Last week, I put together a blog on some tips for photographers to help prepare for an elopement and what I do to prepare. (You can view that blog HERE). And now I’m so excited to share my Couple’s Guide to Preparing for your Elopement! Here’s the thing… I’m preparing for my own elopement, too! So although I’m an elopement and intimate wedding photographer, I’m still deep in the midst of planning to elope with my soon-to-be husband. (CLICK HERE to check out our engagement story. ) So whether you’re traveling to a land far, far away, or you’re eloping closer to home, let’s dive into preparing for your elopement.
Couple’s Guide to Preparing to Elope
I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. “Eloping is way easier.” “Eloping is stress-free compared to planning a traditional wedding.” Yada-yada-yada. Believe me, I’ve heard my fair share of these sentiments! But can I let you in on the best part of preparing for your elopement?! It can be as big or small, stress-free or stressful, affordable or expensive as you want. I know that my biggest goal as an elopement photographer is to make my couples’ big day as special and stress-free as possible, no matter the logistics of it.
MONTHS IN ADVANCE
Preparing for your elopement begins once the bottles have been popped! (But please, continue to celebrate the heck out of your engagement.) Here are a few things you can do to prepare for your elopement when you’re months out from your big day:
- Start Dreaming 💭
- I know I can’t be the only one with a Pinterest wedding board from 2012, right?! With that being said, create a new board (you can go through your old board and pull anything that still fits your vibe). You can invite your fiancé to contribute to the board and really just create a vision board of your dream wedding.
- Set a Budget
- Once you have your dream elopement laid out in front of you, you’ll be able to sort through your vision board and set a budget. One major pull for elopements is that it’s cheaper than a traditional wedding. But spoiler alert: they still can cost a lot. To put things into perspective: the average traditional wedding costs $33,000. The average elopement ranges from $8,000-$20,000+. The cost of your elopement really comes down to the location and the vendors you choose.
- Here are some costs to consider:
- Wedding attire
- Venue or place to host if you have guests
- Wedding Officiant
- Determine Your Location
- As mentioned above, one of largest costs of eloping is the location. I’m a huge believer in doing whatever is right for you as a couple. So whether it’s jet-setting to Europe, hiking a mountain, traveling to a National Park, or staying close to home, do what feels right for you two. If you’re still searching for the perfect place to tie the knot, I highly recommend Montana! (I’m not biased at all 😉)
- CLICK HERE to view all the Eloping in Montana resources!
- Set a Date
- One of the hardest parts about planning to elope is finding the perfect date. Wherever you’re planning to elope, do your research. Look into the busiest times (try to avoid those if you can), the best weather in your location, etc. I always recommend weekdays if you are in a tourist area.
- Planning to elope in Montana? CLICK HERE to view all the tips on How to Elope in Montana!
- Book Your Vendors
- The order of planning your elopement might vary depending on your vendors. Some couples may have preferred vendors who they must have for their elopement. If this is the case, you may want to inquire with those vendors beforehand to see what availability they have – and if they will travel to your elopement location.
- Complete Any Necessary Paperwork
- This one is especially important for couples who are planning to elope in a National Park. There are definitely restrictions and permits necessary to obtain before you can elope. Luckily, you can apply for National Park permits as much as 12 months in advance (in most places). Head to the National Park Service website and search for your park! I help all of my couples through the permit process!
THE MONTH OF YOUR ELOPEMENT
This one is a little bit tricky, but like any traditional wedding, you need to apply for your marriage license. Some states allow you to apply months in advance, others only allow 30 days in advance. Some states have a waiting period, others allow you to get married right after you obtain the license. This is a really important step to verify – so make sure to do your due diligence so you can tie the knot!
THE WEEK OF YOUR ELOPEMENT
It’s almost go-time, friends! The week of your elopement might just feel a little chaotic, and that’s okay. My fiancé and my elopement is still a ways off, but I take comfort in knowing that I’ll be prepared come the week (and day-of) our big day. Here’s how you can prepare for yours the week-of:
- Fuel Your Body
- As cliché as it may sound, fuel your body with nutritious food especially the week of your elopement. This is especially important if you plan to be hiking or doing other vigorous activities. And as always, hydrate!
- Confirm Your Travel/Accommodations
- As an elopement photographer, I personally like to arrive to my destination at least a few days before the elopement. And as a bride or groom, I recommend the same thing! There’s nothing worse than rushing to check-in before needing to head off somewhere (especially your elopement).
- If you’re able, check-in for your flight in advance, head to your hotel or Airbnb a few days in advance, and relax!
- Pack, Pack, Pack
- What you pack for your elopement definitely depends on what kind of elopement you’re having. Eloping in the mountains? Head over to my What to Pack for Your Mountain Elopement blog and make sure you check each item off the list!
- Some ‘must-haves’ for any elopement include:
- Wedding Attire
- Details (rings, jewelry, vow books, paper goods, etc.)
- Proper Footwear
- A backpack to hold everything
- Snacks + Water
- Optional: Wide-brimmed hat, jean jacket, shawl, veil, blanket, etc.
- Double Check Everything!
- Pro-Tip: If you’re driving, have separate areas for your elopement items. Maybe dedicate one suitcase for all elopement attire, details, makeup, etc. If you’re flying? It’s worth it to pay for a checked bag. Honestly, overpack if it gives you peace of mind.
- Complete Any Appointments for Your “I do’s”
- If you’re planning on traveling, now is the time to get your nails done, get a massage, etc. Even if you’re not someone who typically treats themselves, find a way to pamper yourself before all the hustle and bustle of eloping begins. You deserve it!Even if it means grabbing your favorite coffee or meal!
- Obtain Your Marriage License (if you haven’t yet)
- I mentioned this step above, but most states requirements for obtaining a marriage license differ from one another. This is also another reason it’s great to head to your destination before your big day! Once you make it to your location, head to the county seat, a local courthouse, or wherever else the state and city recommend. Again, do your research beforehand!
THE DAY OF YOUR ELOPEMENT
You’ve spent so much time preparing for the best day ever, and now it’s finally here!! 🎉 The day of your elopement (much like planning for it) can look however you want it to. But here’s some tips:
- Have breakfast! Whether you have it with your closest family and friends, or with your soon-to-be spouse… eat! Even though you might not be having a traditional wedding, it’s still really easy to forget to eat.
- Take a moment to reflect. Soak up every second, your day is finally here.
- GET MARRIED + CELEBRATE ALL DAY! Pop champagne, enjoy the view, take lots of selfies and videos, and romanticize the day. You deserve it. 💕
Now that you’re up to speed on the Couple’s Guide to Preparing for your Elopement, do the dang thing! There’s nothing better than finally having your big day in sight, especially if it’s stress-free. Especially with the holiday season upon us, I urge you to continue to soak up being engaged and planning your special day.
Looking for more elopement planning tips or inspiration? CLICK TO BINGE THE BLOG🤩 As always, I’d love to be friends over on Instagram (@sydneybreannphoto). And if you’re still searching for your elopement photographer… LET’S CONNECT! Are you ready to wander?
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