How to elope without guests

Maybe this is the first blog of mine that you’ve come across. Perhaps it’s not, and you’ve already seen a few. Either way, I’ll say it again. Eloping is whatever you want to make it. Some people want to elope on a mountain overseas, and some want to elope in their backyard. Some want to have guests in attendance, and others want to elope without guests. There is no right and wrong, only what is right or wrong for you.

If you’re reading this, you either want to elope without guests, or you are at least considering the idea. If you want to know how to elope and include guests in your day, click here, it’s always worth getting a balanced opinion before making your decision. So let’s do it, let’s break down some of my favourite ways to build out your elopement day into the most unreal adventure of your life, even if you don’t want guests.

Make it a holiday

One of the coolest parts of eloping is being able to elope where you plan to have your honeymoon, thus saving big time on airfares! So, if you’re planning to elope without guests, you only have yourselves to consider. Where do you want to go?

I know it’s easy to say when it isn’t my money, but I suggest picking somewhere that is either special to you (maybe your first holiday together), or somewhere once in a lifetime.

For example, I recently shot an elopement in the Mornington Peninsula. The couple were from Sydney, and this is where they went on their first holiday as a couple. They even booked the same airbnb they stayed in to get ready in. We spent the day adventuring around to all the cool places they visited as a young couple. It was super special.

On the other side, I recently travelled to New Zealand to shoot a couple from the US. They had one vision for the elopement…make it big! They had never been overseas before, and New Zealand looked unreal to them (massive LOTR fans). So when I met them, we actually did a sunrise, pre-ceremony session on Lake Wanaka, followed by adventuring down to Glenorchy. We slowly made our way back to Moke Lake for their ceremony under the mountains.

The point I’m trying to make here is to pick a location you would love to holiday in, and plan to holiday in, then leave it up to me, I will help you come up with an epic adventure!

If you're thinking you want to elope without guests, maybe make a holiday out of it and elope in your honey moon destination
Picking a location that excites you will make the idea of eloping without guests a lot easier, because there is endless adventure to be had

Pick a location that excites you

This kind of piggybacks off the last point, to a degree. If you want to take your elopement and make it an absolutely amazing day from start to finish, you will want to pick a location that excites you.

What do I mean by that? Well think of it this way. If you decided to elope down at the local park on the Central Coast of NSW, where do you go from there? Once you’ve done your ceremony, what do you do next? There’s not much around to do really, so this is not a location I would recommend for a couple who want to have an amazing adventure, sunrise to sunset.

Now let’s look at this example. You opt to elope in New Zealand at Milford Sound. You start your day down in Queenstown. Maybe you get some FergBakery in the morning, a Boston Cream on the lake at sunrise. You return to your beautiful airbnb on the lake to start getting ready, but you don’t get dressed yet.

We jump in the jeep and start the 3.5 hour drive down to Milford Sound. We stop along the way to take in what this part of the world has to offer. I photograph and film the entire journey, all of it, for you to relive! We eventually get to Milford Sound and find our location for the ceremony. You elope without guests just as you planned. We then spend the next few hours adventuring around the sound. The waterfalls, the epic mountains rising out of the water. This is the adventure of a lifetime, and it’s your elopement.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to elope in an area without a lot of adventure to offer. If that’s your thing, I am right there for you! But if a full day of adventure is what you want, picking a location that excites you is the way to go.

Eloping without guests? consider camping!

This one makes things truly easy in terms of filling out your entire elopement day. This one is super popular in the US and in Europe, due to the unreal hikes and parks they have, but would also absolutely work in New Zealand!

I will also say, this option is not for everyone. Why? Well first of all, not everyone loves hiking and camping. Secondly, it will become costly in terms of coverage. To hire an elopement photographer for 2-3 days is going to cost more than for 1 day, that’s just simple maths. However, if a multi day hiking elopement sounds like your thing, then you probably don’t care. After all, you’ll only be doing this once.

If you’re opting to elope without guests, the major benefit of this is the places you can go, and the coverage you can get. I would highly recommend a documentary style film for this one, as there will be just so much to capture.

Most people are bound by places they can access within a few hours maximum. But not you! For example, in the Kimberleys in Northern Territory I know of some unbelievable waterfalls and valleys that would take a solid day to hike out too. But the payoff of eloping at the base of that fall and cliff jumping into it after your portraits would be so worth it. Unlike anything anyone else was doing, or anything you had seen.

But maybe you’re concerned about having to have a celebrant also do a multi day hike with you (money!). Simple solution, do the legals prior to leaving, or when you return. You can still say your vows to each other at the ceremony site of course. This will just save you tonnes of money!

Couple go on big hike on their elopement day to get the most epic shots. Elope without guests if you want to have this experience.
Couple pop champagne on cliffs edge after their elopement ceremony without any guests

Plan something special for your partner

If you’re wondering how to make your day epic, I actually have an entire blog post dedicated to making your elopement an adventure, so check that out if you want to learn more. This is one of the coolest ways to celebrate your elopement, especially if you plan to elope without guests (because again, you have no one else to consider).

So what could you do? Let’s take New Zealand as an example for this one. I actually have a couple coming up soon (August 2023) who are travelling out from Arizona in the US. The Groom is a huge Lord of the Rings fan. I researched what we could do with this, and told the bride about a Middle Earth Tour which he would froth. She has booked this, he doesn’t know about it though. He thinks we are just going to be doing a bit of random adventuring around the mountains and lakes…so she is going to surprise him with this pre-ceremony.

Maybe your partner is obsessed with helicopters, but has never been on one. Well this is your chance. Book them a private helicopter flight over Milford Sound, or a private helicopter flight up to Coromandel Peak and organise a picnic with them. I mean, damn, what a way to enjoy your elopement day eating cheese, drinking wine, 4000ft in the air, completely isolated.

So take the opportunity to surprise your partner. This aspect will really raise the day, provide some adventure, and really create life lasting memories. If you need advice on what to plan, or what you could plan, simply contact me and I will guide you as I do for all my couples.

Eloping without guests…kinda?

I get it, you really want to elope the old school way, without guests. But part of you would like your mum there, or your dad, or even your absolute best mates. That’s cool, nothing wrong with that at all.

So how do you elope without guests, but also have some kind of guest interaction. One fun thing to do is to let your favourite people know what you’re doing and tell them to get dressed up so you can video call them. I actually had a couple from Ireland elope in the Blue Mountains who did this. They told their parents at 7pm (AEDT) to be dressed for a wedding and they would call them from the cliff edge. They did this (albeit reception wasn’t great) which was awesome. The mums all cried, the dads cried (but tried to hide it). And both sets of parents gave a little impromptu speech which was really nice and got the couple pretty teary.

But, why would you do this? If you want them there, why not just invite them? Well as we discussed in some of my other blogs, inviting guests starts to limit your options in terms of ceremony location. It also impacts the time of day you need to do things (for example if you’re inviting your 90 year old grandmother, you can’t elope at 6am sunrise probably). So by doing this, you do get to elope without guests, and you get the benefits of doing so. But you also do get to share a special moment with those you love. Best of both worlds.

There is a way to elope without guests, while still including some of the most important guests. Couple make video calls on cliff edge at sunset to family members to let them know they have eloped.

So let’s do it?

If any of the above sounds like your bag, let’s do it. If you want to elope without guests, I am here for you. Part of what I do for my couples is I plan their days. Start to finish. So if you aren’t quite sure what to do to build out an amazing day, I am here for you. If you have some ideas, but not sure how they would work, I got you! Simply reach out to me here, let me know your plans and your dreams and I will get the ball rolling for you!

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