Elopement Planning Guide

This is the complete elopement planning guide for those who don’t know where to begin. Perfection isn’t the goal, but creating a beautiful, lasting memory and celebrating your love for your partner is. If you are deciding to elope, check out this elopement planning guide and the steps to help you with the planning process. All my Clients get a very extensive elopement planning guide (40+ pages) but below touches on the most important aspects of planning to not overwhelm you as you are probably in the early stages of planning!

Set a general budget. 

First and foremost, this is really where you need to start before making any major decisions. Talk to your partner and collectively come up with a number based on what you can afford and what type of elopement you want to have. If you want to travel and need to stay in hotels or book airplanes, your budget will need to be a bit higher. It can be easier to set two budgets, the ideal budget (what you would like to spend) and the capped budget (what you are willing to spend up to). This will help with the decision making process through the rest of the steps.  

Pick a date and a location. 

Some couples will pick a date first and then find their location, while others might start with the location first and then pick a date. It depends on what’s more important to you. Are you looking to get married as soon as possible, or is it more important to have a special location? If time is of the essence, you can really make anywhere work- a courthouse, a local nature spot, a neighborhood church.

However, oftentimes, couples are eloping and decide they want to make the location to be something memorable and special. These are often nature areas with mountain ranges, national forests, or beaches and the like. Decide the time of day and the time of year as well, as this might also impact availability and choice. 

Get permits + reservations. 

You can elope in most destinations with appropriate planning, but make sure you check on permits and reservations as needed. Even if you think it won’t matter, it’s always best to contact local authorities or officials about what needs to be done to have a legal ceremony somewhere. For example, some beaches require a reservation or application and approval before even a three-person wedding ceremony on the beach. Do your research, and don’t just assume you can do your elopement ceremony just anywhere. 

Book flights and hotels, if they’re needed.

As soon as you have a location, make sure that if you have to travel, you get things booked early. The earlier you book a hotel or airplane tickets, the less expensive they tend to be. You want to make sure that things aren’t booked up if you already have a reservation for your ceremony itself. You can also look at fun things to do and places to visit if you’re traveling to get eloped. My favorite website for all my travel needs is Kayak.com

Decide who to invite. 

Although the whole purpose of eloping instead of having a traditional formal ceremony is to keep things low-key and uncomplicated, you still might prefer to have an audience. Some couples choose to simply have themselves and their officiant at the ceremony. Another option is to invite parents and grandparents, or best friends and siblings. Get those RSVPs and have them book their flights and lodging also.

Tell your closest family and friends (unless you want to keep it a surprise).

If you or your spouse has a more traditional family, be sure to consider whether it would be better to inform them ahead of time or after the fact. If your family doesn’t need to know, or is just as spontaneous and easy-going, they might enjoy being surprised after the fact. The important thing is to sit down with your significant other and decide what the best approach is to avoid any unnecessary rift. However, at the same time, it’s also important to recognize that it’s your marriage and your relationship- you should be able to do as you please. 

Mt Rainier Elopement with indian couple in traditional wardrobe walking with mount rainier in the background

Hire a photographer. 

Part of planning ahead and planning a budget includes hiring an experienced photographer. Arguably the most important vendor to consider, your photographer will be responsible for documenting your memories for generations. You are getting married and deserve quality memories. They can also act as a guide for your elopement day. CONTACT ME today to discuss your celebration!

Select an officiant. 

The officiant for your wedding will likely need to be licensed with the state, and you’ll also need to make sure you get a formal marriage license to legitimize your marriage. Depending on where you’re getting married will impact what type of officiant you want. This might be a friend who became ordained, a local ordained minister or priest, or someone who works for the state.

Hire a videographer / planner.

Most Couples focus on just photography, but adding a videographer for your elopement day adds movement and audio that you can’t get with photography. The vows that you wrote for each other can only be captured appropriately with an experienced videographer. For those who want a little more help with a wedding day timeline, planners make life so much easier and can plan out a full day itinerary to make your elopement as epic as you would like.

Decide on your attire and a theme. 

There are endless wedding themes and aesthetics to choose from, and the same themes can apply to your elopement. You can choose to go all-in on a theme or color, or do just minimalist efforts. Do you want to both dress up, and do you want to splurge a bit (modestly) on a wedding dress or suit? If you’re looking for affordable dresses that you don’t mind getting dirty, check out this blog for awesome elopement dresses under $200!

Elopements are a romantic, simple, and easy way to solidify your relationship with your significant other. Hopefully, this elopement planning guide helped in your planning to make everything as easy as possible! 

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