One of the things I love most about elopements is how they intentionally and beautifully break wedding tradition in the name of authenticity. Elopements at their core are rebellious weddings; bold statements of couples choosing to make their wedding day completely unique and distinct to them and their story. But in the process of planning your elopement, you might be wondering what exactly your elopement day should include? What goes into an elopement ceremony? What unique eloping ideas can you incorporate into your day?
As someone who specializes in documenting adventure elopements, I’ve witnessed my fair share of unique eloping ideas. I’m always so amazed and excited when I see my couples incorporate their own unique ideas into their day, whether it’s during their elopement ceremony or any other aspect of their elopement adventure. So I’ve decided to share some of these unique eloping ideas with y’all in hopes that it can help you figure out what your elopement ceremony and elopement day as a whole could look like.
Some of the eloping ideas listed here are things my couples have personally done, and others are ideas that I think are an incredible way to add a personal and distinct touch to your elopement ceremony and elopement adventure in general.
I’m guessing that one of the reasons you’ve chosen to have an elopement in the first place is to have a wedding that truly feels like “you,” and not the version of “you” the wedding industry makes you believe you need to be. So with that said, while going through my list of unique eloping ideas, just remember that you don’t have to do any of these things if they don’t feel authentic to you and your partner. These are just tips and ideas to get you started on your elopement journey. The only thing you have to do on your elopement day is get married. That’s it.
Wait what?! No officiant? Ok, before you write me off for sounding crazy, this is a real thing. There are a select few states that allow a little thing called self-solemnization, where you don’t need an officiant to get married. In fact, in Colorado this type of elopement ceremony is extremely common because of the privacy it offers. Couples don’t need to have a single witness or officiant present during their Colorado elopement ceremonies. I personally think this is one of the most unique eloping ideas a couple can incorporate into their elopement day, and certainly one of the most fun.
With traditional weddings, most couples will dance to their song during first dances. But I’ve invented something a little different that I do with my couples. It’s a little something I like call the “silent first dance.” Not every one of my eloping couples wants to bring along a bluetooth speaker on their elopement day, so instead they just share a slow dance silently, taking in the sounds of nature instead as “their song.”
And I’m not going to lie, this is one of my favorite parts of the elopement day. I get to see my couples sink into this deeper level of connection with each other as they immerse themselves in the silence around them. It’s quite literally the opposite of what you experience with a traditional wedding, where the noise feels like it’s impossible to escape. This one is hands-down one of my favorite eloping ideas on this list because of the intimacy it affords my couples.
Who said champagne toasts are only for ballrooms? Screw that. If you want to celebrate your nuptials with a nice bottle of champagne at the top of a mountain, do it! It’s so much more fun popping champagne at 12,000 ft elevation on a mountain pass in Colorado than in an indoor venue, if you ask me. Give that bottle the best shaking you can, and let the elevation do the rest for you! I’m pretty sure I’ll never get over the expression on my couples’ faces when they see how crazy champagne popping can get at elevation. It’s too good.
This one’s certainly one of the most fun elopement ideas on the list. I work with so many couples who are game for pretty much any adventure. And a lot of them actually choose to end their elopement day by getting into the water in their wedding attire. Cooling off in a high alpine lake after your elopement day is certainly a unique and refreshing way to end your day.
Contrary to popular belief, elopements are not just an hour of time spent in a courthouse. This is your wedding day, not your wedding hour. Because of that, many of my couples have chosen to incorporate a picnic or cooking a meal together into their elopement timeline. Rather than opting for a catered meal like you’d have at a traditional wedding, having a little homemade picnic or spending time in a mountain cabin cooking up breakfast is a fun alternative and by far one of my favorite unique eloping ideas.
One of the most fun way to incorporate unique eloping ideas into your day is to modify traditions to suit your personal preferences. There’s nothing wrong with incorporating tradition into your elopement day, but you can also feel free to modify those traditions to match your own personal style too.
As someone who also opted to swap out a cake for pizza instead during her own elopement, this unique eloping idea speaks directly to my soul. And it’s funny how many of my couples have a deep love for pizza too and want a way to incorporate it into their elopement day as well.
Even with elopements and the privacy they afford you, I have plenty of couples who prefer to whisper their vows to each other or speak them super quietly, so even I as the photographer can’t hear them. And I think that’s awesome. As an introvert myself, I get that reading your most personal thoughts with other people nearby can be uncomfortable for some people. So if that’s you, this unique eloping idea might just be perfect for you and your partner.
This unique eloping idea is particularly relevant for couples who’ve experienced a long-distance relationship. You’ve likely built up an inventory of love notes and letters and texts and emails over the years that remind you of how much you love one another. Your elopement ceremony is an awesome time to pull these out and re-read them to one another.
I love this elopement ceremony idea, as it holds you and your partner accountable to continuing your adventure together, even after your elopement day comes and goes. Take some time while you read your vows to reflect back on the adventures you’ve been on together. And bring along a collaborative list of adventures you two would like to go on in the future.
Ever wondered how much an elopement could cost you compared to a traditional wedding? I’ve written a side-by-side full cost comparison that breaks down all the numbers.
Curious about eloping in Colorado, but not sure how to go about doing it. I’ve created a full how-to guide on the process.
Need a checklist to get you started as you ponder all of these eloping ideas? Sneak a peek at my Ultimate Elopement Checklist.
P.S. As an adventure elopement photographer, I pride myself on not just documenting my couples’ elopement days, but helping them come up with unique eloping ideas and fun activities to incorporate into their elopement ceremonies. I believe in being a resource to my couples as they plan and navigate the elopement process for themselves. So if that sounds like your vibe, I’d love to chat with you and your partner about your elopement dreams.
Check out some of our favorite elopement and adventure wedding planning resources:
Empowering You To Have Your Adventure Elopement, Your Way
Colorado Elopement Photographers + Adventure Wedding Photographers