SET A DATE
Okay with this one I want to add that most elopements I book are flexible with dates so you don’t necessarily have to have an exact date together. Some couples ask me what dates I have available in October for example, I’ll tell them a few dates I have available and they get to pick. Yes, it’s that easy. If you want a specific date then reach out to vendors asap so that date is not booked by another couple. Could be the date you first met, your favorite numbers (like 11:11 November 11th)
CHOOSE YOUR CREATIVE TEAM
(PHOTOGRAPHY + VIDEOGRAPHY)
Do you have a dream photographer already picked out? Are they popular? Amazing! Reach out and see if they are available and put a sitting fee down as soon as you’re comfortable. Generally the more popular they are the earlier you will need to get them booked so your date is officially on their calendar. If you are able to hop on a FaceTime call or even chat over tea/coffee/tequila shot with your future photographer then that is even better. This person is going to be with you during the most intimate and beautiful chapter of your life, like all day - you want to be comfortable and vibe with your photographer.
As an elopement photographer, my job is to help with location scouting, creating a timeline that fits your needs, recommending local vendors like hair and makeup as well as florist. I’m here to help every step the way which makes the entire process less stressful (also my job). I can give so many location recommendations, from National Parks to destinations like the Dolomites or Tulum. This is where Step One will come into play. Letting me know your vision and being as detailed as possible with help me make our day so damn dreamy - this covers the process of obtaining proper paperwork and applying for permits when needed.
Once you have a photographer who can help you plan your elopement you’ll start to have everything pulled together to make your day flow stress free. If you do not have a photographer that helps you along the way then I recommend hiring a local planner to help with logistics so you have one less thing to worry about.
ATTIRE AND THE LITTLE DETAILS
I always recommend having a flowy dress you can easily move around in. Elopements usually involve hoping over boulders or frolicking through fields, and maybe even some hiking. You want to look amazing and be comfortable. I have so many bridal boutiques and designers that are tried, true, and tested to be the perfect elopement dress.
You can get creative and add personal touches like rings, jewelry, hats, etc. Most of the couples I work with wear hiking boots to get to location. Depending on your location you’ll want to think about packing layers like leggings, puffy jacket, wool socks, thermals, ear muffs, extra water and snacks, and all those comfortable things.
CHOOSE YOUR VENDORS AND PLAN DETAILS
The other fun part of your elopement are in the details and getting in touch with people who can understand exactly what your’e dreaming of will complete your elopement. After you hire your elopement photographer, they will most likely recommend additional vendors if you need recommendations.
You may want to consider hiring a florist, hair and makeup artist, videographer, and maybe an officiant depending on where you get married.
Every vendor involved will be present throughout your day and will change the vibe of your elopement day. Make sure you really enjoy the presence of these people so they add to your day and are easy to work with.
MAKE IT LEGAL
Don’t forget to get paperwork done at the county clerks office! It can take 6-8 weeks to receive your official marriage license.
If you are getting married in another county or state then I highly recommend you get married legally in your hometown then have your elopement day be symbolic.
If you live in the US and get married in another state then it could be easier to legally be married on your actual day. It depends if you want to have an officiant or not there with you.
If you decide to get married legally on your day don’t forget to send in your signed marriage certificate to the office you got it from. You can usually just mail this in. If you have an officiant then they will most likely send it for you so you can have the time after your ceremony to enjoy time together as a newly married couple.
WILL YOU NEED A LOCATION PERMIT?
Are you wanting to have your ceremony in a National Park? Chances are you’ll need to file for a permit. For example, here is the special use permit for Joshua Tree National Park and here’s the process for Yosemite National Park which includes a downloadable application and the address to send it to and a point of contact. Almost all National Park permits will be $100-150. If you are thinking of exchanging vows in Sedona, Arizona - you won’t need a permit for under 75 guests but may be subject to a small fee for having an arch at your ceremony.
HAVING A DESTINATION WEDDING OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES?
I have so much advice for destination elopements. Since every country is different in some way or another on the legal aspect of marriage, I will keep this section short and sweet.
» Hire a Wedding Planner - this is where a planner is absolutely essential. Having a planner “on the ground” at your destination elopement location will be the best money spent. They will know the language and can recommend vendors that are not as easy to fly in like a florist and makeup artist. A wedding planner will also know exactly what paperwork you’ll need to complete to make your marriage legal in that particular country.
» Conversion Rates - Do your research around different countries and compare their money to USD. You might be surprised what all you can do in a foreign country that may be too expensive to do in the US.
» Always fly with your wedding attire in your carry on. I highly suggest not allowing any airline to check your wedding gown or suit - having your wedding day in your sight or above you on the plane will keep you more relaxed and worry free. Promise!
» Fly out your dream vendors. You would be surprised at how many photographers or videographers are willing to hop on a 15+ hour flight to photograph your elopement day. I have traveled 32 hours to get to Thailand for one of my wedding couples!