Are you thinking about eloping, but have absolutely no idea where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place! As your friendly neighborhood elopement photographer, I know quite a bit about how to plan an elopement. Elopement planning can be deceiving—you might think it would only take a month or two to plan, and it can, but there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. Are you going to have guests? Will you be getting married in a location that requires a permit? Are you planning to serve food or have a private chef cook you a meal?
While you can absolutely just head off to the courthouse if that’s more your style, if you want a truly authentic, intimate, and adventurous day, the planning process may require a little more thought. Don’t worry though, I’ll help get you started with a few tips about how far out you should start planning your perfect day.
First things first, an elopement can be as organized or spontaneous as you’d like it. There’s no right or wrong way to plan an elopement. The only thing that matters is you get to make the decisions about what your day will look like. If you want to plan out your day down to the minute, do it! But if you want to just go with the flow and see where the day takes you, that’s perfectly fine, too (there might be a few things you’ll still want planned out such as who will marry you and where).
Here are a few of the most popular elements of an elopement to consider planning in advance.
While you might not think you need to worry too much about your ceremony spot too far in advance, there are some locations that require reservations in advance. The most common locations that require advanced planning are national parks. Some popular places even fill up about a year out.
I recommend determining the time of year you want to elope, researching several different locations, and begin narrowing down your location at least 3-6 months in advance. If the location you want requires advanced reservations and books out way before that six-month mark, I recommend beginning your location planning about a year in advance (more than likely, this won’t be the case).
Once you have your location picked out, it’s time to begin thinking about lodging. There are a few important aspects to keep in mind here. Will you be inviting guests and will you want everyone to stay in one spot? Do you want to stay at a hotel or rent an Airbnb? Some locations that are remote don’t have as many options to choose from. It would be wise to spend some time early on researching, and as soon as you’ve picked a location around the 3-6 month mark, book your lodging.
Not every eloping couple chooses to have food made for them, especially if it’s just the two of you. Some couples even opt to just book a reservation at a local restaurant as their celebration meal or even pack food for a picnic on the trail. But if you do plan to hire a private chef or caterer for your elopement, you’ll need to book in advance. The amount of food you want will be highly dependent on whether or not you choose to have guests. More often than not, even if a couple invites friends and family, the number of guests probably won’t exceed 25-30. In this case, I recommend beginning your research four months in advance and booking 1-2 months in advance.
Your photographer is one of the most important parts of your elopement day. After all, you want to be able to reminisce on one of the most incredible days of your lives forever, right? Elopement photographers often book out up to a year in advance. This can be tricky if you want a certain photographer. I recommend reaching out to the photographer you want (and a few others just in case) about a year in advance. I would also recommend being flexible on dates for your elopement to ensure you’re able to have the full experience you desire. Not to mention, many elopement photographers will help you plan out all the details (me!), so you’ll want to ensure they have enough time to do their research before the big day, too.
There are a few other items on the checklist that you might want to have planned out or booked well in advance. Here’s what I recommend:
Whether you have all these checklist items or none of them, the most important part of planning your elopement day is making sure it’s exactly the way you choose. Your elopement day is all about celebrating your love for one another through authentic and meaningful details. If you’re ready to begin your elopement planning process, contact me today and let’s create magic together!