everything you need to know about elopements
Have you dreamed about eloping with just you and your lover or your closest family & friends!? Elopements have gotten a little more trendy over the years and changed a lot since our parents and grandparents used to elope at a courthouse! The amazing perk about living in such a great state like Idaho is that you can elope with snow capped mountains in the background, on a sand dune, in the middle of the desert, or next to a glacial lake. There are endless options and I have documented more than 50 elopements in Idaho!
What is an elopement?
The first question I often get asked is... what is an elopement? An elopement typically means you skip the traditional venue and have "no" guests. Some people go to the courthouse in fancy clothes and call it good. However, you can make your elopement day exactly what you what you want it to be. In the state of Idaho, all you need to get married is an officiate. You don't even need a witness (though I love signing as a witness myself!). Traditionally, elopements involved going straight to the courthouse and filling out the paperwork and calling it good. The modern elopement these days means you can take your love anywhere you want in the world and have meaningful photos to reflect your day. Some couples choose to also involve their closest friends and family. I classify an elopement as any wedding under 20 guests. Involving your closest family & friends might be a happy compromise for you between a huge wedding and a secret elopement. I have personally seen couples hike to a location with their guests overlooking a lake or a mountain for an intimate ceremony, followed by a cozy fancy dinner at an Airbnb or restaurant.
What is special about an elopement?
I usually start planning elopements with couples by sending a questionnaire. I like to ask questions such as... how do you like to wake up in the morning? What's your morning routine? What are your favorite date activities? How do you spend your days off together? ect. When I begin thinking about helping couples plan their dream elopement, I want to help couples plan their day focused around who they are as a couple. Getting to know them and understand their life together helps me tell their story and make suggestions for their day. Some of my couples are coffee obsessed and start every day with their favorite french press and I encourage them to bring it along. Same goes for bringing your favorite craft beer or hiking on your favorite trail together. If you love going to hot springs together or a hike, we can also incorporate those activities into your day. When you look back on your elopement photos in 20 years, I always hope that they capture who you are as a couple and your shared life together! Without 150 guests to manage or a traditional wedding party, you have so much more time in your day to enjoy one another.
How much does it cost to elope?
The average wedding in the United States right now currently sits at $34,000. Let's sit with that for a moment. However, with an elopement, you can typically cut major costs including feeding 100+ guests, having a bar, reserving a venue, and decor. The typical elopement averages about $5-15,000 depending on your priorities and the vendors you want present. Elopement day vendors typically include: photographer, hair & makeup, florals, officiant, & a planner.
What do your elopement packages include?
I have two elopement day packages. I have one partial day package and an "all day" package. For couples who just want to find a mountain or viewpoint and have a ceremony at ceremony, I recommend my partial day package to get the highlights. For couples who want to incorporate an activity or have getting ready photos captured of them or perhaps have a handful of guests, I recommend the "all day" elopement package! If you want to go on a hike or adventure to your location, I also recommend the all day package.
How do I start planning my elopement or intimate wedding?
The first thing I always recommend for couples planning an elopement or intimate wedding... start reading blogs and decide what kind of elopement speaks to you! If you love hiking, maybe hiking a 14er in Colorado is your style. If you love the outdoors but maybe don't want to get super sweaty on your elopement day, start looking at National Parks or your favorite vacation spots. Deciding how far you're willing to travel and whether you want to elope at your favorite weekend spot in the mountains will be the first step. Once you have an idea of where you want to elope, you can nail down what time of year and what date works best for that season. Some National Parks or wilderness areas are closed October-May or may be too hot in the summer if you are dreaming of a desert elopement in Moab or Joshua Tree. Then, start thinking about what wedding vendors are most important to you! Research photographers by doing a simple Google search to find their work local to the area you're thinking of. I will also add that even if a photographer isn't local to a specific area, finding a photographer's work you LOVE that resonates with your soul is also great! Some couples find me by searching for an Idaho elopement photographer, but some couples have also followed me for years and want my recommendation as to where to go. Then, figuring out the logistics of how to get married in that state, find an officiant, lodging, a florist, and hair and make-up artist can follow. I typically recommend reaching out to photographers in your initial search because we typically have personal experience and insight with vendors who are willing to adventure or travel for an elopement. Some wedding vendors exclusively work in weddings and not all vendors offer elopement services!