How to organize an Elopement Wedding

How to Organize an Elopement Wedding


An elopement wedding sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? You’ve probably seen it before in movies: the bride and groom are on the run, escaping a disapproving family member or some other dramatic scenario.  

But the contemporary version of an elopement isn’t so much about “running away” as it is about doing things your way – and probably saving heaps of cash while you’re at it.

With a little planning, you absolutely can make a private adventure out of your wedding and still share it with loved ones. 


Elopement Weddings Aren’t Always Spontaneous

It used to mean running away in secret, but these days the term “elope” will more often look like a private ceremony as a getaway or adventure that you really need to plan out. 

Things to consider and book in advance: 

  • Create a wedding day timeline
  • Book a location in advance and have a backup plan 
  • Gather outdoor gear or special equipment you might need 
  • Start the process of acquiring our license 
  • Photographer and officiant as well as associated paperwork 
  • Have at least one witness present 
  • Book transportation and accommodations 
  • Plan a post-wedding reveal party 
  • Dress, suit, and rings
  • Leave at least six months for made-to-order clothing and alterations 
  • Source a local florist
  • Plan and book your meals 


As far as the day-of planning goes, you can design it however you want, but make sure you schedule the most meaningful part of the day as your central focus. 

For instance, if the thing that matters most to you both is a post-ceremony two-person balloon ride, you can always make the ceremony quick and simple, then leave tons of time for photos before heading to the next appointment. You want to make sure your day flows well and everyone is coordinated without feeling rushed. 





Scout a Meaningful Location for Your Elopement Wedding

One of the best reasons to elope is that it can be an adventure or getaway in combination with this special event — why not combine the two? 

But finding a location last-minute isn’t really your best bet — there could be crowds, weather issues, road closures — you never know what might come up. 

And even if you and your partner are willing to brave the uncertainty as part of the adventure, you want to consider the others who are along for the ride. 

The more remote the location, the more privacy, and better scenery, you’ll find but it will probably be more difficult (and expensive) to access.  



To this end, make sure everyone involved is on board with your location choice(s) and coordinate timing well ahead with the photographer as they’ll need to know what to bring in terms of lighting and weather. 

If you want to get married in a Canadian Park, call the park first to ensure that everything is above board with regards to licensing and fees. To get married in a National Park in Canada, your photographer will need to apply for a business license ahead of time. 


Choosing an Officiant 

Who can officiate a wedding in Canada? Here’s the list: 

  • Clergy 
  • Judges 
  • Court clerk 
  • Justice of the peace
  • A licensed officiant

Check with your provincial government body first to make sure that all paperwork and licensing are legitimate. Be aware of all the laws in the destination as well, and bring the needed paperwork such as IDs, licenses, etc. The last thing you’d want to do is miss a step and end up without a legal ceremony! 


Clothes & Gear

If you’re planning something outdoors, you’ll already be thinking about weather changes and the like. But if you’re planning on dressing up don’t forget to have a space to change and get ready — a portable shelter of some sort can work well for this, and also help any others in the party stay comfortable and dry. 



Just because you’re not running away spontaneously and “surprising yourselves” with this exciting next step, it doesn’t mean you can’t add a few elements of surprise to the event. 

There are plenty of different ways you can tell your loved ones after the fact, and infinite options for fun during the day-of. 

Some suggestions: 

  • Schedule out one part of the day for surprise time where each partner offers something special to the other 
  • Send a kitschy postcard or small gift to your loved ones with an announcement 
  • Video chat in real-time day the of the wedding
  • Share the video/photo with them afterward (but tell close family first) 
  • Schedule a casual party on your return to reveal the news and celebrate  



Whichever “reveal” method you choose, express it in such a way that shows why the elopement wedding was important to you.

Hire a professional photographer for your elopement wedding photos!


Are you looking for a passionate photographer who is dedicated to providing you with great photos that bring your special day to life? Whether you are planning an elopement, need a professional headshot taken, or more, I’m here to help! I have the experience to help you bring any special event to life. You can view my work here.

Contact me today to learn more about how I can help. You can also view my portfolio and services here. I specialize in wedding photos, lifestyle photos,  family portraits, headshots, and more.

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  1. Anna Collins says:

    My sister is planning to elope with her lover this December, and she asked me to help her find a photographer to capture this important event in pictures. I appreciate you informing us how important it is to coordinate timing and location with your photographer, so they’ll know what to bring while considering the lighting and weather. I’ll be sure to tell my sister about this while I help her find an elopement wedding photographer to hire.

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