Of the 70+ weddings I’ve had the honor of photographing, only THREE of them were elopements! I LOVE elopements and that my elopement brides were so great about what to skimp on, and what to not leave out. Here are a few SJP Bride Tips for eloping and keeping it classy + memorable with a few do’s and don’ts.
DO get the dress!!! Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to wear your dream dress. Don’t feel like you have to get something short and white just because you’re eloping. If your dream wedding dress is a ball gown or something elegant and backless—GO FOR IT! You’ll regret never wearing the dream dress.
DO get professional hair and makeup! It adds a special element to your wedding day and can come at a much lower expense than you think! (Ask me for referrals!)
DO get a small wedding cake or treat that reflects your style! This is such a fun touch for elopements and who doesn’t like to celebrate with a toast and something sweet?!
DO hire a professional photographer you love. When I talk to bridesmaids or women who eloped, one of their biggest regrets is not having nice photos of the event. Eloping to stick to a strict budget? Don’t ask your uncle who just bought a camera. Start shopping around and asking for referrals in your price range. There are many photographers out there looking to gain experience who have studied and know a little more than uncle Bob. There are also many photographers who would cut a GREAT deal if they knew the elopement would be somewhere beautiful in your dream dress with beautiful details. Elopements are very desirable for many millennial photographers. Many wedding photographer’s have elopement or “intimate wedding” prices for events under a specific guest count. Send a message to your favorite photographer! Doesn’t hurt to ask AND if there is somewhere you should splurge on your elopement, this is definitely it. In the end, the photos will be what you want to look back on even more than your dream dress in a box or the back of your closet.
DO take the time to drive somewhere dreamy. Why go to the courthouse (though a GORGEOUS option in some cities!) when you can drive two hours to a gorgeous outlook on Mt. Rainier or stand in the middle of a sweeping secluded desert at sunset with a close friend recently certified online or a hired celebrant?? Just because you’re saving money, doesn’t mean you can’t have the perfect venue gifted to you by the beautiful state of Washington or iconic landscapes of wherever you’ve chosen to begin life with your best friend. Let it be breathtaking, decorated by mother nature herself.
DON’T go overboard with your guest list to save feelings. This is the main place you’ll save money (if you plan on paying for dinner) and you don’t want to lose the intimate vibe you were going for when your guest list rises from four to fifteen. Remember WHY you want to elope, who it’s really about (you and your fiancé(e)), and stand your ground. A bitter family member will be something you regret FAR less often than carrying regret around your entire dream elopement experience.
DON’T feel like you have to pay for anything non-related to you and your groom. Invite your small group out to dinner at THEIR expense to save money for your honeymoon, Photographer, or that dream dress if you need to. Don’t be afraid to be a little selfish on the details that matter. Your closest friends or family won’t blink at paying their own bill for a nice dinner to celebrate with you.
DON’T skip the honeymoon. Even if it’s a three day weekend camping in the woods or renting an affordable airbnb on the beach, don’t skip it! You can take a special “out of the norm” vacation for such a small cost and be able to spend a few days relishing in recent events before rushing back home. A “we’ll do the honeymoon next year” is not the same as a little something right away while the excitement and realization of what just happened is still fresh. You can still plan for that dream vacation on your anniversary, but if it means waiting one more paycheck to elope for a $200 camping trip, just do it!
Please share this post with any friends/family who may be considering an elopement! A marriage celebration does not have to be an “all or nothing” event! Custom build the experience to be exactly what you want out of your wedding day. If this list is speaking to you and having you pushing out a courthouse date a few more months, taking back to pinterest, and location scouting, please send me a message! ♥