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 totally stealing the hapiness and fun you should feel while planning such a big event.
Well, take a big breath: eloping is the solution for you. It can actually be very simple, to be honest. Here is how to plan a seamless and successfull, 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 diverse reasons), sometimes the couple ran away and got married anyway in secret. It was called an elopement.
Now, the reasons for eloping are different, but the result is the same: generally, the couple gets married in secret, alone or with only their closest friends and family members. Generally, elopements range from 2 to 25 guests, and are a small wedding day in a beautiful location chosen by the couple. More and more often, elopements are 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.
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 all are recurrent 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 alltogether and 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, wether 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 beside your home, or at the other end of the world. It’s really up to you! But to begin with, you can check 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 down this, 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 countries to elope are:
3) Plan your elopement legally
Wether you’re getting married right besides 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 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, and won’t be considered legal by any government in the world. You can pop in 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, but double check with 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. But 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 done
– accessories (jewlery, shoes, hair accessories,…)
– wedding vows books
– (optional) a celebrant
And that’s it! Exit caterers, wedding venues and the like. 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!
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 2 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 tons of tips and tricks to walk to the sit and still be perfectly clean, even if it’s rainy/muddy/foggy/you name it. I’ll give you tips for your makeup, your hair, your dress and even your bouquet!
1 to 1.5 hour 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, wines and music.
Generally, elopements are shorter than traditional weddings. If you’re at a walking distance of 1 hour from the ceremony site, the whole day (before supper) will be 4 to 5 hours long. We will work together to cater 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?
Your free "how to elope 101" checklist
6 months prior (or as soon as you decide to elope)
- Get inspired on this website and find the destination of your dreams
- Create your guest list (if any)
- Pick a date (research the place you like and pick the best time of the year)
- Check how to get legally married
- Hire a photographer
4 months prior
- Talk with your photographer about the best place and time for your ceremony
- Book your flights, if needed
- Book car rentals, accomodation and pick up/drop off from the airport, if needed
- Book your other wedding vendors
1 month prior
- With the help of your photographer, plan your timeline
- Write your vows
- GET MARRIED!
Are you looking for a spiritual travel experience that also happens to be your wedding day?
I help introverted and highly sensitive couples plan, live and relive a truly meaningful and peaceful wedding experience, in a way that will respect their needs and nurture their relationship, their love for travels – and nature as well.