9 Tips For How to Elope

Brides stand holding hands while looking at a waterfall and mountain views in Yosemite, wearing backpacks with Just Married signs.

You’ve decided you want to elope and that’s awesome! We’re guessing that instead of a big traditional wedding, you would prefer something more intimate. A day that is focused on you and your partner instead of all of your guests. But now you’re probably wondering exactly how to elope. Well, we’ve got some tips for you so take a look!

1. Hire an experienced elopement photographer to help take on the stress and planning (um, like us!)

Our biggest piece of advice is to start by hiring an elopement photographer who can help you figure out all the details and help take away any stress you might be feeling. We not only photograph your big day, but we also help you plan everything. I mean, shit, you’ve never done this before and even though it’s a small wedding (or maybe even just the two of you), there are still some things that you need to figure out before you say “I do”. 

2. Decide on a location – general area.

Ok, this can be difficult when figuring out how to elope because there are so many beautiful places to choose from! Our advice would be to sit down together and talk about the type of landscape you imagine when you think about your elopement day. Are there mountains, trees, desert, or the beach? What time of year is it? Is there snow, fall colors, or wildflowers? It can be somewhere you’ve been to a million times or somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit! Once you figure out the general area, we’ll help you narrow it down bit by bit until you decide on the perfect location for your elopement. Here are the best places to elope in California, Montana, and Yosemite (in our opinion!). 

First dance on a wedding day in the Grand Tetons, Wyoming
Standing holding hands in a field of purple flowers in Glacier National Park, Montana.
Couple walk hand in hand across the sand dunes on their elopement day.

3. Invite family and friends…or don’t!

The most controversial topic when sorting out how to elope is whether or not to invite guests.  For some couples this is easy, and for others, it’s not. We get it! When trying to decide, circle back to what you imagine for your elopement day. Are there people in your life that you feel you want by your side? Or would you rather share beautiful photos when you get home? You two have to choose what is best for you. 

A family wedding photo in Jackson Wyoming.
Walking along a road on a couple's wedding day with Half Dome, Yosemite in the background.

4. Book accommodations.

Once you decide on a location, it’s time to book accommodations. We’ve learned the hard way that sometimes it’s better to book things like a hotel/Airbnb ahead of time so you’re not stuck at a Motel 6 on your elopement night 😬.  AirBNBs in some of these places sell out years in advance these days! When you are considering where to stay, look for places that have fun architecture and lots of windows if possible. That way the lighting will be better for your getting ready photos!


5. Hire other vendors.

This kind of falls in the same line as accommodations, especially if you found another vendor you are dying to work with (hair and makeup, florist,  videographer, etc.). When you find those people, reach out and chat with them to see if they would be a good fit for what you are looking for, and to see if they have any availability!


6. Get the legal stuff out of the way. (permits, marriage licenses, etc.)

When you’re trying to figure out how to elope, this can feel a bit confusing when you first look into it! But fear not, we’re here to help! Becky is an authorized officiant in all 50 states and will do her best to answer any questions you have about the marriage license and any rules that might apply to the state you’re getting married in. We also keep up to date with the ever-changing wedding permits that National Parks have in place (and oh boy do they change often!). We’re here to help and will pass along all the information we have to make sure you’re good to go for your elopement.


7. Choose some activities to include that you love to do or that you’ve always wanted to try.

This is one of our favorite parts and we even wrote a blog post (linked below) about all the activities you could include! Now is the perfect time to start chatting about what you want your elopement day to look like. Are you both hikers who love being on the trail? Or is being on the water in a kayak more your thing? Or maybe some type of 2-wheeled instrument (hello mountain biking?!)? Maybe the thing you two love most in life (besides each other of course) is food! Plan your elopement day around amazing meals or hire a private chef to wine and dine you in that perfect Airbnb you found!  

The options really are endless and if you’re feeling stumped when looking at how to elope, don’t worry! We’ll get to know the two of you and help suggest ideas that are relatable to you and stuff that you like to do.

bride and groom standing next to snowmobile in route to their Montana elopement.
Hiking in Glacier National Park while walking hand in hand down a trail.
Newlyweds paddle a canoe away from the ceremony site in Glacier National Park.

8. Chat with your elopement photographer about a timeline!

The details are mostly figured out and now is the fun part! We start thinking about a timeline early on but now we get to actually write it out and see what it will look like! While we suggest a timeline, we love to make plenty of room for those spontaneous decisions and let the fun and beauty unfold as it goes! 


9. Get married!

And just like that, your wedding day is here and you are marrying your person. You two can celebrate watching the sunset over the mountains or with an intimate dinner and champagne! However you decide to celebrate, we’ll be there capturing every second of it!

Newlywed brides smile and cheer with excitement just after their Grand Teton elopement.
Bride and groom standing face to face after figuring out how to elope in Yosemite.
Groom dips his bride backwards and they press their foreheads together.

Now that you know how to elope, let us help you plan out the details!