How to Make an Elopement Special | 7 Tips to Make Your Elopement Meaningful


How to Make an Elopement Special

7 Tips to Make Your Elopement Meaningful

You’re about to commit your lives to one another in an epic way–eloping!  And you’re wondering how to make an elopement special!  We’re elopement photographers who have counseled numerous couples on how to make an elopement special, and we’d love to give you our proven formula!  We’ll talk locations, the elopement ceremony, and activities to make your elopement special!  The truth is eloping doesn’t mean you’re giving up something… It’s just the opposite.  You’re gaining a wedding experience that caters to who you are as long as you let it.  No one can truly answer how to make an elopement special for you, except yourself.  We’d love to guide you along the way though!  Let’s get started with our tips on how to make an elopement special!


Tip 1 | How to make an elopement special

Give yourself permission to feel joy in creating a day that is all about you both.

Ya know, elopements sometimes get a bad rap.  We often feel like we don’t deserve a wedding day that is all about us.  We feel it should be considerate of others, include what they care about, and so much more.  We have a hard time learning how to make an elopement special because we might naturally selfless people.

As elopement photographers, we’re here to preface this list by saying: you deserve a wedding day that is 100% created for you by you.

All you need is a guide to help you along the way.  That’s where we come in.

You deserve more than a cookie-cutter elopement package in a place you are less than stoked about eloping in.  You deserve to be strategic and intentional about all the decisions that matter on a wedding day.  So if this is the first time you’re creating something solely for you and your partner, we are so stoked for you!  And congratulations!  It is no understatement to say eloping changes lives, and we can’t wait to see how learning to honor yourself will set up your marriage for success and authenticity.  So let’s get going with tip #2!


Tip 2 | How to make an elopement special

Choose your location intentionally.

We all know we want the ‘gram worthy pics from your elopement!  As a Montana elopement photographer, I want you to get those pics too!  It, however, is not the top priority of your day.  Choosing your location should be dependent upon what you value as a couple, not necessarily what all the cool kids are doing.


Here are some questions to ask yourselves when choosing your location:

  • Do we want to elope somewhere new and exciting to us?  Or do we want to elope somewhere nostalgic and homey?
  • What type of scenery makes us feel most alive, yet comfortable?
  • How can we treat ourselves (insert Donna Meagle) with the view on our wedding day?

You must both answer these questions and arrive at the answers together in order for the location to contribute to making your elopement special.When you think of eloping in that dream spot, you should be filled with excitement!  Joy!  And relief!  That you’ll get to commit yourselves to one another for a lifetime in such a meaningful place to you both.  

It is often the temptation of eloping couples to choose a destination because it’s easy.  However, we’ve seen the couples who most enjoy their elopement are usually the ones who stepped out of the box and worked a bit harder to find that perfect location.  I mean, what’s stopping you from eloping in Alaska?  Vietnam?  Or Utah?!  Once you’ve determined how to make an elopement special by choosing the location that is perfect for you both, we’ll figure out our next step on how to make an elopement special!

eloping couple pops champagne

Tip 3 | How to make an elopement special

Bring along meaningful relationships (or don’t).

Once you’ve officially decided to elope, you’ll then need to answer that pesky question, “Just us?  Or are we bringing anyone?”

Again, only you know the answer, but there is so much value in answering the tough questions like this one thoroughly on how to make an elopement special.  You’ll need to look at why you’re eloping.  Are you eloping because family drama is too much and this seems easier?  Are you eloping because it’s more cost effective?  Are you eloping because crowds aren’t your thing and eloping is more private?  Are you eloping because mother nature is way more beautiful than any venue you’ve checked out?

Questions like these will help you determine if you should bring anyone along to your elopement, and if so, who are you bringing?  (PS dogs totally count, and if you have furry littles PLEASE bring them to your big day!!)

Bringing along those relationships that mean the most to you can add so much to an elopement day!  It doesn’t mean they’re with you the whole time–just the parts you need them at!  Perhaps you want to do a sunrise vow exchange and explore some Montana glacier lakes together for a bit.  Then you can meet up with your family at sunset to have a public ceremony for them so grandma can walk you down the aisle!  Eloping gives you the option to bring along only those you deem worthy to be there and to give them the appropriate role on your wedding day.  Answering how to make an elopement special can be as simple as asking, “Who can I not picture my wedding day without?”

On the other hand, bringing guests along can sometimes be just as stressful as that big wedding if they’re not the right folks or if you don’t envision them being a part of your day.  Your wedding day should give you a sense of safety and security.  You should feel the warm-fuzzies when you think about it!  And if having guests at your elopement doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies, then you deserve to have a “just us” elopement experience!  

Finding out how to make an elopement special for you will become much clearer when you can determine who makes you feel safe and what you want to prioiritze on your wedding day.




Tip 4 | How to make an elopement special

Create your elopement timeline to be full of doing the things you love.

One of the most joyous experiences many of our eloping couples have in their elopement planning experience is seeing their final timeline come together for their elopement day.

They learn how to make an elopement special by adjusting their schedule to fit around exactly what they love and value!  It takes some time to adjust to the thought, but eloping really does give you complete flexibility as to what you do on your wedding day and when you do it.  Some couples even opt for a multi-day elopement so they can make their elopement special by filling it to the brim of all they love.

Here are some questions to get you brainstorming on what you could add to your elopement schedule to make it special:

  • What do we already do together that makes us feel connected and comfortable?
  • What activities does our elopement location offer us that we want to prioritize experiencing?
  • Do we want to experience something new together outdoors?
  • If we’re bringing guests along, what could we all do together?
  • What type of food do we want to eat to celebrate?
  • Are we going to be doing anything during our elopement trip that we want to be sure is documented in photographs?


How to make an elopement special can boil down to creating your perfect day if all is right in the world and then adding a vow ceremony somewhere in it! 🙂 

Here are some examples of what we’ve seen adventurous eloping couples do to make their elopement special:

  • Hiking
  • Kayaking a new view
  • Booking a helicopter tour
  • Ice climbing
  • Swimming in a glacier fed lake

And if you’re less adventurous we’ve also seen couples engage in these too:

  • Watercolor painting
  • Fishing at a local pond
  • Dance party with their guests at an Airbnb
  • Personal cooking class with private chef
  • Charcuterie picnic


And the list can go on & on as to how to make an elopement special for you!  You’ll notice that some of the activities couples choose to make a part of their timeline (and thus captured in photos) may seem not so significant like a simple picnic or taking an hour to fish.  However, we believe that every moment of your elopement deserves to be captured.

You see, there’s this thing that happens called wedding day amnesia when it comes to having that big wedding.  Eloping couples can experience it too if they’re not careful to prioritize a relaxed timeline and photographs of all the moments.  You’ll want to look back and have photo evidence of every moment, because every moment is and should be meaningful on your elopement day.  This tip on how to make an elopement special should be prioritized very carefully! <3

Tip 5 | How to make an elopement special

Be prepared to be fully present.

This kinda  goes back to our last point about prioritizing a relaxed timeline.  This doesn’t mean making the day drag on for forever, but you definitely want time in your elopement experience to sit down, hold hands, look into each other’s eyes and be fully present with your partner.

How to make an elopement special can go from a raging activity like skydiving to having strategic moments in the day to be completely focused on your boo.  I don’t know why you’re eloping–only you know that.  But I’d be willing to bet it has something to do with how you are already an intentional person and seeking to make your wedding day full of meaning.

Elopements offer you the ability to take advantage of your time.

The day will be so exciting!  You’ll be so stoked to commit to your partner for a lifetime in a beautiful space!  If you bring guests along, you’ll likely giggle with them in excitement too!  But being emotionally available for your partner is top priority on a day like this.

Excitement (or even anxiety) can be such a deterrent on your wedding day, so we encourage couples to begin every portion of their day with a big hug, deep breaths, and a bit of silence to listen to the other person’s heartbeat and soak in everything about that moment.  Those moments are so beautiful, and learning how to make an elopement special is more about learning how to be present in the balls-to-the-wall wedding day you’ve created for yourselves! <3


Tip 6 | How to make an elopement special

Craft your elopement ceremony to reflect your relationship.

You wouldn’t be eloping if it weren’t for the fact that you want to get married, I.e. say some crazy meaningful vows to each other!  And we love that!  You deserve for your ceremony-like the rest of your elopement experience-to reflect who you are and what you value.

There are typically 3 categories that go into an elopement ceremony: words, symbols, and celebrations.  How you incorporate the use of the three will depend upon what’s important to you.  Some couples choose not to incorporate symbols or celebrations, and we think that’s okay too!

Elopement vows are simply promises you’re making your partner that will last a lifetime.  So we recommend couples write their own vows, and we always give them the freedom and space to exchange those vows out of our ear shot.  We believe elopement ceremonies are so important that we’ve written a whole post on How Does An Elopement Ceremony Work that can give you some ideas as well!


Here are some ways we’ve seen couples make their ceremony reflect them:

  • Get tattooed rings
  • Exchange vows at a location that was meaningful to them
  • Celebrate by popping champagne
  • Planting a tree
  • Watching recorded videos of their family members saying their congratulations


You already have the right answer within you on how to make an elopement special, we just need to do a little soul searching to find it.

The truth is your elopement is already special because of the radical and brave decision you’ve made to honor yourselves on your wedding day by having the perfect type of day for you both.  Elopements are no less special or no less worthy than a traditional wedding, so we’re pumped for you!


Tip 7 | How to make an elopement special

Create a surprise for your partner and coordinate with others to make it happen.

Depending on your relationship, one of you may be a little goofier or love a good surprise a little more.  We’d be willing to bet, though, that anyone would love a well thought out surprise from their (new) spouse on their wedding day!

You’re planning every step of this elopement experience including the ceremony, but what if there was something you knew your partner would love but isn’t prioritizing for themselves?  Working alongside your elopement photographer and other vendors to create a surprise for them is a great way to make your elopement special for you both!

Here are some examples of sweet surprises that couples have done:

  • Personalized jewelry
  • A surprise adventure like a jeep tour
  • A handwritten poem
  • A scheduled call with someone meaningful that couldn’t be there
  • A song performed by them for their partner

You know your partner best and have all the tools to create a special elopement experience by surprising them!  Let’s collaborate and put this special plan in motion!

couple eloping in montana

Summary and Additional Resources:

You’ve got all the tips and tricks now, but let’s review how to make an elopement special!

  1. Give yourself permission to feel joy in creating a day that is all about you both.
  2. Choose your location intentionally.
  3. Bring along meaningful relationships (or don’t).
  4. Create your elopement timeline to be full of doing the things you love.
  5. Be prepared to be fully present.
  6. Craft your elopement ceremony to reflect your relationship.
  7. Create a surprise for your partner and coordinate with others to make it happen.


Now that’ you’ve got a game plan, contact us by filling out the form below or check out these additional resources to keep planning!

How Does an Elopement Ceremony Work | For the nitty gritty of planning your ceremony

Airbnb Elopement | In case you are still planning and might want a venue feel to your adventurous elopement

Eloping in Montana | So you can see how easy it is to elope in America’s most beautiful state

Our Elopement Packages | Because it’s time to check out your options!

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. Sally Boardman

    Hey Des & Dan! Loved this post, and loved seeing some of the beautiful elopements you have captured! I love your emphasis behind the key to making an elopement special being making it about the couple – their dreams and desires – rather than trying to tick all the boxes to do things for others! There are so many misconceptions about elopements these days – what they are, what they involve, the stereotypes attached to them. You did an amazing job at breaking it all down and providing insightful tips to help the planning process and to understand what an elopement can be and what it might involve. Loved it!

  2. Kristen

    Really great tips for anyone thinking of eloping but on the fence about it because they don’t think it will be special enough or illicit that “wedding day” feeling.

  3. Shelly

    This is such helpful advice! I agree with all of it!!!

  4. Andrea

    This is awesome – so many great tips and ideas for eloping! I can tell you guys care so much about your couples having an amazing experience on their wedding day!

  5. Heather Huie

    This is such an informative guide for any couple planning an elopement !!

  6. sara

    I love all these ideas! I think its such a good idea to have some examples for the less adventurous as well.

  7. Natalie

    These are some great tips for anyone planning an elopement!

  8. Jenn

    Amazing advice!! Any couple reading this is going to get so much insight knowledge into planning their day 🙂


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