January 31, 2023

brooke lewis

How to Elope

Long past are the days where eloping meant you were sneaking off to get married in silence. These days eloping is one of the most epic ways to get married. Eloping is an intentional choice couples make together to experience a more intimate setting. Whether you are an adventure seeker looking to kayak through the glaciers of Alaska or wanting a more “homey” scene with a small backyard elopement being, the possibilities are endless. Eloping can be for everyone.

A lgbtq eloping couple pose in mt rainier national park on their wedding day.

How to Know if Eloping is Right for You

  • The idea of a big wedding completely drains you
  • All eyes on you during the ceremony makes you want to run for the hills
  • You feel as though putting on a big wedding is more for show
  • You crave adventure and love to travel
A same sex wedding couple elope in hawaii and throw up the hang loose sign on the beach.

Why Elope

  • Intimacy: You and your partner, spending and planning the perfect day together without the hustle and bustle and all eyes on you.
  • Avoiding the awkwardness: Personally, the thought of standing in front of a lot of people and reading or trying to speak at all sounds treacherous. Imagine – just you and your partner in a beautiful location, looking to one another and having a genuine conversation about why you love and chose each other, without an audience.
  • Avoiding the stress and nervousness of “performing” in front of people
  • Views
  • Adventure
  • Spontaneity
  • Authenticity

For some fun ideas on what you can do during your elopement, read our blog:


A bride stands on taft point on her wedding day in yosemite national park.

Deciding Where

This is truly the magic moment and one of the hardest to decisions to make throughout the process, especially if you are an avid traveler. My biggest piece of advice here is take some time to separately think about your top three dream destinations and why you chose them. If you are stuck on choosing three, break it down even further and think about the season and landscape you picture yourself getting married in. Do you want mountains or beach, sunny or snowy, etc. After you narrow it down, come together again and present your destinations. Make a date night out of it!

Do you want to return to a place you know and love or do you want to travel somewhere new?

Points to consider:

  • Traveling somewhere new comes with new stressors such as navigating new areas
  • Traveling somewhere new is an exciting adventure for you and your new partner to share together on your special day
  • Is there a place that you have traveled that is TRULY meaningful – for example, we always return to Taos because well we love it, but it was also one of the first trips we took together. Now, we did not elope there because we have been there so often and we wanted to seek a new adventure for our day – but how special it would have been!

If you decide to travel somewhere new, talk to your photographer about scoping out the area for you to have the perfect photo spots already mapped out as well as permits secured if you need them. Google earth comes in very handy for scouting, as well as reading blogs about the area. The photographer or elopement planner can also help you find an ideal location for the ceremony.

A couple kiss on their wedding day in glacier national park


Many couples elope not only because of the adventure aspect but because of the financial aspect. Elopement’s can save you money but they can also be more expensive than traditional weddings. It all comes down to your budget. Bonus of elopement – instead of spending those thousands on foods and venues, you spend it on experiences and views. Apart from permits and maintenance fees, Mother Nature is a relatively in expensive venue.

Funds to consider:

  • Passport fee
  • Flights
  • Gas
  • Car rentals and insurance
  • Hotels and airbnbs
  • Food and drinks
  • Unexpected costs (damage to car)
  • Luxury and spending costs
  • Vendors (cake, flowers, etc.)
    • Your photographer or elopement planner can help with this

At the end of the day you can make your elopement as extravagant or minimal as your budget and your style allows. Personally, I think it is still better than feeding 100+ people you may barely talk to…

What to Wear

If you are hiking or traveling somewhere that requires a suitcase (which most elopements do) you will need to find an easily packable dress. My partner found hers at:  https://wearyourlovexo.com . These are locally made dresses in California that are perfect for adventure weddings. They pack easily into suitcases, are stretchy, form futting, and have enough flow to allow you to breathe while you hike. Not to mention, they are stunning.

Etsy is another good option, that a lot of my previous brides have used.

A bride putting her hiking boots on in the outdoors on her elopement day.


You can have your elopement planner or photographer assist with finding a local florist to assist with creating the perfect bouquet. You can also order a faux bouquet from Etsy or other vendors in your area. I have a local vendor I can recommend, who makes stunning arrangements.

A flay lay of rings, flowers, boots and jewelry on a wedding day.
Erin’s floral arrangement, created by her and her sister. They make beautiful faux arrangements.


When traveling internationally, here are some points to remember/consider:

  • When to get your passport: remember that it can take up to six weeks to get your passport, so plan accordingly!
  • Carrying light: this can be difficult when you are taking wedding attire but trying to lug around multiple suitcases can really put a damper on traveling. Think – car rentals, taxis, paying for baggage, lugging it around town, etc. When my partner and I eloped, we ended up having to upgrade our car to fit our bags…
  • Check vaccination status: while most places have lessened their COVID restrictions, it is always good to check!

If You Have the Perfect Date in Mind

Ensure that it lines up with your locations “on season”. Now, I rarely recommend traveling anywhere in the middle of on season because who wants to be surrounded by large crowds on their wedding day but many places call it “off season” for a reason: severe weather, shutting down for “breaks”, etc.

A lgbtq+ couple stands on seceda ridge line in the dolomites of italy during their elopement ceremony
Photo by: Grayson Taylor Photography

Check the Law

Marriage laws vary by state to state, so make sure you know what your state requires. For example, Oklahoma requires a ceremony occur within the state. Many will choose to have a small ceremony or court house ceremony before the elopement.

You will also need to know who can officiate and who can be witnesses. If you choose to hire me, I am able to officiate. In Oklahoma, two witnesses are required. In some states, witnesses are not required. In Colorado, your dog can be your witness! You could literally run to the mountains with your dog, and boom you’re married!

If you are a same sex couple, you will need to know the laws of both your state and the location of your ceremony or elopement. My partner and I had our ceremony in Italy, where it is not legally recognized and so we had a small ceremony/celebration when we got home to make it “official” in our state.

A couple sits for a picnic in acadia national park on their wedding day

Post Elopement Reception

Celebrate good times, come on! You are MARRIED. Shout it from the roof tops, throw a party, or just enjoy your time back home together and soak up the experience.

SEND Announcements with Those Gorgeous Photos

Let the world know!

a wedding invitation with vow books

Don’t Down Play Your Elopement

Just because you are eloping does not mean the day is not as special and should not be celebrated. Have a bridal shower or a “I found my dress” day.


(If there is one thing I am pretty passionate about its not letting your images die on a screen. Print those bad boys! You spent a lot of time picking your outfits, getting ready and money on those images so get with your photographer and design an album that you and visitors can enjoy.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *