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The Most Common Elopement Questions: Elopement FAQs

 head due north

Eloping FAQs: The Most Common Questions About Adventure Elopements 


Adventure eloping.

Maybe you’ve seen epic photos on Instagram. Maybe you’ve done a little research on your own. Maybe you even know people who have embarked on amazing elopement days that were filled to the brim with joy, love, and everything they ever dreamed of for their wedding day. 

Whether you’re totally sold on adventure eloping, or you’re just now dipping your toes into the possibility of doing it yourselves, one thing is for sure–you’ve got questions. 

How do you even start planning an adventure elopement? What’s the best place to elope? Can my partner and I really legally get married on the top of the mountain?

Questions about eloping abound–and they always will! Anytime you want to opt for something a little off the beaten path–especially when it comes to planning a wedding–there are going to be questions. 

The good news? I’ve got answers. This blog is all about tackling the burning questions most people have about eloping. Some of these might feel super niche, but trust me–I get them a lot. And remember, I’m not here to talk you into eloping if it doesn’t fit your dream day. My goal here is to provide you with the answers you need to make the right choice for you, your partner, and your perfect wedding day. 


What’s an Adventure Elopement?

There are thousands of answers floating around on the internet about what an adventure elopement is. To me, an adventure elopement is a small, meaningful, and authentic wedding day that’s defined by your love, wholly focused on your experience and includes elements of the outdoors that you and your partner want to prioritize.

In other words, it’s an intimate, meaningful wedding day designed for you and your partner–no exceptions. 

Adventure elopements tend to be defined by the outdoor spaces and the activities you choose on your day–and in some ways, that’s valid. Because an adventure elopement could mean hiking a mountain at 2 a.m. to catch a stunning sunrise and say your vows, and it could mean driving a Jeep up a 4×4 road for sunset and a private picnic. 

But for me, the adventure part of an adventure elopement is about the adventure of choosing to prioritize what you and your partner want most on your wedding day. 

A couple pushes off into a raft during their adventure elopement, a must-consider elopement activity for your elopement day.


Do We Have to Hike on Our Adventure Elopement?

Here’s the beautiful thing about adventure elopements–it’s your adventure. That means if you don’t like hiking, don’t include it in your day! Want to see epic views without putting in the steps? Take a helicopter ride, rent a 4×4 vehicle, or hop on a seaplane. Looking for a laidback day among nature without sweating it out? There are so many gorgeous spots you can drive to, set up for the day, and explore at your leisure. The adventure part of an adventure elopement is whatever you think an adventure looks like. 

Do you want to hang out, explore a town, and spend time in an old bookshop reading vintage books? That sounds like an adventure to me. More interested in a snowboarding elopement on your wedding day? That’s also an adventure. 

Adventure elopements are about choosing whatever you want on your wedding day–and that’s the greatest adventure of them all, honestly.


Should We Hire Vendors for Our Elopement Day?

Elopements often get the reputation for being simple, low-key, and free of frills. And in most cases, elopements do end up being less stressful and a little more laid back than traditional weddings (which is one of the reasons people love them so much). But just because elopements have the potential to be a little more chill doesn’t mean you can’t include every detail you want on your day. And often, making sure those details are true to what you want means hiring vendors.

And here’s the best part, hiring vendors for your wedding day is totally up to you! When you take a more traditional route with a big wedding, you’re sort of expected to do the whole song and dance – flowers, tons of food, alcohol for the reception, gift bags, etc. But with an elopement, hiring vendors is about finding the people who fit your vision of your perfect day.

Many couples who hire vendors for their adventure elopements hire makeup artists and hair stylists who help them get ready in the wee hours of the morning. They’ll opt for charcuterie board experts or private caterers to make their elopement meals phenomenal. They’ll pick a talented florist who can create bouquets that are the perfect balance of stunning and sturdy enough to outlast any adventure.

Vendors can fit your elopement day if that’s what you’re looking for (and good news, I have plenty of recommendations to share with you!). 


What Do You Do During an Elopement Ceremony?  

The phrase “elopement ceremony” sometimes leaves couples with more questions than they started with. Is an elopement ceremony different than a wedding ceremony? Do you say vows at an elopement ceremony? What exactly do you do during an elopement ceremony, anyway? The answer to that question is this: whatever you want to do.

You can say your private, intimate vows to your partner without another person around. You can have a first dance, first kiss, and first embrace as spouses. You can do a sage smudging ceremony, a handfasting ceremony, or have someone officiate and guide you through an entire vow commitment.

The truth is, an elopement ceremony is whatever you want–whether that’s reading your handwritten vows with only your pup by your sides or symbolizing your unity by blending sand, planting a tree, or playing a musical instrument for your love to commemorate your special day.

A couple says their vows within the backdrop of The Grand Tetons during their Wyoming elopement.

Can We Elope in a National Park? 

You sure can! National Parks will have a few extra fees and detailed rules about where you can elope, how many guests can join you in your ceremony, where you can snap photos of your ceremony, and what details you can bring in with you. But these rules range from lax to rigid depending on where you want to elope. 

Often, your ceremony will have to take place in specific spots in the park, but there’s usually nothing stopping you from snapping portraits of you and your partner exploring all around in your wedding attire. 

I’m a national park elopement pro (especially when it comes to my home turf in Rocky Mountain National Park), so I’m happy to explain this process, help you pick the perfect location, and ensure you’re doing everything by the book. 


Do We Need Witnesses and Officiants on our Elopement Day? 

The answer to this question depends on where you get married. In some states (like Colorado), you can self-solemnize. That means you and your soon-to-be spouse are the only two that need to be present to make it official. In other states, you’ll need an officiant and a witness or two to sign your wedding license. 

There are so many ways to make this work, though. If you plan on inviting guests or having an officiant at your elopement, all of that is built-in and taken care of. If you don’t plan to have either, I’m an officiant who can legally sign your marriage license and there’s always a way to find willing (and excited) witnesses to sign, too. 


Can We Invite Guests to Our Elopement? How Many Can Join Us?

Your elopement day is about what you want. And if that means inviting your family and friends to stand by your side as you embark on a new adventure, then that’s what you should do! And beyond just this vote of confidence, know that there are so many ways to include your loved ones and focus on your authentic, intimate experience. 

If it’s important to you to have your loved ones with you while you say your vows, invite them to do so. If you want to include them in just a part of your day, we can plan that out. If you only want them to join you for an after-ceremony reception and not during your vows, that’s fine, too. Remember, there are no rules to this thing. It’s your day, so do it your way. 

The only “rule” to keep in mind about inviting guests is that you should maintain is that whoever is present needs to be on your team. Are they supporting the day you’ve intentionally created? Are they there as a positive, encouraging member of your team? Do they wish you nothing but the best and plan to stand by your side through it all? If the answer to those questions are yes, it makes perfect sense why you’d want to include your family and friends–and you should! 

A couples explores the Garden of the Gods during their Fall Colorado Elopement.


Can We Elope Just The Two Of Us?

Of course you can! Elopements are meant to be authentic, meaningful ways of getting married that shift the priority and focus back on you, your partner, and the love you share. If eloping just the two of you is the perfect way for you to do that, that’s 100% the path you should take. Your wedding day is about you and your partner–nothing else. 

You’re not there to throw a big party for your friends and family, you’re not there to abide by anyone else’s rules, and you’re not there to succumb to societal or familial pressures. 

If getting married with no one else around is the best way for you to focus your intention on your relationship and your commitment, that’s exactly the way you should get married.


What if We’re Not Photogenic? 

Spoiler alert, everyone–if you’re standing there on the best day of your life doing exactly what you wanted on your wedding day, then you’re going to be photogenic. Why? Because joy comes through the lens. Happiness comes through in photos. If you’re truly, authentically thrilled beyond belief about the choice you made to elope with the love of your life, you’re already the most photogenic, beautiful version of yourself. 


Can Our Dog Come to Our Elopement? 

Yes, please! If bringing your furry friend is an important part of your day, I can’t tell you how possible and perfect that opportunity is. 

Bringing your pup (or pups) is super simple, and I’m all for it–we’ll just need to make sure that your ceremony spot and the locations you plan to explore will allow dogs (some national parks have a no-pup policy in some areas!). 

I’ve had pups act as ring bearers, best pups, pups of honor, flower pups; you name it! And did you know in some states (we’re looking at you, Colorado), your dog can actually sign his pawprint as your witness on your wedding certificate? 

So, can your dog come to your elopement day? Absolutely. Can we figure out fun ways to incorporate your dog into your wedding day? Of course, we can. Remember, your elopement day is about what you want and who you want there–and if that means having your dog, then let’s make that happen. 

A bride laces up her boots as she prepares for her elopement; a comfortable pair of hiking boots are a must on the list of things to bring to your adventure hiking elopement.


What Should We Bring to Our Elopement? 

What you bring to your elopement will depend on a few different factors:

  • How long you plan to be out and about
  • What time of year you’ll be adventuring, and what the weather looks like
  • Where you’re adventuring and how you’re adventuring (will you be in a car driving to your locations? Will you hike several miles to get to your ideal spot?)
  • What activities do you have planned for the day?
  • Do you have vendors?
  • Are your family and friends joining you?
  • Do you have special details for your day? 

I can help you put together a comprehensive checklist of everything you need to elope the way you want without forgetting a thing! 

No matter where or when you’re eloping, though, I always recommend a few specific things to my couples, like:

  • Layers, layers, layers (because the weather is unpredictable)
  • Water and snacks 
  • All the details you’ll need for your ceremony
  • Comfortable, supportive shoes (if you’re adventuring!) 

And that’s just the start! 


How Do We Choose Where to Elope?

Eloping means being able to say your vows, pledge your life to your partner, and get married anywhere you want. That freedom–that exciting opportunity–is amazing but can sometimes be overwhelming. Because let’s face it, it’s a big, beautiful world out there. How can you possibly narrow down your elopement location to a single spot?

Well, for starters, you don’t have to. If there are several spots you want to include in your elopement day, let’s do it. Want to make a road trip out of your elopement? I’m game. Want to fly, drive, or hike all over the place to pack in as much as you can? That sounds perfect. Remember, there are no rules when you elope–and if that means you want to include more than one spot in your day (or days), we can make that happen.

But when it comes to actually narrowing down the region, location, and spot for your day, I’m here to help. When we team up, I’ll walk you through everything to help you narrow down a perfect-for-you spot. 

We’ll talk about the landscape and scenery that makes you feel alive. We’ll go over your ideal weather on your day. We’ll talk about temperature, backdrops, activities, and guests. The more details we can cover, the easier it will be to help you decide on the best place for you and your partner to elope.  


Can We Self-Solemnize? 

If you’re getting married in Colorado (or a few other spots), you absolutely can self-solemnize. Self-solemnizing is a way to get married without the red tape of having to include witnesses or officiants (if that’s not your thing). 

All you have to do is pick up your marriage license from the DMC or County Clerk, pay a $30 fee, and run off to your dream location to get married. 

No witnesses or officiants are required and no additional signatures will be needed (unless you want them!). The best news of all? Self-solemnization is a perfectly legal way to get married, so your marriage will be recognized in any state (even if you don’t live in Colorado). 


What if We Don’t Legally Get Married on our Elopement Day?

The beautiful thing about eloping is that you get to choose what you want to happen, when you want it to happen. If signing all the paperwork and going through the legal stuff isn’t important to you on the day you say your vows, then don’t do it! 

Some couples choose to sign their papers in their home state with whatever required witnesses or officiants are needed before or after their adventure elopement. And you know what? That doesn’t change a thing. This is true for couples who want to elope in foreign countries but don’t necessarily want to jump through the hoops of being legally married overseas. Plan your elopement the way you want, when you want, and where you want. If you don’t want to bother with getting legally married on your elopement day, then don’t–worry about the legal stuff another time and focus on your wedding day. 

The day you sign your wedding license doesn’t have to be the day you say your vows and make your commitment. You can show up for your elopement already “legally married,” not yet “legally married,” or never planning to get “legally married.” All you need is your intention, your mindful attitude, and your desire to marry the love of your life. 


Ready to Get Married Your Way? I Can Help! 

No matter what you want your wedding day to look like–skiing down a mountain with your partner, picnicking by a stunning lake, or something totally unique–I can help. 

Together, we can plan and create a perfect-for-you elopement. If you still have questions after reading this list, don’t sweat it–I’ve got all the answers you’re looking for. 

Reach out to me, schedule a call, and let’s chat about what your dream day looks like and how we can make it happen!

Join the Facebook Community, Mindful Elopements, filled with free resources, free videos, engaging conversations and questions, and other couples that are exactly like you, in the same place, trying to book an adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer.



  1. Love these answers! There is so much unknown still with elopements and I think this post will really help couples thinking about eloping.

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Alex, Coastal Elopement

"We loved our experience having Marcela as our elopement day photographer.

What was even more special about our experience was her ability to set us at ease months before our day. Through constant communication leading up to, and during, the day we got eloped. Her personality is that, in just four days time, we felt as if we've known her for years. 

Ah, but you're wondering about her photos. We loved every thing about them especially the raw emotion captured in many of the shots."

Caitlin, Alpine Lake Elopement

"My husband and I have been trying to put into words how simply amazing working with Marcela was.

From the start we could tell she truly cared about us, our relationship, and our story. She asked us so many questions, valued what we wanted, and kept up with the ever changing plans that came along with planning a wedding.

She made us feel so comfortable, made us laugh till we cried, and captured our true wholesome love for each other."

"We loved every moment of the day she helped create. Marcela was the perfect photographer for our adventure elopement! She worked tirelessly to make our adventure into marriage happen after our first options were snowed in! Great Sand Dunes felt like the perfect unique place for two Floridians who met in the mountains.

She made us comfortable to be ourselves throughout the whole day while making her job look effortless and fun. Our cheeks hurt from smiling, laughing and a few tears.

Marcela captured every precious moment! Her photography is absolutely stunning every way! I highly recommend Marcela for your elopement or wedding!"

Lauren, Sand Dunes Elopement

Amy, Forest Elopement

"Instead of telling us how to pose or interact with each other, Marcela gave us prompts that seemed simple but made a huge difference.

She asked us to talk about our first date. We discussed the weirdest things we loved about each other (which made us laugh) and how we could fulfill each other’s love languages. Amy and I played games with each other and Marcela captured the energy that happened naturally between us.

I love this shoot because it perfectly captures the love we share. It’s incredible to see that love and admiration encapsulated in a photo! Thank you for this!"

Chris, Anniversary Session

"The photos we just got back from Marcela are giving me CHILLS!! They are absolutely stunning!!!

She did SO MUCH more than just photograph us — she created special moments that I’ll cherish forever. She encouraged Con & I to genuinely interact & share intimate moments together. She prompted us to tell each other things that we love about one other, ways that the other person inspires us, & how being together has positively changed us.

It was more than just a beach shoot. We ended up giving each other precious, heart melting encouragement & that makes these photos all the more treasured to me."

Andrea, Red Rocks Elopement

"We had a pre-meet with her before the big day which definitely helped me feel more relaxed going into the wedding day. She gave us great suggestions and things to think about to be ready with on the wedding. On the day of she showed up early to help scope out the venue. She was creative to try and pull extra joy into our photographs.

When I look at these photos I see more than just beautiful images. I feel the moments that Marcela helped us experience and the connection we had.

I can't thank Marcela enough! We will treasure these moments forever!"

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