Jun 10, 2024

How To Elope In 3 Steps | An Elopement Planning Guide

how to elope anywhere in the world. A Couple eloping on top of a mountain in Colorado.
Elopement in Aspen, CO (The Smiths Lodge)

One of the reasons why you might be eloping is for the stress relief. The easier planning, the less people to worry about, and all of the above but as you start planning you might start feeling some of that stress again. Well let’s go over a VERY simple 3 step process for planning your elopement that will hopefully reduce (or get rid) of your stress for planning so you can get an epic day on the books.

Of course there are sooooooooooo many more reasons to elope but stress is a big factor that some either do or don’t know about. Planning an elopement is supposed to be super stress free as its a very simple day for just the two of you to do your own thing. This tip is not apart of the 3 step process but rather a little extra for you if you want to have an even easier time planning your elopement: Get yourself an experienced photographer & videographer team. When you get a experienced team, you will have a really awesome resource for your planning. Photographers (like us) have done more elopements than we can count and generally have a TON of knowledge to share that can help you out. Now just keep in mind that photographers are not your elopement planner, rather a perfect resource to get info, advice, recommendations, and more from. If you a doing a destination elopement I highly recommend getting an experienced travel photographer as well since there is a lot that goes into traveling for a wedding that can go wrong. Getting someone who knows how to do it, will help you too.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. This three step process is going to get your elopement planned in no time. These are just the 3 biggest things to focus on, everything else will come later and be easy to plan them as time goes on. The three things you want to focus on are the “When, Where, & What”, the three W’s. There is no exact order to follow these steps as it will really all depend on which one is more important to you.

For example, if you are dead set on a specific date then it will make it easier to find a location that fits your needs for that time. If you are dead set on Dec 1st but want somewhere warm, that will help narrow it down to only locations that are warm in Dec. So probably not Europe. On the other hand, if you are dead set on Italy and want warm weather then you may not choose winter dates so that can help you narrow down a date. So when focusing on these 3 steps, there is no order, just focus on the step that is MOST important to you first then do the other 2 in order for importance too. This will get your planning done in probably 1 day.

A couple eloping in the mountains of Iceland. How to Elope in other countries.
Elopement in Iceland

1. Where Do You Want To Elope?

Where to elope is probably the biggest factor in your elopement and probably one of the most important things to focus on. However there is no specific order you have to follow these steps but we do recommend trying to start with where first. The reason for this is because if you fall in love with a date and location but they don’t coincide (for weather or other reasons) it’s its going to make planning more stressful.

Your first question is: Are you staying Local, Staying in the US (or your home country), or going Abroad?

This is usually one of the easier parts depending on what you want for your elopement. If you are in the US, we generally recommend going abroad. You’d be surprised but it’s usually less expensive to go abroad than it is staying in the US if you can find good flights. The options are endless though. Some couples want to stay local for family reasons which is totally fine too! In that case we do recommend doing your own thing then having a reception back at home later in the year. This is a very common way to appease both the family and yourselves!
If you stay local, it can be easier to find a location since you probably know the area better but if you hire a great photographer they can help you find a location anywhere in the world! Don’t be afraid to go outside the box/norm.

Eloping in a tropical country at an all inclusive. A couple at a bar after getting married in the Dominican Republic
Elopement at an All inclusive in the Dominican Republic (Cayo Levantado)

Second question is: What kind of scenery do you want?

This question will dramatically help you find the perfect location since it can narrow down your options quite a bit. If you are an adventurous couple who loves the mountains/outdoors then you will most likely pick a state or country that has a lot of nature to offer like Colorado, Washington, Norway, Iceland, Costa Rica, etc. If you are more of a relaxed, laid back, tropical couple, then you may pick somewhere like the Caribbean, Florida, California, Italy, Etc.

How to Elope in Arizona with a couple who just got married at merry go round rock.
Off Roading to Merry Go Round Rock for their elopement in Arizona.

Third question is: What kind of weather do you want?

Weather is an important factor in your wedding day. Costa Rica is an amazing place with a lot of tropical and mountain and jungle vibes but also has a very rainy monsoon season in the fall/winter. So even though its warm, it can rain A LOT (trust me, we’ve experienced it haha). So you want to try and find a place that suites you needs for weather as well as timeframe which is our next topic.

What activities to do for an elopement. Snowboarding at an elopement in Colorado.
Hitting the slopes in Breckenridge, CO for their elopement

After these three questions you should have a pretty good idea of some places you’re curious about. Now that you have a list of places that you are interested in eloping it, write them down and don’t be afraid to put a lot on this list. These next 2 sections will narrow down your list a bit. If you ended up not starting with the where and did the when or what first then you can still make a list, it will just be shorter!

2. When Do You Want To Elope?

The biggest thing to think about if you are choosing to pick your “when” first is weather and location. You want to have a decent idea of the type of climate you want to elope in: Tropical, beachy, mountains, rain, snow, etc. as well as what the weather is like in those places. For example, in Costa Rica it rains A LOT in the fall/early winter time frame so if you wanted Costa Rica, you’d want to think about later winter months and not summer because its too hot during those months.

When can play an important factor for many things that you should keep in mind. You want to watch out for busy times in certain places, weather, travel, and more. If you wanted to get married in the peak of travel season when flights are at their highest cost, then it might make it a little more expensive. If you wanted to elope in the peak of busy season like fall time in Colorado, you may find it harder to obtain a permit for your wedding or a permit for a location to elope in or similar things. We already mentioned weather so no need to come back to that!

I would say that your when and what are the most directly correlated so make sure to keep both of these in mind while planning your elopement.

How to elope in Breckenridge Colorado. Couple eloping at sapphire point in Colorado.
Eloping at Sapphire Point, CO near Breckenridge

3. What Do You Want To Do?

This may sound like a strange topic to cover as one of the main points when planning, it can also be something a lot of couples just don’t think about. We generally see couples do one of two things, neither of which is a bad idea!

First is a couple who wants a full day of fun, activities, and adventure. Generally these days consist of getting ready, first look, ceremony, and some fun activities in-between as well as after. This can include things like rock climbing, helicopter rides, ATV riding, hiking, picnics, and much more.

Things to do for your elopement. Riding a helicopter to the top of a mountain for an elopement.
Taking a Helicopter to a remote Mountain top for their elopement in Utah (Zion Helicopters)

Second is the couple who just wants to have a short and sweet day to get married. Usually this just consists of the getting ready, first look, and a ceremony with some other misc things throughout the day. Usually these are have day of coverage for photography (only about 5 hours).

Getting married at long lake colorado. an elopement in front of mountains.
Intimate & Quiet Elopement at Long Lake, CO

What you do on your elopement day is entirely up to you but don’t be afraid to get outside the box! We always recommend doing some sort of activity to make your day the fullest it can be. This can be anything from skydiving, helicopter rides, snowboarding, traveling around the world, having a nice picnic by the beach, climbing a 1000ft cliff, and so much more. The big part a lot of people don’t realize with elopements is that you can do ANYTHING you want. You are not restricted to having 300 guests waiting on you for events throughout the day. It’s just you two and a full day of fun.

Keep in mind though, the what does still correlate with the when and where though. For example, if you wanted to go paragliding for your elopement, you might pick Switzerland and not Iowa since Switzerland is much more popular for that activity than Iowa. In this same scenario, you may also pick a summertime date to get the best weather in the mountains in Switzerland. Whereas if you ended up picking May you may have worse weather and not be able to paraglide. So all of these things are very dependent on one another throughout this process.

Activities for your elopement. Riding in an ATV around the sand dunes in Utah.
Doing some shredding on an ATV at Sand Hallow Dunes, UT

Think about this…

So when you’re planning your elopement these are the 3 main things to focus on to get your planning underway. Honestly, once you have these three things figured out, the rest of the planning just consists of just booking things you need as well as the little things.

Once you have your when, where, and what picked out you can book services you need, book travel & accommodations if you’re traveling, get permits if needed, and all of that nitty gritty stuff. There are other minor details for your day that you may want to focus on but those should be so much less stressful now that you have the overall picture of your day, not to mention you can finally tell your family who keeps asking you about your wedding day 😂

If you are looking for an awesome and experienced photo & video team, feel free to check out our work and shoot us a message with the menu bar up top. In the meantime, I am more than happy to chat about some ideas of your elopement (no strings attached). Always happy to help where I can!

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