Elopement Planning Guide


You’re engaged!!!! EEEEEEK CONGRATULATIONS x 1000000. Seriously so excited and so dang happy for you!!

I’ll say it again and again, marriage is seriously the best thing ever. You’re committing yourself to be and stay and work at being best friends for forevs. You get to wake up next to each other, cheer each other on when things get tough, call each other out and encourage each other when the better qualities start to slip, and celebrate all the joys that are coming your way!!

I love weddings so much, but love marriage even more.

So now the fun and maybe slightly stressful part comes-the planning!! Here’s my guide to focusing more on that first word (ha!), and to enjoy the process in planning your elopement!

Here we go.

1.Decide how large of a wedding you would like, and what your general budget is.

I’ll likely be writing a separate post dedicated only to this step. BUT in general here are some quick pros and cons to each:

Traditional wedding:


A lot of your family/friends/favorites are all together in one place celebrating you!

You can have all the elements of that day! (first dances, mother son/ father daughter dance, bouquet toss, garter toss, etc)


More expensive

More elements/pieces/planning to come together = more potential stress



You can focus on just the two of you

More simple, less potential for stress

Typically much less expensive

More flexible/not as many time constraints

Less people/only the ones closest to you are there


Some of the traditional wedding elements may not make sense to include

Less people (could be a pro or con)

2. Nail down a date or time frame.

Are you constricted to either your or family members vacation schedules? If you’re wide open, are you envisioning a fall wedding, summer wedding, winter theme, etc?

3. Choose your venue.

Often popular spaces will book about 1-2 years in advance, especially for popular weekend dates. The smaller/lesser known ones would be more open. OR if you’re eloping outdoors-you’re golden!! *for the most part. Some places (popular National Parks) may have a limit on the amount of permits they distribute during different seasons. Reach out to make sure!

4. Get your photographer lined up!

If your dates have some flexibility, I would even reach out before you choose your venue, just to be sure that they are available. If you are eloping, and open to location or general location, I would share with your photographer what you are envisioning! A big part of the service I provide is location assistance for my couple’s sessions and elopements.There are definite things that photographers can see in different locations that photograph beautifully. Share your vision and trust in your photographers guidance to get you the most epic location!

A few things to think about when choosing an elopement photographer:

Am I in love with their work? Can I picture myself in their photos? Can I picture their work hanging up in my home? Do I trust this person and their experience to capture one of the most important moments of my life? Do I have a good read on their personality and feel like we could be really good friends?

5. Start shopping!

Again, your photographer will likely be a great resource! Different types of fabrics/cuts work better in different environments. As elopement photographers, we spend so much time working with wedding related things-our own brides, Pinterest, looking at other photographers work, going to workshops focused on wedding related topics. We are a great resource to help guide you if you feel lost with shopping!

6. Start reaching out to your other vendors!

If you are actually getting married during the elopement, you will definitely need an officiant. You may also like hair and makeup artist, florist, wedding planner, wedding cake, etc.

You did it! If you follow this guideline and just don’t procrastinate (talking to my fellow enneagram 7’s!), you will have the best elopement day ever. Make it your’s, make it special, make it as simple or extra as you want. Just make it feel like you, and have some fun with it! The design part can be so fun to infuse your personality into it!

ALSO, enjoy the process!! If something feels stressful or overwhelming, take a break from it-if you need and can afford a week off from it, do it. If you can only afford a couple hours off, do that.

Figure out what you’re good at, and what areas are struggle bus for you. Delegate tasks between each other, or out to family members if you can! Some areas include-vendor communication, the timeline/planning, budget/spread sheets, overall design, lodging/accommodations/travel, etc. Split up tasks, and ask for help when you need it!

Think outside the box when it comes to adding fun details. Look in thrift stores, check out Etsy. They have some adorable and super affordable wedding dresses and hair pieces!

I hope this helps you plan your most beautiful day! I’d love to hear your thoughts or tips!!


Hey friend!

Hi! I’m Emily, a couples, elopement and brand photographer based on Oahu, Hawaii.
You want a stress free, meaningful, and inspired approach to photography-something creative but still refined. Comfortable, but still elegant. I deeply value every couple that I get to create with, and can’t wait to hear your vision and collaborate with you!