How to elope 101: your step-by-step guide with a free checklist
You are engaged and it’s absolutely awesome! You can’t wait to exchange your vows and start the rest of your life with your significant other.
But here’s the thing: a big wedding, with traditions, a big cake and a fluttery dress is not like you. The whole process scares you and is ruining the happiness and fun you should feel, while planning such a big event.
Well, take a deep breath: eloping is the solution for you. It can actually be very simple. I will tell you how to plan a seamless and successful, unforgettable elopement.
What is an elopement?
A little back story
A (not so) long time ago, when a couple was in love, but their parents didn’t want them to get married (for various reasons), sometimes the couple ran away and got married anyway in secret. It was called an elopement.
The reasons for eloping are now different. However, the result is the same: the couple gets married in secret, alone or with only their closest friends and family members. Elopements usually include from 2 to 25 guests. and They have a small wedding day in a beautiful location chosen by the couple. Elopements are increasingly celebrated abroad, in an epic or luxury setting, and are, just like destination weddings, a good reason to spend some time vacationing on-site.
To be honest, there are a thousand different reasons why you might think about eloping (I even wrote a whole article about it).
The most common is the overwhelming feeling of planning a big event that won’t be as intimate as you would like. Introverts, adventure lovers and travel enthusiasts are the types of couples who plan an elopement. Sometimes, family tensions want to be avoided during such a big day, and the couple chooses to ditch everybody in order to run away to elope in peace.
Whatever your reason, it doesn’t have to be difficult!
01) Tell the good news to your loved ones
A wedding day is a day of celebration, whether it’s a big, classical wedding or and adventurous elopement. Love HAS to be celebrated in a way that truly fits your couple, not society. If a big, elegant wedding in a chateau is your kind of dream, then you should fight your fears and do it, you won’t regret it! But if you’ve always dreamed of exchanging your vows on top of a mountain, in a beautiful garden or in a lush jungle, eloping is the best option for you.
To avoid family drama, be very clear with your loved ones a lot of time before actually eloping. Consider telling them you are going to get married, but a small intimate wedding might be organized instead of a big family event. Prepare them to this eventuality. You can also cater for everyone by organizing a big family gathering after the elopement, to celebrate with everyone (like a big backyard barbecue for example!). And if you’re not so worried about what anyone thinks, you can still send over some beautiful photos of your elopement for them to celebrate with you.
Small weddings are also an option, followed by a few days long adventure. You can then invite your closest family members and friends and still have an emotional, intimate ceremony with 20-30 of your most beloved ones. This way, nobody’s feelings gets hurt and you still respect yourself by not having a huge celebration that will bear no sense for you whatsoever.
2) Choose your destination
You can choose to elope right near your home, or at the other end of the world. It is really up to you! You can start by checking out this list of absolutely jaw-dropping elopement locations around the world and see if anything makes you want to take the plunge and do an adventurous destination elopement.
If getting married far away from home is your kind of adventure, ask yourself what country you visited and loved, which country you’d like to visit (or re-visit), and what kind of climate is the best for you. When you have narrowed this down, you can make a list of countries you like and start searching for beautiful, epic hotels with a view, or amazing Airbnbs in the middle of nature. You can also contact me to help you find the most perfect spot for your elopement!
In my opinion, the most beautiful places to elope are:
Need more inspiration for your elopement location?
CHECK OUT THIS FULL LIST OF AMAZING ELOPEMENT DESTINATIONS FOR INTROVERTS
3) Plan your elopement legally
Whether you’re getting married right near your home, or at the other end of the world, you need to know that the ceremony you will be having, won’t be official. It will be emotional and will definitely be your wedding day, but you will need to legally get married in your country of origin before the wedding, for it to be legal. Ceremonies by a celebrant or officiant are only emotional and secular ceremonies. They won’t be considered legal by any government in the world. You can go to your local wedding bureau to sign your official papers.
There is also something else you need to think about: travel visas. They might not be required in every country you can elope to, but double check your country’s travel rules to see if you need a visa or a specific kind of travel agreement, before you can visit the country of your choice.
4) Book your vendors
When you plan an elopement with me, I’ll help you narrow down what you need, and we will choose amazing vendors together. However, in general, an elopement is a little bit like a classic wedding. You will need:
– wedding attire (for the bride and the groom)
– hair and makeup
– accessories (jewelry, shoes, hair accessories,…)
– wedding vow books
– (optional) a celebrant
That is it. There is no need for caterers, wedding venues, etc. When you plan an elopement, you choose simplicity and beauty over a tightly planned day. Together, we will see what you would like your ceremony to look like and we will plan accordingly. I’ll be here every step of the way!
Avoid the stress, family drama and financial chaos that comes with traditional weddings. Surrender to a “just us” adventure elopement instead.
Hi! I’m Amber, your elopement photographer, planner and guide.
Together we plan your dream elopement itinerary in Florida over 1, 3, 7 or 12 days.
Let’s plan your all-inclusive adventure elopement
What does an elopement day looks like in general?
When you plan on having a beautiful, photography-enhanced ceremony, you can generally start getting ready two hours before you leave.
Take into account the time needed to walk to the ceremony site (10 minutes up to several hours, depending on the location we choose) and prepare accordingly.
I’ll give you many tips and tricks to walk to the site and still be perfectly clean, even if it’s rainy/muddy/foggy, you name it. I’ll give you tips for your makeup, hair, dress and even your bouquet!
One to one and a half hours before sunset is the perfect time to start the ceremony. The light will be golden and beautiful, and I will be able to capture not only beautiful moments, but also the beautiful scenery we chose together.
After the ceremony, the guests (if there is any) can go back to the hotel, and we will go on an epic couples’ pictures trip that will last until after sunset. We will then go back to the hotel and enjoy a relaxed evening filled with delicious food, wine and music.
Elopements are usually shorter than traditional weddings. If you’re at a walking distance of one hour from the ceremony site, the whole day (before supper) will be four to five hours long. We will work together to cater to all your needs and choose the perfect ceremony site, according to your preferences (beautiful site, epic scenery, short walking distance, overnight walking distance, etc.)
And after the elopement, what happens?
It can be as epic as you’re dreaming it. We can simply stay overnight and enjoy the scenery during your couple session, or it can be the beginning of a whole trip across the country to take pictures in the most beautiful landscapes I will find. It really is up to you, and what you’re dreaming of doing to celebrate!
Interested in adventuring with me as your elopement photographer?
Fill out the form to get started!
Your free “how to elope 101″checklist
6 months prior (or as soon as you decide to elope)
4 months prior
1 month prior
After the elopement
How to plan your peaceful elopement with me
Schedule a non-sales call
Everyone truly hates sales calls (me included) so I refuse to fo them. We simply chat about what your dream day and travel plans look like to see if we’re a match!
Book your date
We find the perfect date together and you’re officially booked!
I’ll plan your dream elopement
From itinerary planning to vendor suggestions all the way to helping you with permits, I plan everything.
Live your adventure
You live a peaceful, meaningful wedding day on an itinerary that’s custom created just for you.
Relive this day forever
I deliver your pictures and your choice of album from my collection, to remember this adventure, and share it for years to come.
Let’s plan your peaceful elopement
Where you can be you. Feel. Breathe in each other’s love.
Experience a place close to your hearts, or a bucket list dream.
Need more inspiration for your elopement?
Check out this brand new article about the best places to elope IN THE WORLD
Are you ready to start planning YOUR elopement?
As an elopement photographer, planner and guide, I offer a range of option that all include planning and photography, from 5 hours all the way to your ultimate 14-day elopement and honeymoon gateway anywhere in the world. As part of my photography service, I will help you choose and plan the perfect elopement day(s) from crafting the whole day program to helping you choose amazing vendors and book your accomodation and flights.
Contact me now to get started!