Adventure Elopement Planning + Resources to Help Make Sure Elopement is the Right Decision for You

Bride and groom kiss during Dolomites elopement in the mountains

Being destination adventure elopement photographers, we have heard a lot of stories. Stories of why people want to elope. Stories of successful elopements. Stories of “oh I wish we did…”.

This article is something from our hearts to you. Please consider this a resource from friends who have first hand experience with elopements and those friends just want to make sure you get the most accurate, up-to-date information instead of “Oh I heard this from a wedding blog in 1992 that doesn’t even know what elopements mean”

Here Are Some Insanely Gorgeous Elopements For You To Explore

1) Don’t think with your head. Think with your heart

The definition of elopement has changed dramatically the past 2 – 3 years. It’s no longer running to the court house, repeat after the judge, and sign the paperwork. Sure it is still an elopement. However, elopements have become so so so much more.

Couples who choose to elope now have more options in terms of how big, how small, where, how, and what they do they want to include on their wedding day.

With options and choices, sometimes, it is harder to decide exactly what you want do, or one of the most popular questions we get almost on the daily is “We don’t know if that’s the right thing to do. Help?”

Couple elope in near a cabin outside of seattle, washington

Our biggest advice is:

  • Sit down with your fiance
  • You both close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths
  • And one at a time, each of you just describe what you envision, what you want to see happen on your elopement day
  • Don’t think about logistics. Don’t think about anything else.
  • Describe: Who do you see standing there witnessing your vows? Where exactly is that spot? Are you in a field of flowers? Are you on top of the mountain somewhere? Is this a place you see on social media? Or it’s somewhere totally unreal and you’re not sure if this place truly exists? What else do you do on that day? Do you have a cake there? Is there a bonfire? Are we camping or staying in a cabin? etc…

That right there is thinking with your heart instead of your head. You just painted a picture of what you truly want to do. It did not involve money or who you have to please. Just simply things that would make your elopement day a meaningful one.

What you describe there might not be everything you will do but at least, that is the very first draft to planning your dream elopement day.

2) How many people should we invite?

The best thing about an elopement is that there are no rules. There are laws yes, but no rules.

No rules on how many people should be there. No rules on how long the day has to be. No rules on what you need to include in your day.

With that being said, different photographers might look at this differently. Some photographers charge differently if it’s just you two versus if you bring 1 or 2 or 5 or 10 guests. So we’d strongly suggest you look into their pricing and what they offer in order to make sure you are within budget.

From our photography standpoint, each elopement is so different and we don’t usually have a rule on how many people can be there. We 100% believe that it’s your wedding day and you should have people you love whom love you back there for you and with you.

We have photographed multiple elopements where it’s only the couple. We have also photographed multiple elopements with around 15-30 guests all the way up to intimate weddings with a larger guest count.

If you want to ask “So which one is better?” we don’t have an answer for you.

How many people our couples invite to their elopements truly reflect who they are as a couple and so should you

If you invite 4 – 6 guests because they mean the world to you and have been through all the ups and downs with you, invite them

If you invite 4 – 6 guests because they would be butt hurt if you don’t invite them, forget that.

It’s your one important day, do it the way it makes your heart happy

3) Do we need to hire an elopement planner? What other vendors do we need to think about?

One of our best friends in the wedding industry is an elopement planner and Henry’s husband is also an elopement planner. However, we are not going to just say “Yes you definitely need one”. Our job is to make sure you get all the support and resources you need, no more, no less.

From our honest opinion, if it’s the two of you and all you care for is a beautiful location with beautiful photographs, you don’t need anyone else but an officiant.

However, if you are thinking about getting help with finding a cabin to stay, maybe a private chef or some sort of catering, looking for a florist or a violinist, someone to take care of all the logistics, who advocates for you, then yes, we think you need an elopement planner.

Lots of time, these elopement planners are skilled at floral designs and/or ordained, so they can work with you to create beautiful arbors, floral arrangements, and marry you both 🙂 It’s like a one stop for all 🙂

4) How do we make it official? Law? Paperwork and all that jazz?

After all, it’s not just a photoshoot. It’s your wedding day and we need to make sure we can get everything officially documented and filed.

So yess, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!!! When picking a beautiful location, google search “Marriage License” and add that location to it.

Some of the factors you need to know would be: Do you need an officiant? Witnesses? How many? Required wait time between applying for the license and actually getting married?

States like Washington and Oregon require 1 officiant and 2 witnesses.

States like California require 1 officiant and 1 witness

A lot of time, besides photographing you guys, we also act as witnesses 🙂

For international destinations, some of our couples wanted to make the process easy with less paperwork to jump around by getting married legally at home at a courthouse. However, they won’t exchange their personal vows until the official date where they go on an adventure with us.

PNW elopement in the rain and fog

5) So How Much Money Are We Saving?

Just because it’s an elopement, it doesn’t mean you will spend less money on vendors. Overall yes you might spend less because of the guest list, but not on each individual vendors.

Your dress, suit, veil, rings, planner, florist, photographer, videographer don’t become cheaper because it’s an elopement.

Your elopement day is not limited to 4 hours or 6 hours or however many hours you book your vendors. Years and years from now, when you look back, it’s your day. It’s the entire day! Therefore, as photographers, we always treat it like such. It’s a whole day. It’s a whole day full of love and experience. And we will work our butts off to make sure that experience is worthwhile.

Did you know that the average cost of a traditional wedding is $33,900? Whereas one for elopement is around $15,350. You can read more about elopement cost and use an elopement budget calculator HERE.

6) Who should we hire as our elopement photographer? How should we decide who’s the right person?

Henry Tieu Photography with elopement clients in the pacific northwest

By now, just to make things easy, we are just going to say “Us”. Hahaha. Just kidding.

In all seriousness, a photographer can make it or break it when it comes to guiding you through the planning process and capturing photos that truly reflect you, your love for one another, and your story.

To decide whether a photographer is for you, we strongly recommend:

  • Read their About Me page, learn about them and what they stand for.
  • Read their blog posts, see their gallery, or even ask for sample galleries to see what kind of photos they capture. Are those photos the ones you seek for, the ones that speak to your heart, the ones you wish to have for generations to see?
  • Read their Elopement Resources and evaluate their knowledge in guiding you.
  • Budget: Yes this topic is sensitive and trust me, we don’t like talking about money either but it’s so so so important. We are huge believers in “You pay for what you get”. If everyone you see charges around $4,000 for an elopement and you see someone else wants to charge $1,000. Ask yourself why? Why is that person charging so low? Are they aware of how much work is involved in planning and photographing an elopement? If they are not aware, what is their experience? We are not saying that you have to book a photographer with the highest price, we just want you to be aware of the industry standard and what’s appropriate and what’s not.
  • If you love what they do, if you think how much they charge is within your budget, send them an Inquiry and get on the phone with them. We don’t book anyone until we get on the phone with them. We want to learn about our clients. We want them to know more about us. We want to be as transparent with our clients as possible. We want to see if we are a good match because it means whether we can foster an authentic relationship for authentic photos or not. If not, it’s ok. It’s not personal. There’s a photographer out there for everyone.

Our job starts THE DAY YOU INQUIRE. It doesn’t matter if you end up booking us or not, but all we know is that we START WORKING ON THAT VERY FIRST INITIAL EMAIL. We listen to you, read about you, get on the phone to learn more about you. Then we start doing research to come up with location recommendations and other logistics planning.

We hope that this article has helped you in any way when it comes to planning your dream elopement. As you can see, we don’t like using the word “perfect” so no, you won’t see me say “plan your perfect elopement”. Because truly, that’s the beauty of an elopement. Things don’t have to be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist and is not necessary when it comes to planning on a day full of memories and happiness.

Thanks for reading and let me know have any questions and/or add in the comment below

Or are we the right fit for you and your dream elopement?

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