(Updated for 2024)
You're thinking about eloping, but in the beginning feel a bit overwhelmed by where to start planning your elopement? Here's a guide to help you get started on the journey of intentionally creating your perfect wedding day. But let's start with a little explanation of the idea of an elopement.
- What is an elopement?
- What's the difference to an intimate (micro) wedding?
- How to start planning your elopement
- Step 1: It's time to get creative on your dreams
- Questions to help you imagine your perfect day
- Questions to help you imagine your elopement day
- Step 2: Let's start planning
- What budget do you need for an elopement?
- What is the best time for an elopement?
- What vendors do you need to hire for your wedding day?
- Which destination to pick for your elopement?
- Accomodation and transport
- Legal requirements for an elopement
- Weather and seasons
- How to plan the timeline for your elopement
- Step 3: Book
- Step 4: Last details
- Step 5: HAVE THE MOST AMAZING DAY!
What is an elopement?
An elopement is an alternative and very intimate way to get married that's not bound to any specific rules. Imagine a perfect day for the two of you, a day that feels like a little wedding adventure, including activities you love and of course your wedding ceremony.
Most of the times it's just the two of you, a photographer and maybe a celebrant.
Often couples decide to get say their vows in special places. On top of a mountain, in a dreamy forest or a rough coast. What matters is that it's a magical place to YOU.
What's the difference to an intimate (micro) wedding?
Some couples don't just want to share this moment with one another, but also with their closest loved ones. That's of course also totally fine as you're supposed to create the day you're dreaming of having.
Depending on the timeline of your day you could also have your loved ones join you later in the day or just have them joing for a few hours during the day and then you get to have the evening to yourselves.
How to start planning your elopement
Step 1: It's time to get creative on your dreams
First of all: to a lot of couples it's easier to push away the thought of a wedding and rather think of what a perfect day to them would look like? From sunrise to sunset.
What would be part of that?
Questions to help you imagine your perfect day
- Do we want to start in the morning already of have a relaxed start of the day?
- What would we want to do on a "perfect" day?
- Where would we want to go? Do we want to explore a place we haven't seen before?
Questions to help you imagine your elopement day
- Where would we want to have our elopement? In the mountains, the beach, the forest, a field..?
- In which season would we like to get married?
- Do we want to celebrate that day just the two of us or with a few guests?
- Where do we want to wake up and go to bed?
- Which actions do spark a lot of joy, make us get goosebumps, make a lot of fun?
- What kind of a ceremony do we imagine?
- Do we want to have a celebrant?
- Do we want to do any rituals during the ceremony?
- Will we exchange vows?
Whatever pops into your mind, just write it down. Who says you have to get all the brain storming done sitting at a desk? Why not turn it into a date having a picnic in the nature, a cozy evening at home or a long walk to get some ideas?
For some couples it's very helpful to create a little mood board of their wedding day showing maybe nature types you can imagine getting married in or activities you can picture yourselves including in your elopement.
Step 2: Let's start planning
With heads full of ideas you can now get started with the more precise planning.
If you feel you need more help planning your elopement, feel free to reach out and tell me about your visions, I also offer planning guidance for my couples.
What budget do you need for an elopement?
What is your budget for the day? Decide on a budget you're both comfortable with. While doing that it's always a good idea to do some research to get a feeling for the costs of all the different aspects of a wedding day. Having an elopement doesn't mean it has to be minimalistic. Lots of couples enjoy the fact that now they get the chance to invest more into details.
So how about hiring a private cook to end the day with?
However you plan your elopement, you both have to be fine with the budget you've decided on.
What is the best time for an elopement?
Do you have a very specific date in mind of are you more flexible with it? Especially with an elopement you can enjoy a lot of advantages if you're planning on having it on a week day instead of a weekend.
Lots of places will be way less crowded and most of the times it's easier to still get the vendors you'd love to have. Some things, such as accomodations, are often cheaper on a week day.
What vendors do you need to hire for your wedding day?
Lots of vendors, such as the celebrant, can't divide herself/himself so bare in mind to get in touch with your favorite vendors as soon as possible.
- Make-up & hair styling
- Floral decorations
- Tiny wedding cake
- Stationary (e.g. for the wedding vows or the announcement cards)
- Wedding rings
If you're planning an elopement in or around Berlin, you'll find a list of my vendor recommendations here.
Which destination to pick for your elopement?
Do you want to celebrate your wedding day close to your home or rather combine your epic wedding adventure with discovering a new place?
If you've decided on a rough location, where do you picture yourselves having the actual ceremony? What would you like to do in advance and afterwards? Find out wether you need any permits for the places you want to go.
Accomodation and transport
What is the type of accomodation you'd love to stay at for your wedding experience? A little house in the woods? A mountain hut? And how do you get there and also to the place you're gonna have your ceremony at? Will you need to hire a car?
Legal requirements for an elopement
Do some research on wether it's possible to have your elopement ceremony also be your legal wedding. Check the requirements for legal weddings in your dream destination. In a lot of countries the legal wedding has to take place at a city hall to be legally binding. In some countries you have to bring witnesses.
To avoid having to deal with the legal part for their elopement, lots of couples decide to have the legal wedding part done in their home country and to then have a symbolic ceremony on their elopement day to be completely free in creating a ceremony that alligns with the couples.
Weather and seasons
Depending on the destination you chose, the seasons will have a bigger or smaller impact on the weather you'll probably get. The season also impacts the timeline of your elopement. The closer to sunset or sunrise, the more beautiful the light is, so from a photographers point of view it's always best to plan timelines closer to either of those.
How to plan the timeline for your elopement
Now it's time to talk about the time(line). Do you guys imagine yourselves getting up early, maybe even for a ceremony at sunrise? Or would you rather sleep in late together and have most of the action happen later in the day? Discuss your timeline ideas with your photographer to get some more very useful tips.
Having worked through these questions you've already gotten very far with your planning and you can be proud of yourselves! If there's a point where you feel like you're struggling a bit, get help. I'd love to give you tips and ideas for the creation of your perfect elopement experience. Get in touch here and we'll jump on a call.
Step 3: Book
Once you're done getting ideas on the location, the accomodation etc, make sure you book all of your vendors. Go through your timeline again and check if all of your activities (in case you have any planned) actually fit into it.
Step 4: Last details
Get your wedding outfits and make sure they match the season, weather and location. Maybe also consider, in case you're planning to hike, to have a hiking and a ceremony outfit, in case your outfits aren't comfortable to hike in. What about accessoires? Are there any family heirlooms you'd like to wear on that day? If you're planning on exchanging rings, did you get them already?
Discuss final details with your vendors such as flowers, decorations and a cake.
Do you want to exchange wedding vows and maybe also do other rituals during the ceremony? Prepare them and write your vows.
In case you kept the fact that you're eloping a secret, maybe it's a good time to announce your elopement now. Lots of couples decide on sending out elopement cards explaning about why they decided to get married that way so that their loved ones aren't too surprised.
Step 5: HAVE THE MOST AMAZING DAY!
You did it! You've planned THAT DAY for such a long time and it's finally approaching! Enjoy the excitement! Pack your bags and have YOUR perfect day!
Take in all of the many small moments, focus on each other and on your unique bond.
You're gonna marry the love of your life!
Hey, this is me, Gina,
elopement & intimate wedding photographer,
my heart beats for my soulmate Tobi, our beautiful baby boy, my loved ones, coffee & traveling.
Discovering new places and the feeling of freedom while exploring stunning landscapes is such a big part of what brings me joy. Whenever I'm surrounded by nature I feel a sense of calm and as if time was finally slowing down.
I'm a very positive and cheerful human being. When nobody is watching Iove singing and dancing through our flat.
Grew up in Berlin, lived in London for 1.5 years until the end of 2018 and living in Berlin again ever since.
I love to actively create highlight moments in my life and being able to capture those for other people is what make me love my job so much.
Do you want to hop on a video call?
just fill out the contact form here
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