Elopement Planning in 5 Simple Steps

January 23, 2024

So you’ve decided to make the brave (and maybe scary) to decision to elope. Congratulations! Making this decision for yourself is going to be so rewarding, I know it’s something you’re not going to regret. However, when it comes to elopement planning it may begin to feel overwhelming.

Maybe you’ve been scrolling through Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, brainstorming all your ideas, but you have no idea where to start. Worry not! Elopement planning can be broken up into 5 bite-size phases to make the planning process feel much more manageable so you have more energy to focus on the things that are most important to you.

An intimate moment captured in a forest setting during an LGBTQ+ elopement. The couple, both Caucasian, touch noses in the forest as the sun shines through the trees. One partner wears a white flowery dress, while the other is dressed in a black lace gown.

Phase 1: Dreaming and scheming

First is the dreaming and scheming phase. This is likely the phase you’re in right now, and is arguably the most fun. Dream BIG on this one, and don’t be thinking of your limitations at this point. We are just dreaming, after all – none of this is official. Think about what is going to make your day special and unique to you, and what will make it an unforgettable experience.

  • Make a Pinterest board with images that you LOVE. Include anything that speaks to you and photos that you can see yourself in.
  • Do a brain dump of things you think would make your day AMAZING. List any must dos, must sees, must include. You can also make a list of things you absolutely DON’T want to do or see on your wedding day. This will help you when planning the details out of your elopement and knowing who you need to hire to make your day possible.

Phase 2: Book your main vendors

The next step is to book your vendors. Yes, you heard me. Before you even choose your location or your date, book your vendors. Your planner or photographer are going to have a lot more knowledge and experience than you about planning elopements, so it’s important you book them first so they can help you plan your day and help you with the realities of bringing your elopement to life.

  • Book your photographer. This may feel overwhelming since there are so many photographers. I recommend first finding what kind of style you like (this is where the Pinterest board from the previous phase comes in handy. Look at the images and noticing what the editing is like, the poses, and the feelings of the photos. These are likely things you want to look for when hiring your own photographer). Make sure you can see yourself in the images the photographer takes, and be sure to ask them to see a full gallery so you have an idea of what yours will look like.
  • Hire your planner. More often than not, your photographer will include planning assistance when you hire them for your elopement. If not, you may consider hiring a planner to help you sort out the details and handle the legalities of you getting married potentially in another country. Your vendors are here to help you!
  • Decide on the location and date. This is when you’ll want to sort out where you’re going to say I do and when you’re going to do it. Your photographer or planner should help you out with this part and can help guide you to making the best decision for you.

An intimate moment captured in a forest setting during an LGBTQ+ elopement. The couple, both Caucasian, share a kiss as the sun shines behind them. One partner wears a white flowery dress, while the other is dressed in a black lace gown.

Phase 3: The details

Next, it’s time to sort out the logistics of your day and plan those things that are going to make your day feel magical.

  • Book your accommodations and transportation. The last thing you want is to get to your elopement day and have nowhere to stay and no way to get there. Here are some things to think about at this step:
    • How many guests will be attending and are you in charge of lodging them all?
    • How will you be getting to your accommodations?
    • How far do you want to travel from your accommodations to the location of your wedding?
    • How will you travel the day of your elopement – do you want to drive yourself or do you want to be driven? Is there a special form of transportation you need to take?
  • Book your other vendors. Your photographer or planner should be able to assist giving you vendor recommendations depending on if you’re bringing in vendors, or hiring them locally from where you’re eloping. During this stage, think about if you’re wanting to do your own hair and makeup, what you’re going to eat throughout the day, if you want florals or any decor, and if you’re having a reception. Inquiring with me about photography is as easy as filling out the form on my website.
  • Plan your activities. The most unique part about eloping is that you get to do whatever you want on the day, which is why many choose to elope. Your options for what to do on your elopement day will depend on where you’re eloping, how big your budget is, and what you want your overall day to look like. If you’re interested in exploring or booking an excursion, Get Your Guide is a great resource to use.

Phase 4: Elope

This is where you forget about everything else and have the best day ever! Even if things don’t go exactly as planned, everything will work out the way that it should and you’re going to have so much fun. Enjoy yourself and soak it all in!

Phase 5: Post Elopement

This is the easiest stage for you – it’s when I, your photographer, get to work on editing your gallery. Take this time to enjoy your time a newly married couple and to celebrate with loved ones who may not have been at the elopement. After your gallery is delivered, you can choose to get an album printed. I absolutely recommend this – there’s nothing like seeing photos in print, and it’s a great way to share the highlights of your day with friends and family who come over and see it lounging on your coffee table. Photos can often get forgotten about when they stay on your computer, so printing them out and having them physically out will get you to look back at them time and time again. You only get married once, so you may as well enjoy the photos you invested your money in!

A heartwarming scene of an LGBTQ+ couple sitting side by side on a bench, both holding beautifully arranged bouquets. The couple, dressed in a white flowery dress and a black lace gown, radiates joy and love as they celebrate their union with colourful flowers in hand.

The TLDR on elopement planning

  1. Dreaming phase: come up with all your ideas and make your pinterest board
  2. Book main vendors: begin booking your most important vendors who will help put your day together
  3. Sort out the details: plan out the logistics of your day and make adjustments where needed to make it realistic.
  4. Elope: enjoy your special day!!
  5. Post-elopement: sit back and wait for you photos to be delivered to you. Celebrate with your family and friends and start enjoying life as a married couple!

An up-close shot of a caucasian couples' hands featuring their wedding rings. They sit on the forest floor and overlap their fingers.
An LGBTQ+ caucasian couple twirl in their wedding dresses in the forest. One partner wears a black lace dress, and the other wears a white floral dress.
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amanda reed is an elopement photographer based in vancouver, british  columbia capturing authentic love stories for the couples who don't take themselves too seriously.