Elopements have become more and more popular as of late and it’s a trend that I am 100% here for! With the flexibility that comes with an elopement it allows couples to get incredibly creative when planning out their elopement day. The sky’s the limit for what you want to do, where you want to go, who you want to be there, and pretty much everything in-between! All these possibilities can lead to some uncertainty though, which is why I decided to put together a guide on what vendors you really need for your elopement.
Similar to how individual and flexible elopements are as a whole, the same thing goes for the vendors you’ll need for an elopement. While there are some vendors that are basically must haves for the most part it really depends on the experience you hope to have for your elopement day. As you get into your planning process talk everything through with your honey so you can start to piece together what your day will look like. Where do you want to elope? Who do you want there? Do you want to handle most or all of the logistics? Will you be adventuring/hiking or eloping in the city? What you want your day to look and feel like will help determine which vendors you should have for your elopement and which you can probably skip out on!
At the end of the day, together you will want to decide what is the most important to you on your elopement day, and what will best enhance your wedding day to fit the vision you have for it. So if having an easy plated dinner with your family and friends with little to no prep is important, hiring a caterer will be a priority. On the other hand, if you’re down to just show up to a restaurant with your loved ones and have dinner surrounded by others, that’s just fine too!
First and foremost you’re very likely going to need an officiant for your elopement ceremony. While there are some states that allow self solemnization most do not and require an officiant be present for your elopement to be legal. Colorado and Washington DC allow you to self solemnize without any conditions, while Pennsylvania, California, Nevada, Kansas, Maine, Illinois, and Wisconsin allow it as long as it falls under certain conditions. With the vast majority of states requiring an officiant though they are more often than not a must have vendor for your elopement. One way around this is to make your marriage legal and fill out the paperwork before your elopement day so you can focus on the celebration which is also a great option!
Another super fun way to elope is have a family member or friend get ordained and perform the ceremony for you! Your loved one can become ordained using the Universal Life Church allowing them to marry you, and creating such an amazing and personal experience.
Now I might be slightly biased here, but I feel that a photographer is the most important part of an elopement day! Your photos from your wedding and your elopement day are your window back into the past. They let you relive some of the best moments of your lives from one of your favorite days together as a couple. They give your memories context when you look back on your elopement day 10/15 years down the road, and may even bring back memories of moments you had forgotten all together! Having a great photographer for your wedding day also means you’ll have someone to help you plan out your timeline and all the details of your day. A photographer is such an important part of your elopement day that they’re basically a must have vendor for any couple.
Along with the overall flexibility that comes with an elopement another great thing about them is the flexibility when it comes to your budget. Where a traditional wedding most of your budget will have to go towards your venue and feeding your guests an elopement allows you to spend your money on what you want to include into your day. One vendor that benefits a ton from the flexibility of an elopement is your florist as you can get some super intricate floral designs or keep things on the simpler side. Either option is great and a must have for your elopement!
Similar to more traditional weddings every elopement needs a venue, unlike more traditional weddings however an elopement venue might not necessarily be a “venue” in the traditional sense. Though the possibilities are endless, you will need to plan for where you plan to get married similar to how you might plan a traditional wedding. For any national or public park, you typically need to obtain a permit and pay a fee. If you decide you want to get married at an intimate wedding venue or restaurant, you will want to be sure to inquire ahead of time to ensure you have a space! Last but not least, if you’re planning to get married in a courthouse, you will want to go to the county website to check if you need an appointment!
Some vendors you could really go either way with when planning your elopement, and one of those is an elopement planner. Having a planner can be a HUGE help if you plan on having a fairly intricate elopement with lots of travel and multiple locations involved in your day. In cases like that having someone who can help guide you, help craft your day, and get all the logistics in order for you is basically a must have. For the elopements that want to keep things on the simpler side, or for couples that want to handle things more on their own it’s definitely doable without a planner.
Having a videographer for your elopement is something that is going to vary A LOT from couple to couple. If you love looking back on old videos when reminiscing and you love the style of traditional wedding videos or elopement videos this will seem like a no brainer. For couples that aren’t as much into the video format though or prefer looking back on photos opting for just a photographer for your vendor list may be the way to go for your elopement.
For the adventurous elopements, the ones where your ceremony is atop a mountain at the end of a difficult hike a guide is a great and almost essential vendor option. There are some gorgeous hikes out there to some incredible elopement venue locations, but getting there can be quite the challenge. Having a guide to get you where you need to be safely as well as get you home is a great idea for these more challenging elopement settings. Your guide can also double as one of your witnesses if you plan to elope without guests present which is a huge plus!
Last but not least having a transportation plan if you have a few guests for your elopement can be a great option to include for your vendors. I highly recommend hiring a driver, if you’re planning on getting married in a larger city and planning to travel with a handful of guests. This will let you spend the most time with your guests and also allow you to relax when travelling from place to place!
This can also apply if you’re eloping somewhere remote and then driving somewhere over an hour away for the rest of your wedding day!
In general, if you do want to plan your wedding less than 6 months, you will be able to find vendors for your elopement, they just might not be your first choice, or have your ideal style. The earlier you begin planning your day, the more options you will have for your elopement.
Photographer: As far in advance as you can 12+ months out
Videographer: 9-12 Months out
Officiant: 9-12 Months out
Planner/Coordinators: 9-12 months out
Hair and /makeup: 4-7 month out
Realistically, at the bare bare minimum, all you really need is an officiant, and if you’re in a state where you can self-solemnize, all you need is each other. Being a wedding photographer though, I firmly believe it is extremely important to at the bare minimum, have your elopement documented professionally. This is your love story, this is your legacy, and these are moments you will want to have documented years from now.
When you start looking for vendors for your wedding day, you will want to start on the internet, or social media. Start with your elopement photographer or planner, and then begin to find other vendors from there. Once you’ve found your photographer and set your date, you can begin to find other vendors for your elopement. Most other vendors require you have a date in mind before booking with them.
PRO TIP: Often times your elopement photographer or planner will have a handful of vendors they love to work with, so be sure to ask them for their vendor recommendations!
Elopements are so great for a number of reasons, my favorite being every single one is different and unique from the last. This includes the vendors required for the elopement, so when planning your elopement day be sure to talk with your honey about what your day will look like and what vendors you’ll actually need. Set yourself up to have the elopement of your dreams and create a vendor team to make that happen! Speaking of which, if you’re still looking for a photographer for your elopement you’re in luck. Head to my contact page to send me an inquiry and we can plan out your day together!