So, you’ve decided to ditch the traditions, throw away the rule book, and forget about all the expectations and the things you “should” do – and to do your wedding your way. Making the decision to elope is unbelievably exciting, and it opens up so many possibilities – including the possibility of heading to a unique place and getting married across the country, or even across the globe. This guide is all about how to plan a destination elopement, so that you can get hitched in a way that’s exactly what you want – and nothing that you don’t!
One of the first things you’ll need to do when it comes to planning a destination elopement, is to decide where you want to elope. The possibilities truly are endless – you can tie the knot in the mountains of Italy, on the beaches of Aruba, in the rainforests of Indonesia….
It can feel overwhelming to try to narrow it down, but here are some things to think about that can help!
If you have a date in mind, or a general timeframe in which you’d like to elope, this can really help you narrow down your elopement location! For example, here in Ontario, summer is typically when most couples want to tie the knot – while the weather is warm and sunny. So, if you have your heart set on eloping in July, Ontario might be perfect – but in the mountains of Argentina (and many places in the Southern Hemisphere), this time of year is actually the coldest! On the other hand, if you want to get married in December but you’re dreaming of somewhere warm, you’ll love tropical places like Costa Rica – but you’ll probably want to stay away from most of Europe.
If you’re totally open with your elopement date, this can give you more options for your destination elopement location, but if you have something in mind already, this will help you narrow things down.
Another great way to narrow down potential destination elopement locations is to think about what you want to do on your wedding day, and what kind of experience you want to have. What kind of landscape do you picture yourself surrounded by? What kind of adventures do you want to plan?
Dream big – imagine your perfect wedding day, and think about what that would look like! Then, work backwards to find some destination elopement locations that fit your vision. If you’re dreaming of mountains and hiking, think of some places (big picture for now, no need to find specific trails yet) where you can do that – like Iceland, Patagonia, and Norway. If you want to relax on a beach or do some snorkeling, your list might include Mexico, Belize, and Greece.
Make a list of places where you can have the adventure you’re dreaming of!
Making a budget is an important part of planning any elopement, and a destination wedding is no different. Talking with your partner and coming up with a realistic budget and a list of priorities can help you figure out potential elopement destinations as well.
Now, don’t worry – a smaller budget absolutely doesn’t mean that you can’t plan a destination elopement! The great thing about eloping is that you get to prioritize and decide what’s important to you, and I really encourage you to invest in your day and the experience you have. The budget will just tell you what’s important to the two of you, which can help you decide where you want to elope. If your priority is hikes and outdoor adventures, you can tie the knot somewhere less pricey – like South America, where there are plenty of activities that cost less. If your priority is a relaxing resort, you may want to spend more on staying in a villa or choosing a destination that’s more upscale.
There are so many ways to make your elopement special and unique to you, no matter the budget!
A big part of any elopement day is deciding just how intimate you want it to be. So, early on in the process, think about whether you want to invite any friends or family members to join you, and if so, who.
It can be tough to remember that this is your wedding day, and that who is, or isn’t, there is entirely your choice – but keep in mind that this experience is all about you, and it should be whatever you want it to be!
If you do make a guest list, make sure to give out invites (whether they’re actual invitations or just a verbal head’s up), early – because as a guest, planning for a destination elopement can take a little bit more work and more planning. Let them know as early as possible what your plans are, so that your guests have time to make travel plans!
Another thing to think about when you plan a destination elopement is how you’ll get legally married! Each place has different marriage laws, so do some research early on to know what paperwork you need and when it needs to be submitted.
A lot of couples decide to do the legal stuff at home instead – this allows you to focus on adventures and spending time together during your actual elopement! International marriage requirements range from super easy to pretty tricky, so depending on where you want to tie the knot, you might decide that leaving the paperwork for home is easier and less stressful.
Another thing to think about when it comes to legalities is hiring a destination elopement photographer. This also depends on where you elope, but some countries require a work visa for photographers to work there! Make sure that the photographer you book for your day is an experienced professional who will be able to navigate these requirements and help you figure out what’s required.
If you’re ready to plan your destination elopement, I’m ready to help! As an elopement photographer, I’ll be there to guide you through every single part of the process – from finding the perfect elopement destination, to figuring out local marriage laws, to being your hype woman as you get married and create the adventure of your dreams.
If you’re ready to elope and marry the love of your life in an incredible destination, contact me to get started, or to learn more about destination elopement packages!
you have the freedom to
let's plan your day
Your not-so-traditional Elopement + Intimate Wedding Photographer. I document love stories for couples who want something unique, and who's focus is each other and having a meaningful, intentional experience on the day they say "I do".
ontario, canada & Worldwide
Branding & Website Design by LightForm
Copyright Kristen Elizabeth Photography 2023