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!