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How To Elope: A Complete Guide

How To Elope: A Complete Guide

March 27, 2023
How To Elope, A Complete Guide

Let’s be honest. Not everyone wants a big wedding, and that’s perfectly fine. Whether it’s because you don’t want to be the center of attention or because your wedding plans had to be postponed indefinitely, eloping can be a great alternative.

 Eloping is a marriage conducted without the knowledge of the couple’s family and friends, often without a reception or celebration. However, planning an elopement can feel overwhelming and scary. If you’re dreaming of an adventure elopement but not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. In this how to elope checklist, we’ll walk you through the dos and don’ts of eloping so you can plan your perfect day stress-free.

Why Couples Elope

Couples choose to elope for various reasons. For some, the idea of a big wedding celebration is unappealing, while others are spontaneous and seek unconventional adventures. Financial considerations may also be a factor, as some couples may choose to combine their beach vacation with their wedding to save money. These and other reasons have led many couples to forgo tradition and opt for a quick and simple elopement instead.

This guide will take you through a step-by-step process for eloping, along with etiquette tips for getting married on the down-low. So grab a pen and paper and a celebratory drink for two, and let’s get started!

   Your How To Elope Checklist

1. Determine A Budget

Although elopements are typically less expensive than traditional weddings, they still come with their own costs. To start planning your elopement, sit down with your partner and discuss your budget. Determine how much of your savings or disposable income you are willing to allocate towards this event. It’s important to be realistic about your expectations and finances, and to factor in a little wiggle room for any unexpected expenses. Your budget will serve as a guide throughout the planning process and help you make difficult decisions with a firm bottom line in mind.

2. Choose The Season & Atmosphere For Your elopement

To start planning your elopement, you don’t need to have an exact location in mind, but it helps to have an idea of the type of landscape you’re looking for and the time of year you want to get married. If you’re unsure where to start, try looking at the top 10 national parks wedding list to get inspired. Do you envision snow-covered pines and a wintry hike, a lush forest filled with ferns, or a mountainside meadow bursting with wildflowers as your ideal elopement location? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you begin your search for the perfect spot to say “I do.”

3. Check The Law & Regulations

Regardless of where you choose to elope, it is essential to ensure that your marriage is legally recognized, unless you prefer a spiritual union. To avoid any hiccups, it is crucial to conduct thorough research on the legal requirements, location permissions, or guidelines you may need to follow. Considerthe following:

  • Marriage License: The requirements for obtaining a marriage license for your wedding vary depend on the state where you plan to hold your ceremony. Once you’ve chosen your location, you can find out what specific steps are required by reading up on the requirements. It’s often a multi-day process, and it may require booking appointments in advance.
  • Getting Married In Public Land Like A National Park: If you’re planning to tie the knot on public lands like a National Park, you’ll need to obtain a Special Use Permit. This document allows you to hold your event within the park and typically requires you to provide information about your event such as location and number of guests, and pay a fee. If you’re planning to get married in a state park, there’s a good chance you’ll need a permit as well.
  • Photography & Wedding Videography permits: They also vary by state/park. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of this one!

    4. Hire your elopement team

    When planning your elopement, it’s important to consider the professionals you’ll need to hire, such as an officiant, makeup artist, florist, planner, and caterer. Additionally, it’s crucial to find a photographer and videographer who not only captures your special day but also clicks with you on a personal level. At Ancora Ever After, we take it a step further by working closely with you to plan the perfect day, including finding the right trails and scenic overlooks, creating a detailed timeline, and providing a curated list of potential vendors and lodging options. We also prioritize getting to know you beforehand so that we can capture your day in the most authentic and personalized way possible. If you’re looking for a elopement videographer & photographer who can guide you through the planning process and capture your dream elopement, we’re here to help.


    To save money and minimize stress, it’s best to book your elopement destination well in advance. Remember, your location doesn’t necessarily have to be a far-flung exotic destination, but it’s an important factor to consider. If you’re planning a destination elopement in an unfamiliar place, seeking advice from experienced elopement planners can help you navigate the process with ease.

    The ambiance of your elopement is greatly influenced by your choice of lodging, and it’s important to also keep in mind how it will appear in your getting-ready photos and videography.

    Remember to consider logistics, such as the proximity of your lodging to the locations you plan to visit during your elopement. You don’t want to spend hours in the car on your big day. When we work together, we’ll take this into account when making recommendations, so you have one fewer thing to stress about.


    What you wear, whether or not to exchange rings, how to exchange vows, and whether or not to have a bouquet are all important considerations for making your elopement moment special. Even if you’re not walking down the aisle, it’s still a highly anticipated event.

    Pro Tip: Couples who go hiking opt to change out of their formal attire for most of the hike, then change back when we close in our destination. 


    Whatever your vision may be, you can make it a reality – from sharing a PB&Js at the mountaintop after your ceremony to bringing your furry friend or keeping it intimate with just the two of you.

    Consider what kind of celebration is most meaningful for you as a couple. This could mean having an intimate gathering with just the two of you, a large reception with friends and family, or something in between. 

    Alternatively, you can postpone the celebration to a later date, such as a one-year anniversary party. If you’re in a destination away from family and friends, consider treating yourselves to a fancy dinner at a top-rated restaurant, perhaps with a chef’s table and wine pairings.

    Elopement Etiquette

    Prepare Yourself for Family and Close Friends’ Reactions

    The most challenging aspect of eloping is the fear that loved ones will feel excluded from the big day. Not everyone will be supportive of your decision, and you should be prepared for their reactions. We suggests informing your parents before eloping to minimize any negative reactions after the fact. Also, try to include your closest friends and family in some way, such as sharing photos with them or hosting a reception after the wedding. It’s crucial to avoid shocking your loved ones with a social media announcement, and instead, inform them in person. If anyone feels left out or upset, a heartfelt note can help ease the situation.

    Hire A Planner, Photographer, and Videographer

    Even if you’re having a small wedding, it’s still a good idea to seek assistance. Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you should improvise everything. Bringing on a wedding planner can relieve a lot of stress for you and your forever love. Additionally, a planner can recommend unique and lesser-known locations that you may not have considered. Furthermore, it’s essential to hire both a photographer and a wedding videographer to capture your special day. This is particularly significant for elopements because it enables you to share the experience with loved ones who couldn’t attend.

    Choose Guests or Witnesses

    While eloping traditionally means running away and getting married in secret, having a few guests to witness your union is becoming more common. Whether it’s a legal requirement or you just want to share the moment with a small group of loved ones, it’s okay to have guests at your elopement. However, it’s important to keep the number of guests small, typically under a dozen. If you’re planning to invite guests, you’ll need to make more formal arrangements rather than simply showing up at a courthouse.

    Send a Marriage Announcement

    It’s a good idea to send a marriage announcement after your elopement. This way, you can let people know that you’re already married and showcase some of your intimate wedding photos. It’s also a great opportunity to update your loved ones who may have been expecting a save-the-date or wondering about your engagement. 

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