How to Plan an Elopement – Tips from a Wedding Photographer
One thing I take a lot of pride in as a wedding photographer is thinking through the logistics of a wedding day so things run as smoothly as possible. Most of the weddings I photograph have a day of coordinator on site to make sure the day runs smoothly, but the typical wedding day is pretty different from an elopement. I mean, that’s kind the point yeah? So when it comes to elopements, I like to help my couples out the way a coordinator normally would, but whether or not you’re one of my brides – these are tips I feel like every bride should have access to if you’re planning an elopement.
Plan for more time than you think you’ll need – Lately I’ve been booking elopements for up to 6 hours so we have plenty of time to drive around, adventure, and explore. This is still a wedding day and in my opinion doesn’t need to be a quick thing. Really make the most of this day even if it’s just the two of you…well, and me 😉 It’s great to have your ceremony location and a couple of other spots to check out & PLENTY of time, because I promise you will see some gorgeous little nooks and crannies here and there that weren’t even on your radar when you were planning. It’s all about having a plan but not being afraid to embrace other things that come your way on your wedding day.
When it comes to the amount of time you’ll need, this will primarily be dependent on location. So think about where you want to elope. I photographed this elopement in Mt Rainier National Park and as I’m sure you know, national parks are massive. These guys booked 4 hours and it ended up being perfect for them. However, if you’re looking for a brief elopement, you could still plan something at a gorgeous location for about 2 hours! Honestly just talk to your photographer about what kind of spots you’re looking for and map out a route. For these two we picked a ceremony location and then other spots to go to from there.
Think about where you’ll want to change and get ready. A lot of couples ride together and meet me at their elopement location or in the case of national parks, we meet just outside the park where we’ll still have cell service and then we drive from there to the elopement location. Seeing each other for the first time in your wedding day get up is something you’ll want photos of, I promise. So most of my couples meet up with me on their elopement wedding day in regular clothes and then change at a predetermined location so we set up a spot for you guys to see each other! Also bring comfortable shoes in addition to your wedding shoes. Like, seriously bring them. Trust meeeee beeb 😉
Plan something fun you guys will enjoy: bring along some wine, food, music, anything to add to the celebration. Elopements are usually low key but they are still a wedding day and need to be celebrated as much as any wedding would be! These two still had a first dance together overlooking the mountains, so freaking cute! Okay speaking of music: TOTALLY bring some music along for your ceremony and plan your song ahead of time. I’d recommend making sure it’s downloaded so it can be played offline as most national parks have zero cell service.
Have something really fun planned for after the elopement, some couples roll straight into their honeymoon but others like to go away for a weekend together and then take a bigger honeymoon after their first year of marriage. The important thing is to feel like you have all the options in the world and can plan what will be the best experience for you. This bride rocked a maroon dress because it made her feel like the babe she is and she killed it! Her husby was so blown away by her! Rock whatever kind of wedding dress makes you feel like a queen. My biggest thing is just do your own thing babes!!