We’ve all heard of some of the reasons why people elope. Maybe they want to have a truly intentional wedding day that isn’t about checking boxes. Maybe you want an epic adventure to start your life together. Maybe celebrating your love story in the most beautiful place on earth is where you feel alive. Regardless of the reasons, YOU ARE DOING THE DAMN THING, and there are things to consider before eloping.
Your spontaneity and sense of adventure is truly amazing. We want to set you on the right foot to make your elopement a complete success. Whether you’re eloping in the mountains of the French Alps, riding a vespa through the Italian countryside, walking the white sandy beaches of Mexico, summiting a mountain, exploring the inspiring country of Iceland, adventuring in the desert, soaking in the mood of the PNW, drinking a pint in Ireland, or scaling the cliffs of Glacier National Park, the details of elopement planning are so important. There is lots to think about when it comes to planning an elopement so here are some things to consider.
1. think with your heart
One of the nice things about eloping is that you don’t have to worry so much about the “traditional” wedding day. Eloping isn’t just running to the courthouse and signing papers, it’s about having an adventure of a lifetime. You can decide how big, small, elaborate your wedding day is. You also get to decide where and when! Complete the elopement checklist! One of the most fun parts of eloping is getting to truly decide where you want your adventure to take place – there’s a whole world out there full of possibilities!
Of course, with more choices comes more decisions to make and that can be tough. One of the questions we get on the daily is, “We don’t know how to do this! Is this the right thing to do?” Firstly, we’re going to be those annoying people that tell you that there is no wrong way to do it. Sure, you need to have your ducks in a row and actually decide on what you want. But there’s no textbook for elopements. And that’s how it should be.
Our biggest advice is: Sit down with your fiance, take some deep breaths, close your eyes and just envision your day. Take a few moments to think and dream. One at a time, each of you describe what you are envisioning and what you see your elopement day looking like! This isn’t the time for logistics. Set them aside. Think about these things:
- What is the overall meaning of your day?
- What does the scenery look like?
- What season is it?
- What does your ceremony look like?
- Will it just be the two of you or will you include others?
- What activities do you see yourself doing?
This is the way to think with your heart and not your head. By digging at these questions, you aren’t worrying about logistics, budget, or any of that stuff. You are only exposing the most meaningful part of your day. The most important part!
2. how many people should we invite?
If you’re noticing a theme here, it’s that there are no rules. (Insert Type A people being infuriated with this fact). There are no rules on who should be there. No rules on how long the day should be. No rules on what you need to include on your wedding day. If you are wondering how to tell your family you’re eloping, we can help with that too.
That being said, having people there on your wedding day can change how much flexibility you really have. Most ceremony sites in National Parks are limited by the number of people in your group. It’s also about the experience with your wedding guests. We’ve found that a group of 15 is really the max amount to have that genuine experience with every member. You’ve invited your closest, most precious friends and family, the ones who you know will unconditionally love you and stick with you. Always consider who you can truly be yourself around before eloping.
From our standpoint, we don’t have a hard and fast rule of how many people can be there. We believe that it’s your wedding day and there shouldn’t be limitations to that. You should have the people who you love and want there for you. Other photographers will charge more depending on how many people are in the group, so just be sure to look closely at their pricing. The number of people that our couples invite to their elopements varies because they’re not cookie-cutter couples and neither are you.
3. do we need to hire an elopement planner?
The short answer here is yes. While you aren’t working with the same logistics as a “normal” wedding day, there are still a lot of things to consider for an elopement that are tough to navigate. Something to consider before eloping is knowing the right time of year, time of day, rules of the location you’ve chosen, marriage laws and making it official, etc. Those are all things that an elopement planner can help you with. One of the reasons you could’ve chosen to elope is because it’s not as complicated to plan as a traditional wedding. Elopement planners make it easy for you to sit back and enjoy the excited engaged time of your life.
Not to mention, you might still need a hair stylist, makeup artist, caterer, baker, officiant, somewhere adorable to stay, and flowers. Someone to advocate for you while working with vendors is also totally worth it.
Planning activities is also something that elopement planners can help you with. After all, you’re likely coming to a completely new place around the world you’ve never been before. You want to be able to experience the place with activities like wine tasting, trekking the tallest peak, riding bikes through the little town, bungee jumping, skiing, eat in the tastiest restaurant, kayaking, sailing, etc. These activities take a lot of research and time to plan out that you probably won’t want to be doing. You just want to enjoy your day and know without a doubt that your elopement planner has your back.
4. how much money are we saving?
If you’re looking at the per person cost of weddings vs. elopements, you are obviously saving a LOT of money eloping. Something to consider before eloping is how much money you save by having a limited guest count. By cutting the guest list and ceremony/reception venues, you are saving yourself a chunk of cash that you’ll be putting elsewhere for your elopement. Think of it this way, instead of paying $25/person for dinner for 200 people, you can put that money into a helicopter ride up to the peak of a mountain. You could use it to charter a sailboat on the Mediterranean. The sky’s literally the limit.
Sure, you’ll pay the same amount for vendors as a traditional wedding couple would. The makeup artist for a traditional wedding will still charge you the same amount, plus possibly more for travel. BUT since you don’t need a bajillion bridesmaids hair and makeup done, you are saving money there too. Photography and videography are usually the highest piece of an elopement budget because you need your wedding day captured and preserved by someone you can trust.
Set yourself up for success and have a solid budget that you can devote to your elopement. You’ll thank us later. By not cheaping on the experience based pieces of your elopement, you’re guaranteeing the time of your lives. The time you’ll always look back and think how utterly priceless the whole thing was.
5. should we hire a videographer?
Hands down YES. This one is a no brainer to consider before eloping. While photography captures the still moments in time, an elopement video captures both movement and sound. With with elopement video, you’ll be able to hear your spouse gasp during your first look and your vows to each other over and over again. Until you explode from happy crying. It’s the only keepsake you’ll have to hear those important words from your spouse. Not to mention, they capture the full scope of your adventure during your elopement. The video is capturing the epic feeling of you spelunking into a deep blue pools in Sayulita or that final hike to the top of the Dolomites. Always ask your videographer if they have a drone. You’ll want to get those epic views of your elopement location from the sky!
Something else to consider before eloping is how to share this experience with your family and friends back home. Couples also can use their elopement videos to show their friends and family back home if you chose to have a larger reception. That way, your guests feel as though they were a part of your special day and can celebrate with you at home.
We always recommend hiring a company that offers photography and videography (and heeeey! That’s us!). This way, you can insure that the same style, look, and quality are the same throughout your photos and video. That would also mean that they’ve likely worked hundreds of elopements together and can guarantee a smooth documenting process where you won’t even know they are there.
6. how much time should we spend on our elopement day?
The most magical day of your lives shouldn’t be just a 4-6 hour affair! In fact, with all of the epicness (yes, we just said “epicness”) you’re about to experience, it should really be documented and captured over a day or two. That’s why with our elopement packages, we offer coverage that spans up to a couple of days to really capture your elopement experience. Consider traditions before eloping. Most of our couple want to incorporate some of the traditions of a wedding day into their elopement as well.
Here are 6 Sweet Wedding Traditions to Include in Your Elopement. Some want to have a first dance, champagne toast (or pop) or cut the cake. The only difference with an elopement is that you could be dancing for the first time as husband and wife under the stars! This will require you to have your photography and videography booked for at least 10 hours on the day. We recommend planning your activities over a couple of days so you guys can rest and not be so exhausted running around. Remember, the traditional wedding day rules don’t apply to you. You can do whatever you like. Yeah.
7. who should we hire as our photography/videography team? How should we decide who are the right people?
I mean, just to make things easy for you we’re just going to raise our hand straight up and say, “US!” Juuuust kidding. Kind of.
In all seriousness, the photographer can make or break an elopement day. When it comes to guiding you through the process, being knowledgeable about what it takes to photograph and film an elopement, capturing the photos and video that truly reflect you, your love for one another and your story… you get what you pay for. Something to consider before eloping is how important your memories are to you.
Here are a few things to consider before eloping when it comes to choosing a photographer. To decide whether a photographer is right for you, we recommend looking at the following:
- Read their About Us page. Learn about them and what their style is. You’re going to be spending a LOT of time with these people, so make sure they’re your kind of people. You’ll also want a company who really cares about the candid moments and can make you feel comfortable in front of the camera.
- Stalk their Blog posts, see their galleries, and ask for sample full elopement galleries to see what kind of photos they capture. Do the images you’re seeing make you want to have photos just like it?
- Budget. The least sexy wedding topic. BUT something that is completely important to consider. We’re huge believers in that “you get what you pay for.” If most companies are charging $6000 for photography for an elopement day and someone you find is charging $1000, weeeell there might be a reason for that. Are they aware of how much work is involved in planning an elopement? What is their experience in elopements? Usually when photographers price things so low, they are boosting their portfolio and just want to book shoots. You do not want to be their guinea pigs for your big day. You want someone who is experienced and will make your elopement flawless.
- If you love what they do and what they can offer for your elopement photography and videography, Inquire. Give them a date range you’re thinking about and then they can tell you if they’re available for your location. Full transparency, you’ll need to also get on the phone with them. We don’t book any client until we have talked to them either on the phone or in person. The reason we do that is because we want to be sure that we are all a good fit. We want to foster an authentic relationship with you so we can get you more authentic photos and video.
We hope this helped you think a little more about your perfect elopement day. Send us an email for more to consider before eloping! You and your honey deserve the adventure of a lifetime and to elope somewhere magical.
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