10 Steps to Plan Your Elopement

You’ve Decided to Elope, Now You Need to Plan Your Elopement

Congratulations you freaking animals! Deciding to elope is probably the hardest freaking part, and YOU DID THAT! Seriously congratulate yourselves. This is the first step to creating and living a day that’s all about you. Let’s plan your elopement!

Planning the whole thing feels like another story, doesn’t it? Well, I know, but it doesn’t have to be that hard to plan your elopement. I’ve actually done all the hard bits for you and put it all into these 10 steps to plan your elopement, and the 10th one is the best!

Look this is how happy you will be by the end!

Happy couple celebrating their elopement.

1. Decide Who Is Invited (or not) to Your Elopement

You might think this belongs further down on the list, but the truth is your guest count can actually play a big factor in all the rest. So, you need to think about if you want to have guests or not. If you do, you need a rough number of how many.

Some locations will have limitations on how many guests are allowed. Some photographers only take elopements with less than 10 guests. This doesn’t have to be exact, and honestly, it’s probably better if you are willing to negotiate a little.

The biggest piece to this step is to really take the time to think about the day you want, and if having guests will add to that day or take away from it. This is a very personal choice, and at the end of the day you need to feel good about it.

Click here for more tips on Who To Invite to Your Elopement.

2. Hire A Photographer to Help Plan Your Elopement

This is, in my opinion, one of the MOST important steps, and there is so much that goes into it I have written a whole post about How To Hire An Elopement Photographer.

The reason this is number two on the list is mainly because your dream photographer will likely help you with all the rest, but also you want to make sure they are available for your date. Sometimes picking them first and working with their availability is the best way to get all the things you want for your day!

Basically, your photographer is super important number one, because you are going to spend your entire wedding day with them. And its pretty likely that they will be all up in your face for half the day. So, it’s kind of important to make sure you like them.

It’s also important to consider if you like their work or not. You should definitely ask to see some full galleries so you can get a good feel for what your gallery might look like. Make sure they are well versed and professional, or as professional as you are at least. There is a photographer out there for everyone!

3. Dream About Your Perfect Elopement Day

Before you get any further into planning you really need to sit down together and think and dream about what your best day ever would look like. I send all my clients an elopement guide and a questionnaire that helps them do this step.

The best way to do this is to close your eyes and take yourself to a place, the perfect place for you guys. Think about what it looks like, what it feels like, what season is it, where are you, what time of day is it. And then from there think about what all you’d like to do.

If you know there’s mountains, or trees, or a beach this will help you narrow down your location search and give your photographer something to go off of when they put together your locations list. (Ask your photographer if they offer custom location guides, I do!)

4. Choose Your Location & Date For Your Elopement

Alright bestie, the time has come to choose your location and date. This is probably the biggest step, aside from choosing your photographer, when you plan your elopement. By ‘location’ I mean region, or park. This is a broad area, and not your actual ceremony location.

Hopefully you are working with a photographer who offers custom guides (like I do) because having a list of custom selected locations that fit your vision will be very important, and can really reduce the stress associated with this step.

Some things you and your photographer will need to consider when making the final decision on location and date, is season, weather, activities that may or may not be available, roads that may be closed or inaccessible certain times of year, and even the positioning of the sun. These are all things I consider for my couples, and all will be notated in the custom location guide when I send it over.

Couple exchanging rings during an elopement.

5. Choose A Ceremony Location For Your Elopement

This is a little more narrow than choosing your general location. This is the spot where you will say your vows. Most national parks, and even state parks and forests, will have a few very specific places where the actual ceremony can take place. There will be other spots in the location where you can adventure and take phots, but this is for the vows.

Again, I send custom lists to each client once we have picked the general location. The list will have lots of information on each location like guest count, restrictions, permit info, etc. If you have not already hired a photographer by this point, this is when you REALLY need to do that. Photographers generally have detailed information on this, and when they don’t they know how to research and find it. It would be tragic to have your heart set on a spot and find out it doesn’t hold the number of guests you want, or isn’t even an approved ceremony spot. That would suck.

This is also the step in which you will need to apply for your permits. I help each of my clients through this step to ensure no mistakes are made. Its also important to have back up locations chosen for this step because some parks only allow a limited number of ceremonies per day, and you wanna have something to fall back on. Glacier National Park requires you to choose three locations on your permit application, just for reference.

6. Plan Your Elopement Timeline

This is when you get to start putting all those dreams into place. All the activities and photo locations you want get to be laid out and arranged into a day you will never forget. Your elopement photographer likely helps with this at the very least, I do pretty much the whole thing for my clients and then send over a draft for approval.

This is when you start thinking about things like first dances, dinners, and ceremony rituals or traditions. This is also when I send over a custom list of vendors and activities that fit into your day. Each client is different and so their day should be too!

This is also when you should start booking your other vendors and buying tickets for any activities that require them. You will want to have that all in place and booked before you finalize your timeline. Trust me bestie.

Click here for more on How To Create An Elopement Timeline

7. Book Travel & Lodging For Your Elopement

This is pretty straight forward, it’s time to get your affairs in order. Choosing where to lodge for your elopement is a really fun part of planning, especially if you’ll get to spend a few days there. I typically include a list of local lodging with little snippets of info and send that over to my couples.

Think about the vibe you want for your elopement. This is often the place where you will craft your vows, get ready for your elopement, and maybe even do some ‘after the wedding’ stuff like steamy day after sessions. Also, consider privacy, is that important to you?

Booking flights can be stressful, take a deep breath. Chat with your photographer about the best airport to fly into, and get to looking. Don’t be afraid to compare rates and select the best one for you.

8. All The Little Things

It’s time to get all the little details in order. Choosing flowers, attire, stationary or announcements, cakes, etc. You will find most of this in my exclusive client guide, but if your photographer doesn’t offer one you can find some blogs that dedicate pages to local vendors for almost all of the popular locations. So like if your getting married in the Tetons you can search “florist near Grand Teton National Park’ and that should give you a lot to sift through. Even if your photographer doesn’t send custom lists or guides, don’t be afraid to reach out and see if they have any recommendations.

This is also about the time you will send out any invitations or announcements. I know this can be another source of stress, the dreaded how to we tell everyone we chose to elope. I have a whole blog that navigates that. Click here to read How To Tell Friends & Family Your Eloping.

9. Make It All Legal

Every state is different and has different requirements to make a wedding legal. Though, I do include this information for my couples in that Elopement Guide I keep mentioning, I still encourage you to call the County Clerk in the county to will be getting married in and make sure you have all the information.

Another way to avoid all the stress of this part when you plan your elopement is to do the legal stuff in your home state/county. Lot’s of couples do this so they can make the process easy because some states require marriage license to be picked up at a local court house so many days prior to the elopement and that can cause some stress.

Either way, no matter how you choose to do it, you gotta do all the legal stuff to get to the good stuff.

10. Live It & Relive It

You did it! You planned a whole ass freaking elopement! Now that wasn’t so hard was it?

Okay, so maybe, it was a lot. But, the things are all done and now you get to go on to live your best day ever! If you chose an epic photographer, which I know you did, you’ll get to relive this day over and over again!

Happy couple just after their elopement celebrating.

So, what now? I have a plethora of other resources for you over on the blog but here’s a few:

Want to have a photographer in your corner who cares about your day, does all the ground work for you and pours love into creating the perfect elopement day for you and your partner? I would love to be that person for you.

Check out my Packages & Pricing

Inquire to Book Me

You’ve Decided to Elope, Now You Need to Plan Your Elopement

Congratulations you freaking animals! Deciding to elope is probably the hardest freaking part, and YOU DID THAT! Seriously congratulate yourselves. This is the first step to creating and living a day that’s all about you. Let’s plan your elopement!

Planning the whole thing feels like another story, doesn’t it? Well, I know, but it doesn’t have to be that hard to plan your elopement. I’ve actually done all the hard bits for you and put it all into these 10 steps to plan your elopement, and the 10th one is the best!

Look this is how happy you will be by the end!

Happy couple celebrating their elopement.

1. Decide Who Is Invited (or not) to Your Elopement

You might think this belongs further down on the list, but the truth is your guest count can actually play a big factor in all the rest. So, you need to think about if you want to have guests or not. If you do, you need a rough number of how many.

Some locations will have limitations on how many guests are allowed. Some photographers only take elopements with less than 10 guests. This doesn’t have to be exact, and honestly, it’s probably better if you are willing to negotiate a little.

The biggest piece to this step is to really take the time to think about the day you want, and if having guests will add to that day or take away from it. This is a very personal choice, and at the end of the day you need to feel good about it.

Click here for more tips on Who To Invite to Your Elopement.

2. Hire A Photographer to Help Plan Your Elopement

This is, in my opinion, one of the MOST important steps, and there is so much that goes into it I have written a whole post about How To Hire An Elopement Photographer.

The reason this is number two on the list is mainly because your dream photographer will likely help you with all the rest, but also you want to make sure they are available for your date. Sometimes picking them first and working with their availability is the best way to get all the things you want for your day!

Basically, your photographer is super important number one, because you are going to spend your entire wedding day with them. And its pretty likely that they will be all up in your face for half the day. So, it’s kind of important to make sure you like them.

It’s also important to consider if you like their work or not. You should definitely ask to see some full galleries so you can get a good feel for what your gallery might look like. Make sure they are well versed and professional, or as professional as you are at least. There is a photographer out there for everyone!

3. Dream About Your Perfect Elopement Day

Before you get any further into planning you really need to sit down together and think and dream about what your best day ever would look like. I send all my clients an elopement guide and a questionnaire that helps them do this step.

The best way to do this is to close your eyes and take yourself to a place, the perfect place for you guys. Think about what it looks like, what it feels like, what season is it, where are you, what time of day is it. And then from there think about what all you’d like to do.

If you know there’s mountains, or trees, or a beach this will help you narrow down your location search and give your photographer something to go off of when they put together your locations list. (Ask your photographer if they offer custom location guides, I do!)

4. Choose Your Location & Date For Your Elopement

Alright bestie, the time has come to choose your location and date. This is probably the biggest step, aside from choosing your photographer, when you plan your elopement. By ‘location’ I mean region, or park. This is a broad area, and not your actual ceremony location.

Hopefully you are working with a photographer who offers custom guides (like I do) because having a list of custom selected locations that fit your vision will be very important, and can really reduce the stress associated with this step.

Some things you and your photographer will need to consider when making the final decision on location and date, is season, weather, activities that may or may not be available, roads that may be closed or inaccessible certain times of year, and even the positioning of the sun. These are all things I consider for my couples, and all will be notated in the custom location guide when I send it over.

Couple exchanging rings during an elopement.

5. Choose A Ceremony Location For Your Elopement

This is a little more narrow than choosing your general location. This is the spot where you will say your vows. Most national parks, and even state parks and forests, will have a few very specific places where the actual ceremony can take place. There will be other spots in the location where you can adventure and take phots, but this is for the vows.

Again, I send custom lists to each client once we have picked the general location. The list will have lots of information on each location like guest count, restrictions, permit info, etc. If you have not already hired a photographer by this point, this is when you REALLY need to do that. Photographers generally have detailed information on this, and when they don’t they know how to research and find it. It would be tragic to have your heart set on a spot and find out it doesn’t hold the number of guests you want, or isn’t even an approved ceremony spot. That would suck.

This is also the step in which you will need to apply for your permits. I help each of my clients through this step to ensure no mistakes are made. Its also important to have back up locations chosen for this step because some parks only allow a limited number of ceremonies per day, and you wanna have something to fall back on. Glacier National Park requires you to choose three locations on your permit application, just for reference.

6. Plan Your Elopement Timeline

This is when you get to start putting all those dreams into place. All the activities and photo locations you want get to be laid out and arranged into a day you will never forget. Your elopement photographer likely helps with this at the very least, I do pretty much the whole thing for my clients and then send over a draft for approval.

This is when you start thinking about things like first dances, dinners, and ceremony rituals or traditions. This is also when I send over a custom list of vendors and activities that fit into your day. Each client is different and so their day should be too!

This is also when you should start booking your other vendors and buying tickets for any activities that require them. You will want to have that all in place and booked before you finalize your timeline. Trust me bestie.

Click here for more on How To Create An Elopement Timeline

7. Book Travel & Lodging For Your Elopement

This is pretty straight forward, it’s time to get your affairs in order. Choosing where to lodge for your elopement is a really fun part of planning, especially if you’ll get to spend a few days there. I typically include a list of local lodging with little snippets of info and send that over to my couples.

Think about the vibe you want for your elopement. This is often the place where you will craft your vows, get ready for your elopement, and maybe even do some ‘after the wedding’ stuff like steamy day after sessions. Also, consider privacy, is that important to you?

Booking flights can be stressful, take a deep breath. Chat with your photographer about the best airport to fly into, and get to looking. Don’t be afraid to compare rates and select the best one for you.

8. All The Little Things

It’s time to get all the little details in order. Choosing flowers, attire, stationary or announcements, cakes, etc. You will find most of this in my exclusive client guide, but if your photographer doesn’t offer one you can find some blogs that dedicate pages to local vendors for almost all of the popular locations. So like if your getting married in the Tetons you can search “florist near Grand Teton National Park’ and that should give you a lot to sift through. Even if your photographer doesn’t send custom lists or guides, don’t be afraid to reach out and see if they have any recommendations.

This is also about the time you will send out any invitations or announcements. I know this can be another source of stress, the dreaded how to we tell everyone we chose to elope. I have a whole blog that navigates that. Click here to read How To Tell Friends & Family Your Eloping.

9. Make It All Legal

Every state is different and has different requirements to make a wedding legal. Though, I do include this information for my couples in that Elopement Guide I keep mentioning, I still encourage you to call the County Clerk in the county to will be getting married in and make sure you have all the information.

Another way to avoid all the stress of this part when you plan your elopement is to do the legal stuff in your home state/county. Lot’s of couples do this so they can make the process easy because some states require marriage license to be picked up at a local court house so many days prior to the elopement and that can cause some stress.

Either way, no matter how you choose to do it, you gotta do all the legal stuff to get to the good stuff.

10. Live It & Relive It

You did it! You planned a whole ass freaking elopement! Now that wasn’t so hard was it?

Okay, so maybe, it was a lot. But, the things are all done and now you get to go on to live your best day ever! If you chose an epic photographer, which I know you did, you’ll get to relive this day over and over again!

Happy couple just after their elopement celebrating.

So, what now? I have a plethora of other resources for you over on the blog but here’s a few:

Want to have a photographer in your corner who cares about your day, does all the ground work for you and pours love into creating the perfect elopement day for you and your partner? I would love to be that person for you.

Check out my Packages & Pricing

Inquire to Book Me

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