Eloping Allows You To Create A Unique Wedding Experience That Prioritizes Intention & Value Before Tradition

So, you and your loved one decided that a large traditional wedding wasn’t the right fit for celebrating your love? Awesome! First of all, I just want to say congratulations! Choosing to plan an elopement is the perfect way to create a day that is all about you two – nobody else. I know that even though it’s a smaller event, there is still a lot to think about when you are navigating how to plan an elopement day filled with love, good views, and any other aspects to make it unique to your love story. Not to worry, though. That’s why I created this simple guide so you can easily check the important things off your list and focus on having the best day ever! Go where you want to go, do what you want to do, spend quality time with each other on your wedding day, and start your journey in married life together on a STRESS-FREE, FUN, ADVENTUROUS day. That’s what elopements are all about. 

A couple on a suspension bridge among the temperate rainforest on Bainbridge Island. The bride wears a unique dress
Detail shot of an elopement couple's shoes during their day. The bride wears Teva sandals and the groom wears brown shoe

how to plan an epic elopement

[5 Simple Steps To Creating Your Epic Wedding Experience]

Whether you are wanting to go to a local park or hike that you two love to say your “I do’s”, or you want to plan a week-long trip to Iceland to combine your wedding and honeymoon, this simple guide is applicable for all adventure levels! Trust me, I like to make things as simple as possible – and I also love having a checklist to keep me on track & organized. So, if having an easy-to-follow guide paired with a checklist will help you plan your elopement, this is for you! Of course, every elopement and love story is so wonderfully unique. You can take this guide and let your ideas run wild – in fact, I hope you do! I am SO pumped for you two – planning adventure elopements and destination weddings is my jam! Remember to have fun with it – that’s the whole point! ;) 

the step-by-step guide for planning your unforgettable Elopement experience:

  1. choose your elopement location & date
  2. find your elopement photographer & videographer
  3. obtain all necessary permits
  4. book your lodging, activities & other vendors
  5. make a plan! putting together a timeline
  6. have the best day ever!
A newlywed couple dance in the forest in Washington, with fog rolling over the hills behind them during sunset

Choose your elopement location & date

After deciding that you want to have a smaller, more intentional day celebrating your love together (congrats, that’s pretty badass!) the next step is to decide where and when you want to make things official. These two steps go together based on what you want your day to look and feel like. If you are envisioning snow on the ground, maybe plan a snowshoeing elopement in December! If you want gorgeous fall colors, maybe go for an East Coast elopement in October! Do you want to hike and see epic views that you’ve never seen before? That sounds like a great opportunity to go to Iceland in July! You get the idea. 

I know it can seem daunting, especially when you realize just how much freedom and flexibility you have when it comes to planning an elopement. But that’s the beauty of it! Something I always recommend to couples who are in the beginning stages of planning their epic wedding experience is to do a visualization exercise. Take some time with your partner, even incorporate into a date night, and simply think about your elopement day. What do you want to see? What do you want to feel? Are you in the mountains of Washington? Are you standing on the Oregon Coast during sunrise? Are you running barefoot down a black sand beach in Hawaii? Really let yourselves think about what you want your day to look like. And trust me – it’s way more attainable than you might think – so don’t let that stop you from thinking outside of the box! 

Take your time brainstorming, because this is the most important step in the entire elopement-planning process. Because once you nail down even a general idea of which season you want to elope and a region of the world where you want to be when you say “I do,”  the next step is to find people that are going to help you bring that vision to life!

A newly eloped couple kisses in front of the bridge of the Middle Fork River with Mount Si in the background.
A couple in wedding attire walks into the sunset on God's Thumb on the Oregon Coast
A groom in all black and a bride with a shawl over her dress kiss in front of an alpine lake in Washington

Find your elopement photographer & videographer

Once you have a general idea of when and where you want to elope, the next step is to find a photographer and videographer that you jive with, and who are absolutely stoked about helping you have the best day ever! Many elopement photographers and videographers are very knowledgeable when it comes to the best places to elope in the areas they serve, advice and information about required permits, activities to partake in on your wedding day, and so much more! More often than not, once you have these vendors booked, the planning process is going to become less stressful given that you will have people to help you from that moment on. 

I know it can be a tough decision to decide on the best elopement photographer and videographer to capture your unique day. To help you narrow down your search, here are some important things to look for: 

  • Will you jive well with their personality?
  • Do you like their photo/video style?
  • Are they able to help guide you through the planning process?
  • Are they excited about capturing your epic elopement?

All that being said -- hey! I am an elopement photographer & videographer, so if you're looking for someone to capture your special day, I would love to get to know each other! Click the link below to head to my "About" page & learn more about me & my approach. If you think we'd be a good fit, reach out & let's do this thing! :)

A couple opens up their vows during their elopement ceremony at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park

obtain all necessary permits

Now that you know when and where you are eloping, one of the most important things to check off your list is obtaining any special-use and/or photography/videography permits that are required for your location. For example, many national parks require a special use permit and/or commercial photography/videography permits for weddings. Like I said, though, now that you have your elopement photographer and videographer booked, they should be able to help you figure out which permits are required for your elopement. 

This is a crucial step, especially as adventure elopements and smaller destination weddings become more popular. We do not want to lose access to these beautiful lands and epic landscapes, so it is very important to obtain the required permits – they exist for a reason. This is one of the biggest ways we can all do our part to Leave No Trace and ensure we are leaving areas in the best condition possible for others to enjoy. 

Newlyweds hike along hurricane ridge during golden hour after their wedding ceremony
A couple dances in their wedding attire on a beach on the Oregon Coast in front of red limestone rock
A couple in wedding attire on God's Thumb on the Oregon Coast during golden hour, views of the ocean down below
A couple hikes and stands in front of a waterfall in Washington in their wedding attire

book your lodging, activities & other vendors

Now, this is the fun stuff! Go back to your brainstorming ideas and let that be your guide for this step. Do you want to wake up in one of the coolest A-Frame Cabins somewhere in the PNW? Or is a rustic lodge near your favorite national park more up your alley? Do you want to kayak on a lake, snowshoe in the mountains, or have a bonfire on the beach? If you haven’t noticed, you can really incorporate any fun ideas you have for your epic wedding day. 

Potentially, you might want to lock down your lodging and some activity ideas before finalizing your entire vendor list, but not to worry! I would recommend prioritizing vendors based on what is MOST important to you both. For example, are you planning on having an officiant there to marry you or are you self-solemnizing? Are you going out for pizza after your long hike, or are you wanting a private chef to make you a gourmet meal at your Airbnb that evening? Again, I know there are so many options that it might feel overwhelming. So, here is a list to help you prioritize:

  • Where do you want to stay & for how long?
  • What activities do you want to do on your elopement day? 
  • Do you want/need an officiant? (tip - your photographer or videographer might be ordained if you just want someone to sign things and make it official!)
  • When, where & what do you want to eat throughout your day? 
  • What is the most important thing to each of you when it comes to your elopement? 


Take some deep breaths, write your thoughts down, relax. This should be fun! Of course planning anything has its stressful moments, but remember to focus on what’s important to the two of you, and let those things take precedence over the rest. 

A couple in wedding attire wears backapcks with sings that say "Just Married" hanging off the backpacks. On a river.

make a plan!

putting together a timeline

Alright, so at this point you should have most if not all of the vendors, lodging, and activities booked. Now it’s time to chat with the people you are coordinating with – probably your photographer and videographer – to help knockout a solid timeline for your elopement. Most likely, they will send you over a questionnaire that will help them put together a timeline for you, so ideally you won’t need to do much. Of course, this is dependent on the individual, but this could be another important thing to ask when hiring a photographer and videographer! 

Some things to consider when planning your timeline include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Are you eloping at sunrise or sunset?
  • What is the driving time from your lodging to the first location you’ll head to? 
  • If you are hiking or doing other activities, how long will those take?
  • When will you be eating during the day?
  • Again, what are the most important things about the day for each of you? How/when/where will those happen? 


As much as it may seem stressful or tedious to plan things out for your seemingly spontaneous and easy-going day, I promise the timeline is there to help ensure your day is as STRESS-FREE as possible! Work with your photographer and videographer on this, as they will have a better idea of how much time to a lot to the different parts of the day, driving time, getting ready time, when sunrise and sunset will be on your elopement day, the list goes on. 

A couple in wedding attire kisses on a river bed during a moody rainy day near Forks, Washington
A newlywed couple hikes through the evergreen forest near Hurricane Ridge in Washington

have the best day ever!

Woohoo! You made it! Now, enjoy your day, bask in the beautiful, stress-free nature of elopements, and try to remain in the present moment as much as possible. You threw tradition to the wind and decided to celebrate the love you share for one another in a way that is true to your personalities, values, and relationship as a whole. Hold hands, kiss each other over and over, smile and HAVE FUN! It will all be captured and shareable after the fact, so focus on each other and the beautiful moments you share together on your epic wedding day

A couple pops champagne after their elopement ceremony on Hurricane Ridge. Views of the Olympic Mountains behind them.