The Reality of Planning an Elopement

Mar 4

Dana Shular

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

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Dana shular


about us

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. Check it out!

What does “elopement” really mean anyway?

Just because you’re thinking about eloping, it doesn’t mean you have to drive to Vegas to get hitched by an officiant dressed like Elvis (but if that is your jam – go for it!). We’ve been a part of countless elopements. Honestly, our experiences doing so have taught us more than we could ever explain in a blog. Through our work, we’ve grown to understand the never-ending possibilities for elopements — how they can look, where they can happen, why couples decide to elope, and how it all becomes a reality. To be perfectly honest, we think it’s easiest to understand these non-traditional weddings by addressing what an elopement is not, rather than what an elopement is.

An elopement is not about performance. When you choose to elope, you choose to prioritize your romance and your preferences. You have no obligations to please anyone else but yourselves, which is an undeniably beautiful thing. It’s just the two of you, celebrating your love in any and every way that feels true to your individuality.

An elopement is not meant to be stressful. And that’s sort of the whole point, don’t you think? Unfortunately, though, for many couples, their elopement is stressful. So much so that their engagement passes them by entirely, and what should be the greatest day of their lives just becomes a frustrating “to do.” When you decide to create a day that’s entirely what you want, it should be a beautiful journey. You deserve to sit back and relax, bask in the romance of your engagement, and wait for your elopement vision to come alive. Trust us: there are ways to make a stress-free elopement happen!

There’s a turning point at which we see almost all of our clients commit to fully prioritizing themselves in their elopement planning process. For each of them, it’s both freeing and invigorating. Fueled by the excitement that they have no obligations on this journey, their planning process transforms from a stressor to an unforgettable adventure.

An elopement is not what your family may think it is. Traditionally, elopements were synonymous with “shotgun weddings”. For one reason or another, couples would sneak off to get hitched quickly without anyone knowing. Today, some people still assume that couples choose to elope out of shame or in response to external pressures. Well that, my friend, is one thicc myth. You should, of course, be prepared for a coworker or family member to respond to your elopement with “Oh, so why don’t you want to have a real wedding?” and we’ll be here to help you brush off the negativity. Because today, in the 21st century, elopements perfectly embody the most notable qualities of modern couples: prioritizing experience, celebrating the little things, relishing in minimalism, and seeking adventure and natural beauty.

Eloping doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Most people assume elopements include a couple, an officiant, and (perhaps) a photographer. In some cases, this is entirely true! But it doesn’t have to be. Your elopement is whatever you imagine it to be. If including your friends and family in your day is what feels best for you, then DO THAT. We’ve said it a few times already, and we’ll say it plenty more throughout the rest of this article: as long as you’re prioritizing yourself and your relationship, that’s what matters most. THAT is what makes this an elopement. Your day can bend the rules for what you think an elopement should look like. In fact, we encourage rule-bending! Because … why not? It’s your day. You’re the boss, boss!

Eloping is all about prioritizing the things that make your heart soar!

If you’re unsure what exactly an elopement looks like, what the elopement planning process entails, and whether an elopement is the best choice for you, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve seen countless couples weigh the pros and cons of an elopement! We can understand and empathize with each of them entirely. More than anything, we value the lasting relationships we have with each of our clients. We often stay in touch with one another years after we work together, and we’ve been fortunate enough to hear from many of them why they‘re happy with their decision to elope. Below, we’ve outlined some of the most common answers we’ve heard to the question: What’s an elopement really like?

It’s low-stress compared to a traditional wedding

It’s no secret that weddings can be insanely stressful. Will your guests like the catering? Is anyone going to notice the flower arrangements? Are party favors necessary? Will it be awkward if people don’t dance?


If you don’t think it’s worth stressing about, then you don’t need to let yourself stress about it. How cool is that? Couples who choose to elope often ditch the biggest stressors on their wedding day. If you don’t have guests to cater to, you won’t have to worry if anyone likes the food! No flower arrangements? No problem! Party favors? Forget about it! Dancing? We feel very strongly that two people are enough for a dance party, so there you have it.

For couples who truly value a stress-free experience in which they can be fully present, we’d highly recommend hiring out an all-inclusive elopement service. An all-inclusive elopement service is exactly what it sounds like – a one-stop-shop, that includes documentation, elopement planning, coordination, and officiation. Everything you need to bring your elopement dream to life! When you hire the right all-inclusive service, you can trust that you’ll be able to be present and stress-free while your team does the heavy lifting for you.

Winter elopements are a stunning and unique way to celebrate your romance!

Adventure on your wedding day!

Your wedding day will be unforgettable no matter what. But, if you could go on a wild adventure on your wedding day, wouldn’t that be sort of wonderful? Run around in the mud, climb a cliff, kayak at sunset, skydive, make out under a waterfall! The opportunities are literally endless. If you can dream it, you can do it on your elopement day. Elopement planning is pretty rad like that.

Who says you can’t play barefoot in the ocean on your wedding day?

Intimacy, privacy, stillness

Romance is a given on your wedding day! When you commit to loving someone endlessly for the rest of your life, that’s pretty swoon-worthy. But ask just about any couple who’s had a traditional wedding, and they’ll agree that it’s baffling how impossible it feels to get a moment to yourself on your big day. There’s always a photographer tailing you, an old friend or family member wanting to get a moment alone to catch up, a logistical mishap that needs sorting out, etc. It can be exciting but utterly draining. When reminiscing on their traditional wedding, we often hear couples mention that they can hardly remember seeing one another that day. It sounds silly, but it’s true.

During an elopement, your schedule can take any shape you choose. You can take hours to yourself if you’d like. If you want, you can sneak off into the woods and no one will think twice about it. You can exchange vows in private, and no one will yell at you to “SPEAK UP SONNY, I CAN’T HEAR YA,” because … why? Because you’re the captain, that’s why. Elopement planning = blank canvas. You can make your day into a piece of artwork that speaks to you!

You can’t put a price on intimacy. To have time to breathe, soak up the moment, and relish in the details is invaluable.

Let’s face it, the photos and videos are freakin’ rad

We don’t need to write much here, because we think we can let these bad boys speak for themselves …

Planning an elopement in Yosemite
A romantic view overlooking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
A romantic elopement amongst the Redwoods
Love the ocean? Try planning a seaside elopement along the dreamy California coast
A seaside elopement along the dreamy California coast
A gorgeous elopement in Yosemite Valley! Planning an elopement can be an adventure
A gorgeous elopement in Yosemite Valley

But your elopement photos and videos aren’t just insanely stellar and beautiful – they are so, so much more than that. It’s a moment in your life, captured flawlessly and preserved for you forever. It’s a shot of your muddy boots from that pre-elopement hike you never want to forget. It’s an image of you and your partner giggling about an inside joke while you exchange vows. It’s a photo of a hug from a loved one, or a glimpse into a conversation you maybe would’ve forgotten having otherwise. Your elopement documentation preserves every detail of your elopement for you. They ensure your memories of the most important day of your life will always be there – a perfectly timeless homage to your love, chock-full of giddy little details for you to cherish for the rest of your lives. You can’t put a price on that. We’re not crying, are you crying?

Complete authenticity

Whatever you do on your elopement day is for you. In doing so, your elopement becomes a day unlike anything else. It’s day that is completely representative of your unique romance, your passion, your interests, and your values. When you begin putting the priorities of others over your own on your wedding day, it begins to lose its “you factor”. There’s something empowering and freeing about choosing to embrace this authenticity.

But, eloping isn’t for everyone …

The truth is, for some couples, eloping isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Making the decision to elope can have both pros and cons! It’s important to understand both before fully committing to an elopement.

Our experience working in this industry has taught us some of the most notable reasons why certain couples shouldn’t elope. Here they are:

If you have a big family or friend group, and you want them present for your ceremony.

Earlier, we mentioned the beauty of intimacy, privacy, and stillness in an elopement. For most couples who choose to elope, this is one of the biggest draws for them – the opportunity to escape and celebrate their love privately and intimately. With that being said, however, for some, a wedding is a shared experience – an event that is meant to be celebrated with friends and family. Although intimacy may still be important to you, if your priority is sharing this experience with as many people as possible, you may want to lean toward a more traditional route.

Although some couples still choose to elope and then host a reception with a large group later on, this factor tends to be the most common reason why couples opt for a traditional wedding over an elopement. If you have a large family or guest list and you’d like them to be present for your ceremony, it will be difficult (if not impossible!) to elope. Our rule of thumb is this: an elopement includes 25 people or less. If you can’t budge under 25 for your guest list, you may want to look into other options. However, if you’re still drawn to the concept of eloping, a renewal of vows is the perfect way to experience an elopement later on!

If you’re still drawn to the concept (or some qualities) of a traditional wedding, you may want to consider alternative options.

If you imagine a live band, a packed dance floor, some casual crowd-surfing, and a big cake on your wedding day, it may be hard to pull off with an elopement. Although the previously mentioned elope-then-host-a-reception option is very plausible, many couples have a special place in their heart for the familiarities of a traditional wedding.

The party

Do you identify as a party animal? If you can’t imagine an elopement with around a huge, festive, celebration with all of your friends and family, an elopement may not fit your bill. With that being said, however, it’s important to consider split-elopement options as well. Not sure what that is? Well, some couples choose to do a part-elopement, part-traditional wedding or reception, during which they can get the best of both worlds.

Elopement planning can be a blast once you realize your day is whatever you want it to be! You could elope in the morning and have an intimate, private ceremony alone or with a handful of people, then party it up in the evening at a different location. You could elope one day, then party the day after. Heck – you could elope in September, go on a three-month-long honeymoon, then whoop it up when you get home! You make the rules. If the idea of a split elopement doesn’t appeal to you but you still want to host the party of the century, you’ll likely want to lean toward a more traditional day.

The awkward feelings

If you have a hard time setting aside the criticism, expectations, and feelings of others, it’s important to prepare yourself for the potentially uncomfortable opinions and conversations that may arise. Some of your loved ones may be judgmental about your decision to elope, some may make assumptions about your reasoning to do so, and some may even be angry about it. Your elopement is an experience meant for celebrating the love between you and your partner, and it’s entirely up to you how you want to balance your own priorities with those of your loved ones. If you feel that eloping could cause tensions or feelings that would take a significant toll on you and/or your partner, you may want to discuss possibilities before making a final decision about your day.

The good news?

The beauty of elopements, in a nutshell, is this: they can be whatever you want. They can be stress-free, they can be hands-on, they can be boujee, adventurous, or minimalistic. You have the power to reimagine your elopement planning process! The pros and cons above speak to the experiences of others, and not you and your partner. Your elopement experience will be whatever you want it to be!

If you still feel unsure about whether or not an elopement is right for you …

We completely understand. Although we hope this article helped you understand a bit more about whether an elopement is right for you, we know that the process of deciding tends to be long and complicated.

And because of that, we want to extend an offer to you to get in touch. We’re sure you have plenty of questions, and we’re more than happy to answer them! We’re down to have an honest conversation to help you reach a better understanding of what you may want your big day to look like. We can talk logistics, navigating drama, venue hunting – the works! We’re here for it all.

On the other hand, if you’re feeling ready to move forward with your elopement planning journey, allow us to help you through your next steps! Check out some more blogs here about what to do next.

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