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How to Plan an Elopement: 3 Steps to Creating a Unique Wedding Experience for You and Your Partner

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What do you think of when you hear someone’s eloping? The term might conjure an image of the couple sneaking away in the dead of the night to get married in secret. But since 2020, more people are choosing to break free from the format of a large wedding. Instead, they’re creating the intimate wedding of their dreams. Figuring out how to plan an elopement that’s centered around the needs and wants of you and your partner will give you the chance to have a day you both genuinely enjoy. Say no to a large wedding where you’re focused on the needs of your guests at the expense of yourself. If you want to enjoy every second of your wedding, planning an elopement can give you the chance to create a custom experience that becomes the best day of your life.

So let’s begin! Here’s a starter’s guide on how to plan an elopement that you and your partner will love.

Define Elopement: What Makes a Wedding an Elopement?

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The term “elopement” has evolved over the years. Especially in the last 2 years. Due to COVID-19, many couples saw their large wedding plans swept away. If you still wanted to get married, you had to find a safe way to do it.

So what were your options? You could wait, or you could downsize the guest list.

Some people were devastated that they couldn’t have the wedding of their dreams. But people like me and my husband were excited. We had the opportunity to plan a wedding that was completely focused on us. No guests to please, no expectations to uphold. We were given the license to do whatever we wanted. Without the excuse of COVID, we wouldn’t have been brave enough to plan the wedding we really wanted.

The result was a wedding with 8 (COVID tested and negative) people: my two sisters, parents, grandmas who live with my parents, and my husband’s parents. Everyone had a role in the day. My middle sister officiated. My little sister played piano and acted as my maid of honor. The three of us sang a Broadway ballad together during the ceremony. We gave each of our fathers a reading. Our mothers lit unity candles. And my grandmothers tossed some petals as I walked down the makeshift aisle as my flower girls.

And our dog was the ring bearer.

It was magical, elegant, and lowkey.

“But Sarah. You had guests. So it can’t be an elopement.”

I disagree.

To Still Poetry Photography, an elopement is a couple-centric wedding that incorporates the passions of the couple without input from external parties.

Translation? You do what you want and your mother in law doesn’t get a say. Under this definition, elopements can happen with guests. As long as guests don’t try to influence the flow of the day and simply let the couple plan everything based on their interests, it’s still considered an elopement to us.

PC: Allyse Pulliam Photography. Wasn't Winston the best ring bearer??

How to Plan an Elopement: The 3 Steps to Planning the Elopement of Your Dreams

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“A wedding that’s about me and my partner? Sign me up, please!”

If you’ve decided that an elopement would be the best wedding plan for you and your partner, we’re going to walk you through how to get started on crafting your day. The exciting (and nerve wracking) part about elopements is that it’s extremely open ended. That makes planning an elopement more difficult, but also more rewarding. Most weddings have a general flow to the day: get ready, maybe a first look, ceremony, bridal portraits, reception.

With elopements, the page is blank and you get to write the first chapter of your lives together however you’d like.

Don’t like to get up at the crack of dawn? Sleep in late! Can’t get enough of the ocean air? Say your vows on the beach! Do you continuously crave Chinese food? Grab take out and eat it out of the back of a rented Jeep. Love staring at the stars? End the day with a stargazing session.

We’re going to tell you our process for planning your elopement to help you start to brainstorm how you want your day to go down. If you want to download your free elopement planning workbook, put in your email address below!

Let’s get started!

Elopement Planning Step 1: Listing What You Love

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The most important part about planning an elopement is figuring out how to incorporate your passions into the day.

Sit with your partner and give each other 10 minutes to write down what the perfect day would look like. If all the rules of logic, space, and time were abandoned and you could spend infinite money, what would you spend the day doing? At the end of 10 minutes, share your answers.

Where is there overlap? Do you guys both share a favorite location? Did you both write down the same museum tour? Do both of your lists involve nature?

Now it’s time to list your favorite things and activities. There could be significant overlap between your best day list and your activities list. Once you have these lists, compare them again. Where are there similarities? Now it’s time to take the overlap of both lists and start to create an action plan.

What do you and your partner love the most? Do you have a passion for horses? Think about how you can incorporate horseback riding into your day. Do you love nature? Plan your vows around a hike. Do you love to travel? Think about what unique location you could jet set to for your ceremony.

You’re free to make the day entirely about you! So get creative. Choose what you actually want to do, not what you feel like you’re supposed to do.

Elopement Planning Step 2: Finding the Perfect Location

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Just with real estate, your wedding date is all about location, location, location. But not in the exact way you expect.

Location can be geographic or situational. If you want to go to your fiance’s homeland, your location will be their home country. But if you and your partner both love bowling, your location could be a bowling alley. The bowling alley gives you some freedom - you can find one almost anywhere. Choosing one country also gives you freedom - there are so many cities and towns you could explore. Once you have the general location, whether it’s the country of Spain or an Olive Garden, you can start to get specific.

Choosing that specific location is essential to planning your next step. Unless you’re choosing a destination elopement photographer that travels, you’ll start your search with locals. Everything from catering to photography to officiants will start with your location. Once you decide on a location, the real planning can begin!

Elopement Planning Step 3: Choosing Elopement Vendors

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The essential ingredient of figuring out how to plan an elopement is choosing the vendors. These people are responsible for turning your dream wedding into a reality.

So repeat after me: don’t choose the cheap option.

An elopement isn’t about saving money (although you likely will!). It’s about shifting the focus of your wedding from your guests to yourselves. People can spend more on a destination wedding to Venice than they would with a 100 person wedding in Oklahoma. However, you’ll likely still spend less on a luxe elopement than you would a middle of the road wedding. So splurge! Make reservations at a really nice restaurant. Book that expensive experience. Get a higher-end Airbnb. This is the day that will become your anniversary. Make it memorable! Choosing the cheaper option costs you time, energy, frustration, and will give you a lower quality end product. Ultimately, it isn’t worth it.

What Is Elopement Photography?

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I’ll tell you what elopement photography is not: an all-day photoshoot. Elopement photography isn’t about making everything a picture perfect photo op. Intimate wedding photographers capture your day authentically without getting in the way of your day. The point of an elopement is keeping the focus on your love. Your photographer should not get in the way of that focus. They should simply capture the authentic moments you two will have during your wedding day.

Photography and videography are essential to an elopement. It gives people that weren’t there the ability to experience your day in some form. That’s why choosing an elopement photographer you love is essential.

A photographer that does their job correctly will become your day’s wedding planner, coordinator, documentarian, and sometimes your officiant. Choosing the right inclusive wedding photography business means you’ll get customized help from day 1 to turn the idea of getting married into the best day of your lives. If you’re scrolling through the best wedding photographers Delaware has to offer, we hope you reach out to Still Poetry Photography. This wife and husband photography team is here to make your day incredible. We eloped, and it was the best decision we could have made for our wedding day (other than choosing each other, of course!). We’ll be more than your elopement photographers. By the end of this experience, you’ll feel like we’re friends.

Want to learn more about our elopement wedding photography packages? Check out our portfolio and reach out to schedule a call. Let’s talk about how we can make your elopement wedding perfect!

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