How to Plan an Elopement in 6 Simple Steps

elopement at crater lake waterfall

So you’ve decided to elope… Congrats!

“What now” you ask? Don’t worry, I’m here to help! 

While many weddings will take quite a bit of planning and preparation, your elopement can be as simple as the love you have for one another. In this guide I’m going to go over the 6 basic things to consider while planning your elopement. With these 6 simple tips, you could potentially have your entire elopement planned out in less than a week!

Let’s get started…




Pick an evening to sit down with your partner and pour a glass of wine, tea, whatever your beverage of choice may be. Both of you close your eyes and imagine the BEST day ever together. (ok you can open them back up now!)

It’s helpful to think of this as the ultimate date night. Or if both of your birthdays were combined into one day. If you could do ANYTHING with your soon-to-be spouse, what would it be?

Don’t think about what it will cost. You’d be surprised at how easy and budget-friendly it can be to have your dream elopement. Just dream BIG!

Are you going on an epic guided tour of Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail? Or would you prefer a private chef make your favorite meal at a luxury resort while you enjoy a beautiful sunset? How about watching the sunrise from a hot air balloon going over Utah’s spectacular rock formations?

The world is truly your oyster when you choose to elope!

2 – Make Your Main Decisions


Now that you’ve mused about your dream elopement experience, it’s time to begin narrowing things down. Again, remember the big picture and imagine how you want to feel on your elopement day.

Here are 3 key questions to ask yourselves:

– Who will be there? 
– Where will you be? 
– How long will you be there for? 

These questions will help you narrow things down like budget, activities, and overall vibe of your elopement day.

3 – Choose Your Details


This is one of my favorite parts to help with! Based on where / when / with whom you’ll be eloping, it’s time to research things like flights, lodging, vendors, activities, permits, attire, and begin putting together a packing list so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

Vendors to consider:

– officiant

– photographer (hey that’s me!)

– videographer

– florist

– catering

NOTE: If you are choosing to elope in a national park or any public land you may need to acquire a “special use” photography permit which could be a 2 to 8 week process.

4 – Craft A Simple Timeline 


Nothing is worse than feeling rushed through your wedding or elopement day so make sure you plan enough time in between big moments to really soak it all in. In my 13 years of experience I have never heard someone say they wish they had less photos or time on their wedding day so keep that in mind as you plan your timeline!

Now that all of your details are figured out, it’s time to map out the day. Which activities will you be enjoying together? Which spots will you explore? Meaningful items to incorporate, etc. Based on what you know so far, it helps to decide if you would prefer a sunrise/midday/sunset ceremony and work from there.

5 – Pack Your Essentials


Having traveled a lot myself, I find it’s easiest to make a list of ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ and start throwing them into your suitcase(s). Arrange them neatly once you feel like it’s all in there. Make sure to also communicate with guests (if any) to help them make their packing decisions as well.

Bonus Tip: Always *roll* your wedding attire. Never fold. This will help minimize any wrinkles.

6 – Enjoy Your Day!


Breathe, relax, and get married! Enjoy all the effort you’ve put into planning and dreaming up your perfect elopement. Remember to embrace the unpredictable, always be present, and focus on the fact that you get to promise forever to your very best friend while having an amazing, unique and fun experience together. Yay! 


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How To Plan An Elopement
How to Plan the Perfect Elopement

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She's sweet, personable, communicative & professional. She truly goes above and beyond to make sure you are happy with her services. We knew immediately after meeting that she was the perfect fit for us. Laid back and fun with a way of making you feel relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera. We were blown away by our beautiful pictures! Mia has an eye for capturing couples naturally and creating pictures that are reflective of your personalities. We honestly couldn't have been happier and left the experience not only with beautiful pictures but feeling like we gained a friend.

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She made every step of the process easy and enjoyable! She captures you naturally as opposed to setting up pose after pose, although she does give some guidance. The whole process was fun! Prior to our wedding day, Mia walked us through a timeline so we knew what to expect. Overall, we couldn't have asked for a better experience, and definitely recommend Mia!

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Picking a photographer was one of the most nerve wracking parts of wedding planning for me. There are so many options and you really want to make sure you have the best of the best to capture every amazing moment of your big day. Mia was just that, and nothing short of spectacular. She is very knowledgeable and has an artistic eye that wowed both my husband and I. We got so many compliments on our wedding photos. From her communication to her creativity to her bubbly personality.. I cannot say enough good things about Mia. She went above and beyond to make sure we were happy with our photos. We were so lucky to have her as our photographer!!!

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Mia is an incredibly talented artist and I was so excited to work with her. She made my husband and I feel so comfortable throughout the entire process. I had very specific shots that I wanted to get on our wedding day, and she made every single one happen, as well as offering us other suggestions. She captured our special day beautifully and created a gorgeous album that we will cherish for a lifetime.

- Jeffrey Chen

about the author

portrait photo of Mia from Imagine Elopements

Hi! I’m Mia!

I live in a tiny cabin in the woods of Central Oregon and have been photographing wedding & elopement celebrations since 2010. My love languages are quality time and travel.

I created Imagine Elopements to encourage more couples to really think about the possibilities of what their ultimate wedding day could look like. I believe that the way you get married should be as unique as the life you’re building together.

If that resonates with you at all, I would love to help you imagine your perfect elopement day. ♥︎


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