As an elopement photographer, it’s my job to not only document your elopement day but also help you plan the most stress-free and amazing day! Here are the 7 most common elopement mistakes I’ve seen and tips on how to avoid them.
1. Not Researching Your Elopement Location Enough
The first common elopement mistake is not doing your research. Because elopements don’t have nearly as many moving pieces as a traditional wedding, they are generally planned in a shorter amount of time. However, this lack of planning can cause couples several issues on their elopement day. Rather than spending your day surrounded by love and joy you might find yourself stressing out and worrying. To avoid that make sure you do your research.
When planning for your dream location, make sure to consider when the best time to visit is.
- Consider the high and low seasons and the issues that come with it.
- You may want a very intimate and personal day but if you travel to a location during its busy season you may find yourself surrounded by tourists.
- If you travel off-season, the scenery might not be as pretty.
- Make sure to research what the weather is like there.
- I’ve spoken with a couple not familiar with Colorado who wanted to get married in May surrounded by a meadow full of wildflowers.
- Unfortunately, Colorado doesn’t really get wildflowers until the end of July.
If you’re traveling abroad to elope make sure you’re aware of that country’s entry requirement. Every location has different requirements and it’s important to have all the proper documentation before arriving.
It’s also important to know the legal requirements for getting married in that country.
- What kind of visa do you need?
- Is your passport up to date or do you need to renew it?
- Will you need vaccines?
- What documents do you need to bring with you?
- Do you need to announce your marriage in a local paper first?
2. Not Knowing the Legal Aspects of Eloping
In addition to doing your research, make sure to take care of all the legal requirements in time. As I mentioned before, each country, and also each state in the US, has different requirements for marriage. If you plan to officially tie the knot on your elopement day, make sure to thoroughly research those requirements. Some locations require a certain amount of witnesses, so you’ll need to make sure you bring the right amount of family and friends.
Your dream location may require that you have witnesses or an officiant at your ceremony. This could interfere with your plans to spend your elopement day with just your partner. Do you want to get legally married but don’t want to worry about all the hassle of following the requirements of your specific location? Consider having a symbolic ceremony and taking care of the legalities and paperwork of marriage either before or after your epic elopement day.
Benefits of a symbolic ceremony:
- Not being restricted to the marriage requirements of that location.
- Alleviating the stress of finding an officiant or having to invite guests.
- Having a private ceremony with just the two of you.
- Your elopement day activities aren’t limited to the abilities of your guests.
- Saving on the expense it would have cost to accommodate guests.
- Not having to hire as many vendors.
- Truly planning the elopement of your dreams without any restrictions already placed on your day.
Because you’re not legally getting married at that location, you don’t need to follow the legal requirements. For many couples, signing the dotted line doesn’t signify their marriage – sharing their vows does.
3. Letting Family and Friends Take Over Your Elopement
For couples who share the exciting news of their elopement before their ceremony may find that family and friends want to share their opinions or suggestions. But trying to realize your own vision while listening to a mountain of advice from all sides is hard and unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to make everyone happy.
BLUNT TRUTH: it’s not your job to make other people happy on YOUR wedding day!
Instead, bring the focus back to what’s important – you and your love! That’s what elopements are about after all.
- Take all the expectations, and opinions of what your day should be and chucking them out the window!
- Because an elopement is a wedding focused completely on you as a couple.
- Not stuff. Not other people. And definitely not obligation.
- It is about choosing purpose over production, love over distraction, and authenticity over tradition.
4. Going Bare-bones on Your Elopement
When I say, “choosing purpose over production, love over distraction, and authenticity over tradition,” that doesn’t mean your elopement day has to be stripped down to the bare bones. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t have any aspects of a traditional wedding in your elopement. It means you get to choose what you find purpose in, what you love, and what is authentic to you.
Elopements allow you the option to pick and choose which traditions you want to follow and which you don’t.
- If that means cutting cake and enjoying some sweetest after your ceremony, do it!
- If you really want that big, beautiful bouquet, get it!
- Will having an arch at your ceremony spot make you happy? Have it!
- Will getting engraved champagne flutes will make you smile? Get them!
- If having a first dance will make you feel even more in love, dance!
5. Downplaying Your Elopement Day
Just because you aren’t having a big, showy wedding doesn’t mean your elopement is less. In fact, I think it’s so much more and so incredibly special! It is an intentional day focused on experiences that make you feel alive in your partner’s presence. It allows you to express yourselves as a couple—your quirks, your silliness, and the depth of your love for one another. An elopement is a reflection of your relationship and it gives you space to be free, vulnerable, truly yourselves.
- Don’t think that just because your elopement is small in size, it also has to be a small day.
- Elopements deserve a whole day.
- They are not just a short portrait session.
- If a traditional wedding can celebrate a marriage all day, so can an elopement!
If you stop to think about the best day you two could have, with no limitations or restrictions, I bet you could go on for a while. You deserve that full experience. Your wedding day is the start of your marriage and it should be celebrated and focused on all the things that make you two happy.
- Start the day off with a nice breakfast and some pampering.
- Enjoy each other’s company.
- Take your time to get ready.
- Have a first look or first touch.
- Take time to be present while sharing your vows and exchanging rings.
- Include unique moments in your ceremony such as handfasting or a unity ceremony.
- Spend time enjoying activities you two love doing like hiking, soaking in a hot spring, rock climbing, watching the sunrise from a hot air balloon.
6. Not Hiring a Photographer or Videographer to Capture Your Elopement
Hire a photographer or videographer to highlight your day. And I’m not just saying this as a reason to hire me. Honestly, whether you pick me to document your day or not, I want you to have beautiful images of your elopement day to look back on! Having images or videos of your elopement day is such a powerful keepsake.
- Not only does this make sure that your day documented but you can look back at the images or video and revisit the love you felt that day.
- These keepsakes of your vows and your amazing day will help keep these memories alive.
- If you plan on hosting a reception later, you can share your photos or video with them so they can be involved.
Photographers and videographers are also full of knowledge. This might be your first elopement, but it’s definitely not mine. Not only did I elope, but I’ve also helped craft and document numerous elopements. I can offer advice and ideas that you didn’t even think to think of.
7. Feeling Like You Can’t be Excited about Your Elopement
I’ve spoken with couples who feel like sharing the amazing news of their elopement will cause those who weren’t invited to feel left out or hurt. They feel that sharing their excitement is like pouring salt on an open wound and that they’re going to get negative responses to posting images and stories of their day. All I can say to that is, please don’t allow the opinions of others to take away from the beauty that you created on your elopement day. You’ll also be surprised by how much love and support you’ll be flooded with when your family and friends get to see the beauty and intimacy of the day you created.
- Others feel that because they eloped, and their day wasn’t an elaborate celebration that they don’t deserve to share their excitement.
- Just because you didn’t have an elaborate wedding doesn’t mean your marriage is less significant.
- And it doesn’t mean it should be shared and celebrated among family and friends.
- You just got married in the most connective, meaningful, and emotive way to unify your love.
- Celebrate that! Share that! Be excited!
If you need permission, I’m here to give it to you. Share photos on social media and send out those marriage announcements! It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase some of those gorgeous intimate photos you captured on your special day.