15 Things I Wish I Knew Before Planning an elopement

Eloping is still such a new thing, especially on this side of the world, so it’ll come as no surprise that a lot of people might not know much about them. I get it from couples all the time, that when they started planning an elopement, they treated it much like a wedding. So what I want to do, is let you in on 13 things you’ll want to know before you plan your elopement.

You can do traditions

A really common question I get asked by my couples who elope is ‘can I have my parents there? I want my dad to walk me down the aisle?’

I get plenty of other questions surrounding traditions like not seeing each other the morning of the elopement or having a first dance.

The answer is yes. You can do any traditions you want to do. This is just your very own unique version of a traditional wedding day. Just because you’re doing it in an alternative way, does not mean you can’t do any traditions.

So use your photographer, and they will help to create a day that suits you, and allows you to have the traditions you want, and scrap those you don’t.

TLDR – Yes, you can do traditions, or you can skip them. This is your wedding, it is totally up to you.

you can have guests

This is easily the biggest misconception about eloping I see on a day to day basis. You tend to have 2 camps here; people who think you can’t have any guests, and those who just don’t know how to elope and include their guests.

So the short answer is that of course you can have guests. There is no ‘legal’ limit, but generally speaking 15 is the upper limit of what is considered an elopement.

So how do you include your guests in your elopement if you do want to invite some? Thankfully I have an entire post dedicated to just that, so click here and go have a read.

If you’re unsure, that’s ok, it’s a personal preference, but just know it is your preference and your choice.

TLDR – You can absolutely have guests at your elopement, up to 15 in most cases.

personalise the day

I’ll get to it later in this post, but this is one aspect that your vendors, especially your photographer can help you with.

Most of us have attended weddings, numerous probably. You’ve probably noticed they all tend to look and feel similar. They follow a similar structure.

Elopements are completely unique. You have an over abundance of time, and you have complete freedom in terms of how you wish to fill it out. If you aren’t sure, I have a post all about ways to personalise your day and make it an adventure.

Do you want to go for a surf in the morning? Maybe end the day with red wine and board games? Or perhaps you want to do a big hike and a picnic lunch before saying your ‘I do’s’. It’s totally up to you.

TLDR – You can do whatever you want on your day. Personalise it to you, and make it unique.

multi-day elopement?

Most people have no idea this is even a thing, because as we said above, most people apply what they know of traditional weddings to elopements.

But it is totally a thing, and it is awesome! It can take many shapes, it could be a big hike with overnight camping to get to an epic location to say your vows. It could also be an evening before the elopement adventure, or a morning after the elopement hike.

Remember, eloping is about the journey, the adventure that you 2 as a couple are on. Sometimes we don’t have enough hours in the day to capture what we need. Use your photographer to create a multi day setup for you.

TLDR – Don’t feel constrained by 8 hours. If your plans and story call for it, go for a multi day elopement.

be wise with your money

Yes, this tip would also be a great one for someone planning a wedding, but it goes a bit further when it comes to eloping. Why is that?

Often, people elope in remote areas, destination locations and so on. Weddings tend to happen nearer to major populations. For that reason, your vendors are usually going to live locally, and charge no travel.

So when eloping, you will likely have to pay some travel fees. So it makes sense to look for ways to bundle. Finding someone who does hair AND makeup, for example. Or a photographer who also does video.

The more the vendor can do for you, the lower your overall spend will be for that one vendor (I recommend no more than 5 vendors, controversial, but it’ll save you a lot).

TLDR – Look for ways to bundle services with vendors you trust and love.

capture everything

Something I think a lot of people don’t consider about eloping is that not a lot of people will ever see what your day looked like. In many cases, not even your parents or best friends.

Even if you don’t want to have guests on your day, you will 100% want to tell them all about the epic memories you had. Yet I see it all the time, people opt for a photographer, but no video.

I would suggest a video is absolutely as important as photos, and is the reason I offer video to all my couples, at an affordable rate alongside photos (click here for my packages).

So just think about it. In the future, when you perhaps have kids, would you rather have a video of the entire adventure, or not?

TLDR – A video is not a ‘luxury’ option, especially for elopements. It should be a ‘must have’.

your elopement is special

Thankfully I don’t get this from my couples, but I see it in forums all over the world. People assuming their elopement isn’t special because it isn’t a traditional wedding.

This couldn’t be more wrong. This is your wedding day. It’s your wedding day, done your way. It is no less special than any wedding you have seen or been too.

Once you realise this, it becomes a lot easier to plan your elopement. Instead of looking for a photographer to just capture the ceremony, you’re now looking for someone to jump in a helicopter with you to fly onto a snow-capped mountain to say your vows. Instead of looking for a budget hostel to stay in for the night, you’re looking for a luxury cottage in the hills with a spa under the stars.

TLDR – Your elopement is just as special as any wedding, and it’s yours. It’s your day, show it the love it deserves.

no compromises

This one really gets me. When you inevitably announce your plans to elope (most people do this to the important folk, parents, siblings etc), you may run into this issue.

You may have a situation where people, normally parents, might offer to help pay for things. It could be photos, video, travel fees, it doesn’t matter. The main thing, is that you condition this as ‘no strings attached’.

Often they’ll use the fact they have helped financially to get you to compromise on things important to you. Invite your cousins for example, or instead of travelling to New Zealand, just do it locally so your uncle and aunty can come.

It’s hard to say no too, you’ve already taken the money/financial assistance. So be aware when planning, that if it is offered, you are strong and don’t compromise.

TLDR – Don’t let someone purchase part of your day and force you into an unwanted compromise.

elope wherever you want

I think people know this is a possibility, they just don’t think of it as a possibility…for them. I mean, everyone has seen elopements in Iceland, Norway, or the mountains of Colorado, scattered across Instagram. But how do you do it?

So most people don’t even consider it. They opt to elope locally (nothing wrong with this if it is what you want), because it looks easier.

This is where you need to reach out to a photographer. I offer all my couples ‘planning & coordination’ services, which includes location scouting. All you have to do is tell us where you want to do it, and let us do the legwork. Maybe it isn’t possible for you, but maybe it is. You will never know if you don’t explore the option.

TLDR – You can elope anywhere in the world you want! This is your day, go for it!

you will be hungry

Another one people seriously overlook when planning an elopement. With a wedding, you have guests bringing you food, venue staff bringing you food, you’re sorted.

But with an elopement, if you don’t plan for it, you won’t have anything. And let me tell you…it is a long day. Eloping is fun and exciting, but it is by no means easy work. You will be ravenous by the time the sun sets.

So think about it in a few stages. What will you eat in the morning? What about throughout the day? Could you get an esky to keep food fresh? And what about after your done for dinner?

Do not leave this as an after thought, the last thing you want is to be hungry and angry on the biggest day of your life.

TLDR – Organise food for the entire day. Let your photographer know, and we will ensure you’re well fed at all points.

use your photographer

This is one that most people do not do, because they think our jobs is just to take photos, and they don’t want to bother us. I can only speak for myself, but I am across your entire elopement. No matter what it is, I’m there to help you.

So whether it is to ask for location suggestions, or for vendor suggestions, make sure you actually use your photographer and their knowledge. Trying to do this all on your own, up late at night googling things and getting a million different answers will not help you.

Let me say this again, this isn’t a wedding. You probably don’t have a wedding planner, or a stylist, or a florist who is doing a $10,000 installation. So always know that you can rely on your photographer to be there for you, reach out and use them.

TLDR – Your photographer is in your corner for the entire day. Make sure you use them to make your day perfect.

consider legalities

Something very specific to elopements really. Most people when they decide to get married pay no regard to the legalities of their marriage. They book in a celebrant and leave it at that.

With elopements, you have a few things to think of, that perhaps you don’t when it comes to traditional weddings.

The first thing you need to consider is your witnesses. In Australia and New Zealand, you need 2 witnesses over the age of 18. So if you are having no guests, consider who will sign the certificate. I usually act as one person, but you will need one more.

The second thing to consider is if you are eloping internationally, what their laws are, and how you will register the marriage in your home country. I also have information on this, so can help you understand the legalities.

TLDR – Think about your legalities, including witnesses and potential hurdles to registering a marriage certificate.

meet your vendors

This one is hard if you are eloping in a destination area, so don’t feel too worried if you can’t meet everyone. But I have a compromise I like to recommend.

When it comes to eloping, you will want to at least know one of your vendors personally. Usually this is your photographer, as they will be with you all day, start to finish.

Have you ever wondered why people pay for a photographer to fly to a destination with them, as opposed to book a photographer who is local to the destination? This is why.

Knowing your photographer in real life, having spent time with them, gotten to know them and trust them, makes a huge difference in your elopement experience, so I highly recommend making the effort to meet up with your photographer if possible.

TLDR – You want to meet as many of your vendors before the day as possible, especially your photographer.

all-inclusive packages suck

This is going to be controversial, but I stand by it. This is an elopement. It is unique, to you, and you only. There are no templates, no boxes to put a couple in when planning one.

All-inclusive packages that offer everything, including a location, limit your ability to choose who you want. On paper, it seems great, less stress, less work, and probably a bit cheaper too. But the downsides speak for themselves.

There is a reason I offer to do planning and coordination, including all legwork with vendors for my couples. It is because, I know, each couple is unique, and they will vibe and connect with different vendors. You cannot be boxed in to using one vendor just because you used another.

TLDR – Let me help you pick a dream team, avoid all-inclusive packages, and you will have the most unique and epic day of your lives.

The day is about you

Not really something people forget when planning an elopement, but still something I wanted to finish this off by reminding you.

This is your elopement, it is your way of doing a wedding. It is important, it is a once in a lifetime for the two of you. Make sure you leave no stone unturned, dream big and go after it.

Do not shy away from using your vendors, photographers especially, this is what we live for, and we love being a part of the entire process, so let us help you.

Remember, there are no rules, no limits, no laws in terms of what you can or cannot do (well besides the legalities of the ceremony), so go nuts. Personalise the day, go somewhere cool, do something unique, and make sure you capture it all.

Do not let people force you into compromise, and make sure you do this your way.

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