So you’re ready to elope and ditch the big traditional wedding? Awesome! But now you don’t know where to start. I get it. I was there once. Here is what I have learned as a 2019 international elopement bride and an elopement photographer!
Step 1: Choose your date and destination! (ASAP)
– choosing a weekday is going to result in fewer people around!
– you also can choose non-peak travel seasons for the same reason
Step 2: Choose your photographer! (ASAP)
This step is so important for several reasons. The most important being that a lot of photographers will help in elopement planning. Depending on where you choose as your destination, there will probably be permits involved! Other things elopement photographers help take care of, outside of capturing and documenting your beautiful day, are timeline planning, helping you find activities to do throughout the day, finding lodging, vendor recommendations, and some also help provide information for your marriage license.
If you haven’t chosen a photographer yet, let’s chat!
Step 3: Book your lodging and get your permits! (8+ months out)
The timeline for this varies depending on your location. But if you don’t have 8+ months, just start when you can! Everyone’s timeline is different! Plenty of elopements have been successfully planned in 1-2 months. This is just ideal!
This is the time to book your airbnb, campground, cabin, hotel, etc. Also, don’t forget to grab your flights if you aren’t driving!
Some locations require permits to be obtained 6+ months in advance. National parks and some state parks require special use permits to have your ceremony inside the park. Again, this is info. your photographer can provide through their own research or knowledge based on the location you plan to elope, but as the couple getting married, you will have to obtain the permit with the park! Not all parks/locations require permits – some are just a reservation if any!
Step 4: Book other vendors (6-8+ months out)
Your photographer should be able to help you find your vendors, they need to be booked and confirmed asap, but ideally having everyone confirmed 6-8 months out has been the most successful timeline I have seen. Vendors to consider: videographer, hair and make-up, officiant (if not in a self-solemnizing state), florals, get your dress if you’re wearing one, dinner or private chef, and others!
Step 5: The Timeline (3 months out)
After booking everyone, work with your photographer and vendors and solidify your timeline! Decide if you want to do a sunrise or sunset elopement, both have great benefits! What activities are you doing throughout the day? Do you need to hike to your ceremony location? Is there hiking to/from any of the portrait locations you’re wanting to shoot at? Make sure to account for that time in the timeline!
Step 6: Relax and Enjoy being Engaged!
Step 7: Get your marriage license
This will vary based on the location you’re eloping! Check with the county you are getting married in for exact information.
Step 8: Get married!
If you found this helpful and want to chat more about how to plan your own elopement, let’s chat!