How To Elope?—The Ultimate Elopement Checklist


How To Elope

The Ultimate Elopement Checklist

So… You’ve decided to do the most magical thing possible and plan an adventure elopement, and it’s left you wondering how to elope at all?! Adventure elopements certainly are more care-free than traditional wedding planning, but even when things are care-free, we all need a planning guide and elopement checklist on how to elope, amirite?!

As elopement planners, photographers, and officiants, we have counseled countless couples in setting expectations, planning, and living out their meaningful, authentic, and creative wedding experience, so we thought we would put together a mini-guide and an all-encompassing elopement checklist on how to elope for you too! So buckle up, sister!! We’ll give location ideas, tips on legalities, and so much more on how to elope! We’ll also cover Leave No Trace principles so you can have your adventurous elopement while loving our earth well too! I cannot express enough how in depth this elopement checklist is on how to elope, so grab your boo, pen, paper, and a celebratory glass of wine! You’re about to learn all the necessary tips and tricks on how to elope! <3

How to Elope Checklist Overview:

  1. Determine your “why” for eloping.
  2. Brainstorm elopement locations.
  3. Hire your elopement photographer.
  4. Finalize your elopement date and location.
  5. Handle the legalities (or don’t) for where you’re eloping.
  6. Do (or don’t) tell your family and friends.
  7. Finalize meaningful details and timelines.
  8. Show up to your adventure elopement prepared.
  9. Rock your elopement day by being present, relaxed, and flexible.

#1 – How to Elope

We all have our reasons for eloping, but first we really need to dig in to yours.

You might have decided to have an adventure elopement because you’d rather spend your money on experiencing an adventure rather than on countless other details found in the big traditional weddings. You might want to elope because family is just too hard to deal with. Believe me, we know, girl! There are many pros and cons of eloping! You might want to have an adventure elopement because you are sincerely most like yourself when you’re outdoors with the one you love. You feel like this gives you a chance to exchange your vows more vulnerably, and it really does! Or maybe you’re just crazy addicted to adrenaline, and you can’t imagine spending your wedding day doing anything other than being out of breath from excitement while eloping at one of the best places to elope in the US! We’ve seen couples have an adventure elopement for all of these reasons… but what is your reason? That’s first on the how to elope checklist!!

That might sound like a silly beginning step on the how to elope checklist, but we have found couples are most satisfied with their elopement when they choose a “why” and center every decision about their day around it. An example of this might be, “hey… I really love my fam, but there is so much drama when they get together so we want to elope to get rid of that distraction.” So then we help you make every decision around that why when planning your elopement checklist. We help remove those distractions from your day (and other distractions you may not even realize exist) so you really can accomplish your goal of focusing only on each other. Helping couples dig deep into their why is an essential first step!! So we would give that advice first on how to elope!! We believe in this so much that we give our couples questionnaires and help them prioritize time together to discuss this “why.” Then we get back in touch to truly listen to what they uncovered. I ain’t gonna lie—it can get emotional. And I always am moved to tears. Lol

Speaking of tears… here comes a step in your elopement checklist that brings me tears of joy on how to elope!

eloping couple pops champagne

#2 – How to Elope

Brainstorm Elopement locations.

A super fun second item on the checklist on how to elope!! You’ll notice I said brainstorm. You don’t need to have a definite location just yet, and we’ll to get to why in a bit.

But here we go back to our why—and think through which location would most satisfy why you want to elope as you discover how to elope and complete your elopement checklist. It is super fun to lead couples through this process of brainstorming potential locations, but one question we are always sure to ask couples is:

Are you the type of couple who feels at home adventuring a place you already love or are you most at home when adventuring and experiencing somewhere new?

You need to ask this of yourself as you discover how to elope. Once we know this answer, we can go onto the greatest potential options on how to elope specifically for you both. Spend time together paroozing through national park websites, adventure and hiking hashtags on insta, travel groups on fb—use every resource at your disposal to look up amazing spots to adventure and exchange your vows!! This makes discovering how to elope almost as much fun as eloping itself! Ask recommendations & reach out to others you know who have had an adventure elopement—they will have TONS of firsthand information that they would love to share about their location.

We’ve got the skinny on tons of awesome elopement locations and guides to match for your elopement checklist!

Here are a few of our fave resources on how to elope in specific areas:

Glacier National Park Elopement (Your Adventure Guide)

Eloping in Montana (the all-inclusive know-how)

Elope in Oregon (with locations and legality details)

Best Places to Elope in California (because you might be feeling a West Coast vibe!)

A unique feature of elopements that traditional weddings do not have is that you can literally marry almost any place in the world making how to elope an epic question! Spend adequate time dreaming up spots just like you would dream up spots for the ultimate vacation or backpacking trip. It is no longer the age-old question of “are you a mountains or beach person?” because during your elopement you can be both. You can stay in one spot or create a mega road-trip elopement. Dream as big as you possibly can—and then dream a little bigger when pondering how to elope. When you’re eloping, winter is even an option! That’s why we put together a list of the best winter elopement locations to get you started brainstorming!

Once you’ve done a good amount of day-dreaming, choose two or three places that are the top of your list and keep them in mind. You’re already pretty far on your journey of how to elope! Keep going!

#3 – How to Elope

Research elopement photographers and reach out to your favorites.

This is as early as step three not just because we are primarily elopement photographers, but because your elopement photographer will be VITAL in guiding you through all of the remaining steps in how to elope.

But how do you find these elopement photographers and knock this item off your elopement checklist? Well we’re elopement photographers so you’ve already found a couple!! But finding and researching a photographer who gets your “why” is essential. Most elopement photographers are incredibly skilled at photography, but you need more than a photographer. You need a guide to help you plan and knows how to elope because they’ve lead countless other couples on their how to elope journey. You’ve likely never planned an elopement before, but guess who has planned hundreds of elopements—elopement photographers. We have the most experience in the game and know how to help you in planning and living out the most craze-mazing adventure elopement of your dreams (hence this how to elope guide and elopement checklist). And let’s not forget the importance of finding a photographer who knows the right questions to ask and the right motive behind asking. Are they interested in being your photographer, because it’s a paycheck to them—or because they value you, your history, and where you are headed in life? You deserve an experienced elopement photographer who will listen to you when guiding you on how to elope.

Here are some things to look for in an adventure elopement photographer:

  • Make sure they talk about more than photography on their website and are willing to help you answer every elopement planning question. Make sure they give major planning assistance to their couples.

  • Make sure they have actual outdoor experience. An adventure elopement can be dangerous due to wildlife, physical activity, and countless other situations that could turn sour. You need an expert at photography and survival in case a crazy blizzard rolls in or someone takes a serious fall. Knowing how to elope can come down to knowing how to keep you safe too!

  • Make sure they are highly personable. In order to have the most amazing elopement experience, you need to know your photographer is relateable and that they care deeply about their couples. You deserve to be cherished by your elopement photographer as they guide you in how to elope.

  • Make sure they are accessible to you throughout the entire process of how to elope. If they are not excited to get on the phone with you to talk through your questions, then this is a major red flag. Boundaries are important for their personal time, but you should be able to tell they are excited to chat with you about your elopement checklist.

  • Make sure you super love their style. Do you like lighter photography? Does it need to be moodier? Are you more of a posed person or more of a candid shot kind of person. These are important questions, because you (and countless other generations) will look back at these photos for a lifetime. They need to know how to elope and wow you with their photography!

  • Make sure they are experienced enough in finding elopement locations (or have already photographed an elopement at your potential location spots) to help you determine the best fit for your adventure elopement location and guiding you on how to elope there legally.

  • Make sure they value themselves and their clients enough to charge adequately for the elopement experience. Plain and simple—if someone charges one hundred and fifty per hour and someone else charges one thousand, whose time is considered most valuable? The person charging one hundred and fifty knows their time and skill is not valuable enough to charge a larger rate. The person charging one thousand per hour knows they have enough experience, education, and skill to charge that amount when guiding couples on how to elope.

And lastly in step four on how to elope —book the photographer of your dreams!!! Some notes to remember, elopement photographers will need a contract signed and retainer fee paid before you are on their books, so be sure you know that up front and expect to read your contract thoroughly before signing. It’s okay to still be gray about a lot of details like location, time, and so much more when signing. The contract can be more of the official start to the relationship so you can get started planning together. Choose someone you love as a person that is experienced. Friendly reminder, we’re lovable and experienced. 🙂 So we’d love to chat about photographing your elopement and help continue to guide you on how to elope!

#4 – How to Elope

Nail down an elopement date and location.

YAYYYYYY AND YEET!! (excuse me, I’m weird, I know!!!!!!!!!!!) But since your photographer is booked, and you have your list of two or three places you could potentially have your adventure elopement, it’s time to set that in stone on your how to elope journey!! To me, there is nothing more exciting than seeing our couples’ eyes light up when they decide, “We’re eloping to BLANKKKKK!” The excitement of knowing your location is down can not be expressed enough as it is the biggest piece of your day and a huge part of your elopement checklist! So much thought, research, and planning go into this particular elopement checklist item, so here are some questions to consider when trying to nail down a location and or date:

  1. Do we want to go somewhere new or revisit somewhere that is already meaningful to us?

    We stressed this earlier, but it’s so incredible to know yourself well enough to know if you thrive on newness or on the familiar.

  2. What time of year are we thinking about eloping?

    Some people don’t know this, but you can’t elope everywhere year round. Especially in national park, different roads close due to weather, scenic trails are flooded with bear activity in some seasons, and so many more things go into timing at different locations. For example, Glacier National Park has roughly 3 months where their main road is open and most trails are passable. You need to consider things like these when discussing how to elope at potential locations with your photographer. This is where a lot comes into play on choosing your date. Don’t hate on the weekday adventure elopement game. Eloping on a weekday during any season guarantees less interaction with others on your elopement day, so keep week dates in mind when looking at the time of year as well when considering how to elope on a good date!

  3. How are you going to make your elopement day creative?

    You may want to sky dive, or rock climb, or scuba dive, or white water raft when considering how to elope. Thinking about your adventurous opportunities in different locations is a great way to help you decide where to elope and a fun thing to consider on your elopement checklist.

  4. What type of views are you into?

    Do you want cascading waterfalls, snow capped mountains, black onyx caves, grassy prairies?! Literally you can think of any view you want on your how to elope journey, and I bet we can find a place that has that view. There are moody mountains, redwood forests, steaming jungles, ughhh our world is just so beautiful!! And you get to decide in which beautiful place you want to marry the love of your life. I mean—it just doesn’t get any better.

  5. What ease of access do you need?

    You’ll likely find how to elope will involve traveling some for your adventure elopement!! But consider how you get there and what type of adventures await that location. Consider if you’ll need special transportation like a 4 wheel drive, a helicopter, a dog sled, you name it! If you’re bringing guests, you need to think through how they will get around on your elopement day. Can they feasibly hike where you’re thinking of eloping? Can they handle the change of altitude? Do you need a few days before your elopement to get accustomed to the new environment so you’re healthy on your elopement day? Again, your photographer will help you think these through, but this is a big one on your how to elope elopement checklist!

  6. How much privacy do you really want on your elopement day?

    Maybe the reason you’re considering how to elope is because you’ve seen some EPICCCCCC pics of couples on top of mountains, crossing iced over lakes, throwing sand around in the dessert, and it honestly just looks amazing. It is amazing!!! But one thing to think through is, “was anyone around them when they took that photo?” Odds are, if they are eloping at a popular spot, then they were not truly alone on their elopement day even if the picture looks that way. Some couples are okay with a few passing hikers during their vows (and we all need flexibility because we are sharing these great lands), but some couples truly need to be alone for their vow exchange. That’s why we offer specialized elopement location scouting so our couples can know exactly how intimate and private their options can be. We have lists of locations ranging all over the “true intimacy” scale that we give our couples, so be sure you are thinking about what you need to feel safe and secure during your wedding. You can also check out trail websites to see which trails are less common. This is a big item on the elopement checklist!

  7. Can you handle the adventure elopement that you’re thinking of planning?

    Now, now—don’t be pupset. I know… You wanna dream!!! And I wanna help you do that. But we also need to close this out with some realistic thinking. Safety is top priority even during an adventure. If you know you are not healthy enough to summit a 14er or if you have a heart condition that might not handle sky diving well, then let’s talk through similar ideas that will not put your safety or health at risk during your adventure elopement.

    And I’m also not saying you can’t still plan that adventure even if you’re not physically ready. If it is a matter of getting fit for a higher altitude, that is highly achievable. Do some research on how to train for the adventure you’re planning and be sure you can achieve those goals before your adventure elopement arrives. We also recommend our couples doing extreme adventuring to be formally trained and have a licensed guide on their elopement day. We want you to have the most meaningful, authentic, and creative elopement possible!! But your safety is our first concern when we help you uncover how to elope.

So you’ve made that pivotal decision—”We are eloping!! It’s official!! We have the photographer, the date, the location, AND we booked our flights and lodging!! We’ve kicked butt at knowing how to elope!!!” We’d love to help you plan all that with fun and ease! So hit the contact button to start the conversation or keep scrolling for more planning help on your elopement checklist!

eloping couple hikes up mountain

#5 – How to Elope

Handle all of the legalities for marriage in the country or state in which you’re eloping.

Learning how to elope and putting action to it is crazy fun!! But there’s also some legalities you have to handle if you want your marriage to be legal and recognized by your state and federal government. This is truly a pivotal place in learning how to elope as you must be totally comfortable with the legalities of your specific situation. As we’ve said before, we’d love to chat if things get a little confusing and you need assistance on the legalities of how to elope.

  • First, research marriage license laws in the state you are eloping in. Most states require proof of ID, an officiant, etc. for your license and ceremony to be legal. This depends heavily state-to-state, so be sure you do specific research in regards how to elope at your location. Some marriage licenses also require a blood test and must be filled out in person upon arrival. Others, such as Montana, allow you to opt out of the blood test and fill out the application online. The process of how to get married in Montana is pretty easy, but it will differ state to state! Having witnesses and a recognized officiant is critical in some states and will determine whether your marriage license if recognized. Others do not require witnesses. I’m sure you’re noticing the pattern! It really depends. Pro-tip: many eloping couples do the paperwork in their home state and county to make things simpler and get it out of the way. Then they exchange vows at their elopement and consider that date their real anniversary date. This does not make their elopement date any less significant, because the date does not match what is on their marriage license.

  • Secondly, check if there are any required permits for your ceremony location. Knowing how to elope may come down to knowing many national and state parks require what is called a Special Use Permit. This permit essentially tells the park where your ceremony is so they can best monitor what location will bring the most benefit to you and your guests as well as other park guests. Each park or public land will have an office that can tell you how far in advance to fill out your special use permit for your ceremony, and your elopement photographer will be a great help in this should you have any additional questions. The pages for your permit will often look like this.

  • Lastly, if the legalities weigh you down too much, know there is another option. Sometimes trying to figure out how to elope legally in the place you want to elope is just too much stress and adds a lot to your elopement checklist. It can get really confusing calling and emailing office after office and feeling like you’re not getting anywhere. The other option is to legally wed at a later time when the legalities can be figured out without enducing a panic attack on your behalf. You can hop on a plane and exchange vows across a rugged mountain-scape and be married!! Then figure out legalities after your elopement experience is calmed down. This is 100% a real option for you, and we can guide you in it every step of the way. Knowing how to elope in the face of difficult legalities is a little hairy, but it depends on your preferences with different options.

#6 – How to Elope

Do (or don’t) tell your fam about your elopement!

Eloping used to be done in secret, but now couples are confident enough (as they should be!!!) to announce to their fam & friends that they are eloping before they elope. Really, it can be done either way. Now is the time to decide a few things in relation to handling family and friends about your elopement as you discover how to elope and continue planning all the way down to how it affects your family and friends.

You’ve already sorted out exactly who you want to be with you on your elopement day when discovering how to elope (hopefully)!! But what about everyone else? Should they know? Should we celebrate? What about our wedding registry? Haha!! There are so many ins-and-outs of handling your elopement socially that I’ll write another blog on that soon, but in the mean time decide if you’re going to let people in on the big news before or after your adventure elopement. It doesn’t as much matter when you tell people you cherish about your elopement as much as how you tell them. For instance, how might you feel if your best galpal texted you and said, “Hey sis!! Headed out to Colorado this weekend, and Ryan & I are eloping! Had to tell you before everyone else knew! <3” While that was sweet of her to let you in on the juicy secret, telling you face-to-face or via facetime is a better way to communicate your care for someone while telling them this MASSIVE news. Knowing how to elope is knowing how to communicate lovingly with others about your wedding day.

If you decide to tell others before you elope, have realistic expectations of their reactions. They will almost certainly be shocked! So give them some time to process but invite them along to celebrate with you!! Having a pre-elopement or post-elopement dinner party is great for more intimate crowds. However, some couples opt to just have the big wedding reception shabang (lol that’s not a word, I think) after. As you’re well aware of—you have the freedom to make decisions like these!! And your photographer will have great insight into what works well in different social situations when considering how to elope. So ask us!! We’d love to give you some ideas and help you brainstorm how to tell your fam and/or celebrate and knock that off your elopement checklist!

#7 – How to Elope

Finalize those meaningful details, girl!!

You have already done so much work, and you are in the last couple steps before your adventure elopement!!! I’m squealing as I type!!!! It really is super exciting!!! This is where things fall into place pretty easily, so we’ll give you a final list of details that you get to personalize for your elopement as you are getting so close to knowing everything there is on how to elope!!!!

  • Final vendors—How many other vendors will you need? Do you need a florist? A Baker? A Calligrapher? We dive deep to help our couples find their other vendors that are insanely talented but also highly personable. We give vendor referrals based on your elopement location, and we will help you dig through your options until we book the perfect remaining vendors you need to complete your adventure elopement! This is one of our faves on the elopement checklist for couples!

  • Attire—YES, YES, YES! It’s time to pick out your attire!! Be sure you go with what makes you feel comfy AND glam for your elopement day, whatever your version of glam is. Pay special attention to practicality here. If you’re hiking somewhere cold, you may need extra layers under your attire. Your boo may need some layers under his garb as well. You’ll need flexibility in whatever you decide to wear so it’s not too restrictive to enjoy your elopement day. And don’t even get me started on all gorgeous online wedding dress shops that will give you free shipping and free returns so you can try on dresses at home and don’t have to bother with going into a dress shop if that’s not your scene. What about shoes? Most of our couples put on a stellar gown and snazzy suit and lace up their hiking boots on bottom so they can move freely as safely during their wedding day. I’ll also say, I love this look. Pretty awesome if you ask me!!! Figuring out how to elope and considering what to wear to your location is so amazing, because it allows you to express yourself and coordinate with the location you love most for your ceremony.

  • Adventure Elopement activities—Do you want to hike? Paddle-board? Sand sled? This is the time to research and book (if applicable) any day of activities you want to do for your adventure elopement. Depending on what activities you choose, you may need to hire additional vendors to make it happen. This is often less considered on an intitial elopement checklist, but it’s vital to making your experience meaningful.

  • Adventure gear—You’ve got your attire, your activities are planned, but what gear do you need to make that possible? You may need a tent, a bear canister, and other backpacking supplies if your adventure is an overnight stay away. If you’re scuba diving, you’re going to need all the gear needed to survive under water—which is so necessary!! Haha Whatever adventure you choose, your photographer will help you determine how to elope with a gear checklist so your adventure runs smoothly.

  • Day of Timeline—After you’ve thought through all the above on how to elope, now we can sketch out a fluid timeline for your day. Here you will need to decide if your elopement ceremony is going to be at sunrise or sunset. These really are the best times for a ceremony, but it’s your elopement day! You have your ceremony when and how you say. Once you determine the ceremony time, you can fill in the blocks around it other activities you’ve chosen to do from your elopement checklist. Keep in mind that flexibility is essential when crafting your timeline and realistically planning your how to elope checklist. Adventuring cannot be scheduled, and the best things happen when we are willing to be spontaneous! Most couples are shocked to find out the majority of our couples do not actually choose their location spot until they have done some hiking in the area on their elopement day. They remember spots they loved most, and backtrack to their favorite spot!! Adventure elopements give you the room to be flexible and spontaneous even in regard to your ceremony location!

We help our couples get into the nitty gritty of each of them, offer them personalized timelines, gear lists, packing lists, etc. while we guide them on how to elope. Let’s talk about your meaningful details for your elopement and knock some items off of your elopement checklist!

#8 – How to Elope

Show up to your adventure elopement prepared!

Oh, man. This is where the elopement checklist gets good. You’re in the last week before your adventure elopement!!! Your heart is racing just thinking about it. I mean, even my palms are sweaty, and we haven’t even met yet!! It’s an amazing week to be alive! But showing up to your adventure elopement emotionally and physically prepared is essential to having a meaningful, authentic, and creative elopement experience. So what do you even do the week of your elopement? Isn’t it all done? Is your elopement checklist complete? Have you really figured out how to elope yet?

Not just yet. There are few final things you must do before you lace up those hiking boots and gear up for the epic love adventure of a lifetime. We’ll break these into two sections—before you leave elopement checklist and the two days before your elopement checklist!

Before you leave elopement checklist:

  • Packing the essentials!!! Ya know, all that it takes to adventure and elope! You’ll need your wedding attire, your gear, paperwork, rings, vows, meaningful surprises, and whatever else you want to bring to your adventure elopement to make it more special! We recommend bringing the 10 essentials too.

  • Better go and check that weather!!! You may have decided to elope on Tuesday, but a nasty storm is headed into the national park. It seems maybe Thursday will be better so you can be most comfy during your elopement. The National Weather Service is usually most reliable, so check with them! Chat with all your vendors and see what their thoughts are on the weather. Are they still good to go? Is it possible to move the date if need be? And speaking of vendors—

  • Be sure you have paid all final payments to your vendors and have reconnected with them on their game plan for the day. Confirm any travel, pick up, etc. they need to be doing for your elopement so you do not have to guess where they are at in the process of preparing. Also here determine what type of thank you gift you would like to give your vendors. Speaking from experience, thoughtful gifts themed around a mutual interest with my couples is amazing, especially if the gift is eco-friendly, recyclable, repurposed, you name it. Give your vendors gifts that coincide with their personal values.

  • Double check all legalities such as your marriage license and permits are taken care of. This is a big one on the legal elopement checklist! Often your marriage license must be picked up upon arrival in the location’s county in which you are eloping, so be sure you have allotted enough time in your travels to swing by and pick it up. As far as special use permits, some parks require the permit be returned to the park within X amount of days before the ceremony, so provide enough time for any special use permit errands you must run as well.

  • Arrange what’s happening at your household while you’re adventuring. A ton of our eloping couples have deeply cherished pets and are leaving them with someone while they are gone. Maybe they deserve an adventure too!! Maybe this time splurge to have them stay at a pet resort so they are pampered while their parents are gone. Prioritize having someone to love on the furries on your elopement checklist. Services like Rover are usually good too! They will be so glad to see their newly wed parents when they arrive home and will be relaxed enough to really listen to you baby talk and tell them the story over and over again!

Two days before elopement checklist:

We suggest two days before instead of one day before, because we have seen countless couples feel more prepared for their elopement when being on location at least two days before their elopement.

  • Be sure you are acclimating your body to your new environment. Even if you are wildly in shape, things like humidity, elevation, wind, etc. can be a shocker to your body if the location of your elopement is different from where you live. Give your body two days to live in this new environment so it is best suited for your adventure and wildly prepared. We suggest going on a few smaller hikes and increasing elevation each day while drinking tons (AND WE MEAN TONS) of water to keep your body hydrated while it learns the environment. Add acclimating to your elopement checklist up front!

  • Go through your ceremony supplies, paperwork, and adventure gear to double-check to see if you forgot anything. If you have, now is the time to find its replacement locally before you end up on a mountain top without it. We all forget when we’re excited about something!!! And that’s okay. We have time to find a replacement!!

  • Rest well, y’all. Even though you are likely in a new place doing some pre-adventure elopement adventuring, be sure you are getting adequate sleep each night. Try to sleep earlier, and keep in mind time zones may affect your ability to sleep. Try to adjust your sleeping patterns to your current time zone so you are well rested for the blast you’re going to have during your elopement!

  • For the last time—finalize your adventure elopement timeline!!! 😀 I’m screaming this from excitement!!! For the last time, you get to review your timeline with your vendors for your ADVENTURE ELOPEMENT DAY!!!!! SO many heart eyes for this one!! Your voice will be shaky, you might tear up, but call or email your vendors to finalize your timeline and be sure things are scheduled accordingly. This is the elopement checklist item of all elopement checklist items!! IT’S ALMOST TIME TO FRIGGIN ELOPE!

#9 – How to Elope


Your how to elope journey is almost done, and the day has come!! You’ve been planning this during snuggle sessions on the couch and meaningful conversations with vendors. All the preparations are made! You’re gearing up and meeting your vendors. But here’s a few final tips on how to rock the day of your elopement!

  • Start the day with some alone time. I know, I know! This day is about being together. But right when you wake up, whether your boo is laying beside you or not, spend some time in deep thought about what this day means. Maybe make a note on your phone of exactly how you’re feeling. Make some promises to yourself about the type of day you’re going to have and, more importantly, the type of marriage you’re going to have. Soak up the joy and excitement! Add alone time to your elopement checklist.

  • Be flexible. Even though you’ve planned and prepared with some help from vendors, things might look differently than planned for all sorts of reasons. Keep up the positivity and roll with the punches. This is elopement day you were destined to have!!! Even if a monsoon, blizzard, or whatever else happens—we can make the best of it! And it’ll be a heck of a memory that you’ll have forever!

  • Be completely present. Remove distractions entirely. We recommend our couples leave their phones in our pack so they are less tempted to take away from the moment by scrolling on the ‘gram. If you need them for a selfie, we will have them so you can totally use them!! Just try to only use your phones with intention to better your elopement day. Add practicing being present to your elopement checklist.

The truth is you would not know how to elope really without knowing how to really and enjoy the experience with the correct headspace.


couple shares vow during elopement ceremony

Final Notes on How To Elope: Plan to Leave No Trace

If you’re already the adventuring type, you are aware of the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace. But if you’re not already familiar with this system, no worries!! We’ll do some introduction and it affects the eloping process! This is a system of codes we strive to live by as we enjoy the outdoors, but they are adaptable to any scenario. We are passionate about upholding these principles for your sake as well as the sake and preservation of lands and wildlife. Together, we will work through every detail of your elopement experience to be sure it aligns with the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace and be sure we know how to elope while loving the environment well.

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace are as follows:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.—For your elopement, you’ll be planning more for an excursion than a party (which is a major bonus)! So we need to plan trails, gear, check weather, closures, etc. We will work with you to plan ahead for the best case scenario and prepare for the worst case scenario. Preparing is a huge part of your elopement checklist.

  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.—You will likely be hiking during your elopement experience, so we need to plan to travel in accordance with these principles. You may even opt to backpack, so we’ll need to account for camping as well. In upholding this principle, we’ll emphasize hiking and exploring on surfaces that are not only permissible to hike and camp on, but we’ll do so in a way that minimizes our impact on the ecosystem at large. We’ll help you put location items on your elopement checklist that allow us to steward our earth well.

  3. Dispose of waste properly.—Let’s talk trash. No matter how long or short your elopement experience is, you will likely have trash (or human waste, let’s just be real) that we need to take care of. Here we follow the simple rule: pack it in, pack it out. If you bring something into the ecosystem, we’ll be sure to take it back out as well. This one takes some craftiness, but we are prepared to teach you how to most effectively dispose of waste during your elopement while stewarding your experience well. Trash, believe it or not, should be a consideration on your elopement checklist.

  4. Leave what you find.—In any hiking or outdoor experience, it is always a temptation (if you’re the sentimental type like I am haha) to take a pebble or a leaf, etc. with you so you can have a memento of your day to physically hold. We understand the temptation, but we also know that your adventurous ecosystem is delicate. We will help you determine how to properly interact so that we are leaving things as “untouched” as when we first happened upon them. Adding preservation to your elopement checklist is a must-must!

  5. Minimize campfire impacts.—Many of the national parks or public lands you may be considering eloping in may be subject to wildfire risk. There are many more reasons to minimize campfire impacts, but this is the biggest. We’ll discover how, when, and where we can build and put out a fire during your elopement experience so as to maximize your experience while preserving the lands at large. Fire safety is no doubt an item we’ll help you work into your elopement checklist.

  6. Respect wildlife.—Oh, man. I love the wildlife. Bison, goats, you name it. Some wildlife even seems pretty friendly. They might even roam up to you seeming to say hi!! As much as we love wildlife, we know that it is to their best interest to remain wild. The less interaction wildlife has with humans, the more likely the wildlife is to survive in their environment—not to mention it is highly dangerous to approach even the most adorable of wildlife. We’ll work together to understand safe distances from which to observe wildlife. Observing wildlife should be on your elopement checklist, but respecting it should be too.

  7. Be considerate of other visitors.—You’re probably eloping because you treasure nature. Maybe you enjoy the silence that can only be heard on top of a mountain. Or the adrenaline you get from scrambling. While we can definitely choose trails that get you the solitude you like, we will also always have the opportunity to see other hikers who are attempting to enjoy the same scenery as we are. So we will work together to be respectful with volume and hiking etiquette during your elopement experience. Your elopement checklist will involve how to consider other visitors as you unveil how to elope.

Pretty simple, huh? Actually… it can be pretty tricky. Especially for something as amazing as your elopement. It’s a really unique opportunity, and we want to steward that opportunity well. So look back here for follow up posts on how to effectively LNT during your elopement.

And that’s your all-inclusive guide on how to elope!!! WOW! We are so honored to have our information read by you!! If you have any questions about these steps or want to talk more about having us photograph, plan, and officiate your elopement, click the button below to set up a phone call! We are truly listening ears, so drop us a line, and let’s talk! We can’t wait to help you plan an adventure elopement that is meaningful, authentic, and creative. <3

Hey, it’s us!

We’re Des & Dan! Husband & wife elopement photographers, planners, and officiants! We help couples like you create elopement days full of meaningful details, authentic moments, and creative experiences because we believe you deserve a wedding day where you are truly heard—a wedding day you can truly remember.

We’d love to help in any way you can, so check out our other free planning resources or send us an email by hitting contact! We’d love to hop on the phone and see what you’re envisioning for your elopement day.

You deserve this.

Des & Dan


  1. Nicole daacke

    This is such a great resource for couples wanting to elope! There is so much that goes into planning an amazing day, and this outlines everything really well!

    • Destinie Fouché

      Thanks so much, Nicole!! I super hope it helps couples get rid of some of the stress that comes with planning!

  2. Anna

    This is so good!! Makes me feel ready to elope!

    • Destinie Fouché

      As you can see, you’re just a few easy steps away! 🙂

  3. Kaci

    This is one of the most helpful guides I have seen! I love that you start off with digging into why we want to elope, that really does make the rest of the planning easier because you have something to center it on. You listed lots of things I didn’t even think about like hiring vendors, adventurous activities we could do and what gear to bring. Thank you for all the great tips!

    • Destinie Fouché

      Yes, we always start with why!!! Determining your why for everything in life is essential so your end product really reflects you as a person and your desires!! It’s my pleasure to bring out so many tips for ya!

  4. alexa

    I love how helpful this guide is!!! So in-depth and covers pretty much everything I need to know to elope!! I feel ready.

    • Destinie Fouché

      Oh, thanks so much!!! You are ready, sister!! 😀

  5. Jessica

    This is such a thorough and in-depth guide to help couples plan their dream elopement! Your couples are so lucky to have so much expertise helping them have the best day ever!

    • Destinie Fouché

      Thanks so much, Jessica!! We really love serving our couples in this way!! Planning adventure elopements is just so fun! <3


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