Planning an elopement can seem like an overwhelming task, but in reality, this process should be fun and stress free! You threw away the traditional wedding rule book for a reason. And even though there is less planning involved in an elopement, they do require their fair share of planning and intention. That is why I have put together this step-by-step guide to help any couple looking to plan an epic elopement.
Planning an Elopement: How to Create a Day as Epic as You Are
- Decide that you actually want to elope
- Create or find inspiration
- Determine your budget
- Decide on the location
- Reach out and select your dream team of vendors (Planner, photographer, etc)
- Obtain/apply of a marriage license
- Plan your attire
- Make your announcement (only if you want to)
- Plan the activities for your day
- Create a “Day of Timeline”
- Have the most EPIC day ever
Decide That You Want to Elope
Choosing to elope is such a huge decision and it is not something you should take lightly. Making this decsion requires guts and courage to throw away the rule book and choose a more meaningful experience. Many couples tend to be afraid to elope because they do not fully understand what it means or how to even start planning an elopement. They are afraid becasue it goes against everything we know about weddings and how you are “suppose” to get married.
This is where I can help, here you will find all the information you need on how to plan an elopement. Eloping is not a decision for the faint of heart. Which is why I am so proud of you for going against the grain and choosing to have a day that is TRULY about you! So let’s start planning
Creating and Finding Inspiration for Your Elopement
Once you have decided that you want to take a leap of faith and elope, first, take a deep breath and get excited about this adventure that you are about to embark on!!
The first step here, is deciding what style or vibe you want for your wedding day. Do some research on different wedding and elopement blogs (check out these posts to find more inspiration), seek out ideas on Pinterest and create a board or a vision for your perfect elopement day. This is where your can really dream BIG!!
Consider the location, mountains, beach, city scape. What would be a backdrop that makes you both feel excited? What season would you elope in? Do you want some winter vibes where you can go snowshoeing or skiing? Maybe summer is better suited for you with a day full of paddle boarding and hiking. What type of food would you share? An intimate picnic on an oceanside cliff, a cozy dinner next to a firepit under a sky full of stars? Is your day shared with your closest friends and family or is it just you and your partner?
This us where you can let your mind run wild, this is where you get to dream big! The best part about eloping is that there are virtually no limitations on what you can do on your wedding day! But we will discuss that a little bit more when we talk about planning the activities for your elopement. For now, the first step to planning an elopement is to create a vision and a vibe for your elopement day. Find some inspiration and get really excited about your upcoming adventure.
Planning an Elopement Budget
Planning an elopement does require you and your fiancé to set up a budget. Often times, couples believe that since they are not planning a large wedding anymore that they will save a lot of money. While this can be true, elopements can add up quickly if you are building an epic adventure and especially if you do not have a clear budget in mind. This is why it is important for you and your fiancé to be on the same page when it comes to planning your elopement.
Start off by deciding how much money is the MOST you would be able and willing to spend on your elopement. Once you have that number, start doing some research.
Planning an Elopement Budget: Questions to Consider
- Are you going to have a destination elopement?
- Will you be stating state side or going over seas?
- What will the cost of travel be to get to your location?
- Do you want any decorations at your ceremony?
- Are you inviting guests/are your paying for their accommodations?
- What are your lodging options?
- What type of meals will you be having?
- How much will your wedding attire cost?
- Will you need a permit for the location?
- Cost of wedding bands?
- Cost of your vendors (photographer, officiant, videographer, planner, etc)
- Will you be doing a honeymoon after the elopement?
Once you have considered some of these questions, start building a list of all the things you would like to have for your wedding. Create your list by priority. Putting the most important item or expense at the top. If your location is the most important, budget the most amount towards finding the perfect location (even if it means overseas travel). If the activities you do on your elopement day are the most important, plan your activities and balance the rest of your budget to ensure you can have those experiences.
After doing more research and prioritizing your expenses, you can get an idea of how much things will cost and you can budget your money accordingly.
Decide on a Location
This has to be one of my favorite parts when it comes to planning an elopement. The possibilities are endless and this is where your elopement day really starts to come together.
At this point in the process, you and your partner get to decide where you will tie the knot. This location could be something that holds meaning and feels special for both of you, or it could be a bucket list location. Eloping is a great excuse to travel to a new destination!
Start by creating a list of potential elopement locations. Ask yourself if you see yourself proclaiming your love to your partner at this location. If thinking about it gives your goosebumps… GOOD! It means you feel a connection to this location and it could very well be the perfect location. Picking a location is like picking the perfect wedding dress, when you go dress shopping, you have to say “YES to the dress!” Well you also have to say YES to the location. It has to be a perfect fit. The location has to have meaning or a feeling.
There are so many things to consider when it comes to choosing the perfect location that it can sometimes be overwhelming. You can also consult with your vendor team to help you with location guides and planning. I offer all of my couples location planning and location scouting services when they book with me. You can also find some of the best places to elope in Colorado here. We will start with an initial discover call so I can learn more about your vision. From there I create a list of locations that I think fit your vision. Check out more information on my elopement packages and the experience here: Elopement Packages & Pricing
Hire Your Dream Team of Vendors
In order to make your elopement a reality, you will need a team of vendors. In this part of planning your elopement, you get to hire your ultimate “Dream Team” to bring your vision to life. Even if you are planning a simple elopement, you will still need a few vendors to join you on your day to document all of the events. You will also need someone to officiate the wedding and legally marry you and your partner (unless you are eloping in a location where you can self-solemnize such as Colorado).
Here are some of the vendors you might want to consider hiring to help you with planning an elopement
- Caterer or maybe a private chef
- Hair and Make up artist
- Travel agents or outfitters to help plan different activities
After you have carefully selected your vendors, set up a time to chat with each one of them. During this time, show them your vision for your elopement. When you talk with your vendors, be sure to share all the details with them. Tell them your priorities, the vibe, the style, even the crazy fantasies you might have so that they can help guide you and bring everything to life! The day is truly about you, which is why your vendors are there to work their magic and create a meaningful and intimate wedding day experience.
Get a Marriage License
This step is one of the most important parts of your wedding day. Without having a marriage license, your marriage cannot be legally recognized by the state. If you want your marriage to be legal, you have to obtain a marriage license.
That said, each state has different laws and regulations regarding marriages and marriage licenses, so if you are planning on doing your elopement out of state or even overseas, be sure to do your research. If you are planning on getting married in a different state you will need to submit certain documentation prior to picking up the marriage license. This is why it is important to reach out to the state or even the county you plan on holding your ceremony to ensure you are taking all the necessary steps to apply for your license. If you plan to have a ceremony over seas, it can be difficult and confusing to get a foreign marriage license. For that reason, many couples get legal married in a courthouse in the United States prior to traveling overseas to hold a symbolic ceremony.
By doing the research upfront, you will be saving yourself from potential speedbumps come the week of your elopement.
Plan Your Attire
There are so many questions about how to plan your wedding day attire when you decide to elope. For this part of the planning process, consider the location you have selected and the time of year. Will you need something warm with long sleeves, maybe an overcoat? Maybe some heated socks (my personal favorite). Will you be wearing your attire while you hike into a location? Or will you need it to fit into a back pack so you can change at the location? What activities do you want to do on your wedding day? Consider something that is flexible and comfortable.
If you are traveling to another state or destination, will you be flying? If so how will you pack your dress. Although big fluffy dresses can be stunning they certainly do not travel well. There are more logistics to planning your wedding day attire than people realize. If you have any questions about how your wedding clothes will handle at your location, reach out to your vendor team.
Make The Announcement That You Are Planning an Elopement
This part is 100% optional!
When you decide you are eloping, you have the freedom to invite, or not invite whoever you want. You can choose to have a ceremony with only your closest friends and family or you can have a “just-us” experience with just you and your partner. Some people decide to keep this a secret until after they are married while other couples choose to share the news with friends and family. Like I said, this step is completely up to you and if you want to share the news or not. The best part about planning an elopement is that you get to decide if you want to share this news with the world or keep it as a sweet little secret between you and your partner. EVERY aspect of your elopement is your choice, even the part about who you tell.
Plan The Activities For Your Elopement Day
Aside from choosing a location, planning the activities for your wedding day is one of the most excited parts about planning an elopement! This is where you get to make your elopement day personal and unique to you and your partner. I always tell my couples, “no adventure is too crazy. If you want to do it, we can most likely make it happen!” So again, dream big and think about what you would do if you could have the most perfect, most exciting, most epic day of your life!
For some couples, this includes waking up at 4 am to hike to the top of a mountain so they can say their vows at sun rise. For others it includes rock climbing the cliffs in Utah. No two elopements are the same. This is where you get to create that personal experience that is a true reflection of you and your partner. This is where you get to do activities that are make you both happy and feel most like yourselves.
Here is just a short list of some of the things you could do on your elopement…
- helicopter ride to a glacier
- paddle boarding on a secluded alpine lake
- off-roading/4 wheeling to a remote location
- hiking to an epic waterfall
- surfing as the sun slips behind the horizon
- sky-diving at a new location
- boat rides at sunset
- overnight camping in a national park
Do any of these wild ideas make your heart skip a beat and get you excited about your elopement day? If it does, that means you are doing it right. It means that you are looking for a bigger experience out of your wedding day. Like I’ve said, “no adventure is too crazy. If you want to do it, we can most likely make it happen!” So if you could have the most perfect day with your partner, what would you do? Dream big, and then dream even bigger.
Planning an Elopement “Day of Timeline”
Having a “Day of Timeline” is an important part of planning an elopement because it helps you and your vendors stay organized on your wedding day. Even if you are having a simple elopement, a general timeline can help you optimize the events of the day.
Similar to a traditional wedding day, the day goes by so quickly that you hardly have a chance to take it all in. When you create a timeline, the anticipation is that you can budget the time in your day and fill it with all of your adventures. Timelines are especially helpful if you plan to include an activity such as hiking, paddle boarding, rock climbing ect. A timeline will give you a snapshot of the whole day so that you can ensure you have enough time to enjoy the activity and do each activity safely. Having a timeline is key is creating a stress free and fun elopement day.
Have The Most Epic Day of Your Life
You have put in all the hard work, you selected your location and dreamed BIG. Now you get to relish in your greatest adventure yet! Today is the day you get to marry your best friend. Today is the first day of the rest of your lives and you get to start it off with a BANG! Go celebrate and enjoy all of the hard work and planning. My hope is that you created the most perfect day filled with love and adventure and endless possibilities. Now go have the most epic day ever!
Are you ready to get married and start planning your dream elopement? Then connect with me and let’s chat about all of your options! I am so proud of you for wanting more out of your wedding day. So let’s create an experience that is as unique and epic as you are!! I cannot wait to meet you.