Are you ready to plan your dream elopement? This ultimate elopement checklist can help you make your dreams a reality with little to no stress!
If you daydream about an easy, fun, and memorable wedding day – eloping is the way to go. As an elopement photographer, I’ve photographed and helped plan many amazing elopements.
In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know from start to finish for planning an epic elopement. I’ll also answer common questions and offer some helpful resources!
Here’s the best elopement checklist for the perfect elopement experience:
* Bonus: guest list and invites only if you want
Below, I’ll share the details you need for each item on your elopement checklist.
Long ago, couples eloped by secretly running off for a quick courthouse marriage. Some couples still do this today, while others plan a unique, intimate ceremony away from home with or without a few guests.
The purpose of eloping is for couples to have a special day that’s all about them. Unlike traditional weddings, elopements allow couples to start their new chapter in a less hectic and more meaningful way. You can coordinate a day all about you and your love without wedding planning around guests.
Even though elopements are meant to be simple, you can still plan out details to make your day unforgettable.
As an elopement photographer and planner, I help couples plan the ultimate elopement ceremony. Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy day to tie the knot or you’re dreaming of an epic adventure elopement, I have many tricks up my sleeve to help you!
Now, for the fun part. Let’s learn how to plan your dream elopement!
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve already been considering locations. You may even have your dream elopement destination in mind. With so many elopement and wedding venues worldwide, the opportunities are endless.
When choosing a location, I recommend considering the scenery you want, whether you’re looking for adventure or not, and how far from home you want to go. You may also decide to go to your local city hall, then have a ceremony at one of your travel bucket list destinations. Make this about you!
Read more about some of the best elopement destinations:
As an elopement photographer, I often hear from couples that beautiful photos capturing the elopement day are most important. Not to mention, many elopement photographers like myself double as a planner. That’s why I recommend this one at the beginning of your elopement checklist.
In fact, Among the Pines (that’s me!) doesn’t only take pictures to help you remember your big day and share it with loved ones, but I also help plan a personalized wedding day experience for you and your partner.
“You won’t find a photographer better-rounded than Brooke!”-Krystal & Brandon
Depending on the size of your elopement, you might want to book other vendors.
I recommend booking your photographer first because many will help with other vendor recommendations.
Here are some examples of other vendors you might want for your elopement:
Once your date is selected, it helps with the rest of your elopement planning. Here are a few things to consider regarding the best date for your elopement: weather, travel costs, and time off from work.
Various elopement venues require different permits. Some don’t require any at all, so you’ll need to look into this.
It’s easy to find these requirements online or by calling your location. This is also something your photographer/planner can also help with. Most permits cost between $50 and $300.
Now it’s time to book your trip! Depending on how far you’re traveling to elope, you may or may not want/need to fly.
Tip: Look at flights on Google Flights to see the best date to fly if you’re working with a budget. You can also get notifications on Hopper for a specific flight to wait for prices to drop.
I suggest booking your flight first to confirm the dates before booking your accommodation. When you book your accommodation, keep in mind that you want your elopement location to be easily accessible.
With Among the Pines elopement packages, I offer advice on finding the most affordable flights and an Airbnb recommendation list for your elopement location if you’re interested.
This is the most fun part of the elopement checklist for many people! Your ring exchange and attire can make your entire day. But, again, it’s all about what you want.
Some couples who elope opt for traditional wedding bands, while others keep it simple with new-age silicone rings. It’s entirely up to you and your partner’s style and budget!
As for attire – think about what you want your wedding day to look like. From simple or adventurous to bohemian or luxe, there are many options. If you’re going for an adventurous elopement, don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes.
If you plan to elope legally, you’ll need to contact the local city hall to find out the legal requirements for obtaining a marriage license. Again, your photographer/planner can help with this.
You’ll want to ensure you have legal documents like birth certificates, driver’s licenses, etc. You may also need an appointment to apply and a witness and/or officiant.
Fun fact: I’m a wedding officiant and love to officiate elopements for the couples I work with. This saves you money too!
One of the most fun parts about eloping is doing whatever you want. You can write personalized vows to read to each other or exchange traditional vows. Up to you!
We’re finally to the good part! After you’ve followed all the steps to get to this part of your elopement checklist, it’s time for your big day. Don’t forget to stay present and appreciate the experience for what it is.
If you’ve booked a photographer/planner to help you, it’ll be even easier for you to have a stress-free, fun, and memorable day.
Yesss! You’re finally married, and it’s time to share the big news with your loved ones.
You may have already told the people closest to you, but many couples also send elopement announcements to all their friends and family. You can even use your favorite elopement photos to create announcements to mail or share online.
If you’re inviting guests (yes, you can have guests at your elopement ceremony!), you’ll need to make a guest list and send invites. Since most couples that elope want an intimate, stress-free wedding, it’s best to keep your guest list small.
Tip: If you’re inviting guests, I recommend limiting your guest list to 8-10 loved ones.
You can make your guest list early on if you want to consider your numbers as you plan. You can also plan your elopement and make your guest list around your plans.
If you’re inviting guests, you’ll want to send out invitations with enough time for them to plan accordingly. A good rule of thumb is sending invitations for a destination elopement at least 3 months ahead of time.
Don’t forget that there’s nothing wrong with eloping without guests. Your special day is about you!
Here are answers to common elopement questions.
Before you elope, you want to decide your location and timeline, book your vendors, and plan the logistics of your wedding day.
Use this elopement checklist to guide you:
The most important part of your elopement is you and your partner exchanging your vows. You might also want to include:
Since eloping is all about you and your partner having an authentic experience, you can invite whoever you want. Most elopements are limited to about 10 guests. You can invite your closest loved ones and those you know support your elopement. You might also choose not to invite anyone but your officiant and photographer.
Most elopements don’t have a bridal party. However, there’s nothing wrong with having bridesmaids and groomsmen if you’d like. That said, I recommend limiting planning elements and guest count to ensure you can stay in the present and enjoy your elopement day with your love.
Whether or not you have an engagement party is entirely up to you. Many couples who elope have an engagement party to celebrate with loved ones. This is also an excellent way to make sure everyone feels included. You can either have a party with friends and family before or after your elopement.
I hope this ultimate guide and elopement checklist have you feeling ready to plan the elopement of your dreams! While anything as special as your wedding day requires planning, elopements should be as stress-free as possible.
Among the Pines can help make this experience fun and (mostly) effortless for you. I offer elopement photography and planning for adventurous dreamers, and I’m ready to help you execute your perfect day!
CHLOE + CONNER
Brooke is professional, prepared, and provides all the peace of mind that a bride needs on her wedding day. Because of our conversations leading up to the day, I had no doubt that she would capture every important moment and more. Throughout the day, she was present and helpful, but never overbearing or controlling. She beautifully captured the moments that happened naturally & her experience allowed for insight and ideas that I wouldn't have thought to ask for but that I'll now cherish forever! She is flexible, understanding, and patient, and looking back, we can't imagine our day without her. If you are looking for someone to capture your wedding day, or just any day, Brooke is your girl. She goes above and beyond to serve her clients, and she is absolutely gifted at what she does.
"SHE GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND TO SERVE HER CLIENTS, and she is absolutely gifted at what she does."
Linden + Brent
In the end, her creativity and our happiness totally shine through in every single photo. Brooke made both of us feel so at ease, from our individual sessions before we had our first look, to strolling through downtown Ouray, to our ceremony and in the scenic spots we visited afterwards. Her talent is beyond compare and we are absolutely thrilled with our gallery of photos we will treasure forever. We give Brooke our highest recommendation and can’t wait to work with her again!
"Throughout the entire planning process, Brooke was honest and flexible, and made it clear that her goal was for us to be 100% happy."
Emily + Nick
Brooke is hands down the most talented photographer I have ever met in my entire life. I gave her my inspiration and she took it and made it into something entirely unique and beautiful. Brooke was able to work with my budget and offer me options. Along with all of this, she was always there to communicate with me from ideas to concerns. The day of never goes as planned, she was thrown curveball after curveball and dodged them all with ease. The photos we received memorialized the best day of our lives and we are forever grateful for the beautiful artwork she created.
"we are forever grateful for the beautiful artwork she created."
ERICA & ZACH
Brooke was booked to do our wedding June 6th. However, the virus hit and we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to have our wedding in June so we decided to go ahead and get married with just our parents there. I called Brooke and told her our plans and literally we were getting married in a week and she was so quick to say yes and capture our day for us. She helped make our day very special. She was super fun and made Zach and I feel very comfortable. I got my pictures back and I felt so overjoyed to see the happiness and love I felt on that day. Even though we didn’t have our wedding like we planned, it was still very special and Brooke was a big hand in that. She truly captured some very special memories that I will have for the rest of my life.
"SHE TRULY CAPTURED SOME VERY SPECIAL MEMORIES THAT I WILL HAVE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE."
Our wedding was in Kentucky in September. Brooke not only traveled for us but made a custom package for us because we had a unique situation. She took pictures the day before, and just seemed to be in the right place at the right time. She met with me before the wedding and we communicated a few times up to the wedding about my specific requests, and she hit the nail on the head. I am so very thankful for Brooke's story-telling, organic nature. She captured our wedding for exactly what it was and what I will remember it to be...full of joy, laughter, love and hope for the future!
"I AM SO VERY THANKFUL FOR BROOKE'S storytelling, organic nature."
JENNA + JOSH
KRYSTAL & BRANDON
She’s professional, creative, organized, kind, and just a blast to be around. She made my husband comfortable instantly in front of a camera so she’s a miracle worker too. We can’t stop staring at our photos! So many people keep telling us how amazing they are!
"YOU WON'T FIND A PHOTOGRAPHER BETTER rounded than brooke!"
Jessica & Robby
Brooke has a true talent. She is able to tap into and capture moments you didn’t even realize were happening. Absolutely 100% recommend Brooke and her beautiful pictures. We booked her services for our engagement pictures and then immediately realized we needed to have her for our wedding also. I’m already preemptively dreaming of the anniversary shoot I want!
"Brooke will make you feel comfortable and like a friend - she will take your ideas and inspiration and produce something better than you thought."
Rori + Eli
Brooke truly listened to what we wanted as a couple, our hopes, and took time to understand our "vibe," which came through in her work she delivered.
I can't thank Brooke enough for her amazing work - seriously the BEST decision we made and brings me to tears each time I look at these beautiful, photographic memories we'll have forever.
ALYSSA & HUNTER
Not only is Brooke an amazing photographer, but she is so fun and easy to work with! She made the whole process feel natural and comfortable for someone who typically feels awkward and weird while getting pictures taken! I love all of the pictures and I highly recommend Brooke as a photographer!
"SHE MADE THE WHOLE PROCESS FEEL natural & Comfortable."
ALI & KYLE
That's exactly what Brooke does, she captures a story. No words needed. You can see it and feel it. You can remember the exact moment and how you feel for that person and see how they feel about you. Her intuitive eye has only gotten sharper. I can’t wait to see what other adventures await for her to capture.
"SHE CAPTURES A STORY, NO WORDS NEEDED. you can see it and feel it."
Christy + Austin
Brooke is the absolute best. She truly went above and beyond for my fiancé and I to be able to get our engagement photos taken with the fall colors. Our engagement session with Brooke was such a special experience and a memory we will cherish forever.
Brooke is so sweet, fun, personable and incredibly talented. We could not be more in love with our engagement photos!