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8 Reasons to Elope

Canadian Elopement Photographer - Newfoundland Cape Spear

Wedding planning is the ultimate challenge in indecisiveness: big or small, outdoor or indoor, spring or summer—feeling overwhelmed yet? As a Canadian elopement photographer who also works in the traditional wedding scene, my aim is to help you make the most educated decisions possible so your big day reflects you and your partner. After all, that’s what it’s all about!

Whether you’re seriously considering eloping, or you’re in the midst of weighing all your options, remember there are no rules when it comes to how you celebrate your wedding; eloping can offer some seriously sweet benefits, from shirking traditional expectations to the ultimate intimate experience. So if you’re envisioning a wedding that breaks the rules, stick around while we chat eight reasons why it could be the right move for you!

1 - Cost Effective

Let’s get the obvious perk out of the way first; a ‘just-for-us’ wedding tends to be more cost effective than a traditional wedding. Not only are you cutting down on costs by skipping rentals, catering, and a reception venue, but the money you save can go towards your honeymoon or other future travel plans. Talk about a win-win.

Canadian Elopement Photographer - Yosemite

2 - Keep it Intimate

One of the ultimate advantages of eloping is the amount of quality time you get to spend with your significant other. Rather than being swept up in the day’s elaborate production (that really just goes by in the blink of an eye) you get to slow down and focus on one another. Your attention won’t be divided between guests, family members, vendors and the like, but rather spent making memories together that will last. So, if you’re worried your day will be spent appeasing the masses, you may want to consider taking the intimate route and eloping instead.

Adventure Elopement Photographer - Yosemite

3 - Dream Big

Let’s face it, with traditional wedding planning comes feedback and input from some opinionated family members and guests. We get it, everyone has a different vision for how your big day should go, but you know whose vision matters most? Yours, of course! With fewer planning factors to coordinate and consider, you aren’t pressured to make sacrifices to appease others, and you certainly won’t be subjected to endless requests. It’s your day, so to heck with other’s expectations!

4 - Minimal Planning

Planning a traditional wedding is a lot of hard work—and that’s putting it lightly. Months—sometimes years!—worth of coordinating vendors, finalizing details, seating charts, and guest lists can be enough to send anyone over the edge, not to mention those who aren’t keen on extensive organizing. Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly an element of planning that goes into a great elopement, but when it’s just the two of you, an officiant, witness, and me, your photographer, you’ve got the makings for a manageable, carefree day.

Canadian elopement photographer - camping vancouver island

5 - A Great Excuse to Adventure

Have you ever imagined getting married at the top of a mountain after your favorite hike? A private beach? Where you and your other half first met? Fewer people to accommodate means your big day can happen in the most unusual and magical places, and you’re no longer restricted to venues that can hold a certain number of guests. Not to mention it can make for some pretty epic wedding photos. Just sayin’. . .

Canadian Elopement Photographer - Vancouver Island

6 - Privacy

Though for some, the idea of being the center of attention for an entire day is exhilarating, and for others, it’s anything but. For a shy couple, standing in front of practically everybody they know and reveling in intimate feelings can be intimidating, and may even distract from the moment. You deserve the freedom to speak your vows freely and commit to your partner without fretting about onlookers! So, if you or your partner are a first-to-leave-the-party kinda person, eloping may be your best bet for a relaxing wedding.

Canadian Elopement Photographer - camping Sombrio Vancouver Island

7 - Skip the Stress

With less planning, comes less stress. Unlike a traditional wedding in which you have to carefully coordinate numerous vendors, your wedding party, and countless guests, an elopement offers more freedom. Rather than sticking to rigid schedules, or rushing from one venue to the next, you can instead spend the day loving on your new life partner and going where the day takes you. Plus, that ongoing pressure to throw a memorable and enjoyable event for all your guests? Forget about it! This day is your day, after all.

8 - Flexibility

One of the best parts about eloping is how easy it is to tailor it to you and your partner’s needs. If you’re worried about family members or close friends feeling left out, or you want them beside you on the big day, invite a small party! If you like the idea of having the ceremony just you two but still want to include some of your closest pals, consider having a separate reception the following weekend or when you’re back in town. There’s no rule book for how you should say your I dos; every aspect is entirely up to you.

And there ya have it! I hope this encourages you to approach wedding planning a little differently, and truly consider what you want your big day to be. I so look forward to working with you, not only as your photographer but as your teammate!

Canadian Elopement Photographer - Newfoundland Cape Spear first kiss

How to Plan your Elopement

So you’ve decided to elope! Kudos for picking the non-traditional route. Now it’s time to get down to the fun stuff: dreaming up your big day! Though not an exact science, there are some things to consider when deciding what to include in your elopement and as a Canadian elopement photographer, I’m here to guide you through the process.

Though I hesitate to associate an elopement with a whole lot of planning, it’s essential to have some kind of plan in place, even for the most adventurous couple; after all, you only elope once!

Brainstorming your ideal day with your partner will give you a great idea of what your ‘must-haves’ are, and ensure you’re both on the same page.

So, without further ado, pour yourself a glass of something good and let’s get started!

Yosemite Elopement Photographer

Pick a location!

Picking a location for your adventurous elopement is one of the most exciting decisions you and your partner get to make. While figuring out the exact location will come a bit later on, having a rough idea of the kind of scenery you want to surround yourself with during the i-do’s is a great place to start.

- Are you and your partner beachgoers, or avid hikers?
- Do you dream of a mountaintop vista?
-Or an old growth forest surrounding you?
- Do you have a favourite view or lookout that would be perfect?
-What time of year feels the best to you both?

This is truly the time to dream big!

Once you have a rough idea of where you’d like a get married, here are a few more details to consider:

-Are you two alone or surrounded by a small group of friends or family?
-Are you wearing traditional wedding attire or keeping it more casual?
-If you’re keen on getting married at the top of a mountain or a more remote spot, how do you plan on getting there? An epic hike or some other form of transportation?
-Do you envision any decorative elements like an archway at your destination? Or would you like to let the location do the talking?

Canadian elopement photographer in mountains

Book your photographer

An invaluable element to planning an elopement is booking your photographer. Elopement and adventure wedding photographers will have tips, tricks and suggestions that will help you with the planning process. The sooner you book, the sooner you can use them as a resource. Remember shooting an elopement is not the same as a traditional wedding, so make sure they have experience shooting for more adventure-centric couples.

The most important thing to consider when booking the photography is the style of imagery you want.

-Are you wanting candid images or something more fine art?
-Do you love storytelling or are you wanting something more posed and classic?
Make sure you love the images in the photographer’s portfolio, because what you see is what you will get.

I describe myself as a documentary photographer with an eye for creative portraiture. I love capturing things has they happen, showcasing the scenery, the emotion and the little nuances that often get missed. I don’t want to just show you what the day looked like, but rather give you a sense of how it felt.

Make sure to find a photographer that you jive with. You want to feel comfortable having them around to capture this occasion.

Vancouver Island beach elopement

Decide what your ideal ceremony looks like

The brilliant part of eloping is that you don’t have to follow any rules! Every last detail can be customized to you and your partner’s needs and wants.

So here’s the big question - Why is carrying out this ritual of marriage important to you both?

Your answer to this question should be the reason for the whole event. Think about some sort of exchange that is special, and heartfelt that can be the centre point for your day. Remember, think outside the box!

Here are some questions to get the wheels turning:

-Are you going to write your own vows?
-Do you plan on exchanging rings?
-Are there going to be other witnesses present, or just you two?
-Do you want to make your union legal and have an officiant present?
If not, and the legal part is important to you both, you could do that before or after at city hall.
Maybe that’s a good time to invite people who aren’t present on your elopement day.
-How can you and your partner personalize the ceremony?
Could you start the ceremony with a grounding exercise or meditation?
Do you want to read a poem or perform songs for each other?
-How do you want to end the ceremony, or signify that you’re married? With a kiss? By popping champagne? Doing a dance?

Truly, the world is your oyster!

cabin in the woods BC elopement photographer

Book a home base

Having a home base for your adventure is key! You’ll want a place to get ready at and a place to come back to, so that you can feel comfortable and relaxed. Whether an Airbnb, a cabin, or even a campground, it’s nice to be able to enjoy the day, without having to drive for hours on either end of your ceremony.

Here are a few questions to ask:
- If you’re saying your i-dos in a remote spot, where’s the closest place you could have as your home base without sacrificing what you’re envisioning?
- Where do you want to spend your first night as newlyweds?
- Are there any amenities you’d love to have close by?
- Are you planning on sharing a meal afterwards?
-Would you go to a restaurant, cook for yourselves or hit up a drive-thru?

Vancouver Island forest elopement photographer

Tell your friends and family you’re eloping

This is likely the aspect of the planning you’re looking forward to the least, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re inviting a small group along or having a ‘just-us’ elopement, there are so many different ways you can include friends and family, without anyone feeling left out.

First and foremost, let them know that they’re important to you! Your choice to elope is not to exclude anyone, but rather to keep the focus on the two of you. It’s your love story, after all! Share your excitement with your loved ones. It will help them think outside the box and accept that you’ve got your own special reasons for steering clear of a traditional wedding.

If you do plan on inviting some people, try to imagine what you would like their role to be on the day, or during the ceremony.

Here are a few ways you can keep friends and family included, without sacrificing intimacy:

-Consider having your ceremony for just the two of you, followed by a group dinner with friends and family.
-If your elopement is a part of a larger trip or adventure, plan a party for your return, so your friends and family can celebrate your marriage with you.
-If you’re keen on having your friends or family with you for the ceremony, how can you integrate them?
-Is there someone close to you that could act as an officiant? Would you like a loved one to do a reading?

Sombrio camping elopement vancouver island

Book other vendors

Now start to think if you want to include any other vendors on the day.

-Do you envision holding a bouquet of flowers?
- Or are you in need of a boutonniere?
-Are you going to hire someone to do hair and makeup, or will you do it yourself?
-If you go out for dinner afterward, will you need to book a reservation or a private dining room?

While the ceremony is likely the most significant portion of your day, there’s no reason why your entire day can’t be special; do some research and see if there are any seasonal activities you and your partner might like to do.

Vancouver Island forest elopement photographer

Be present and enjoy your day!

Finally, the most important aspect of planning your elopement is ensuring that you both enjoy all your hard work! It’s time to live in the moment and not stress about what will or won’t happen according to plan—after all, that’s probably one of the reasons why you’ve decided against the traditional wedding! Focus on the two of you and spending quality time together and the rest will fall away. Your elopement is time to celebrate your love for one another and this life-long commitment.

Now, here’s to you and your wild hearts!

Welcome Letter

Golden Rules for the Rebel Bride & Groom

documentary wedding photographer

Dear Rebels in love,

Welcome! I write this letter to help make your wedding planning—and your wedding day—as fun and breezy as possible. I’ve learned a lot of this stuff the hard way: from my years as a wedding photographer and, most recently, as a rule-breaking bride myself! But you gotta know the rules in order to break (or cherry pick) the rules, and that’s what I want to encourage you to do!
I’m here to help you plan the wedding that most suits you.

Hence my ‘Golden Rules for the Rebel Bride & Groom’! Here they are:

Rule #1: Your wedding, your way.

To be clear: I’m not encouraging you to abandon your loving wedding guests in a cloud of fumes as you wheelie off into the sunset…unless that’s exactly what your dream wedding looks like!

But every pair of lovebirds has been told, when they get engaged, “Do what you want! After all, it’s your wedding day!”

How quickly that lovely blessing can unravel into a heap of requests and expectations. Gah!

Weddings can be a lot of things, good and bad; when you start making concessions for everyone else, you risk letting the bad outweigh the good. And that’s a slippery slope.

This is a photo from my own wedding, with eight of our closest friends, on a beach in Tofino. Photo by Kristen Marie Parker

This is a photo from my own wedding, with eight of our closest friends, on a beach in Tofino. Photo by Kristen Marie Parker

Rule #2: Eff tradition for the sake of tradition.

Ideally you only get one shot at your wedding. Instead of worrying about all the stuff you need to do to make sure everyone’s happy, ask yourselves: “If we could design our wedding day any way we wanted, what would it look like?”

If you love tradition, then great! You have a solid template to work from when planning your wedding day. But there are so many nuptial / cultural / family traditions, and for most modern couples abiding by them all means too many rules to follow on a day that’s supposed to be just for you.

Whatever your favourite things are, just for fun, imagine incorporating them into your wedding day. What does that look like?
Your wedding is an opportunity to create a unique and wonderful experience for you and your guests, whether that’s two people or two hundred, so let your imagination run free!

mountain biking wedding

Rule #3: Go team!

As your wedding photographer I’m here to help those creative dreams become reality! From the early consultations where no limits need apply, to making sure things go smoothly the day of, I’m here to help you imagine and realize your vision.

Rule #4: Be here now.

Once the day is upon us, it’s time to be present. You’ve done months of planning, and now’s the time to let the vendors do their jobs.
Your job, as the ones getting married, is to enjoy every moment and be there, in the now, together.

Whether it’s saying your vows, greeting your guests, listening to your best friend’s speech, or being in front of the camera - go with the flow and focus on connecting. Sit close to each other at dinner, embrace any big emotions that may arise, and don’t worry about your clothes getting dirty, cause they will. The day goes fast, so enjoy it!

documentary wedding photographer

Rule #5: No expectations.

As your photographer, teammate, and collaborator, I have no expectations of you during our shoots other than the previous rule: Be here now.

You are not expected to perform or be a model — on the contrary, all you need to do is be yourselves. I will direct you when needed, and let things unfold naturally otherwise. Enjoy each other and the moment you’re in and I will have everything I need to capture your love and the truth of your wedding day.

Manny _ Jordan - wedding-401.jpg

Rule #6: Go unplugged.

This is also really an extension of Rule #4, but in relation to your guests. Your vows are a big deal, not just for you two, but for the people who love you and get to witness them in the flesh. For this reason alone they should be witnessed, rather than viewed through the lens of a camera, phone or iPad. After all, that’s what I’m here for!

That’s why I recommend you let your guests know that you’re going unplugged. Put up a sign, have the officiant make an announcement, and people will listen. That way everyone can enjoy the moment, screen-free, and your photographer can capture the scene—complete with emotional faces—rather than full of phones.

unplugged wedding

Rule #7: Positive Mental Attitude

You don’t have to buy into the whole ‘Weddings are so stressful…’ schtick.
Yes, planning any event comes with it’s share of challenges, but don’t let that shadow the experience. Remember why you are doing this whole thing in the first place - because you are in love and that is a lucky place to be!

documentary wedding photographer

And them’s the golden rules, folks! From one rebel to another, congratulations on your love! I can’t wait to work with you.

—Kim xo