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What does ‘elope’ mean?
Elopements are no longer just something that people do to run away & get married. Today’s elopements take place in beautiful locations with careful planning & design. They are still a very budget friendly way to get married. People may get married on some local family land or they may travel to another state or country to seek out a beautiful location, like a national park.
Grand Sand Dunes National Park elopement in Colorado
But why elope? Today’s weddings have become a big market & some couples forget what wedding are supposed to be about. So some couples choose to elope because an elopement gets back to the marriage of a couple without all the extras. And if you’re having a destination elopement, you don’t even need to worry about decor. Nature is your decor.
Location, location, location
Location is everything when planning your elopement. Since photography is one of the biggest parts of your elopement, choosing an amazing location is a must. Some of my favorite locations are around little towns in Colorado like Ouray, or national parks like Yosemite National Park in California & Glacier National Park in Montana. I have a few tips & tricks I’ve picked up along the way to help in location scouting to find some of the best locations. But even a simple location can be absolutely beautiful, such as a sandbar in the middle of the Platte River, or under a tree in a beautiful field.
Platte River sandbar in Nebraska nearing sunset
Since photography is one of the biggest parts of your elopement, your want to make sure that your timing is right. Why does timing matter so much? To get the best views of various locations, you may have to get up very early for sunrise, that may mean starting a hike at 3am. Or we may need to go to a certain location at sunset, which could mean hiking back down after dark. There are locations that honestly may not be worth going to if it isn’t at sunrise or sunset, timing everything out correctly will ensure that we get the best light so your photos aren’t just blah, they need to be amazing! But all of this take preparation.
How much you need to prepare depends on what kind of an elopement you plan. There are some locations that are suitable to have a small ceremony with guests. Other times couples want to elope with just the two of them & want a more epic location. This may require a little hiking. Hiking elopements are more work but you can get to more unique locations! And I’m one of the few film photographers who offer to photograph these hiking elopements. I love the way film shows off the blues of the mountains & greens of the grasses & trees. We need to show off you guys & your beautiful surroundings! If you do plan on holding your elopement in a national park, just be sure you secure the proper permits. I’ve included some links at the bottom of this blog post to help with knowing what is involved with permits at various national parks. The process is relatively simple, sometimes it just takes a little time.
Delicate Arch at sunrise in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah
Elopements don’t have to be just the couple. A small guest list of 10-15 guests allows you to have an intimate ceremony but still share your marriage with the important people in your lives. The rest of your friends & family can enjoy it through videos and pictures! A small guest list keeps the day of your ceremony calm & drama free & allows you to gather & celebrate with those closest to you.
Hiking elopement in Monument Valley in Arizona & Utah
If you want an amazing day to remember but have a smaller budget, an elopement can give you an amazing location for amazing photos. A great destination elopement can be pulled off for $5000 or even less for a local elopement. What all do you need for an elopement? A basic list could include: travel expenses (flights, lodging, food, etc.), rings, land or photography permits, photography, officiant, wedding attire, & a bouquet (don’t forget the flowers!). A few other details can add to your elopement, but don’t make it too complicated. An elopement gets back to what a wedding is all about- your marriage.
Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park
It’s all about you guys!
What I love about elopements is that it gets back to what a wedding is really supposed to be all about– you! Your marriage is the center of the elopement. Some weddings have so much fluff & couples don’t hardly get to spend any time together on their big day. With an elopement, you can have the whole day to yourselves to laugh, cry, hug, & celebrate.
Saguaro National Park at sunset just outside of Tucson, Arizona
Not for you?
Is an elopement not for you? Or maybe you want something similar but with a little more of a guest list? Well then maybe something more like an intimate wedding is something for you. For some who want a wedding with less stress, an intimate wedding with a guest list of around 50 may work better for you. If you’re in Colorado, be sure to check out some of the venues around Telluride. It’s a breathtaking view, perfect for an intimate wedding. Or maybe you’d like a wedding but want some adventure. You could consider an adventure session or destination engagement session. We can travel near or far to seek out a great spot.
Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park at sunset
Great national parks to elope at
Click on any of the below links to see more about details, permits, & other information relating to getting married in a national park. I’d love to help with planning & location scouting, I know of a few favorite spots from my travels to these various national parks. Also be sure & check out my blog post for information on eloping in national parks!