airbnb.
  • 1:45 PM – Write private vows in separate rooms
  • 2 PM – Bride gets into wedding dress
  • 2:15 PM – First look outside of Airbnb. Spend time together. Head towards helipad.
  • 4:15 PM – Photographer, videographer, & helicopter pilot sign marriage license. Take off fly over elopement location.
  • 5:30 PM – Land on helicopter scenic view. Share vows, celebrate with champagne, and watch the sunset.
  • 7:15 PM – Fly back to helipad. Drive to Airbnb for dinner.
  • 8 PM – A private chef cooks dinner. Enjoy personal time together under the stars & roast smores.
  • 10 PM – Photographer & videographer depart.
couple walks along edge of rock at oceanside elopement

Hey, I’m Kelcee!

I would love to be your ADVENTURE elopement photographer

I’ve been capturing elopements since 2021, and it’s my passion to help adventurous couples like you create the perfect wedding day.

Your elopement is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you deserve the support to make it uniquely yours. Together, we’ll create quality memories that beautifully tell your love story, lasting a lifetime.