How to Plan a Destination Elopement

One of the coolest parts of the elopement industry right now is that people are creating their dream wedding day exactly the way they want it.  There is SO much creativity that is going into elopement days.  Couples are eloping in SO many unique places, they are traveling all over the world and creating the coolest experiences for their elopement days.  When planning your elopement day though, especially a destination elopement, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why I decided to put this guide together to walk you through exactly how to plan your own destination elopement!

Dream About Your Day

Start off your planning for your destination elopement by sitting down with your lover and dreaming about your day.  As you begin to dream about your elopement day try to picture what it will be like in your head.  What kind of weather do you hope to have for your elopement day?  Do you picture yourself on a mountain top?  Do you see anyone with you?  All of these pieces of imagery can all be kind of summed up as a rough Who, What, When, Where.

Who do you picture having there with you? What do you hope to do on your elopement day? When do you want to have your elopement? And where would you like to go for your elopement?  This stage of the planning is really just a lot of daydreaming, you do NOT have to make any final decisions at this point!  But it should help you to at least get some ideas of what you want your day to look like as well as make some decisions as you begin the planning process.

Choose a Location

There are SO many beautiful places throughout the US and the rest of the world that are perfect for a destination elopement.  When planning out your destination elopement, think through everything you want to experience. Do you want to go somewhere that is familiar to you?  Do you want to go somewhere new?  Is something like a beachside elopement with your toes in the sand and your closest family around you your thing? Or are you the type that wants to get married just the two of you atop a mountain? Once you have an idea on the type of location you’d want to have your destination elopement you’ll be able to better work through the other parts of your day to really narrow down the exact spot for you two to have your wedding.

Research the Scenery

Research the area that makes up the state or country that you want to get married.  If you do want to go somewhere epic for your elopement make sure you look into everything that goes into getting to that epic location.  Applications like Alltrails are a great way to explore your potential elopement locations. Be sure to do your research on the landscapes and environments you’ll be dealing with at your potential locations so that you know what you’ll be getting into before deciding on a location for your destination elopement. Research the trails, the weather and the reviews of the area during the month you plan to go. Alltrails will have reviews labeled by month so you can find out if last June was super buggy, if there’s a part of the trail that closes down when it rains, and anything else you might need to know.

Set a Date

The next part of planning out your destination elopement is to set a date!  Think about how long you need to plan and think about how long you want to plan. One of the many perks of eloping is that you don’t need to alert a big group of people.  But if you do want a couple of must haves there, make sure to check with them before you settle on a date. Since you have an idea of where you’ll be having your elopement take into consideration the weather that your locations deal with throughout the year. Plan your elopement around the ideal weather you’d like at your location as well as the schedules of the few guests you’ll have attending.

Decide on Your Experience

Think about how you want to spend your time on your wedding day.  How do you picture the two of you spending your elopement day outside your ceremony? Are you hiking?  Relaxing?  Eating your favorite foods?  Surrounded by your closest people?  Talk with your soon-to-be spouse about what you’d like to do on the day of your destination elopement and start to plan out your activities! This will also help you to determine a final location since that will determine a lot of the possible activities that you can include in your day.

Choose a Photographer

When choosing your photographer, you’ll want to make sure it’s someone that is familiar with destination weddings and all that goes into the planning and prep for them.  Finding someone with experience in similar weddings is crucial, and though it might seem like you should choose a photographer that is local to your area, it’s not completely necessary. Destination photographers specialize in researching new locations and providing an incredible photography experience even if they haven’t been to your location before. Of course finding a photographer local to your destination is always an option, but if you find a destination photographer whose work really speaks to you contact them to see if they’d be a good fit!

Lean on Your Photographer

When booking a destination wedding photographer, know that they’ve done this before.  Don’t be afraid to lean on your photographer and the experience they provide.  Things like permits research, location scouting, and recommendations are all things you can expect from your photographer. In addition to taking your photos, your photographer is there to help you through the experience and make sure your destination elopement runs exactly how you envision it!

Obtain Your Permits or Book Your Venue

Rely on your photographer to help you throughout the booking process.  Whether you’re getting married at an epic Airbnb or at the top of Mt. Bachelor, you will want to make sure you have the proper permits to do so. Ask your photographer to help with the research on permits and booking and once they locate everything gets it taken care of. It is SO important to be on top of these things so that when your elopement day comes around you are ready for it and everything is in place.

The Legalities

When planning your destination elopement day, you and your partner will want to decide if you want to get married in the state you plan to elope in or if you want to get married legally ahead of time. Colorado, California, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, District of Columbia, Kansas, and Illinois all let you self-solemnize, meaning you can marry yourselves without a witness! Outside of those places though if you want to make your day easier on yourselves and focus on your elopement day take care of all the legalities ahead of time. Get legally married in the state you live in prior to heading off to your elopement so that way you get to focus on the experience and the day itself!

Pack for Your Adventure

Remember when you book your adventure elopement you will want to be prepared for anything, so pack smarter. Pack for the weather, the climate, and the experience you plan to have and that your location typically deals with. Does your location tend to have rain storms intermittently throughout the season you plan to elope in? Be sure to pack dry shoes in preparation!  Remember it’s better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it. That doesn’t mean pack a winter jacket for an elopement in Hawaii, but be realistic and prepared for any potential weather complications!

As you can see there is a LOT that goes into planning a destination elopement. Don’t let that overwhelm or discourage you from having one though, as destination elopements are some of the most fun and incredible wedding experiences you can plan for a wedding day. Take your time planning, think through all the options and everything you want to be part of your day, and rely on your photographer for help. You’ll end up with an elopement day that you’ll always remember and cherish! To see some of my more recent destination elopements head over to my blog and if you’re looking to book me for a destination elopement head over to my contact page here!

July 28, 2022

Sreeja Ankam

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