The Dos and Don’ts of Planning an Elopement

Mar 4

Dana Shular

couple's stories




about us

Your elopement documenting and planning team. We are here to support you make your stress free elopement dreams come true!

ascend together

Dana shular


about us

Let us start by saying this: there’s only one rule for planning an elopement. ONE RULE. And that rule is that there are no rules ever. No two elopements look the same, and that’s what makes the whole idea of eloping pretty flippin’ wonderful. The way you envision, plan, and carry out your elopement should be totally, relentlessly you – and nothing short of that! But please, please remember that just because you’re planning on or thinking about eloping, it doesn’t mean that your experience will feel completely aligned. Many eloping couples make the mistake of expecting a seamless, easy planning experience by doing it all on their own, and to be perfectly honest, it’s never quite that simple. It takes numerous difficult decisions and plenty of outside help to craft a day that leaves you feeling stress-free and aligned — let’s help you make those decisions easily and confidently!

If you’re just beginning planning your elopement or you’re starting to consider it an option for you and your partner, there are some important pointers to keep in mind as you begin bringing your vision to life. As a team who’s worked in the elopement industry for years and helped countless couples forge their way to the day of their dreams, we’ve seen first-hand the most significant dos and don’ts that occur time and time again throughout the elopement planning process.

We’ve chosen the below dos and don’ts for a reason: in our years of work, whenever we’ve seen an eloping couple have a less-than-ideal planning experience, it’s because they didn’t follow one (or many) of the pieces of advice below. Take it or leave it – but if you leave it, don’t be surprised if you experience some road bumps throughout your elopement planning process (the truth hurts, baby!). If you’re feeling nervous or hesitant, that’s totally normal! And lucky you, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dig into the dos and don’ts of planning an elopement!

Do …

Make it all about you

Are you getting married for your friends? No. Are you doing this as a favor to your family members? Doubtful. You’re getting married to your partner because you love them. Committing to one another for the rest of your life is the ultimate act of love! This day is a celebration of that, and the nature of your unique, beautiful affection for one another. Everyone’s relationship manifests itself differently, which is exactly why your elopement should be an embodiment of that individuality. This isn’t selfish – it’s the celebration you deserve! Your decisions should be driven by your heart. Don’t allow the obligations and outside pressures you feel from others to cloud your judgment. If you need someone to remind you of that daily, let us know. It’s kind of our area of expertise.

Get your loved ones involved

A couple is joined by loved ones for their elopement ceremony
There are many ways you can include your friends and family in your elopement!

Just because this is a day all about you, it doesn’t mean you need to exclude your loved ones. Your elopement is an opportunity for you and your partner to show your friends and family just how much they mean to you! That’s why it’s important to 1. Make a plan for sharing the news with them, and 2. Find ways to include them in your day (physically present or not!)

The way you announce your engagement depends entirely on the nature of your relationship with your loved ones – you know them best, so remember to adapt your announcement plan to suit their needs and personalities so you can avoid hard feelings and tensions. When it comes to including them in your day, the possibilities are endless! Your loved ones don’t have to be physically present at your elopement to feel genuinely included in your day.

If you’d like some guidance regarding making your announcement and including your loved ones in your elopement, we have a WHOLE blog for that! It’s pretty juicy – you can thank us later.

Invest wisely – both financially and emotionally

Investing wisely? ‘Duh — why wouldn’t I invest wisely?’ Here’s what we mean by making wise investments: your elopement is precious, your engagement is fleeting, and you deserve to look back at your ENTIRE elopement (from the day you get engaged, to the moment all the celebrations are over) and say “Man, that was perfect.” So, don’t overinvest in things that won’t leave you feeling happy and aligned with your partner and your vision.

We often see people invest too much …

  • Emotional energy into things that cause them stress/anxiety

  • Financially in things that don’t make their experience the best it can be

  • Time into things that don’t bring them fulfillment

Please, please don’t let that be you.

My recommendation: delegate the stressors of planning, rather than take them on yourself.

If you care about making wise investments financially and emotionally, then this is the way to bring your elopement vision to life. Save money on the food, the venue, and the production that comes with a traditional wedding, and reinvest a portion of it into those things that matter most to you. Hire a team you trust and invest in your experience, so you can relish in every moment of your elopement knowing you’re in good hands.

Take time to adventure!

A Yosemite elopement is a great way to incorporate beauty and adventure into your day
What kind of adventure lights your heart up? Is it a mountain hike? A sunrise beach date?

Because why not? This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so why not treat it like one? There are SO many ways to adventure for your elopement – skydiving, dancing, kayaking, stargazing, you name it! Why wait until your honeymoon to have the adventure of a lifetime? There’s no time like the present! Check out this blog to see some unique ideas for ways to celebrate your engagement and your elopement.

Soak up your engagement

Your future spouse will be your spouse for the rest of your life. But you only get to call them your “fiancee” from the time you get engaged until the day you tie the knot. In other words, this part of your relationship is so temporary and special! This time in your life is intimate and fleeting. That’s why it’s essential to use your engagement as an opportunity to be present with one another, deepen your relationship, and prioritize romance, quality time, and being present. I’m talkin’ BIIIIIIG mushy lovey-dovey energy.

An engaged couple enjoys a romantic afternoon in the Redwoods
Your engagement should be anything but stressful

Don’t …

Forget the legalities

[Insert the world’s biggest yawn]. Permits, wedding certificate, and all the legal shmegal stuff. It can be boring, but DO NOT OVERLOOK IT. We don’t want your marriage to not be legal, and we definitely don’t want you to get fined or arrested (although it would make for a fabulous story) on your elopement day for forgetting your permits. Do your research for both your home state and the state you plan to get married in! You should know well before your elopement date about whether or not you need a permit for your elopement location, what sort of paperwork you’ll need to fill out beforehand, and whether or not your current elopement plan will actually (legally) get you married. If you’re planning on getting married in the state of California, I’ve gotchu covered – get the down-low on the legal side of a California elopement by checking out this blog.

Feel guilty

If you’re feeling a sense of guilt for wanting to elope, you’re not alone. The majority of eloping couples experience those same emotions, and we’re here to tell you that 1. It’s normal, and 2. You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about, lovebirds. Celebrating yourself is a beautiful thing, and you should be able to do so without hesitation. This day is no one’s but your own – don’t forget it!

Expect a stress-free experience

I hate to break it to you, but if you want to have a stress-free elopement experience, you’ll have to invest in it. If you’re not willing to make the investment, you’ll have to take on the planning, coordinating, logistics, task-juggling, and everything in-between yourself. It can be a lot, and I don’t want to sugarcoat it for you. Elopements are beautiful, magical experiences, but the reality is that they can take a lot of time and emotional energy to plan. Consider your priorities. If your budget is your top priority, be prepared for the stress that will accompany it. If your priority is your well-being and your experience with your partner, be prepared to make the financial investment to make that happen. Badabing badaboom.

Limit your imagination

If you go up to an elementary schooler and ask them what their dream wedding day would look like, you’d probably get some phenomenal, wild, creative, beautiful answers. Why’d we ever grow out of that? Who says you can’t exchange vows in scuba suits, build the world’s largest pillow fort then eat a quadruple scoop of ice cream in a tree on your wedding day? That’s right, no one can stop you. Don’t let your elopement dreams just be dreams – embrace your inner child and let your imagination run loose!

A stunning elopement in the Yosemite Valley at nighttime
If you have a wild idea for your elopement, don’t keep it to yourself! The possibilities for your day are endless.

Skip out on photography/videography

Imagine how incredible it will feel to look into the eyes of your partner as you exchange vows. The radiating love between you, the giddy energy, the butterflies in your stomach. Imagine how it will feel to dance wildly together in celebration, to giggle until your sides hurt, to hold each other close as you pause to take in the sunset.

It’s so important to be fully present for your elopement. This day is monumental for you, and you should soak up every bit of it. The giggles, the hugs, the butterflies, and the in-between moments. Some moments can’t be captured forever. On this day, you should be able to experience them entirely and feel completely present. I’ve had multiple clients contact me after eloping to have me take their photos because it wasn’t until their elopement was all said and done that they realized the importance of documenting their day. Trust me, you don’t want to be in that position. DOCUMENT YOUR DAY. IT’S REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT.

Then, for the years to come when you think back on your day, you can be reminded of all of those beautiful little details through photographs and videos. While you were living in the moment throughout your elopement, your team was right there by your side capturing it flawlessly for you so you could relive it for decades to come.

A couple enjoys some quiet time near the beach during their elopement
Remind yourself to make time in your day to relax, enjoy some alone time, and soak up the sunset!

But, most importantly …

Don’t let anyone tell you what to do and what not to do on your day. Keyword: YOUR. This is a day that you are 100% in charge of. Everything from the big decisions to the itty-bitty details is up to you. Planning an elopement is incredibly personal, and that’s the beauty of it!

So, take this blog or leave it. We’re here to support you because, at the end of the day, when it comes to your elopement, the opinions of you and your partner are the only ones that matter. Now, who’s ready to do some eloping?

plan my elopement for me!

let's do this

Why wait until your honeymoon to have the adventure of a lifetime?

How in the world do you include your friends and family in your elopement? If you’re considering or planning on eloping, this has probably crossed your mind more than once. It’s inevitably one of the most significant stressors for eloping couples. Despite the reduced stress, the sense of freedom, and the opportunity to celebrate your […]

Ways to Include Friends and Family in Your Elopement

Planning Resources

Mar 4

So, you’re ready to start elopement planning! This is a big deal, which means before you start, you should feel fully prepared for the awesome, exciting, beautiful journey that lies ahead of you and your partner. To make things easier for you, we’ve outlined the reality of planning an elopement in this day and age. […]

The Reality of Planning an Elopement

Planning Resources

Mar 4

You know that feeling where you get on Pinterest to look one thing up, and three hours later you’ve forgotten why you logged on in the first place and you’ve planned an elaborate bathroom remodel for your imaginary castle in the rainforest? It’s okay, we’ve all been there. Pinterest is a total gold mine for […]

How to Use Pinterest to Plan Your Elopement

Planning Resources

Mar 4

reader favorites

Don't miss these

stay in





For couples that want to elope without the stress

Weekly Email Series

back to top