How to Plan an Elopement: A Step-by-Step Guide


So, you’ve decided to elope – Congratulations! In creating this memorable event you’ll want to make some serious plans to help achieve your dream day. From simple to elegant, elopement will bring a certain amount of freedom to your cherished moments of this memorable time. Remember that this will always be a significant day in your life so plan what resonates with you and your partner.

Feeling overwhelmed? The good news is that many elopement photographers are experienced in logistics and location scouting. You may also decide to invest in a planner.

Let's plan an elopement!

1. Set A Date

This can mean anything from a specific day to a month, or even a time of year. While this may seem like a no-brainer, choose the timeframe carefully making sure it doesn't interfere with schedules, or simply choose one that you know has special meaning.

2. Come up with a Budget

This extremely important factor will guide you in your choices when deciding how to make this special day happen. While you may want to go beyond this budget, having a baseline idea of what you’re working with will be super helpful. Elopement costs will vary depending upon your wishes. Whatever the amount, the value of your day will be personal and not dependent upon a monetary figure.

3. Choose A Location (or a few options)

A meaningful and/or practical location can figure into this decision. This could range from the site where your proposal took place to a far-away destination you have always wanted to visit. Remember, this is your elopement - there are no rules! Another important factor to consider is the local laws regarding marriage licenses, if you're not getting legally hitched beforehand. Be sure to check this out before deciding.

4. Find A Photographer

This is arguably one of the most important steps in making your wedding plan! Your elopement photographer can serve as a guide for your adventure, and can educate you on the process. In choosing an elopement photographer make sure that they are experienced in elopement ceremonies and have the ability to travel if necessary. You’ll want to meet with them to review their work and discuss package pricing. Make sure that you and your partner are comfortable with the photographer as you’ll be spending a lot of time with them throughout that day to capture all the treasured moments. See my previous post on choosing an elopement photographer for more details.

5. Create A Timeline & Checklist

These two items will keep you on task and make sure that the process keeps flowing. Allow for time to make changes that may arise unexpectedly,

6. Decide on Your Guest List

An elopement is a small event and can have as few people as you, your partner, and the photographer. You may also desire to have an officiant, a witness, or you may want to invite a small group of family or close friends. Since we are currently in the midst of a pandemic, you may want to consider live streaming the ceremony to those loved ones, thereby including them while keeping them safe.

7. Make Reservations

After you have chosen your location or venue, give yourselves enough time in advance to secure the reservation that you desire. Also, reserve your hotel, or Airbnb, and any adventure packages, dining reservations, or hot spots that you would like to explore. If you plan to honeymoon elsewhere, make those arrangements as well. Keep your budget in mind as you make plans. It can be helpful to crowdsource in elopement groups!

8. Choose Your Attire

Planning your attire for your elopement starts with something that makes you feel confident. When choosing your suit/dress/outfit think of the weather, the landscape backdrop, and the elements in which your elopement will take place. Next, consider the colors that compliment you as you decide if you want flowers. Don't forget there are many ways to honor various religious and cultural traditions along the way!

9. After Party/Celebration

Would you like to celebrate your marriage after your elopement? From a glamorous party to a hiking adventure, there are no rules here, so it’s up to you! If you decide to have a party, there are options. You may choose to celebrate at the elopement locale, another destination, or in your home- town. Whether you have an intimate reception, or an elaborate gathering make sure to include your favorite guests and favorite foods to complete your bash with a flare. Ask yourself what you and your partner want -- what do you enjoy doing? How can you honor yourselves on the day?

10. Important Incidentals

You'll definitely want to remember to include those items in your elopement planning checklist. Perhaps a written copy of your vows is something you want to come prepared with! Any musical accompaniment should also be considered and planned. And of course, don’t forget to bring the rings!

Final Thoughts

Eloping is whatever you want it to be - that's the beauty of it! Whether you choose a grand getaway or a simple secret ceremony, this is your time. This event is a reflection of you and your partner, and you will want everything to run as seamlessly as possible. I hope you found this guide on how to plan an elopement helpful. I would love to have the privilege of creating a captivating ensemble of photographs that will always evoke the wonderful sentiments of your intimate day. Have an enjoyable time ‘planning’ your spontaneous nuptials. Your options are limitless!

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