While elopements are quickly gaining in popularity, especially now that more and more couples are choosing to have a wedding day that feels like them, there is still a lot of misconceptions out there. I answer 15 of the most frequently asked questions about elopements below to help you understand what it really means to elope.
Choosing to elope is no longer only about running off to Vegas for a quick, emotionless, drive-through ceremony. Actually, your elopement can be so much more than that. Having an elopement is just as important as a traditional wedding day and I hope that more and more couples can discover the freedom of elopements.
If you've just gotten engaged or maybe you've been together for a while and already know that the traditional wedding day isn't for you, then an elopement might be a really good option! I know it can be scary to choose something different than what most people do, but I promise, an elopement is always worth it. By doing something new and different, there's probably a ton of questions that immediately pop up like how I do elope? Where do I go? How do I even start to plan?
It's impossible to know everything about wedding planning, especially if you've never done it this way before. I've helped planned countless elopements and small weddings for couples just like you. I've learned a lot along the way and want to help you have the wedding day of your dreams.
15 of the most frequently asked questions about elopements.
Table of Contents:
- What is an elopement?
- Do I have to hike?
- Why do people choose to elope?
- Can I elope with family?
- Isn't an elopement short?
- Where do I elope?
- How to decide where to elope?
- How do I tell family I want to elope?
- Is eloping selfish?
- Is an elopement a real wedding?
- How much does it cost to elope?
- What happens during an elopement ceremony?
- What other vendors do I need?
- How do I start planning my elopement?
- How to elope with Black Salt Photography
- Elopement Inspiration
FAQ's About Elopements
Q: What is an elopement?
An elopement is an intentionally small, intimately focused wedding day where you can celebrate your love without hesitation or the performance of a traditional wedding day.
Your elopement will be different from anyone else's because it's your day. You can include only the things that mean the most to you and get rid of the rest. Feel skeezed out by a garter toss or getting ready without your partner? Skip it! You can get ready together and it's so magical. You can elope anywhere at any time which means you don't just have to get married on a Saturday. In fact, a lot of things like transportation or hotels are likely a lot cheaper on a weekday!
To clarify, an elopement isn't some quick decision without any planning. It's still a full wedding day with romance, intention, and personality, just like you!
Q: Do I have to hike to elope?
Nah, boo! If you're feeling adventurous and love a good hike then go for it, but you definitely don't have to do that. Adventure elopements can be breathtaking, but you don't have to hike 5 miles to have your own adventure. Some of my favorite places here in Oregon to elope are only a few minutes walk from the parking lot. Part of the planning process of working with me as your elopement photographer is I take into consideration your adventure needs while creating your location list. You can choose how complex you want your adventure to be.
Some eloping couples prefer to have more of a city elopement. You can explore the downtown area, hit up a food truck, or try drinks at your favorite local bar. Go on a canoe ride or just rent a cabin in the woods and snuggle all day. All of these adventures can be personalized to you and your partner so you don't have to do anything you don't want to or that feels like a performance.
Q: Why do people choose to elope?
The decision to elope can depend on so many things. Some couples choose to elope for budget reasons while others choose to elope because they want a day that truly feels like them. Above all, the best part about an elopement is that there aren't any rules. You can choose to elope just because you want to and not have any other reason than that.
A few popular reasons couples choose to elope are:
- They want something less expensive. Elopements tend to be less expensive because you don't have to spend lots of money on rentals and dinner for 200+ people. Even if your elopement ends up being around the same price as a traditional wedding, you'll likely feel more accomplished and proud of the money you're spending on the elopement because you know exactly where it's going and what it's getting you.
- They want to experience an adventure together. You can combine your elopement and honeymoon together by eloping somewhere absolutely amazing and then exploring that area together afterward. Or you can enjoy a beautiful hike together in the morning and say your vows at the top of a waterfall. These adventures would be impossible with hundreds of people which is part of the reason why elopements naturally feel more intimate.
- They didn't want the performance of a traditional wedding day. If you really think about it, having a traditional wedding is a pretty unnatural experience compared to the rest of our lives. Spending thousands of dollars on a party with mediocre food and over-the-top decor isn't really how we live our day-to-day life. It's impossible to really enjoy substantial conversation with that many people on your wedding day so the whole thing quickly starts to feel like a performance for other people rather than actually celebrating your love. An elopement lets you focus on what is truly important to you and celebrates your love story to its fullest.
Check out this blog to see more common reasons couples choose to elope.
Q: Can I elope with family?
Yes! A common misconception about elopements is that it only has to be the couple, but that is not true. Typically, elopements don't have more than 10 people in attendance. Anything more than that makes it an intimate or small wedding instead.
You can definitely bring your friends or closest family members with you while you elope if you want to. You have a few options when it comes to eloping with family:
- Spend the whole day with family, similar to a traditional wedding
- Do a morning hike or adventure where you say your vows to each other and then have a ceremony in the afternoon with your family
- Do your whole ceremony on the first day with just the two of you and celebrate with food or a party the next day with friends and family
Q: Isn't an elopement short?
Not really. While your elopement day might be shorter because you don't have to try and coordinate 200 people, I prefer to focus on all of the meaningful moments more. By giving these moments the time and attention they deserve, you'll find your elopement day is longer than you may have thought.
Your elopement day is not just a photo session. We spend time on your wedding day with all of the little details, your love story and personal adventure, and so much more. A traditional wedding day blows right through every moment as soon the pictures are done and doesn't focus on the emotions. When you go through your elopement gallery from me you're going to feel exactly what it was like to be in the moment.
Q: Where do I elope?
Anywhere (within reason)! You can elope almost anywhere in the world as long as your budget allows. Depending on where you elope there will likely be permits you have to purchase and apply for ahead of time. This process can be confusing so I always help my couples to make sure everything is legally taken care of.
Check out some of my favorite places to elope here in Oregon on this blog.
Q: How do I decide where to elope?
If you already know where you want to get married then that's easy! However, many couples need a bit more planning and brainstorming before they can decide. A lot of my couples contact me for their elopement before they have any idea where they want to elope. Together, I help them think about what scenery they love the most, how they want to feel on their wedding day, the weather they want, etc. After that, I send over a customized location list for every couple to choose from.
If you're just starting out with the planning process, I recommend sitting down with your partner and writing down everything you would want to do on your perfect wedding day. Don't think about budget or logistics while you're doing this. Once you both have a list, compare them and see what matches. Imagine yourselves in these locations and picture what feels right to you. There isn't a right or wrong answer, but this exercise should get you started in the process of finding your perfect elopement location.
Q: How do I tell my family I want to elope?
For a lot of people, telling your family you eloped or want to elope is really scary. It can be hard to go against the norm, especially if you know your friends or family won't understand. My best tip for telling your family you want to elope is to just be honest with them. Sometimes your family might take it personally and think you're eloping just so they can't be included or they might shame you for being selfish. Just remind them that this decision to elope is what feels right to you and your partner and give them all the reasons you decided it. If you want to, you can still include your family in other planning aspects like bridal showers, outfit shopping, or scouring online for the best travel deals.
Ultimately, it comes down to what you want and what is best for you. You're the only ones getting married and your wedding should be about your love - not about everyone else.
Q: Is eloping selfish?
Not at all. Eloping isn't about removing everyone else from your wedding day just to spite them. Instead, choosing to elope is about removing the items that don't feel true to you and adding in the space to enjoy the ones that do.
Q: Is an elopement a real wedding?
If you complete the legal paperwork, yes it is! Elopements are real weddings just like a traditional wedding is. You don't have to pay $60 per person who attends your reception to have a "real wedding".
To me, elopements are more "real" than a traditional wedding because you're really experiencing the love of the day instead of focusing on making everyone else happy.
Q: How much does an elopement cost?
This answer depends on how and where you decide to elope. Eloping locally will be cheaper than a destination elopement (though both are amazing). If you're going to add in activities like a helicopter ride, private chef, or personal massages then your budget will likely increase. Elopements tend to be cheaper than traditional weddings because you aren't having to fund 200 guests. However, you can spend just as much on your elopement as a traditional wedding if you want to!
On average, an elopement will cost between $6,000-$20,000 which is much lower than the average traditional wedding cost of over $30,000.
When planning your elopement budget, keep in mind that your travel, photographer, videographer, and florals will have the biggest impacts on your budget. It's important to allot your funds to the parts that are most important to you like your elopement photographer.
Head over to this blog for an in-depth explanation of elopement costs and how they compare to traditional weddings.
Q: What happens during an elopement ceremony?
Your elopement ceremony can be as simple as saying your vows or as complex as adding in traditions, religious ceremonies, or unity symbols.
Handwritten vows are the perfect way to include personal touches to your elopement day and I highly recommend writing them down so you can cherish them forever.
Other elopement ceremony ideas are handfasting, pour-painting, releasing butterflies, religious traditions, exchanging rings, sage smudging, or planting a tree together. You can create the ceremony that feels the most impactful to you on your elopement day.
Q: What other vendors do I need for an elopement?
At the minimum, you need an officiant and photographer for your elopement day. Your photographer is likely the only one who can give you the memories you'll have for a lifetime. We spend the most time with you on your elopement day so it's important to find a photographer you trust and connect with.
Other wonderful vendors to include on your elopement day are a videographer, florist, hair and makeup artist, live painting artist, musicians, and catering. Go as big or as small as you want but each of these artists (because that's really what we all are) can add so much love and beauty to your wedding day.
Q: How do I start planning my elopement?
Usually, the first thing couples book when they decide to elope is their photographer. This is because most elopement photographers, like myself, also double as elopement planners. This means I help you every step of the way and make sure your entire process and day go perfectly.
I recommend searching for your dream elopement photographer to begin your planning process and they will help guide you to the next step. Browse all the inspiration you can with Pinterest or elopement planning blogs like Wandering Weddings.
If you're not quite sure where to go from there, download my Complete Elopement Checklist. This guide is full of helpful tips and tricks as well as checklists you can follow for each stage of planning.
Q: How do I elope with Black Salt Photography?
1. Dream Big
The first step of eloping with me is to dream up everything you could want on your wedding day. Together we will create your perfect wedding day. I send over a questionnaire to get to know the two of you as well as a customized location list, clothing guide, and so much more.
2. The Logistics
Throughout your planning, I will give you helpful tips to consider. I will be with you every step of the way and will use my expertise as an elopement photographer and recent bride myself to answer any and every question you may have. We will discuss the logistics of your elopement location, any permits you'll need, and the weather.
3. Get Married
When it's finally your wedding day I will help make sure your day goes to plan while still allowing for the real moments. I don't go by rigid timelines or minute-by-minute activities. We will focus on your love all throughout the day and it's going to be amazing! I will make sure you eat and drink enough water and, of course, get all the dreamy images.
4. After Wedding Bliss
Just because your elopement day is over doesn't mean the fun stops. You'll receive sneak peeks of your images within a week. I love including special touches at every moment and will give you a full gallery you're going to love forever. Ordering prints or albums of your photos is another way to relive every memory!
If you've been connecting with everything about having an elopement so far then I encourage you to check out these jaw-dropping elopements to keep you inspired. Save these blogs or pin the images to Pinterest so you can keep coming back.
Sand Dunes Elopement
El Dorado Elopement
How To Switch To An Elopement
An elopement in the historic El Dorado Mining town.
Get lost in the sand dunes with the love of your life.
Learn how to switch from a traditional wedding to an elopement.
Cozy Oregon Elopement
Latourell Falls Elopement
God's Thumb Elopement
Learn how simple it can be to have an adventurous waterfall elopement in Oregon.
The Oregon coast is full of some of the most beautiful places to elope.
Watch the sunset on these two lovebirds as they dance along the sand.
"Destiny definitely stood out amongst other photographers because we absolutely loved how involved she was from the very beginning. She really wants to get to know you- which makes for really intimate photos! She asks tons of questions, which is awesome because you feel like you know her before even meeting her! And once you finally do, she is so so sweet!!! Destiny is so great at communicating and being really involved in every detail! She captured every emotion and detail perfectly, whenever I look at our wedding pictures, it brings back every feeling on our special day. TEARS!"
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