Tips & Tricks: 5 tips to help your elopement planning

Welcome to our first weekly installment of Tips & Tricks. Each week we will be bringing you advice and helpful hints to help you in your elopement planning process. Whether you’re on day 1 or 100 we want to help you along the way.

We will have guest writers covering a variety of topics as I don’t claim to be the expert on everything. So if you’re looking for advice on a specific location, wondering what flowers are the best for a hiking elopement or advice on how to break the news to the family that you’re eloping, we’ve got your back!

Today I’m going to offer up my 5 basic pieces of advice for how to start the planning process and get those planning wheels turning. As more and more couples are choosing to elope it’s no longer a spur of the moment decision for most, but a well thought out intentional decision.

#1 – HAVE FUN!!
This has been and always will be my #1 piece of advice for all couples getting married. No matter the size of the wedding day, it should be YOUR day. You should look back on your wedding day with no regrets. Don’t feel bad if you don’t want a 300 person wedding. It’s okay not to want that. If you want to run off any say your vows at the top of mountain, do that! If you want to head to city hall and grab tacos on a Tuesday, do that! Have fun. Be true to yourselves and you will have no regrets.

New York City Elopement

Photo by JC Lemon Photography

It’s all fun and games until someone forgets the marriage license haha. But seriously, you do need to consider the legal stuff when making some of your choices. In the US each state has their own laws about how and when you can get marriage license, how long it’s valid etc. Be sure to scout out these things when planning and booking your travel in case you need to go a day or two early to get the marriage license. Some places require a witness, some don’t. And be sure to check the local court holidays when you’ve picked a location as there may be random dates the office is closed that you wouldn’t necessarily know or expect (Casimir Pulaski Day here in Chicago is one!).
If you’re getting married out of the country be sure to check their local laws so you bring the proper paperwork and/or know if you need to still do anything on the legal side back at home.

It’s also important to check out the permits in the locations you’ve chose or are interested in getting married. Many places will have restrictions or require permits for ceremonies or photos. It’s always best to check this out ahead of time and not have to worry about it last minute as you may not have the option to book some places without a bit of advance notice. No one wants to get kicked out of their own wedding for not having a permit! And please please respect the rules everyone. Or we end up loosing access entirely to amazing locations.

Elopement Ceremony Mountain

Photo by Julie Haider Photography

Many elopement ceremonies take place outside. Which means rolling the dice on what Mother Nature will give you. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes it snows in late April! There are many things that you can’t control, but there are many ways you can be prepared or make the best decision possible. If you’re heading somewhere that you’re not familiar with be sure to check what the weather is like in the month you choose. Have you always pictured yourself surrounded by fall color? All bundled up and cozy in the snow for a winter wedding? Or with toes on the sand as the sun shines down? For instance if you want to get married here in Chicago out by the lake I’d suggest May-September as the wind coming off the lake can be brutal in the colder months. If you’re swooning over photos at Taft Point in Yosemite and it’s a must have shot, be aware that the access road to get there is not open year round. If you’re leaning towards somewhere tropical avoid the rainy season for the best chance of a good weather day. Thinking about things like that will help you make the best decision possible!

Beach Elopement

Photo by Melodic View Photography

Despite all the planning you do, something won’t go according to plan. And that’s okay. Roll with the punches. Suddenly there is a construction crane in the background of a shot you wanted. The temperature drops overnight and you need an extra layer. A trail isn’t open or a view isn’t clear because of weather. There is a 90% chance of rain. All of these things can happen, but at the end of the day if you’re open and willing to laugh off the things that you can’t control it will still be the best day ever and usually an even better story or memory down the road.

Photo by Julie Haider Photography

I can’t stress this one enough. If you aren’t sure on something, aren’t familiar with a location, don’t know how to get from point A to point B, ask for help!! Your planner or photographer (and sometimes for elopements they are the same person) is there to help you. I promise you they will have an opinion and advice. They want the day to be amazing for you as well. So helping you decide on timing for the best light, dates to avoid because of major events happening (Lollapalooza I’m looking at you), or what to pack or bring with you on the day of are all things they can and will help with!! And they will probably have advice for things you haven’t even thought of yet and some hidden places you didn’t event know existed!  They are a resource – use them!

Photo by Meg Bradyhouse Photography