what is an adventure elopement and is it right for you?
We define ‘adventure elopement’ as anything outside of the ‘traditional’ wedding setting that is well…. outside! Part of the adventure is the journey getting to the epic place where you say “I do” in the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen! But let’s be honest, sometimes couples get overwhelmed in the planning process. We get it! Cue our list of top 10 things couples forget when planning their adventure elopement.
We love planning and documenting the most epic adventure elopements for our couples because we believe in starting their marriage off right – with nature, each other, and maybe a few family and friends to share it with.
Are you looking to either save money or splurge on you and your honey, an adventure elopement is right for you. Do you cringe at the thought of a large indoor wedding? An adventure elopement is right for you. Do you and your partner already spend your days outdoors, exploring everything this world has to offer? Then an adventure elopement is DEFINITELY for you!!
As you get to planning your adventure, know that you don’t have to do this alone. (hi, hello, nice to meet you, we’ve gotchu!) We’ve created a list of the top 10 things couples forget when planning their elopement, and have listed some helpful questions to ask yourselves during the brainstorming process. There’s a lot to consider, so remember: this is about you and your future SPOUSE, and for you and your future spouse. Have fun with this, and call us anytime to ask questions, if you get stuck, and especially if you get overwhelmed – ain’t nobody got time for that when you’re knee-deep in love and wanting to get hitched!
top 10 things couples forget when planning an adventure elopement:
1. High elevation locations have a very short season…
Usually mid-June through early September. This can make planning in high elevation locations tricky, but not impossible (think: Lake Tahoe, Colorado, Utah, mountain locations, etc). Are you game to grab some layers for a winter elopement? We’re so down.
For those of you looking for some epic locations with pleasant temperatures year-round, we’re here for you too! Here’s a list of WARM locations all over the world to elope in:
Birmingham, Alabama experiences a decent number of both hot and cold days, although there are, on average, 10 more days above 90 degrees during the year than days with temperatures below 32 degrees. Still, there’s no shortage of good days to visit the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, or drive a little outside the metro area to visit Bankhead National Forest or Talladega National Forest, which are both roughly an hour’s drive from the city.
California. Check out almost anywhere in California (Northern California and specifically San Francisco can get a little touchy with fog and colder weather given the area/time of year you’re looking to elope). San Diego, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara are all FANTASTIC for eloping, and are great for adventuring before or after! Think of California as an elopement playground – pretty much anything you can think of wanting to do, there’s a location for it!
Greenville, South Carolina is located in the northwestern portion of South Carolina and enjoys milder weather partly due to its proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains (hello, hiking adventure!). The area’s geography keeps extreme heat from lasting too long.
Hawaii. That tropical vacation wasn’t too good to be true – Hawaii’s weather really is that nice all the time. Honolulu’s island location is the perfect spot if you want to avoid freezing lows at night while experiencing just a handful of days above 90 degrees. Oahu Island has the most pleasant weather in Hawaii with temperatures between 75.2 and 89.6 degrees F. Even in winter, the highest temperature in Oahu is around 77 degrees F!
Kunming, China. This city in the Yunnan province of China is one of the best cities, regardless of season, to visit anytime in a year. Kunming is known as spring city due to its near-perfect weather. The temperature never rises too high even in summer and in addition to the spring-like climate, Kunming city is known for its stunning landscapes and historical sites.
Loja, Ecuador is a mountain city located in Southern Ecuador and is famed for its gorgeous, spring-like weather year-round. Loja city is the musical and cultural capital of Ecuador, and you can feel the perfect weather in every corner of the city.
Malaga, Spain is another Spanish city with a pleasant subtropical Mediterranean climate. Every year, the city receives about 300 days of sunshine. Malaga city is also known for having the warmest winters among other European cities! (The winter in the city is mild with temperature averages between 62-66 degrees F),. In the hot summer season, the highs are around 77 degrees F and the sunshine lasts for almost 11 hours! So much room for activities!
Memphis, Tennessee is in the southwestern tip of Tennessee and offers more than 200 days a year with at least some sun and 118 fully clear days on average. Perfect for ideal days to visit attractions after your elopement along the Mississippi River or popular outdoor attractions like Shelby Farms Park or Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park to the north of the city.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This popular tourist destination in coastal South Carolina doesn’t reach above 90 degrees more than 44 days a year, on average. Typically 215 days per year are either clear or partly cloudy. If you feel the pull to Myrtle Beach, you’re certainly not the only one.
Nice, France is situated on the Mediterranean coastline of Southeast France. Apart from the spectacular blue-green sea on one side, this city is surrounded by the hill on the Northside. This unique location offers a pleasant climate all the year. In addition to being an incredible honeymoon location (Beaches! Cute shops! France!), Nice might just be right for your elopement with its sunny summers and gorgeous springtime.
Puerto Rico’s capital city sees 65 days that hit above 90 degrees but no days dipping below freezing temperatures, so this might be the elopement location for you if ideal weather is your top priority. That being said – San Juan’s location in the Caribbean means it has an elevated risk of storms during hurricane season, but those storms definitely aren’t the whole picture, as the San Juan area averages 276 clear or partly cloudy days annually.
Sao Paulo, Brazil is the most populous city in Brazil and is located on the island of the Southeastern part of the country. Low mountains surround this large city to the west, and as it’s within an inland location, Sao Paulo receives a pleasant climate with minimal temperature variations. In summer, the temperature stays under 82 degrees F.
Sydney, Australia is famed for its booming art, heritage architecture, culture, high-quality educational system, and great weather. In Sydney, you can enjoy a superb climate 340 days out of the year. Apart from the great climate, you can also enjoy many cultural activities, beautiful beaches, nature reserves, and large parks in Sydney, perfect for an epic elopement adventure!
The Canary Islands – The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago located on the West coast of Africa and consist of seven main islands and some islets. The Canary Islands have an excellent climate year-round. Summer in these islands is warm, but not too hot, and the winter is mild. Out of the 7 main Islands, Tenerife is the most popular island of the Canary Islands, as it’s known as the ‘Island of eternal spring,’ due to the all-time, pleasant climate.
2. Your elopement can be an adventure!
You CAN do the thing you’ve always dreamt of, but haven’t had the chance to experience. Think: kayaking in the clear waters of Fiji, rock climbing in Boulder, getting up close and personal with the volcanoes of Iceland! Is your dream to elope in the mountains, by a lake, on a cliff, in a forest, or in front of a waterfall? You can have an intimate celebration overlooking your dream travel location, checking off your bucket list AND marrying your honey! In case that wasn’t exciting enough: We give big discounts on our bucket list locations: Peru, Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Patagonia!
3. You deserve full-day coverage.
Traditional wedding coverage can be anywhere from 8, 10, 12-hour coverage. Just because your wedding day looks different, doesn’t make it less deserving of having every moment captured. What does a full-day elopement look like? 8-12 hours of adventure bliss. You waking up, eating breakfast, hopping in the Jeep with the top down, driving to the trailhead blasting your favorite tunes. Getting your pack on and carrying your wedding clothes and flowers. Lacing up those hiking boots. The journey to the top! Saying your vows, putting a ring on it (cue Beyonce dance) – it’s really here! It’s actually happening! Your first champagne toast, your first dance under the starlit sky. Then reliving the day sitting by the campfire as you cuddle up under a blanket, not wanting the moment to end. When thinking about your full-day elopement, the right photographer can be your best friend, planner, guide, and moment-capturer. We create space for you to make memories you’ll look back on throughout your lives together. Your full-day elopement is an experience – not a photoshoot! You should have the adventure of your dreams, the opportunity to be fully present with your soon-to-be-spouse, and a team to help make it happen.
4. Gear can make or break a trip, and safety is SO important
Especially for an adventure elopement! Are you planning to hike into Moab, get hitched, then ride bikes while camping for a weekend? Let’s make sure you have the right cycling gear (shoes, shorts, socks – yes socks make a huge difference – helmets, food, access to freshwater or something to filter water, etc) and camping gear (tent with a rain fly, sleeping bags appropriate for the temperature, headlamps, sleeping pads, lanterns, etc) and of course your hiking gear (boots, socks, clothes, backpack, food, sunscreen, bug repellent, hats, layers!), not to mention your WEDDING GEAR! (see below for some ideas!)
The goal is to really map out what you two will be doing on your epic adventure so you can fully prepare and leave nothing to question. Things will inevitably shift or you may have to adjust your plans, so it’s good to have a team to bounce ideas around with, and have a few backup plans. It’s also important to make sure people know where you’re going! Make sure to tell someone your plans, coordinates, backup plans, and when they can expect to hear from you.
While an elopement adventure is something anyone can do, it is vital to identify your and your partner’s skills and abilities. Your elopement is not the time to try to backpack 40 miles in the backcountry if it’s your first time backpacking. That’s not to say you can’t try really cool things (like rock climbing with a professional!) on your adventure, just be smart and plan for your actual abilities, not someone else’s.
5. Most hiking locations require a permit.
Did you know there are different permits for National vs State Parks? And that lots of hiking locations require a permit? But not ALL hikes need a permit? For example, you can day-hike throughout Yosemite National Park without a permit (unless hiking to Half Dome), but a wilderness permit is required year-round for backpacking, overnight climbing, or any other overnight stay in the Yosemite Wilderness. There are also different rules for State Parks versus National Parks (like: you can keep a pup on a leash at State Parks but you must leave your furry friends home at National Parks). This is something that can be super overwhelming for couples, BUT we actually love to nerd out on permits. Truly – we’ve yet to be somewhere without the right permit – we’ve got you!
6. Leave No Trace principles
We love the earth! Simply put, leave areas better than how you found them by staying on designated trails and packing out all trash. Do not disturb wildlife or plants. That said, there are seven principles everyone should remember when planning an adventure elopement: Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, and Be Considerate of Other Visitors. (©1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor). You can read more at www.LNT.org, and plan, plan, plan!
7. Leaving time in your timeline for spontaneity
Creating time to be spontaneous in your timeline means being able to stop off in that cute winery for a wine tasting, tossing your bathing suits on and jumping into a refreshing lake during a hike, taking some extra time to soak in BEING MARRIED over coffee, chatting with locals about the best place to eat dinner (that wasn’t on your radar!), or taking a wrong turn simply because the road looks beautiful. Building in spontaneity can help remove stress from your planning and when you arrive, knowing you have time to do everything you’ll want to do together!
And yes, you need a timeline. Definitely don’t forget the timeline. You don’t have to do ALL the planning – your photographer/videographer should be your guide! If you’re unsure what a timeline can look like, check out a few sample elopement timelines here. Don’t let “ask your photographer/videographer if they will make the timeline of your day for you” be one of the top 10 things couples forget when planning their adventure elopement.
8. They forget to share their experience with loved ones.
While having guests at your elopement or eloping with just the two of you is totally UP TO YOU, make sure to share your sweet happiness with those who love you!. Eloping is an intentional choice and you want to elope for a reason. So – let your family know about your plans (or don’t!), then have a party and share your wedding photos and video! We can design a keepsake wedding day album for you and your loved ones – we can even make clone parent albums. Let’s be honest, of all the top 10 things couples forget when planning their adventure elopement, don’t forget the parents!
9. You can include those sweet wedding traditions into your elopement.
Do you love the idea of dancing with your partner under the stars, in a bar, or in your AirBnB as the night winds down? You can do that. Do you want to write your own vows and read them to each other while in front of a waterfall? You can do that. Do you want to walk down an aisle and have your partner see you for the first time in your wedding attire? We can definitely make that happen. You can rock whatever wedding style you want – whether ‘traditional’ is your jam or not! If you’re a fashionista or a non-traditional kinda human, we love you for it. Get wild on what you’re wearing – be it a crown, a cape, a flower printed dress, a black wedding dress, a suit with stars on it… whatever! Let your freak flag fly! Check out our favorite elopements in 2020.
10. Budget, budget, budget!
While eloping can absolutely save you money, make sure you still have a plan for how much you want to spend. TLDR: You will spend some dough on your elopement – that’s how it oughta be! You deserve it. Instead of putting a lot of money into catering or venues, you’ll be able to splurge (yes, splurge) on other things. One of the top 10 things couples forget when planning an adventure elopement is that each elopement adventure can provide endless options and therefore we’ve seen budgets vary at a wide range. That being said, here are a few things you can ‘bank’ on (we couldn’t resist):
Photographer: $4,000-$8,000. A photographer’s biggest priority is making sure those priceless moments of you and your honey are covered without being in your face. Adventure elopements are perfect for this! They should also be your main guides on where to elope, making it legal, permit information, etc.
Photographer + Videographer: $7,500-$10,000. One of the biggest pieces of advice we hear couples telling other couples: hire a photographer AND videographer. With an adventure elopement, this makes for some EPIC photos and video footage of you and your love being YOU!
Elopement Planner: roughly $2,000. This is one of the most common top 10 things couples forget when planning their adventure elopement. It’s helpful to think about your time saved vs the investment in an elopement planner who knows the area well and is experienced in elopements. You can even hire a day-of coordinator to make sure things go smoothly! If you’re hoping to have a beautiful arch set up or even a picture-perfect picnic on the mountain, you’ll want to hire someone who can make all of those details come to life.
Travel Arrangements: Literally put any number here! Depending on sooooo many things, like: Will you be flying? Do you need a passport? Are you driving your own car, or renting one? Do you want a fancy AirBnB (the answer is yes) or to camp all week (also yes)? Do you have a loved one’s vacation home you can stay in? Travel costs will be your biggest variable. Most of our couples go about planning for travel investments by either picking their dream location and saving for the elopement adventure they want or picking a budget they can afford and planning an elopement adventure that fits within their budget.
If you’re looking to save money in this category, we recommend searching for flights using websites like Google Flights, Skyscanner, and Momondo to find the best flights at the best rate. It’s really helpful if you can be flexible with your travel dates. For example, it’s almost always cheaper to fly during the middle of the week than on a weekend because most people travel on the weekends and airlines hike their prices then. Prices are also cheaper if you fly early-morning or late at night because fewer people want to travel then. Avoid Fridays and Mondays as that’s when most business travelers fly.
Marriage Licenses: $65-$100. Don’t forget: Marriage licensing and laws differ from country to country, so be sure to plan ahead accordingly and budget for a marriage license!
Wedding Attire: Same thing here as with travel arrangements. We’ve had people use what’s in their closet or splurge for a handmade wedding dress and suit. It’s YOUR day, make sure you feel comfortable, exquisite and like the damn royals you are!
helpful questions to ask yourselves during the brainstorming process
- What is the overall meaning of your day? Is this day just for the two of you? Do others play a role in your day?
- What does the scenery look like? Are you in the mountains, by a lake, on a cliff, in a forest, or in front of a waterfall?
- How much time are you able to use for the trip? Is the elopement part of a larger trip or combined with your honeymoon? How much time are you able to take off work?
- Will it just be the two of you or will you include others? The will help determine any permits you will need or accessibility concerns?
- What does the ceremony look like? Are there important cultural or religious traditions you’d like to incorporate into the ceremony?
- What do you want to wear? A dress or a suit? Something more casual? Are you wearing shoes – or not? If it’s cold, will you need to wear extra layers? What footwear do you need?
- What activities do you see yourself doing? These can be activities that you enjoy doing together or ones that you’ve never tried before, hiking, stargazing, stand-up paddleboarding? Your options are endless!
We’ve said it before and we’ll keep saying it: Your elopement is exactly just that: YOUR elopement! We have so many tips and tricks up our sleeves to make sure your elopement experience is perfect. From the moment you hire us, we are a team.
It all starts with the questionnaire so we can find out what is important to you for your elopement. You’ll get a list of customized location options, resources to help you plan, and vendor recommendations. We’ll dream and scheme! We will help you navigate those top 10 things couples forget when planning their adventure elopement. We’re available for advice, bouncing ideas around, and talking through logistics. No matter what, we’ll create an elopement timeline to make sure we’re at the right spot at the right time. We’re your dream team and we’re ready to guide you through all things eloping!
Whether you’re looking for a two-day elopement experience (think: two 8 hour days of documentation, or mix it up and do a 12 hour day and a 4 hour day), a full day elopement experience (up to 12 hours of coverage), an 8-hour elopement experience, or a partial day elopement experience (up to 4 hours of coverage), we can’t wait to plan your dream elopement experience.
Let us know about your dream elopement – we can’t wait to connect with you.