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The philosophy behind elopements today + tips for planning your elopement

March 27, 2018

Elopements today

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.

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

Timing

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.

Being prepared

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

Guests

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.

Budget

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 Nebraska, be sure to check out The Boathouse. It’s a beautiful little venue, 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.

sunset at two medicine lake in Glacier National Park

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.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Glacier National Park

Arches National Park

Yosemite National Park

Grand Tetons National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Everglades National Park

The Grand Canyon

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Olympic National Park

Sequoia National Park

Zion National Park

South rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona at sunset

If you’d like to see more views from national parks, be sure and check out my print shop. 

Comments

I love your advice for creating an adventure wedding! Some of my favorite places are Olympic National Park and Yosemite National Park and they are perfect spots for elopements and intimate weddings most definitely!

You really know your stuff as an elopement photographer – this is great advice! That Nebraska sandbar image is so sweet!

Love all this advice about elopements! Having all this background knowledge really makes you the best photographer for an adventure elopement!

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