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How to Plan an Elopement

How to Plan an Elopement

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Have you decided to elope and settle down with the love of your life? Well, first, congratulations! You’ve both chosen to let go of the challenges of planning for a wedding and escape to a beautiful location to fully enjoy a day that is just about the two of you.

For many couples who choose to elope, traditional weddings don’t really reflect their passions, journey, their spirit of adventure and independence, plus their current life priorities, to mention but a few. For others, family difficulties, budget constraints, or geographical challenges that make 150 guests in one venue just too much.

From accommodation and location to your attire to ensuring you make your marriage legal, you’ll notice that each one of them is an essential piece of your elopement. In this article, you’ll find an in-depth elopement-planning checklist that you will come in handy when planning for an elopement. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Factors to Consider When Planning to Elope

Below are 10 elopement-planning steps:

  1. Plan for the location of your elopement
  2. Decide how many people to invite
  3. Plan for travel and accommodation
  4. Create your vendor list and book them early enough
  5. Factor in your elopement attire for glamor and beauty
  6. Ceremony elopement planning
  7. Decide who your elopement witnesses will be
  8. Plan for the legal stuff
  9. Plan special activities in your chosen elopement destination
  10. Plan for post-elopement

Step 1. Plan for the Location of Your Elopement

The first thing that will come to your mind when you opt to elope must be the location. We recommend choosing a place that’s meaningful to the two of you, such as a pristine location that has been on your bucket list for years.

It would be very helpful if you used your favorite season as a guiding factor. Since you’ll both be out in nature, make sure you settle for a date that the two of you will feel comfortable outside. For instance, if you fancy a desert adventure elopement but without breaking a sweat, choose winter or a date in fall when temperatures are cooler.

Even though you cannot really guarantee what the weather will be like on your elopement day, if you make your plans early, high chances are that you’ll have a good chance of finding ideal weather. Besides the weather, you may want to check the best times to elope at your chosen location.

You don’t want to elope at a location with huge crowds or in smaller villages or towns where accommodation might be challenging. If you are on a budget, there’s no need to worry since we’ve some affordable wedding venues suggestions.

Step 2. Decide how many people to invite

After settling for your ideal location for elopement, the next thing on your list should be your wedding guest list. However, high chances are that if you choose to elope (especially if it’s an adventure elopement), you may not want to invite many guests.

On the other hand, if you wish to have a few of your dearest and nearest friends or family members while ensuring that you still maintain the intimate feel of elopement, all you need to do is to ensure that any guest you invite has a role to play.

For instance, you may ask one of your best friends to be an officiant, your closest cousin to be your makeup and hair stylist, or your mother to be the day coordinator. By doing this, you’ll ensure that you have people who matter the most close to you without the need to plan for vendor spaces.

Step 3. Plan for travel and Accommodation 

Have you factored in where you will spend the night and a few days after your elopement? You need to coordinate transportation and ensure whether or not the destination of your choice is easily accessible.

If you choose to elope internationally, consider booking your flight 4-6 months in advance for the best deal. Ensure to book a place to stay during your pre and post-elopement vacation, especially if you want to turn your special day into a romantic getaway with your partner.

Step 4. Create your vendor list and book them early enough

If you want to have a perfect elopement day, you’ll require the assistance of other people to make your day a success. Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy the beautiful details common in large weddings.

Have you planned for vendors who’ll assist you? Before your elopement, you need to hire a professional photographer with experience in shooting elopements. Such a photographer will know what to prepare for, how to get swoon-worthy shots, or even offer planning ideas and other tips.

Other vendors that you’ll find helpful on your special day include:

  • Wedding DJ or band
  • Florists
  • a cake baker
  • Videographer

Step 5. Factor in your elopement attire for glamor and beauty

Once you’ve factored in your vendor list, you need to find perfect elopement attire. Make sure you find elopement attire that makes you feel beautiful and confident. Trust us, when you look at your elopement photos years later, you’ll be happy you chose the best attire.

For instance, if you opt for a beach celebration, you may want to find a comfortable pair of sandals. But if you choose a mountainous spot, you’ll find high-quality boots ideal. Make sure you select the best makeup look and hairstyle. For the bride, we recommend completing your look with some glittering jewelry and hair accessories.

Step 6. Ceremony elopement planning

elopement ceremony planning

Planning for your elopement can be overwhelming. Once you have your elopement attire sorted out, you can shift your attention to other crucial factors, such as ensuring you have in place an officiant, wedding rings, and written wedding vows, among others.

Depending on where you’ll be going to elope, make sure that you consider the sort of footwear and clothes that are going to serve you best.

If you choose to head somewhere cooler, you may have to pack clothes that will keep you warm, such as a long-sleeved elopement dress, nude-colored leggings, or a warm shawl. You may also want to find heavy snow jackets to keep you warm.

Ensure that you plan for the little yet important details that most couples seem to forget when eloping. You may want to take time and prepare your elopement details to ensure you make your special day memorable for years to come.

Step 7. Decide who your elopement witnesses will be

Even though it’s not necessary as such, it’s good to have a few witnesses to grace your special day. You can invite a few of your friends or close family members to sign the paperwork. Remember, in some places or states, even if you choose to elope, you must have a few witnesses.

Step 8. Plan for the legal stuff

As you plan for your elopement, make sure you factor in the legal stuff to avoid trouble with the law before or after your elopement. For instance, do you need to have your marriage license? In some states, you may need to get a marriage license within a specified time for your elopement.

Besides the above, create time off your busy schedule to determine if you require a witness. Marriage laws differ from one state to the other, and you may need to do your research to know whether you must have a witness or two before jetting off to tie the knot.

The above isn’t all. You may also want to ensure that the officiant of your choice can legally officiate the ceremony. The law requires officiants to have a license to perform wedding ceremonies, and it’s important to ensure that your officiant is legally authorized to officiate such ceremonies.

Make sure to collect every other legal document that you may require for your elopement. For instance, depending on the destination you choose, you may need to possess legal documents such as blood test results, birth certificates, visas, and affidavits, to mention a few.

Step 9. Plan special activities in your chosen elopement destination

elopement destination

An important point on this elopement planning checklist is that you need to plan for special activities in the country or destination where you’re going to elope. Your elopement experience needs to be much fun than just the day you elope.

You need to plan a trip of a lifetime filled with amazing activities. Do you want to skydive or scuba dive? Do you wish to spend your night in one of the most luxurious 5-star hotels? Or do you wish to dive and experience the local history? Regardless, go all out and ensure you plan an incredible trip!

Step 10. Plan for post-elopement

After finalizing your elopement and back home, you may want to have a post-elopement party. Even if you plan to have a reception later on with family and friends, take some time to squeeze in a quiet celebration as newlyweds.

If you don’t want to host a party, you may have to call some of your closest friends and family members and inform them right away.

Wrap Up

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Why don’t you save this elopement planning checklist to use or work from as you plan for your elopement? Planning for an elopement is challenging a task for most couples, however, with this checklist our experts are sure to have ticked all the boxes of a stunning elopement.

I am Megan Nova, a wedding planner and Author based in New York City. My vast exposure in the wedding planning trade and my passion for storytelling has inspired me to share expert advice and creativity on this blog.

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