An aerial photograph of a bride and groom, taken with a commercial drone at their wedding.

Elopement Planning

You've Decided To Elope!

Congratulations on making the best decision ever! Eloping is a way to get married unlike any other. What I love when couples elope is the romance of having just the two of you, or a very small number of guests. 

Now that you’ve made the decision, you’ll want to plan your elopement to perfection. This may give you some worries, but I’m here to help! With over a decade of photographing and planning elopements, I can take the stress away and help you plan your dream day.

A bride and groom embrace

1. Set a budget

This isn’t the most exciting or romantic thing you’ll do when you’re planning your elopement, but it is critical to making the day of your dreams. We’ll get to the fun stuff soon…I promise!

Everything you do from this point onward will be determined by your budget, so you should first decide how much you’re willing to spend. You don’t have to spend it all, but having a maximum amount in mind will help you make important decisions later on.

2. Pick a destination

With your budget set, you can start to have some fun! Elopements are awesome, and open up the entire world for your wedding…literally.

Whether you fancy going to a local spot, or travelling across the country for different landscapes, you can do whatever you feel is right for you. Maybe you even want to travel overseas?

Just make sure that wherever you choose is special for you two, whether that’s across the world or right at home.

A bride and groom kiss on a snow-covered field
A bride's feet, showing her wearing snow boots and a wedding dress

3. research the law

Wherever you decide to hold your ceremony will have its own laws to follow. So make sure you research this in detail, to ensure that your marriage is legally recognized.

Some things to consider are how to obtain a marriage license, waiting periods after applying, whether witnesses are required or not and who may officiate a ceremony.

The guide below will help you out, and has links to guides for all 50 states in the USA so you can be sure you’re prepared and compliant with the law.

There’s even some advice on what to do if your dream ceremony won’t be considered a legal wedding in your destination.

A bride, looking out of the window at a green field with a lake

4. Look For Vendors

Arranging your travel and booking vendors well in advance will not only relieve stress as you get close to your big day, it might also save you money. Letting you put more budget into fun activities or the perfect dress.

As an experienced elopement photographer, I can tell you that we’re often booked up over a year in advance so you won’t to leave it too late to have your memories captured on your special day.

5. Do You Need An Officiant?

Depending on where you choose to hold your ceremony, you may need an officiant to make your marriage legal. There are a few lovely options for officiants to make your ceremony extra special, including religious ministers, friends or family, or not having an officiant at all if your state allows it.

the guests at a wedding reception

6. Plan An Elopement Reception

Throwing a party may or may not be on your mind. Many people elope because they don't want the fuss, or expense, of a large ceremony and reception.

But if you want to celebrate with your guests, you can absolutely throw a party with them! Having a small number of guests with you opens up a huge number of options for an elopement reception.

7. Elopement Activities

When the only limit to your elopement activity options is your imagination, it can leave you feeling like a kid in a candy store.

Whether you want to keep things simple, go on a woodland hike, say “I do,” bare-footed on a sandy beach, or have husky dogs sled you through crisp snow, the possibilities are endless.

A bride's lower half, laying on a sandy beach
A group hug with the bride and her wedding guests

8. Guest List

Elopements can be the smallest of days, with just the two of you. Or you may decide to have a few of your nearest and dearest join you on your big day.

You'll want to think about who to include, and how you plan for them to be involved: they may be spectators, but it's sometimes nice to give your closest friends and family a special role on the day.

A bride and groom, photographed from the air with a drone

9. Photography Timeline

With your plans for a location, activities and a guest list sorted, you'll be able to think about exactly how you want the day to run.

Creating a timeline will help your photographer to plan for the ceremony, and help them to capture all of the photos you want to cherish forever.

A couple on their wedding day, outdoors in the snow. They are wearing practical clothing instead of traditional wedding attire

10. Decide What To Wear

Deciding on the right attire for an elopement comes down to a few key factors: location, season and your chosen activities.

Whether you’re doing something super adventurous, or just having a smaller more intimate ceremony indoors, you’ll want to make sure you’re clothed correctly.


Congratulations! Getting this far means you should have planned out almost everything you need for your elopement.

There might still be a few things to think about as you get closer to the day that could make it extra special!

A bride and groom with their two dogs

Bringing Pets?

Pets are a part of the family, so it's only natural that you may want them to come with you. Find out how you can include your fur babies.

A photograph of a bride's dress and shoes

Want To Travel Abroad?

The whole world is is available to you, so there's no need to feel that you have to stay in the USA. If you're thinking of travelling to another country, read my guide.