10 Step Guide on How to Elope | Arizona Elopement Photographer
Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now that the question has been popped and you have had a moment to relax… you are probably wondering how to elope, that’s where we come in. First things first, a big question we get asked often is what is an elopement anyway? Eloping means that all of the wedding day choices you have to make, are yours entirely. You make the rules. You can truly make your day any adventure you want. Your elopement day can be a day that reflects the two of you instead of being focused on everyone else’s needs, opinions, and expectations. In traditional weddings it is easy to feel like you are putting on a production for guests and to feel so much stress on how to please others that you often forget about what the day is truly about – YOU. Elopements used to be only known as a quick, hush hush ceremony in a Las Vegas church or a trip to the courthouse but we are here to break that stigma and to tell you about how you can have the wedding day of your dreams without the hassle of a huge production. All of this freedom to plan your dream day can feel a bit overwhelming but we are here to help! How to Elope requires 10 easy steps:
How to Elope: Step by Step Guide
- Envision your dream wedding day
- Create an Inspiration board
- Determine a budget
- Begin research
- Decide on a location
- Start booking your dream vendors
- Book lodging, rental cars, flights
- Start thinking about attire and details
- Finalize details
- Announce the big news to family and friends!
While planning an elopement is a lot less stressful than planning a traditional wedding, there are still many aspects you will need to consider when jumping into planning your big day. Being an elopement photographer over the last few years has helped us compile a list of tips and tricks to help guide our couples on how to elope with the least stress as possible! In the past we have found that couples tend to shy away from an elopement for a few reasons, typically it all comes down to them not understanding how to elope, what an elopement truly is and how their day could look when they choose to elope. Having been in this position ourselves when we got married, we are here to tell you that you CAN have the wedding day of your dreams without the hassle of planning a traditional wedding. You can incorporate family, friends and traditions to where you are still getting the full wedding day experience without the headache of a huge production and regret from not planning your wedding the way you intended. We are here to help you plan the wedding day of your dreams, feel free to check out this Arizona elopement for more elopement ideas!
Step 1: Envision Your Dream Wedding Day
When you are first looking into how to elope, a big task that you will want to start with is envisioning what your wedding day will actually look like. The best way to brainstorm ideas that will truly make the most of your elopement day is to sit together and dream about what means the most to you on your wedding, things you would love to experience together and what time of year or scenery is pulling at your heart. A fun date night would be a great time to do this together! It is important to keep an open mind when envisioning your elopement day. This is a place for you to think of your wildest dreams. If you could elope anywhere in the world, where would it be? What landscapes scream your name? Try not to get caught up in the logistics just yet of what you can and can not do. This is a time to be open minded and lay all of your ideas out on the table.
Step 2: Create An Inspiration Board
Creating an inspiration board plays a huge part in how to elope in a way that encompasses everything that you love and want to be a part of your wedding day.I know it may seem cliche to say to look at Pinterest but it is actually a great way to look into other couples elopements, get an idea of different and unique things that you can incorporate into your day and see different locations that you may not have even thought about. It is important to put together colors and styles on your inspiration board that you are drawn to, this will help you tie in flowers, decor if you have any, colors for attire and will also help your photographer to determine locations that may work best for the color and style you are looking for. If you still need any help thinking of some great styles, we loved the style of this Airbnb elopement!
Step 3: Determine A Budget
When determining your budget, it is essential to look into how to elope in whichever area your eyes are set on. This can mean researching several different locations as costs will be different ranges in different areas of the world but it will give you a good estimate to go off of. The average for a traditional wedding in the US is $34,000, but you can absolutely have an incredible elopement for less than half of that cost. Expect to spend a majority of your budget on photography and the rest on travel, attire, rings, flowers, hair & makeup, an officiant, food, activities, and your marriage license. This is definitely the least exciting part in wedding planning but it is very important to determine a budget range early on so that you can see what experiences may be doable and what you should not waste as much time on. We suggest starting at a base range that you are both comfortable with and then a top range of your budget where it is not as likely you will get to unless you find an out of this world experience that you HAVE to do. It is definitely easier to splurge when it comes to experiences that excite you!
Step 4: Begin Research
Research plays a big part in determining what you will need to do in order to have your elopement at a certain location. You will need to look into how to elope at certain locations. This can mean looking into permits, regulations, weather and the best season to get married at your destination. When determining your ceremony site, make sure you first confirm that it is legal to have a ceremony or photos taken there. Certain locations may or may not allow this and it is important to realize and plan for a new location rather than showing up and finding out the hard way. As well as any restrictions you will want to stay up to date on any permits your destination may require. Some locations require multiple permits for both you and your photographer so it is important that you check into your sites rules and regulations to make sure you do not hit any bumps in the road on your elopement day. It is also important to look into weather and seasons at different locations as this plays a huge part in how to elope in these places. Different locations will be busier during certain times of the year based on the weather, meaning you may want to plan around these to avoid hikers or large crowds of tourists. You also want to research so that you know what to pack to keep yourselves comfortable and prepared. Will you need thermals for cooler weather? An extra change of clothes if your location has rainstorms frequently? Hiking boots for a rugged hike to your ceremony? These are all key factors to keep in mind when planning your elopement day!
Step 5: Decide On A Location
At this point, you should have a location nailed down. This is the part where you look into how to elope in that part of the world. Now that you have your budget decided, an inspiration board filled with the most magical ideas, you have researched a ton on different locations and seasons – it is time to decide on where to hold your wedding day! If Arizona made the cut, we have a great list of the best places to elope in Arizona. Certain factors to keep in mind when deciding on this location are: Do you want this experience to be just the two of you? Do you want family and friends to join you on your epic elopement, if so how many will you have join you? Once you have nailed down who and how many people you will be expecting for your big day then it becomes easier to nail down specifics like exact locations for a ceremony, an adventurous hike to bridals or a cozy camping spot to stargaze at the end of the night. Another great thing about elopements is that couples often can save money by eloping and combine their elopement with their honeymoon to their destination of choice, it’s a win win!
Step 6: Start Booking Your Dream Vendors
The next and our personal favorite step is to book your dream vendors! If the elopement day is only the two of you it is especially important to book the right photographer and videographer quickly as those will be the only real images and memories you will have for the day, you want someone who can capture it perfectly for you. This is also a great time to book other services for your elopement day such as florist, hair, make up and experiences like a helicopter ride, renting paddle boards or kayaks, a boat tour or a hot air ballon ride! How to elope and have the best experience is to make sure you and all of your vendors are on the same page, this can mean sharing timelines, vision boards or viewing galleries prior to the elopement day to ensure your vision fits their styles!
Step 7: Book Lodging, Rental Cars and Flights
Depending on where you are eloping as well you will need to research on if your location requires an officiant, if you can self-solemnize or have your photographer sign for you, if they are ordained. When booking other services like flights, lodging and rental vehicles keep it mind that the closer your hotel is to the ceremony site, the more streamlined your timeline will be. You will also want to keep in mind lodging size if you are expecting guests, you may want to look into a larger Airbnb or a hotel block so that you can all stay close together. When it comes to transportation you will need to factor in how traveling to your ceremony location will look like. If it is a rugged road that requires off roading you will need to look into a 4×4 or consider a rental company that provides an off road service.
Step 8: Start Thinking About Wedding Attire and Details
This is such a fun step, especially if you have decided to go the route of no guests. We have found that a great way to keep family feeling involved in the wedding process without actually being present on the day of is to invite them along on some wedding errands – especially dress or tux shopping! When deciding on attire try to keep in mind the location that you have chosen and elements that will look beautiful in these places. An example of this was this epic wedding in San Francisco where our couple had a traditional dress for their ceremony and then changed into her more functional but fabulous dress to attend outside lands for their reception see it here! Factors you will want to keep in mind are if your location requires lots of hiking or uncertain weather where you would need to bring a change of shoes and some extra clothes to keep warm. If you will need to bring an umbrella to shield yourselves from rain or a change of clothes if you are wanting to change into your dress at your ceremony location. This is a great time to pack momentos, letters from relatives or any heirlooms!
Step 9: Finalize Details
To keep yourselves feeling free of stress make sure that you finalize a game plan ahead of time. It is easiest to make a 1 month, 1 week and 2 day prior schedule to ensure that you have taken care of any last minute duties. All vendors should be booked at this time and have a copy of your day of timeline to be best prepared as well as your marriage license if needed. This is also a great time to plan a surprise for your significant other like a gift, a special song to share your first dance or letters from family members that could not attend. You will want to sketch our a rough timeline and check list to keep everything running smoothly, make sure you take adequate time to eat, drink and rest so that you can enjoy yourselves!
Step 10: Announce the big news to family and friends!
A big question we get is how to elope without feeling like we are not including our family and friends. The choice to elope is a big, bold and brave decision that ultimately only you can make but it is so worth it. It can be tough making the choice to elope without friends and family. A few things that you can do to help ease uneasy family members is to keep them involved as much as you can. You can bring them dress shopping with you, make lunch or dinner plans together to talk about activities you will be doing during your elopement, take them along to florist appointments or even throw a BBQ “reception” to still include family in your celebration. Ultimately, this is up to you and your comfort level and what you feel comfortable including family members on!
Are you ready to start planning the elopement of your dreams? Let’s start planning!