There’s no doubt that elopements — and especially adventure elopements — are becoming more and more popular among engaged couples… Sometimes, creating an intimate and unforgettable experience is the best choice over a large, expensive wedding.
No matter if you’re already set on eloping or in the early wedding planning stages, we created a detailed elopement overview. It offers many useful ideas and inspiration on what you should consider and keep in mind during your elopement planning process. And if you’re not quite sure yet if eloping is the right thing for you read our 10 reasons why to elope. (link will be inserted here)
Even though compared to a full-blown traditional wedding, elopements are much smaller events, there are still a few things that you need to plan beforehand. However, always keep in mind, the beauty of elopements is that every single one is different and in the end your dream day can be as little or big as you want it to be.
We hope this post helps you find joy in creating your dream day. Your elopement is definitely going to be one of the most special days in your life – a day you can truly enjoy and be present at from start to end. So, here we go:
Are you already getting super excited? Perfect!
Let’s talk about the most important part of your elopement — the actual ceremony. Think through your dream ceremony step by step and make notes of the things you want to include and also the things that are a little out of the norm. You might change this from time to time, but it is helpful to have that idea guide your entire process.
Here are a couple ideas to start with: Do you plan on splurging on flowers to decorate the ceremony space? Is the bride going to make a special entrance? Will there be a bird release after the ceremony? Do you want to include a delicious cake afterwards or even a chef with freshly prepared food? Will there be a little cocktail hour? Is the ceremony taking place while the sun is setting behind you?
Are you required to travel and therefore take some days off? Consider combining your elopement with your honeymoon trip. This will also let you enjoy the time even more.
Try to think of any access restrictions to your location and if everyone in the wedding party can get there. Can you walk or do you need transportation and, if so, does it cover all your guests as well? Depending on how intimate your elopement should be always make the tourist check. Is this location supposed to be crowded at certain times or is it still a hidden gem?
Note: Especially for the brides to be, the climate will have a huge impact on your outfit and dressing options!
The scenery including the colors and temperatures can change drastically in different parts of the world with different seasons. Did you envision fall colors, snow drizzling down or rather lush greenery and tropical temperatures? What time will be sunrise/ sunset? What are the chance of heavy wind and rain during that time of the year? Definitely study the climate charts BEFORE booking your flights.
BTW —great sources to get inspired include Pinterest - duh, travel guides you can order online or get from your trusted travel agency, books, Google Earth Pro, or maps. (eventually LINK to all – add good travel blogs!) Most important, have fun with it! We tell you, the world is the limit!
Definitely a cornerstone decision to make during the dreaming stage is the ‘where’. The good news is, the options for possible locations are endless - now that you’re not restricted to a traditional wedding venue any longer.
You may be dreaming about this amazing destination location ever since you saw it on Pinterest or your best friend wouldn’t stop talking about. Do you see yourself getting married at the beach with your bare feet touching the sand or rather at the top of a mountain after a scenic hike? Do you believe there is nothing more romantic than standing next to a waterfall while saying ‘I do’, or right in the middle of a vineyard? You decide on how adventurous it’s going to be.
Think about where you feel most comfortable as a couple. What do your vacations usually look like? Where is your happy place? And if you decided to simply elope in a courthouse then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either!
Let’s start with what we call the ‘dreaming stage’. You need to come up with the overall vision of your elopement day before your deep dive. Plan a date night and talk about your ideas, visions and hopes. Brainstorm and take notes of whatever comes to mind. The dreaming stage is not about what’s possible or not, or what’s most realistic in the first place. It’s literally about you and your dreams, setting the stage and creating the main vibe.
Tip: Make your life easier — hire a planner, guide or travel agent. There are many amazing planners out there specializing in intimate weddings and destination elopements.
There is always a chance of rain no matter where you go. And having a backup plan for rainy days is not only required for traditional weddings. Don’t get us wrong it might be super romantic to say your vows during a summer shower but you should definitely think about changing later ;)
Most vendors will have additional input and tips based on their experience, which may make the entire planning process a lot easier. Start reaching out to different vendors and take your time getting to know them. Definitely ask for sample timelines, the most recent work and other inspirational information before you make a decision.
Tip: If you plan to elope in a National Park, contact a Ranger! This might shorten the process significantly…
Parks within city limits often require reservations and/or permits and have restrictions. Unfortunately there is a high chance elopements (and other events and ceremonies) are not allowed at all.
Always consider the location’s history, environment etc. and respect it. One of the main reasons elopements are discouraged is because of disrespectful behavior.
Tip: Remember to complete your paperwork before or after the actual elopement day, if that’s required.
Since the main goal of this adventure is to be legally married at the end, you definitely need to check the laws. Even within the US, state law differs for elopements. What paperwork do you need? What about an officiant, witnesses, or both? Some states even have a waiting period after receiving the license, which means you’ll need to extend your elopement trip overall – not the worst thought ever though.
At this point the perfect day should be right in front of your eyes! Now you have to turn your vision into reality. To do so, you need to dive into the details and check if the things you want to include are actually realistic and if you require permits or need to be aware of certain laws etc.
We admit that this may be way less exciting than the dreaming stage, but we can’t stress enough the importance of avoiding unpleasant surprises or disappointments later. Therefore, we have selected the most important questions and items to check which may or may not apply for your special day, but here’s some guidance anyway.
Finalize the booking of your preferred vendors! Hair and makeup, the officiant, flowers / bouquet and of course an elopement photographer ;-) are the most common, but you might want some special details. The list can be quite short since it really depends on your elopement vision.
Is there something you want to do on the actual elopement day or do you want to spend your first day as a married couple in a luxurious spa or relax at the beach?
Customize your elopement trip with your dream activities. Here are some ideas: Horseback riding, sky diving, snorkeling, kayaking, or a beautiful hike… Your options are endless!
There are literally millions of options. Hotels, Airbnb’s or fun alternatives like a cool camper van, your options are endless… Consider getting there early and how (need a car?).
Tip: Check for possible local events or holidays that may impact your elopement.
Choose the timeframe you had in mind and narrow it down to a specific date. Is there a special date? What’s the availability of your dream vendors? Does it provide some flexibility?
Start to book accommodation and arrange your transportation like flights and rental car. This step will definitely make your upcoming elopement feel real. It requires a commitment to a very specific date and location but also gives you peace of mind since those are the two most important pieces of your puzzle. Yes, your adventure or destination elopement is actually happening…
Following the steps above should provide quite a good basis to successfully plan your elopement, no matter if you go on an adventure or rather on a relaxed weekend closer to home.
Now be ready to enjoy your trip and have one of the best days of your life.
• Marriage license
• Travel documents
• Timeline and contact information for vendors
• Bridal dress / suit
• Rings and other accessories & jewelry
• Tie / Bowtie
• Good-luck objects - something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue
• Small elopement gifts for your future wife/husband
• Other things you also may want to have as details for pictures (Save the date, perfume flacon, special whiskey or cigars, etc.) - see also our details guide for ideas (LINK details)
• Extra clothes depending on the elopement location and the possible weather and temperature spectrum
• Equipment for your planned events, especially adventure elopement trips that involve outdoors activities (bathing suit, bag pack, hiking boots, ski, scuba diving gear, bug spray, bear spray, blanket etc.)
You’re almost there. It’s now all about finalizing the details and aligning your timeline, time to figure out what you will be wearing. Let’s start to mentally pack your suitcase.
Newly engage? No idea what to do next? We have 10 convincing reasons why eloping is a great alternative!
Even though compared to a full-blown traditional wedding, elopements are much smaller events, there are still a few things that you need to plan beforehand...