So you’re considering an elopement over a traditional wedding! Maybe you feel like the “big wedding” vibe isn’t for you. Or you don’t like the idea of sharing your day with a room of almost-strangers. Or perhaps you just like the simplicity of an elopement over the fuss of a large wedding. Either way, you’re wondering if eloping could possibly be the way to go for your wedding. But as you’ve probably noticed, there isn’t much help out there on how to elope. No guides that really walk you through the process of bringing your dream elopement to life or provide detailed elopement tips.
Sure, there are some short, vague articles floating around talking about elopement tips and ideas, and maybe sharing some photos of what an elopement can look like. But unlike with traditional weddings, where there are honestly too many resources to count, there isn’t much thorough, detailed info out there on elopement tips and how to elope. We’re here to fix that. Yes, this article is admittedly long, but we’re confident that by the time you get through it, you’ll not only feel super excited about your decision to elope, but you’ll have a toolkit to get you through the entire process and plan the elopement of your dreams.
Before we move forward, we need to take a step back. Why exactly have you and your partner chosen to elope? What has drawn you two to have this type of wedding? It’s easy to get caught up in the pretty mountain elopement photos on social media and the adventure of it all. But eloping is about so much more than that. And if there’s one piece of advice we could give you, it’s to think long and hard about why this type of wedding is what you want to have. And yes, that’s shockingly coming from photographers who specialize exclusively in elopements and small weddings.
An elopement can only be as fulfilling as the “why” behind it. Whatever reason you choose when deciding to elope is a beautiful reason. If you’re having some trouble figuring out your “why” but you still have this feeling in your gut that an elopement is for you, don’t worry! We’ve written a guide on the reasons to elope to get you started. After all, the first step in figuring out how to elope is figuring out why you want to elope!
Let’s start this out with busting one of the biggest myths out there: that elopements are secretive events where a couple sneaks away and ties the knot with no friends or family in attendance. In fact, that whole definition of an elopement is outdated and borderline offensive. If you’re interested in checking out our new and updated definition of what it means to elope, you can find it here.
Contrary to popular belief, elopements can have guests! In fact, as elopement photographers, we consider any small wedding with 15 or less people involved as an elopement. So take some time with your partner and think about who you’d like in attendance at your elopement (and it doesn’t have to be anyone, if you don’t want people there!). The thing to remember is that you and your partner are the only individuals who have the power and right to choose who attends your elopement. If you decide you’d like to forgo having family and friends at your elopement, but you’re worried about disappointing them, we’ve written an article on how to elope without offending family, and it’s surprisingly simpler than you might think!
One thing to keep in mind when determining if you’ll be bringing along guests for your elopement: the more people you have, the more limited you are in elopement locations. Several trails, national parks, state parks, and wilderness areas have guest limits on their locations. You generally have the most freedom to choose your elopement location the less people you have with you.
As we mentioned earlier, elopements are not always secretive. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be. Considering how to elope in secret? Wondering if it’s the right choice for you and your partner? We won’t reinvent the wheel here, so we’ll just drop our article about how to know if you should keep your elopement a secret, and send you on your way to some answers. We go over the pros and cons of a secret elopement and help you jump that hurdle with ease.
We’d argue that this is probably the most fun step in sorting out how to elope…aside from the actual elopement itself! Unlike a traditional wedding where you’re limited to a venue that can hold all your guests, elopements are much more freeing and open.
Take some time to sit down and really consider what places are special to you and your partner. Think about the landscapes that inspire you. Take note of the ones that don’t (honestly, figuring out what you don’t like is just as important as figuring out what you do). I’m sure you’ve already guessed it, but we also have some elopement tips in this category as well. We have a guide on the best places to elope in the US, as well as some state-specific guides for our personal favorite elopement states, including Colorado (this one’s a full guide on how to elope in Colorado), Utah, California, and Washington State (this one’s also a complete guide on how to elope in Washington).
Keep in mind that at this stage in the process, all you really need is a general idea of what places you’d like to consider for your elopement. No need to narrow down the exact spot…….just yet.
Truth: there are no “bad” elopement seasons. The season you choose to elope during is highly dependent on the location you’ve picked. There’s an epic elopement location for all four seasons, but not every season is the best option for your elopement location. One of the biggest elopement tips we could give you is to keep in mind how your elopement location will change based on the time of year. Let’s take a look at a quick example. Summer elopements are amazing if you’re looking to tie the knot at high elevation in the mountains. Mountain passes are open, wildflowers are blooming, and the weather doesn’t get nearly as hot as lower elevation locations. Meanwhile, eloping in the desert in the middle of July has the potential to be pretty miserable.
So once you’ve figured out the region or state you’re considering for your elopement, take a look into what that area is like during each season. To give you an example, we’ve written about the best seasons and how to elope in Colorado, going over the pros and cons of each time of year for that state specifically. If you take a similar approach to your specific elopement location, you’ll be off to a great start.
If there’s one piece of advice we could give you when finding the perfect date for your elopement, it’s this: elope on a weekday. Our guess is that one of the reasons you’ve chosen to elope is for the privacy and intimacy of it all. You don’t like the idea of a crowd listening in to your vows, and you feel like an elopement will allow you and your partner to be your most real selves on your wedding day.
Well, if you’re considering eloping in a national park or heavily trafficked hiking trail, having a weekend ceremony could completely ruin that peace and quiet. Most people visit these places on the weekends when they’re off from work and school, and it can get kind of awkward when strangers are taking photos of your wedding ceremony with their cell phones while you’re just looking to have a personal moment together. The best way to avoid this is choosing a weekday over a weekend.
If you want to know how to elope without feeling a little overwhelmed and lost as to what to do next, make sure to bring along elopement vendors who can help ease that burden. As an elopement photographer, I help my couples find their dream elopement locations, guide them through creating their elopement timeline, determine what times of day are best for their elopement ceremony, and provide so many elopement tips along the way (from outfit guidance to letting them know what they should pack).
Your elopement vendors should do so much more than just show up on the day-of and provide a service. Elopements are much more intimate than a traditional wedding, and the group of vendors is much smaller. It’s only natural that they’re more involved in your elopement than typical “big wedding” vendors.
So when you’re looking for who to hire for your elopement, there are a couple of things to keep an eye out for. We’ll break down a few of those below.
The great thing about eloping is that it is a clean slate: an opportunity to have a wedding day that can be 100% customized to look however you want it to.
You can choose to wake up and drink coffee with your partner before getting ready for your ceremony. Or you can get dressed in different spaces and surprise each other during a first look.
You could go on a hike together and say your vows at your favorite alpine lake. Or you could have an elopement ceremony in the backyard of your childhood home.
You can have a picnic on the trail instead of a traditional dinner. Or you can swing by your favorite ice cream shop on indulge in a scoop together to celebrate your elopement.
All you need to do is imagine the perfect day with your partner, whatever that looks like to you. And then just add your vows, a ceremony, and your marriage license into the mix. It really is that flexible.
Unlike traditional weddings, the formula for building your dream elopement isn’t strict and stuffy. And it can totally be customized to match your personalities and preferences. When it comes to choosing how to elope, you get to decide. Your wedding, your rules.
As elopement photographers who specialize in adventure elopements, we help our couples find their dream elopement locations, guide them in acquiring permits, finding dream vendors, figuring out what to wear, and all that good stuff. We’ve also eloped too, so we know what you’re going through. We’ve dealt with it firsthand, both with our own elopement and all of our couples’ elopements.
Most of the couples who come to us for their elopement photography have a very vague idea of what they want their elopement day to look like. We help them solidify that vision and provide guidance during the process so they can make that vision a reality and have it documented beautifully.
So if you love the idea of eloping, but are not sure how to elope or what your day could look like, let us know. We’re here to help. We know that this process can be a little overwhelming at times, but we want to help take some of that burden off your shoulders.
Check out some of our favorite elopement and adventure wedding planning resources:
The Colorado Rockies are our home. We know these mountains like the back of our hand, and we love helping our couples plan their Colorado adventure elopements. Our land is your land, peeps. so let’s get you mountain married!
We specialize in photographing small adventure weddings in the great outdoors. We believe small weddings empower couples to be themselves on their wedding day, which is what makes us so honored to be a part of them. There’s nothing better.
We like to say we’re adventurers first, photographers second. Which frankly, is what we think makes us good at what we do. We live and breathe the outdoors lifestyle, and we make sure our adventure wedding photos show off your adventurous side too.
Not everyone loves tradition, but that doesn’t make your adventure wedding or elopement any less important.
colorado . utah . washington. california . oregon . wyoming . alaska . montana
Empowering You To Have Your Adventure Wedding, Your Way