How to Make Your Elopement Feel (Extra!) Special

As a destination elopement photographer I spend a lot of time talking with my couples about planning their elopement and one of the questions I get asked the MOST is about how to make your elopement special. I hear people who KNOW eloping is the right choice for them – but they’re also a tiny bit worried that their elopement, because its not a big wedding, won’t quite feel special enough. And man, I get it!

Here’s the thing about elopements though: they give you the chance to get married EXACTLY how you wanted to. And that on its own is pretty special. But if that’s not quite enough? Here are some more ideas for you:

1. Do a First Look

I’m not a huge believer in a lot of the big wedding traditions but if there is one tradition that I really love, its a first look. For those of you who are totally new to the wedding world, a first look is when you get a private moment to see each other all gussied up for your day BEFORE you walk down the aisle. How this typically works for elopements is a bit different, since my couples are often getting ready together. Typically they’ll arrive at their location together … but won’t change into their dress until they get there. I help them get buttoned up and they still get that element of surprise.

2. Make a Whole Day of It

A lot of people think elopements have to be these super short things. You say your vows, take a few photos, and go on your merry way. I couldn’t disagree more! Most of my couples are making a whole day of their elopement. It can begin early with a hike, a massage, brunch … whatever you’re into … and end with a campfire, picnic, or fancy restaurant dinner. Make the WHOLE day special – not just those couple hours while you’re doing wedding things. This is a great time to splurge!

3. Have your People Send their Well Wishes

One of the sweetest things I’ve seen at elopements is when a couple’s family isn’t there … but sends their love anyway. Have them send letters that you open after your ceremony, or better yet, have them send a video to your photographer to be watched after your vows are said. They may not be there in person – but they can definitely be there in spirit. This, of course, relies on your people knowing and approving of the fact that you’re eloping but for my couples that is often the case! Find little ways to include them.

4. Make it a Destination!

I firmly believe that there is no better way to start a marriage than with a grand adventure. So fly off to that far away location, hike that mountain, or curl up in that cozy cabin you’ve always dreamt of. I work with a LOT of couples who are eloping and almost all of them are planning destination elopements! Yeah, planning a destination elopement can be a bit of a pain but its definitely WAY easier than planning an entire wedding! And if you’re going on a honeymoon anyway you may as well get married in that place, right? If you’re daunted by the logistics of planning a wedding in a foreign country (or even a different state) consider that you can still do all the legal stuff back home – and just make what you do at your actual elopement purely ceremonial (and totally awesome!). The possibilities are endless!

5. Splurge on What Matters to YOU!

This is huge. The average wedding in the U.S. costs well over $30,000. That’s kind of crazy, if you think of it. The beauty of eloping is that it gives you a little more financial freedom to make intentional choices about where you spend your money. Dying over that dress? Get it. Want to hire that badass photographer that you’re obsessed with? Do it. Dreaming of eloping in Iceland? WHY NOT?! Sure, it’ll cost you some money but even if you splurged on ALL of those things you’re drooling over you’ll probably STILL rack up less debt than if you had a big wedding.

6. Do a First Dance!

More and more of my couples are choosing to do a first dance after saying their vows and I think its such a sweet idea! You can bring a little bluetooth speaker or even just play music from your phone. There’s no reason that, just because you don’t have a big audience, you can’t still dance! Its a perfect way to cap off an intimate, heartfelt ceremony.

7. Bring your people! 

I know you’re saying “WHAT?! We’re ELOPING!!” but seriously, if you really want some friends or family there? Bring them! Long gone are the days when “eloping” meant running off to Vegas! For the elopements I photograph its very common for couples to have a handful of family and friends there and I always think its such a super sweet and personal thing to do. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going it alone but if the only thing standing between you and the elopement of your dreams is not being able to take your family? Bring them along! While these are probably technically “intimate weddings” they still have that low-key, laid-back elopement vibe. For a lot of my couples, this is the best of both worlds!

These are just a few ideas – there are SO many ways to make this already special day feel like an even bigger deal! If you have any ideas I haven’t  thought of, I’d love to hear ’em! Leave a comment below!

Need some more elopement inspiration? I photograph a ton of ’em! Check out the blog!

If you need help planning your own elopement, I’m your girl! Hit me up and we can plan something awesome (and extra special) together!