Make sure you share your plans with loved ones who can help support you as you plan. Mom and Dad will not want to hear that you’ve eloped through Facebook. You’re not obligated to invite anyone to attend, but hurt feelings will only create stress and anxiety during and after your elopement. Elopements can be just you and your Fiancé, or a small group of friends and family. Either way, the day is about doing 100% what makes you feel good and means something to your relationship, so if guests will stress you out then leave them at home.
Planning an elopement can be straightforward or specific to your personalities and your love story. That’s the beautiful thing about chucking out tradition and inviting creativity into your elopement planning. You have absolute freedom to tie the knot exactly the way you want to and in the place that speaks to your heart. We could wander around until you find the spot that feels right, or plan everything ahead of time down to a champagne pop. Not only are you taking away the pressure of pleasing friends and family, you’re saying yes to making your day as absolutely YOU as it can be. Not to mention how much cheaper eloping usually is, especially if you’re using your destination as your honeymoon location. I’d love to hear your “we have to do this” idea for your day below or send it to me in a DM! - Sarah and Brent
You can plan your elopement so it is 100% you. Anyway and anywhere you want! No need to worry about what your friends or family will want or how to include them and make them feel special. no need to keep the traditions that don't speak to you. Eloping is beautiful and can be as luxury or as boho as you want it to be.
Let’s start at the beginning. Most likely you’ve talked over a few ideas together. If you haven’t started answering these questions, find a date night to talk through these first steps.
What is your top priority: This can be as simple as having fun and being flexible, a gorgeous backdrop like a waterfall or mountain, a unique idea that you've always wanted to try, or dinner afterwards with friends and family. Whatever it is, keep it in mind because priorities are a huge way to figure out where to cut costs and how to make your day special.
What's your budget?: Many people love the budget friendly idea of eloping, but also keep in mind that this if your wedding day. There may not be a day in your life as sacred and special as this one, so treat yourself a little bit at least.
What date would you like to be married? If there’s no specific date, then is there a time of year that is most important to you? Be open about when and where if you can be. While your photographer may be able to tell you the best places to elope in April if your heart is set on that month, the easiest thing to do is be open to your date and location. Seasons are different all over the world and inclement weather may or may not be a factor in your destination idea or desired month. Make sure you are in communication with your photographer. They can help you think of things you hadn’t considered.
Where do you want to elope to? Do you want to get married in a significant place or check off a bucket list location for your special day? If you’re traveling a distance, make sure you know what the weather will be like during the time you want to elope as well as how early the sun will rise and set.
Will you be inviting family and friends to witness your vows? It can still be an elopement with a few honored guests! If you are having grandparents or children, talk with your photographer about a location that is easily accessible.
What other vendors will you need? We can help you find more vendors! Other vendors to consider include:
Makeup and Hair
Guide or Safari Driver
What is your Budget:
Some considerations for your budget list:
Elopement Venue Permits/Fees
Hair and Makeup
Travel and Accommodations
Unique experience to add to the day
Where should you elope, and more importantly, where CAN you elope?
If you're eloping to a destination, Make sure you take care of the travel first. Once your tickets are bought and your hotels are booked, then the fun starts.
Make sure you do research on where you can get married, or have your vendors help you talk through some options. Some things to consider:
Appointments are necessary in booking popular city halls as they can get very busy.
Some courthouse locations don't even take appointments for marriages—meaning it's first-come, first-served, with DMV-style waiting.
Some states require two separate appointments 1) marriage license and (within 90 days of that) 2) ceremony.
You may not be able to share personal vows. Leave that for your photo session afterwards.
You may have limits on how many guests can attend.
An easier option is to officially get married and obtain your license at a city hall in your own city and exchange vows, rings, and celebrate during your planned elopement. A wedding planner or officiant will be able to help with this. Your local courthouse is the cheapest way to legalize your marriage. Your elopement can also double as your honeymoon location if you’re going out of town or to a beautiful destination.
The best time to elope is during a weekday in the morning or early evening/sunset. The beach in Summer is a busy place, and weekends are often filled with out-of-towners and tourists in any destination location. Exchanging your vows at sunrise can ensure you more privacy for your ceremony and sunrise and sunset is when light is at it’s best. Be sure to check sunrise and sunset times with your photographer to pick the best time for photos. REMEMBER: In valleys or in forests the “sunset” will not happen for photos. Trees and mountains block the sun much earlier. If you’re hoping for a location with lots of trees or mountains talk about alternative times with your photographer.
It only takes a few months to plan your elopement if you have the right help. Location, travel, budget, legalities, and vendors are the first things to finalize (not specifically in that order). It’s good to get all your legal paperwork done 2 months before your elopement.
Make sure you talk to your photographer, coordinator, or venue about any additional special use or photography permits you’ll need. Most beaches and national parks require these and although they aren’t too expensive usually, they do need to be taken care of well before the actually elopement date. Each state has a different law about marriage licenses.
There are three ways to legally marry your partner in California: Eloping is California is rather simple – legal age is 18, you need a marriage license (from $40 to $100), there’s no blood test required, no waiting period, and you can marry immediately once you have it.
You may go to the county courthouse or city hall and have an official preside over your wedding
You may hire an independent wedding officiant to preside over your marriage ceremony in the location of your choice (this could be a judge, justice, clergy member/religious leader, magistrate or “Marriage Commissioner”)
Any individual over the age of 18 may legally preside over your ceremony if they take the steps to get ordained by a religious organization. I have been ordained by American Marriage Ministries and can legally sign as your officiant on your marriage license (but I generally encourage couples to think about hiring or bringing someone who can craft a meaningful ceremony in addition to signing!)
Be sure to double-check the following:
Do you need an appointment to pick up your marriage license?
Is there a waiting period? Some states require up to a week between filing and actually getting married.
Do you need witnesses? Most states require that two witnesses be physically present to sign the marriage license. Some allow you to self-solemnize, which means you don't need any witnesses. Brent and I are happy to be your witnesses if you need.
Are there any other legal issues you might run into? Maybe, so keep birth certificates, divorce papers from previous marriages, and other important docs on hand. Even if you elope abroad, you'll need to get your license beforehand.
Exchanging rings is a sweet reminder of your elopement day. It’s a symbolic way to exchange promises along with your vows. These do not need to be expensive symbols and are absolutely not necessary if you want to forgo that tradition.
This is completely up to you. You can find a white dress with a boho vibe or wear a full wedding gown. Just make sure your man compliments your dress code with the same level of fancy or free-spirit. Remember, you may be hiking, biking, boating, riding, swimming etc depending on what you planned for your day. BRING A WRINKLE RELEASE and a STEAMER to get out those wrinkles. Talk with your photographer about HOW dirty you’re willing to get your dress (we adore the dirty dress photos) or consider two outfits. Feel free to bring a hat, boots, jewelry, and accessories that will make you feel beautiful.
Consider the weather. Will you need a jacket? Umbrella? Thick warm nude tights? Boots instead of heels? Gloves?
Shoes for walking
Shoes for photos (if you want different ones)
Layers for cold weather (Leggings, jacket, gloves, hat)
Something to toast
Sewing Kit (just in case)
Make it uniquely YOU
We highly suggest picking an activity to do before of after your vows. What do you guys like to do together? This can be as simple as a champagne mountain top stargaze or horseback riding by the beach.
Some ideas to think about:
Camp Fire Cuddles
Every photographer has their specialization and for us, that means sunset portraits! Most of our Brides are drawn to our sunset portrait sessions prior to booking with us and we want to make sure we get you that golden hour light!
Our style is often referred to as moody. We shoot a little underexposed so we can keep details in the highlights and preserve that emotional touch that we're known for. During portraits, if you need poses and where to place your hands, we will direct you. But we prefer for you guys to goof off and have fun while we throw prompts at you to stimulate personality and foster authentic moments. For example: we could tell you to kiss her cheek while she looks down her shoulder bashfully, or we could tell you you have 15 seconds to kiss her as many times as you can all over her face and capture the genuine reactions of her giggling uncontrollably and all the moments in between. All you have to do is be yourself! We have questionnaires and meet ups to discuss what you need from us and how we can best serve you on your day.
Your elopement is going to be chock full of emotions- and we're there to capture them all. While we will for sure be capturing the sentimental portraits that you'll cherish forever, most of the day is going to be documentary style photographs (meaning lots of candids).
Consider us flies on the wall or professional third wheels that will let you know if we need you to repeat any motions or face a certain window for light. In the meantime, just do your thing honey, it's your special day.
1. Prepare your details the night before. Put them all in a box or bag for us. Consider all the things you'll want photographed on your elopement day. For example: your jewelry, your shoes, your perfume, your vows.
2. If you are doing a first look, consider how you will approach him- tapping him on the shoulder? A bear hug? It helps to think things through.
3. Make sure you have a sewing kit! Just in case.
4. If we are taking any portraits in a bridal suit or hotel room try to keep it clear of clutter- so you don't have random objects in your background. Make sure the room has ample natural light and we'll often have you facing a window.
5. Bring a pretty hangar for your dress.
Ladies, we all have our insecurities, and your wedding day should be the LAST place you're thinking about them. You've spent to much time planning your look, makeup, hair, dress, and we want it to be the day you feel the most gorgeous. When you get back your photos we want you to say "wow, I looked stunning". So Sarah has addressed a few common concerns she had on her wedding day, and has seen other woman question as well.
1. Your Side: Hey ladies, so I definitely have a "side". This is the side that I often like photos of my face. For the longest time I thought I was super weird that I preferred a side but it's actually pretty common! So, if you have a side let us know. We'll probably ask you too. While we can't do much about candids or where you stand during your vows, we'll be sure to keep it in mind during your portraits!
2. Arms: Most of us notice when our arms are smooshed up against our body and it flattens out wider in photos, right? Here's a trick: If your arm is resting on your body, pretend there is a tennis ball right under your armpit between arm and body. If you move your arm just slightly away from your body it looks longer and leaner! So if you hear me say pull your arm away from your body, you'll know what I mean!
3. Legs: Being in a wedding dress doesn't allow for much leg action, but if your going to bend a knee, the farthest knee from the camera will give a nice silhouette. And if your man dips you for a kiss, point that toe!
4. We all love photos of us laughing and they always look so good. We're going to have you laughing many times throughout the day. If you bend from your waist, and laugh forward instead of backwards- no double chins!
Ok fellas, we know photos aren't your MOST favorite thing. But we want to make sure they aren't as strenuous as you think. We want this to be fun. So feel free to goof off and be silly. We give you permission to be 10 years old again. Here's a few tips:
1. The Blazer: If you're going to put your arms around anyone- friends, family, a groomsmen- for photos, unbutton your blazer. Otherwise it looks stretched out and silly. We'll remind you!
2. Where do you look: You don't have to look at the camera. For family photos, yes you do, but for portraits you actually shouldn't. This is about your beautiful bride and you! We're peering in on a moment. Keep your eyes on her or look around at your surroundings.
3. What to do with your hands: If you ever feel uncomfortable with your hands put them in your pant pockets. It looks suave. This works for Groomsmen photos really well. When you're with your lady, put your arms around her waist. You can brush her hair out of her face or hold her hand. If you other hand is doing nothing- pockets!
Sarah and Brent are a husband and wife team based out of southern California who specialize in moody, timeless, and intimate portraits for the fiercely in love. They have shot all throughout southern California and plan to tackle the globe one love story at a time. When they're not behind the lens you can find them at local coffee shops or exploring historical sites. Bonus points if you're getting married near ancient ruins!