So, you’re going to elope. But, you’re not sure exactly what you’ll do with your time! This elopement timeline checklist will take the stress out of planning.
Prioritizing Your Time
You’re trying to find the time to fit everything you hope to do to celebrate your marriage. You don’t want to miss a single thing! You want to make sure you are able to include all the amazing activities into your day. Maybe you’re also hoping to find time in the weeks before or after your elopement to celebrate with friends and family. First, I’ll let you in on a secret and tell you my No. 1 elopement rule. Then, I’ll give you a flexible elopement timeline checklist that you can use to create your own unique elopement!
#1 Elopement Rule
The No. 1 elopement rule is…. There are no rules! You can do quite literally whatever you want. Plan your timeline around your schedule, your budget, your priorities, and be OPEN to doing things differently. When you’re already saying YES to a less traditional form of wedding, it’s okay to loosen your grip on traditional timelines and expectations.
4-8 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR ELOPEMENT – PLANNING TIME
This is the time to hone in your details.
- Decide on your attire, ensure all your vendors are on board and available (if you haven’t already).
- Make final decisions about how you want to celebrate.
- Have you told your family and friends about your elopement? Do you want to?
- Do you want to plan a reception-style celebration with them before or after your elopement?
Answer these questions honestly, and make plans accordingly. Now that your elopement is SO CLOSE, you’ll want to focus on what brings you joy and confidence during this time, and let go of things (or plans) causing excess stress or discomfort. Remember, you’re eloping because a traditional wedding did not suit your desires – let this fact give you the freedom to do what feels right.
THE WEEK BEFORE – FINALIZE DETAILS
Like any wedding, the week prior to your elopement is the last chance to get your ducks in a row.
- Ensure the florist is perfecting your bouquet, triple check with any caterers, and have a last call with your officiant.
- If you’re waiting on anything else, like a final fitting for your dress or suit (I see you fellow procrastinators), give yourself grace and space within the schedule for things to not go as planned.
- Here’s another tip: you’re still allowed to change your mind! Don’t like the food you chose? Pick something else! You decided to tell your family about the elopement prior, and you’re happily surprised to learn they want to help? Be flexible!
The week prior to your elopement, plan flexibility and space into your schedule. Spend time with people who support you. This is your chance to embrace the butterflies in your stomach and get stoked!
THE NIGHT BEFORE – PAMPER YOURSELF
This is it – tomorrow you’re saying “I do” to your favorite human being! The person who makes your heart sing. The one you want to spend forever with! Whether you’re with your partner the night before the elopement or not, prepare for your big day by relaxing! Order takeout or go to your favorite restaurant. Take a bath. Finalize your vows. Wear a face mask. Put on that album you listened to 200 times junior year of high school when your future husband was just a daydream, and dance like no one is watching! Get in the mood to take this next step in your relationship by looking back at how far you’ve come. Be proud of yourself.
THE DAY OF YOUR ELOPEMENT
This is it! Wake up with a smile on your face – all your planning is done and now it is time to celebrate. Ensure you wake up early enough to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Try not to rush. If you catch yourself stressing, take some deep breaths. While you’re going to do some amazing things today, the only “requirement” is that you get married.
Many couples I work with plan all-day elopements. This means a full 8-12 hours of fun! Having an intimate and intentional day is just as important when there are two people, as when there are 200. Your elopement timeline is going to be personalized to your unique desires, location, and ideas. Sunrise or sunset; breakfast, lunch, or dinner; one location, or three – we will turn your personal timeline into the adventure of a lifetime!
Your day is personalized to what’s important to you. Here are some ways to organize your day:
- If you’re getting up for a sunrise ceremony, set those extra alarms, and don’t press snooze!
- You can either get ready at your lodging or at the sunrise location.
- Have a first look or first touch.
- Get ready with your partner, or have your best friend zip up the dress, or your mom straighten your tie.
- You can do the ceremony first thing and then explore, or you can go on an adventure to find the perfect place to say “I do” when the moment feels right.
- I know I said that your only “requirement” is getting married, but I also highly suggest eating. Say your vows, and bring some cupcakes in a picnic basket to share afterward.
This is YOUR day! There’s no required schedule for an elopement, or checklist or traditions to mark off, and this is simply a loose guideline for you to consider as you find what makes YOU happy!
THE DAY AFTER – YOU’VE DONE IT!
You’re married! You’ve said your vows, experienced the adventure of your unique dream elopement, and now it is time to revel in what you’ve done.
- Sleep in, or wake up to watch the sunrise. This is your first morning together as a married couple, and it’s the perfect time to set the tone for mornings to come.
- Share coffee, mimosas, or cinnamon rolls!
- If you’ve traveled to your elopement location, keep exploring. Go for a hike, check out a local cafe, and remain present for as long as you get to be there.
- Don’t rush back into the routine of your day-to-day lives because that will all come eventually.
- For now, you just eloped, and you deserve to take time for celebrating that beautiful experience.
THE WEEKS AFTER – INVITE LOVED ONES IN
The most common elopement plan my couples choose is to have an intimate day for the ceremony, followed by a reception-style gathering to celebrate with friends and family later. Your elopement is YOUR day to be and do exactly what you want, whether that is by yourselves or with others. Eventually, though, you’ll enjoy sharing your newlywed status with important friends and family in your life.
Ideas for Sharing the Good News
Those who did not celebrate beside you on your elopement day will enjoy the opportunity to share their congratulations. Don’t be afraid to spread out the celebration by planning a reception dinner in the weeks or months following your elopement, because it’s even more enjoyable to celebrate with your chosen people knowing you eloped in a manner true to your relationship. Those who care for you will be happy to see you, and they’ll be excited to hear all about this grand elopement adventure you experienced!
YOUR ELOPEMENT WON’T FOLLOW ANYONE’S PLAN – THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT YOURS
This elopement time frame was intentionally non-specific and flexible because the joy of eloping is how personalized the experience can be. If you want a more hourly framework for how to plan your experience, we can make one. But, I’m willing to bet you’ve already started it. When I suggested sunrise, you either smiled or cringed. When I mentioned sleeping in, you already knew whether that felt right or not.
You’re Doing It Right!
Whether you leave for a honeymoon the day after your elopement or you plan a big trip for your first anniversary, you’re doing this correctly! Whether you invite your parents to your vow exchange or tell them the highlights at a dinner reception later, you’re doing this correctly. There is no right or wrong way to elope when you’re celebrating authentically.
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