How to Plan Your Elopement

Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now all of the planning can begin! If you’re on this blog, that means you’ve already made the first step, decided you want to elope or have an intimate wedding, and are now wondering how to plan your elopement! 

Decades ago the term “elopement” was used to describe a couple running off to get married without loved ones having any knowledge about the union. This relationship might have been frowned upon then, but today, elopements are so much more than that. Eloping is the desire for couples to be uniquely themselves. They are adventure seekers and want the freedom of getting married THEIR way.

However, all of this freedom and creative flexibility means some planning must be done -  if you think about it, you can get married practically ANWHEREEEEE how do you choose?! There isn’t a template on what an elopement day should look like and you are probably wondering how to plan your elopement if there are no restrictions... The freedom of being able to do whatever you want can be incredibly overwhelming.

In a rush? Pin this post to your board to read it later!

While elopements and intimate weddings do not have the stress, pressure, and financial obligation of a large “traditional” wedding, don’t underestimate the planning it takes to bring your dream elopement or intimate wedding to life! We are by no means saying this to scare you or try to convince you that an elopement / intimate wedding isn’t the way to go (because it 100% is and we love them - if you don’t believe us, please view our reasons why you should elope), but it takes a little planning for your perfect elopement day!

The good news is that, in true Early Night fashion, we promise our couples that we will slap any and all stress in the face (gently) and put your priorities on a pedestal that no one can touch! So, we’ve got your back when it comes to planning your elopement and we’re here to make it easier on you — which is why we’ve put together this guide on how to plan your elopement! It includes some goodies, like our own personal general timeline you can use for planning your elopement or intimate wedding!

Imagine Your Dream Day

This is the perfect place to start planning your elopement. Think of what your dream day would look like and what that may include. Here are some questions that may help you think of what you want:  

  • Do you have a place or location that holds sentimental meaning for your relationship? 
  • What season would you like to elope during?
Bride and Groom laughing on their elopement day

Discover The Key Components You Want to Incorporate

These components can be small or large, but they are what will make your day special, unique, and customized exactly to your elopement. Think about the events that you want to have captured as another starting point on how to plan your elopement.

Here are some ideas:

  • Making morning coffee, kayaking, pool lounging, yoga… literally you can do ANYTHING!
  • Getting ready
  • Exchanging gifts and/or letters
  • First look photos
  • Ceremony + vows
  • Family portraits
  • Romantics
  • Private Chef dinner
  • Desserts/S’mores
  • Do you want a unique experience?
    • Helicopter Ride
    • Hot air balloon
    • Floatplane pilot 
    • 4x4 vehicle
    • Vintage car
bride getting her make-up done on her elopement day

Find Your Vendors!

While having elopement photographers picked out to capture your special day is super important, there are quite a few other vendors you may need to consider hiring. The type of elopement you’re having will determine whether or not you need vendors with specific experience and also determines where to start in how to plan for your elopement. The more remote and wild the wedding location, the more important it can be to find vendors with an outdoor experience. If you have vendors in mind that you already know you want to work with, do not hesitate to reach out as soon as possible! Even in the elopement world, vendors are getting booked up a lot further than they were before. Once you have your date, definitely get in touch so you can work with your top choices!

  • Videographer
  • Wedding Planner 
    • While we help A LOT with planning and making sure that your day is flowing smoothly, a wedding planner will handle allllll the things that you don’t even know you need to be handling. This list of vendors can seem overwhelming - they can help you find the vendors who fit your needs and budget!
  • Florist (Boutonniere + Bouquet)
  • Pro tip - please make sure where you’re eloping allows fresh or dried florals! Some locations don’t allow either and only welcome faux florals!
  • Stationary Suite
  • Jewelry
  • Hair + Makeup
  • Rentals (tables, chairs, tent, dining necessities, etc.)
  • Catering/Private Chef
  • Musician
  • Cake/Dessert
  • Officiant 
    • Did you know Nancy can officiate your ceremony?! (She's ordained from the ULC) Another added bonus of working with Early Night, but if you’d rather Nancy not have marry y’all, you will want to be in touch with an officiant.
  • Witnesses 
    • Okay witnesses may not technically be a vendor, but they are super important! Some locations require two witnesses, and, if Nancy officiates, we’d need another person! However we have had success asking a stranger on the path to be a witness so we always find a way!
Bride and Groom on their elopement day

Create Your Timeline

An added bonus to working with Early Night - we help all our couples who are planning their elopement with their timelines. Once we nail down the location and important elements to incorporate, we craft your elopement timeline! We set realistic expectations if certain things won’t fit in your day and suggest alternatives! To give you a sneak peek, here is a real example of an eight hour elopement:

  • 12:00 PM - 1:45 PM - Getting Ready at Hotel
  • 2:00 PM - 2:30 PM - Ceremony at Location #1
  • 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM - Exploring & Romantics
  • 4:45 PM - 5:00 PM - Pick up a charcuterie board for picnic
  • 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM - Exploring & Romantics at Location #2
  • 6:30 PM - 7:00 PM - Picnic + Cake Cutting + First Dance
  • 7:30 PM - 8:00 PM - Boardwalk Night-time Romantics

It’s not easy to figure out where to have the most perfect day with your partner or even decide what that perfect day means/looks like to you! There is nothing more amazing than creating a day that truly reflects who you are as a couple; we hope that this timeline helps you to create the most intentional, meaningful, unforgettable, absolutely perfect day possible.

If you need some additional resources, check out our intimate wedding + elopement resources and tips page, or get in touch! 

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