Congratulations!! You said “yes” to your best friend, and now it’s time to get started. Where do you even begin? What are the first steps for planning your dream elopement? I’m glad you asked!! As a seasoned wedding and elopement photographer, I’ve helped hundreds of couples like you cultivate the perfect, personalized experience. Here’s what I suggest!
There’s something incredibly romantic about the idea of eloping. Escaping the hustle and bustle of a traditional wedding to exchange vows in an intimate setting, just you and your partner, surrounded by the beauty of nature or a place that holds special meaning. Elopements have gained popularity in recent years for their simplicity and personal touch. If you’re considering eloping, here are the first steps to help you plan your unforgettable day.
Step 1: Define Your Vision
Before diving into the logistics, sit down with your partner and discuss your vision for your elopement. What does your dream day look like? Do you envision a mountaintop ceremony at sunrise, a beachfront exchange of vows, or a cozy cabin in the woods? Consider your personal style and what feels most meaningful to both of you. This initial conversation will set the tone for the rest of your planning.
Step 2: Choose a Location
Once you have a vision, it’s time to choose a location. Elopements offer endless possibilities – from national parks to foreign cities to an intimate backyard ceremony. Think about the places that hold sentimental value or inspire your love story. If you’re considering a destination elopement, I have tons of experience helping research the necessary permits and requirements for marrying in a variety of locations. It’s important to note that each process may vary slightly depending on the state or park you are interested in eloping in!
Step 3: Hire Your Media Team + Select Your Date
These two steps go hand in hand. Your media team, photographer and videographer should almost help you decide on the date. Ensuring that you find someone who fits your style and can help curate the wedding experience you want, you will need to look at your vendors early. Most elopement and wedding photographers book a year to two years out!!
Selecting a date for your elopement can be as simple as picking a day that resonates with you both. However, depending on the location you’ve opted for you may need to think about the best times for weather or simply keep weather in mind when planning your attire. Whether it’s the anniversary of your first date or a date with special numerical significance, choose a day that feels right. Keep in mind the weather and season of your chosen location, as it can influence the overall experience and photography.
LET’S PLAN YOUR EXPERIENCE
Step 4: Budget Wisely
Elopements can be cost-effective compared to traditional weddings, but it’s crucial to establish a budget early on. Consider expenses such as travel, accommodation, attire, photography, and any permits or officiant fees. Be realistic about your financial situation and prioritize what matters most to you. Keep in mind that elopements can be as luxurious or as budget-friendly as you desire.
Step 5: Plan Your Ceremony + Celebration.
The ceremony is the heart of your elopement. Decide on the style and tone you want, whether it’s a simple exchange of vows, a personalized ritual, or something entirely unique to you both. If you prefer an officiant, research local options or consider asking a friend or family member to officiate. Some photographers are also ordained if you don’t need a witness for your legal documentation!
And even though you’re eloping, you can still celebrate your love in a way that feels right for you. Plan a picnic dinner, video call with loved ones, or maybe even a more elaborate post-elopement celebration with family and friends.
Step 6: Prepare for Travel
If your elopement involves travel, make all necessary arrangements well in advance. Book flights, accommodations, and any transportation needed for your chosen location. Ensure your passports, visas, and travel documents are up to date, and consider travel insurance for peace of mind.
Step 7: Create Your Itinerary
Plan your elopement day in detail. Include time for getting ready, transportation, the ceremony itself, and any post-ceremony activities or adventures you have in mind. Your photographer/videographer team or vendors are a great asset to fall back on during this step. Photographers often have an idea of the best lighting opportunities but are also equipped with experience in whatever situation they may stumble on.
Elopements offer the freedom to create a day that’s uniquely yours. Embrace the spontaneity and flexibility they afford. If the weather doesn’t cooperate or plans change, don’t stress. The most important thing is that you’re marrying the love of your life in a way that feels authentic and true to your relationship.
Eloping is a beautiful way to celebrate your love in an intimate and meaningful way. By following these first steps, you’ll be well on your way to planning a dream elopement that reflects your love story and creates lasting memories. Remember, it’s your day, and the most important thing is the love you share with your partner.
September 26, 2023