Elopement Checklist | Rita Wedding Studio
Deciding to elope is a BIG decision! Eloping once was considered something people did in hiding, not anymore! Choosing to elope is about saying no to the stress of planning a huge party for everyone else and saying YES to planning a day about you two as a couple.
There are some things to consider before planning to elope. Having an elopement checklist can make the task seem much less daunting! First, you must decide what is best for your relationship. Family approval isn’t guaranteed, but you truly cannot please everyone in life. It is impossible! As a couple you need to decide what is best for you two.
Once you have made the decision that YES you want to elope, let the planning begin! While skipping the big wedding does take away MANY checklist tasks, there are still things to consider to make your elopement the meaningful celebration it deserves to be! An elopement checklist is a must have!
Dream up your elopement
This is about you and your partner sitting down individually and writing down how you envision your elopement day. What does it look like? Are there mountains, ocean, wooded area, or is it in the city? What do you envision your elopement day FEELING like? Does it feel romantic, special, FUN, or like an experience? Write it ALL out! When you are finished share your dream day vision with your partner! This will be an eye opening experience to see how similar or how different your visions are! Doing this exercise individually will prevent one person from being swayed by the other’s opinion on eloping.
2. Create a budget
This is one of the most important items on the checklist. Before coming up with a solid amount of money you want to spend on your elopement, prioritize what is most important to the two of you. Go back to your elopement vision you did during the first step. Your vision will help you understand what is most important to you two. Is having beautiful photos of your elopement day important to you? Is the location and making it an experience important? To make your elopement meaningful and special it takes a team! Come up with a solid dollar amount you are willing to spend on your elopement, and as you uncover the team members needed to make this day special, you can allocate funds as needed! Check out this budget calculator the knot has available to couples!
3. Decide on an elopement location
Go back to your vision and decide on the overall aesthetic. Then you can decide on a location. Will it be a local elopement within your home state? Or do you want to fly to a destination?
4. Search for an elopement photographer
Many elopement photographers also plan elopements but not all photographers are created equal. You need to make sure that the photographer you choose offerings align with your vision. If you are choosing a destination elopement, consider hiring someone familiar with the area! If you are hiring someone locally, make sure what they offer aligns with what you want! Before signing any contract, talk to them on the phone to get a feel for their personality as well. You will see more of this person than anyone else on your special day. Many photographers are also officiants which is an extra bonus that makes things that much more simple!
5. Decide on a date
Once you have hired a photographer to capture your elopement, check with their availability and decide on a date! If you are choosing a venue to get married at make sure to check with the venue as well before setting the date in stone. Weekdays are encouraged if you are getting married in a park, as there are significantly less people in parks on the weekdays. Also, make sure the photographer has permits secured for the park. National parks require a wedding permit in most cases. State parks are a bit more flexible!
6. Decide if you will have any guests
This can be tricky. I suggest the all or nothing approach but sometimes having a handful of loved ones is the best option. In my experience, if you only invite a few people and exclude the rest people get their feelings hurt and drama can erupt. Go back to your vision and decide if having guests align with your dream elopement vision or not!
7. Book an engagement session
Of course this is optional! Your engagement session can be a great experience especially if you use your elopement photographer. It will allow you a chance to see how they work, how they pose you, and get comfortable with them! You can also use the engagement photos in your invites to your elopement if you are having guests.
8. Decide on what you will wear at your elopement
I recommend doing this even if you are eloping in your home state. This is a special day that deserves a celebration in every way! If you are eloping out of town, reserve a rental car, and do some research on places you want to visit while you are there!
10. Book an officiant
Research officiants in the location you decided on for your elopement or ask a loved one if they would officiate. They have to be ordained online first. If you are eloping in another state make sure to check the laws in that state for officiants.
12. Write you vows
Many couples decide to write their own vows for their elopement since it will be private. I suggest you start writing them soon after you get engaged so you have plenty of time. I did this and was so glad I did! You never know when you will feel inspired, so I created a note in my phone to write them in.
13. Book vendors local to the area
If you want flowers, a bouquet, boutonnieres, or florals for an arch hire a florist in advance to make sure they are available. Same goes for hair and makeup. Many elopement couples decide to do their own hair and makeup but I suggest hiring professionals! When I did my hair and makeup for my engagement session I was a hot mess. I can’t imagine having the pressure of doing it all myself for my elopement!
14. Think about a music playlist for your elopement
I create a playlist based off songs each of my elopement couples like! I also ask my couples to decide on a first look, ceremony, and first dance song. Music is such an important part of elopements as it sets the mood for the couple and helps them relax.
15. Plan a meal for after the ceremony
I always bring a snack for my couples to eat after the ceremony or toast! This is important. Plan ahead if you are doing any sort of hiking to your elopement location. If you want to go to a nice restaurant that night make sure to make reservations the week before the ceremony. Ask your elopement photographer if they have any recommendations for nice restaurant close by! Always check the reviews before booking!
16. ENJOY elopement planning
You decided to elope for many reasons but one of them being to say no to all the stress of throwing a giant party for everyone else and being true to yourselves. Make the elopement planning fun by creating date nights and fun experiences around the planning! This elopement checklist is a great place to start! Remember to focus on your relationship first, then elopement planning!
17. Create an elopement announcement using photos from your elopement
This is a fun way to announce your elopement to family and friends! This can also be the first time they hear about your elopement. Don’t feel pressured to share until you are ready! When you get your wedding photos back you can decide which ones are your favorite and incorporate them into your announcement! You can make a digital announcement, send a card with a couple of prints from your elopement, or create an announcement from a website!