As with ANY event, there are a few mistakes to avoid when planning your elopement. If you’ve decided that an adventurous elopement is for you (or you’re still deciding what you want to do), this post is for you. Our goal is to help you avoid errors that you may not even think of, because eloping should NOT be stressful or overwhelming.
Most couples choose to elope just so that they can fully enjoy their wedding day with minimal-to-no stress, and we’ve never met a couple who eloped that regrets the decision.
In fact, we’ve had dozens of people tell us after their big wedding that they wish they would have eloped (including ourselves!).
But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t mistakes to be made.
Because we have been a part of so many elopements and have helped plan some, we have lots of experience and know a thing or two about mistakes to avoid when planning YOUR elopement.
Below we listed a few things that come to mind when we consider what we’ve experienced while helping plan and execute elopements. Before you read on, please know that most of these are suggestions and do not apply to every couple. You and your fiancé have the final say in any and all decisions surrounding your elopement (it’s YOUR day!), and this list should be used only to help you along in your journey.
Eloping should ensure that your day is easy, fun, and memorable, so hopefully this post will help you prepare for your big day!
1. Don’t invite people who are unsupportive to your elopement
Firstly, your elopement is all about you. You can invite whoever you want, and you can also choose to not invite anyone: that’s the beauty of eloping.
We suggest that you ignore the haters. Don’t let other people tell how you should or should not elope (even if they are your family). If someone is unsupportive of your marriage or the fact that you’re eloping, consider scratching their name off the invitation list. Typically those types of people aren’t the one’s who care about your marriage – they care about your wedding (traditions, a big party, and inviting people to your wedding that don’t care about you).
One way to avoid people getting upset or hurt that they weren’t invited to your elopement is to have a party to celebrate a few months later. This, however, is 100% optional. You shouldn’t do it if you don’t want to.
If those people really care about you, they won’t care that you eloped – they will be happy for you regardless of whether or not they can be present at your wedding.
As stated above, sometimes things don’t always apply to specific couples. You should always take the time to sit down with your fiancé and talk through important details, especially when it comes to each other’s friends and family. Communication is key for your wedding (and marriage in general), even if you’re eloping.
2. Don’t skip the “wedding” details that are important to you
Eloping doesn’t mean that you can’t go all out for your special day. Your elopement can be as plain or extravagant as you wish!
If there is something you want to do or have at your elopement (even if it’s not typically done at elopements that you’ve seen), do it. Just because someone hasn’t done it yet does not mean that you can’t – there are literally no rules when it comes to eloping!
Want to elope on a mountain top? Do it. Want to get married in a field? Go for it. If you want to splurge on a wedding dress and a suit, do it. If you want flowers and an arbor, bring them! Want to hike with a backpack full of decorations? Do it. Heck, bring a full bottle of expensive champagne if you want.
If we haven’t said this enough already, do what you want. Talk together and listen to what both of you want for your elopement (ladies, sometimes your man will have an opinion or an idea! Don’t be afraid to get his feedback).
If you find that you need help figuring out what details to include in your elopement, check out this blog post we wrote to help you elope in style.
3. Don’t spend too much or too little on your elopement
With money being one of the biggest reasons couples argue, it goes without saying that you should talk to each other about how much you want (or should) spend on your elopement.
Where will the money come from? What’s the most you want to spend? What should most of the money go towards?
One thing we really recommend is not cutting corners on what’s important for your elopement. Personally, we would suggest spending the majority of your budget on your photographer (and videographer, if you’re having one).
Now, we don’t say that because we are photographers who want you to give us all your money. We honestly don’t want you to hire us if you don’t like our style or if we’re not in your budget.
But we know that photos of your elopement are going to be super important later on. The flowers will die, the champagne will be gone, your dress will go into storage, but your photos and video will last past your lifetime. In 5o years, you’ll want to pull out your elopement photos to show to your grandkids.
With all that being said, decide what is most important to you.
Make an overall budget with the maximum amount that you want to/can spend. Then, make list of everything that you want for your elopement and rank them from most important to least important. Finally, for each item, write down how much you’re willing to spend on each one.
Add those costs up, and if they are more than your original budget, get rid of the least important items, or reevaluate what you want to spend on each one.
4. Avoid rushing into hiring vendors for your elopement: do your research
Hiring vendors for your elopement is a big deal, especially when it comes to hiring a photographer.
This is one of the biggest days of your life. And other than your marriage itself, the photos of your elopement are going to be what last the longest. Don’t make the decision lightly!
When talking with potential vendors, you should know what date you are looking to elope, what style you want for your elopement, how many hours of coverage you’ll need (for a photographer, videographer, an officiant, or even for an elopement planner), and what your budget is for each area of your day. After you figure those things out, you can begin looking for vendors that meet your criteria.
You should never rush into hiring someone (for anything) without doing your research, talking with them, and asking them the right questions.
Some questions we recommend asking photographers and videographers:
- What’s your availability for this date?
- Can I see a full elopement gallery (or video) you’ve shot?
- What experience do you have with elopements?
- Do you have a pricing guide?
- What is the price for this many hours of coverage?
- Do you travel/ is there an extra cost for travel?
- Will you hike? Is there an extra cost for hiking? (If you want to elope on a mountain top)
- What sets you apart from other vendors in your industry?
- Can I see an example of your contract/agreement?
5. Don’t forget to make your marriage legal
As much fun as planning your elopement can be, you can’t forget the legalities of getting married.
Laws for getting married vary from state to state, so make sure you do enough research on the laws of the state (or country) that you want to get married in. Doing all the research early on in your elopement planning will take away the stress when your elopement actually happens.
You definitely want to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared when it comes to the legality of your nuptials.
You will need to know how and when to get a marriage license in the city or town you choose to elope in. You will will also need to know how many witnesses you legally need to have at your elopement to sign the marriage license. Again, this varies from state to state (and even county to county), so be sure that you really look into everything before you elope.
If researching isn’t your thing, we recommend hiring an elopement planner in the state or country you choose to elope in to help you with the fun legal stuff that goes into getting married.
If you’re eloping in New York state, we wrote a whole blog post on how to get elope in NY. Click here to check it out.
6. Don’t elope just because it’s trendy: make sure it’s what you both want
Eloping does not make your marriage any more or less valid. Whether you elope or have a big wedding, the important thing is that you have married the love of your life!
Whatever you choose, make sure you’re choosing it because it’s what you both want to.
The main reasons people elope:
- It can be less stressful
- You don’t have to make OTHER people happy
- Elopements are cheaper
- Your wedding day is more intimate
- You can get married in an epic location
- Eloping is super trendy right now
Are those things important to you both? Do they outweigh the benefits of having a full-fledged traditional wedding? That’s for you and ONLY you to decide.
Want help planning your elopement?
We’re here to help! We are elopement photographers (and Dan is an ordained officiant!) based in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, and we travel across the country to take photos of adventurous couples.
Feel free to fill out this form to contact us, and we’ll send you an email ASAP. We have a lot of experience planning and executing elopements, and we would love to be a part of your special day. Check out this page for more info about our packages!