Planning a destination elopement can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many things to consider and prepare for. To help make the process easier, I’ve put together the ultimate destination elopement guide. With this checklist, you’ll have everything you need for an intimate and unique experience. From selecting a destination to packing for your special day, this elopement checklist will help you plan the perfect destination wedding.
Why Choose a Destination Elopement?
Many couples dream of a leisurely, stress-free experience surrounded by nature’s beauty. If you and your partner crave a wedding that is truly unique and intimate, a destination elopement might be the perfect choice for you. But why choose a destination elopement in the first place?
First and foremost, a destination elopement allows you to escape the traditional wedding planning process and embrace a more relaxed and personal approach. Rather than worrying about seating arrangements, caterers, and managing a long guest list, you can focus on what truly matters – celebrating your love and commitment to one another. Which is why I wrote this destination elopement guide.
A destination elopement also provides an opportunity to create a truly unforgettable experience. Picture saying your vows on a breathtaking mountaintop, exchanging rings on a secluded beach, or dancing under the stars in a vineyard. The possibilities are endless. You can even incorporate local traditions into your wedding day.
Not only does a destination elopement offer a stunning backdrop for your ceremony, but it also allows you to spend quality time with your partner in a romantic and intimate setting. You can explore new places together, go on adventures, and create memories together in a new place.
Lastly, a destination elopement often comes with a more affordable price tag compared to a traditional wedding. With fewer guests to accommodate and simpler logistics to consider, you can allocate your budget towards creating the perfect experience for you and your partner. Whether it’s splurging on a luxurious honeymoon or hiring your dream photographer, a destination elopement allows you to prioritize what matters most to you.
In summary, choosing a destination elopement allows you to have an intimate wedding experience, surrounded by the beauty of nature. It provides a stress-free planning process, a unique and unforgettable celebration, quality time with your partner, and the opportunity to prioritize what truly matters to you.
Finding The Perfect Location
When it comes to planning your dream destination elopement, choosing the perfect location is key. Whether you want to be on a sandy beach or amidst towering mountains, the possibilities are endless. Consider what type of scenery speaks to your heart and aligns with your vision of a small wedding. Do you crave a romantic European getaway or a tropical paradise? Think about the ambiance and vibe you want to create for your special day. Research different destinations, browse through elopement photos, and gather inspiration. Trust your instincts and go with a location that resonates with both of you.
I’m an elopement photographer the helps couples plan their intimate wedding days. Which is why I made this destination elopement guide. I help with planning from customized location guides and timeline design, to documenting your day together. If you want the planning stress taken off your shoulder, reach out! If you want ideas for where to elope, take my elopement location test!
Finding the right vendors for your destination elopement can be a fun and exciting part of the planning process. From photographers to florists to officiants, hiring the right professionals can help bring your vision to life. Start by doing research and reading reviews to find vendors who specialize in destination weddings. Reach out to them and schedule consultations to discuss your ideas and get a sense of their style and personality. Ask for recommendations and samples of their work to ensure they align with your vision. Don’t forget to consider the logistics of hiring vendors from a different location and discuss any travel arrangements or additional costs that may be involved. Looking for a photographer? My travel is included in my prices!
Creating Your Guest List
Creating your guest list for a destination elopement is an exciting task that allows you to be intentional about who you want to share your special day with. Since an elopement is typically a more intimate affair, you have the opportunity to invite only your closest family and friends. Think about those who have been there for you and your partner throughout your journey, and who you can’t imagine getting married without. Keep in mind that smaller guest lists often result in a more personal and meaningful experience. Embrace the opportunity to create a guest list that truly reflects your love and the connections that matter most to you.
Obtaining Necessary Permits and Documents
Obtaining necessary permits and documents for your destination elopement is an essential step in ensuring a smooth and stress-free wedding experience. Each destination may have different requirements, so it’s important to do your research well in advance. Contact the local authorities or wedding planners in your chosen location to understand what permits or licenses you need to obtain. This could include a marriage license, permits for a beach ceremony, or permission to use certain public spaces for your celebration. Don’t forget to check if there are any specific documentation requirements for international weddings. By taking care of these details early on, you can avoid any last-minute hiccups and focus on enjoying your special day to the fullest.
Choosing Your Wedding Attire and Accessories
Choosing the perfect wedding attire and accessories for your destination elopement is an exciting part of the planning process. Since your elopement is likely to be a more intimate affair, you have the opportunity to wear something truly unique and reflective of your personal style. Consider the location and climate of your chosen destination when selecting your attire. If you’re getting married on a tropical beach, a light and flowy dress or a linen suit might be perfect. Don’t forget about accessories such as shoes, jewelry, and a veil or headpiece.
Planning the Ceremony and Reception
Next, the the exciting part – planning the ceremony and reception for your destination elopement! This is your opportunity to get creative and design a unique and meaningful celebration. You can break tradition and do private vows. Alternatively, you can pick a location you love and bring your guests for your ceremony too. The reception could look like booking space at a vineyard, visiting an island in Portugal, or renting a big Airbnb with a pool in Italy. There are ton’s of options for both your ceremony and reception! More than I can write in this destination elopement guide. Feel free to reach out to me to talk more about planning!
Budgeting for Your Destination Elopement
When it comes to planning a destination elopement, budgeting is an important aspect to consider. Setting a budget for your special day will help you make informed decisions. Start by determining your overall budget and allocate funds to different aspects of your elopement, such as travel expenses, accommodations, vendors, and any additional activities you plan to include. Consider the cost of your chosen destination. This includes flights, accommodations, and local expenses. Research different options and compare prices to find the best deals. Be sure to factor in any additional costs, such as permits or documentation fees.
Making Travel Arrangements
Planning the travel arrangements for your destination elopement is an exciting part of the process. Start by researching flights and accommodations that align with your budget and preferences. Consider factors such as proximity to your ceremony location and the availability of nearby attractions or activities. If you’re planning a destination wedding in a different country, familiarize yourself with any travel restrictions or visa requirements. Don’t forget to book transportation for you and your guests from the airport to your accommodation. Whether you choose to stay in a luxury resort or a cozy Airbnb, make sure to plan ahead and secure your travel arrangements well in advance to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience.
Creating a Timeline and Itinerary
When it comes to planning your destination elopement, creating a timeline and itinerary is essential to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience. Start by determining the date and time of your ceremony and work backwards from there. Consider how much time you’ll need for hair and makeup, getting dressed, and transportation to the ceremony location. Plan out the activities for the day, including any pre-wedding photos or special moments you want to capture. Don’t forget to include time for relaxation and enjoyment throughout the day. By creating a detailed timeline and itinerary, you’ll be able to stay organized and make the most of your destination elopement experience.
Packing Essentials for Your Destination Elopement
When it comes to packing for your destination elopement, it’s important to be prepared while keeping it simple and stress-free. Start by considering the weather and climate of your chosen destination. Pack versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched for different occasions. Don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes for exploring your surroundings. Remember to pack any necessary documents, such as your marriage license or identification. Consider any special items you may need for your ceremony, such as vows or a special keepsake. Happy packing and enjoy your special day!
Tips for a Smooth Destination Elopement Experience
Embarking on a destination elopement is an exciting and adventurous decision. To ensure a smooth and stress-free experience, here are some helpful tips. Firstly, communicate openly and frequently with your vendors, confirming all details and expectations. Secondly, stay organized by creating a detailed timeline and itinerary to keep track of important events and activities. Thirdly, pack wisely by considering the weather, destination, and necessary documents. Additionally, don’t forget to embrace flexibility and be prepared for any unexpected changes or surprises. Finally, take the time to enjoy and soak in every moment of your destination elopement. Relax, have fun, and create beautiful memories that will last a lifetime. If you feel like you’re forgetting anything while planning, just refer back to this destination elopement planning guide.
Some couples take a full year or more to plan out their elopement. Others do it within three months. I’m going to give you aa planning schedule that should help you determine when you need to have made the big decisions by!
One year out
This is generally the “idea” phase. It’s totally fine to take your time dreaming up locations, activities, and whatever else pops into your head. This would also be the best time to start researching some of the ideas you do have to start navigating a budget. Here’s what I’d consider doing at this point.
Make a Pinterst Board of Ideas
This is going to help you see what your day is going to look like. Even if you’re pinning ideas in totally different locations, you’ll start to notice a general theme oof what you like. Starting here will also help you figure out what you don’t want
Create a Budget
Once you have these smaller ideas in mind, you might want to create a budget. Allocate some extra money to this budget as 75% of couples overspend on their wedding days. This will help you pick everything you want and stay financially comfortable.
Decide How Many Guests You Want
Guests are going to effect some aspects of your day. No worries, this isn’t a bad thing at all. But if you’re having 20 guests, it might be harder to have a hiking elopement in the Italian Dolomites due to restrictions, space, permits, etc. Decided how many guests you want early on is going to make it was easier for your to plan your ceremony, reception, and activities.
Hire a Photographer or Planner
Some elopement photographer offer planning help in their packages. This is because we have worked so many of these days, we know the process in and out. We’re also used to location scouting for shoots. I help you find a ceremony location, reception location, design a timeline, and so much more. This is a great way to get guidance and get started. If you want most of the planning done for you, look into hiring a wedding planner local to where you want to have your elopement.
6 Months out
This is where the important decisions should be made. If you’re traveling, you’re going to want to reserve things in advance. To get deals, but also to get an early-bird specials that might be out there.
At this point, you’re going to want to have nailed down a location. For both your ceremony and reception.
Now would be the time to pick any other vendors you want. Food, drink, florals, whatever you feel will bring your day together
Book a place to stay, and make sure your guests know where they should be booking their lodging as well
Flights! Train passes! Rental cars! These are all things that go way up in price as your date gets closer. Book them early on to get good seats on the plane, and to get better prices.
3 Months Out
Within three months, you should have your day of timeline all planned out. Including getting ready, ceremony, reception, and whatever else you chose to include
Time to start working on your vows if you’re writing them yourselves!
Decorations, gifts for friends and family, attire, accessories, it’s time to get all of these things in order
Create a packing list in advance so you know exactly what to bring with you to your destination elopement
Permits and Paperwork
The less fun part, but not as hard as it looks. Get everything you need to make sure your destination elopement is legally legit. And, double check to make sure you have the permits your need for your wedding in any public spaces!
Confirm Timeline With Your Vendors
Once you have your timeline, permits, and everything finalized, it’s time to share that with all of your vendors to make sure everything is set to go