How to Elope – An In-Depth Guide

How to Elope – An In-Depth Guide

Hey there everyone! So today, I want to talk about exactly how to elope. In my previous guide, we talked about what it means to have an elopement (if you missed it, you can read all about it here!) But now that you’ve decided this is what you want, we need to cover the logistics of it all. I know, I know… it sounds so boring when I say things like logistics and talk about legalities, but I promise, the planning stage will be fun, I just want to make sure you’ve got your bases covered! So let’s get into it.

What does your dream day look like?

I want you to sit down with your partner and do a brain dump. Write down everything that comes to mind when you picture your elopement day. What does the scenery look like? What time of year is it? Are friends and family with you celebrating or is it just the two of you? What activities do see you both doing? Jot it all down and save it! We will come back to it.

This is going to be the foundation that we use to craft your dream elopement.

Location, Season and Guests

These are the first three things I like to have my couple’s make decisions on. All of these elements tie in together and may influence your other details.

So let’s talk about guests first. To have them or not to have them? This seems to be the most conflicting decision amongst my couples. But remember this is your day, have it exactly how you want it! If you decide to keep it to just the two of you, keep in mind that depending on where you have your elopement, you may need an officiant and witnesses. They can be present for just the ceremony and then we can split off and go on your adventure. If having your closest family and friends present during the ceremony is an absolute must, keep this in mind when selecting your location. National parks and state parks sometimes have a limit on the amount of guests that can be present at a ceremony site. You’ll also want to keep in mind how accessible the site is for guests attending. If you want to blend the two, you can always have a ceremony with just the two of you, go off on your adventure for the day and return that evening to have a reception celebrating with your family and friends.

Locations

We touched a bit on choosing a location based on if you’ll have guests attend and ease of access. But now, I really want you to start narrowing down where you want to have the elopement. You may have had a general area or state selected, but now is the time to start honing in on a spot.

What scenery speaks to you? Are you wanting a more moody, forest setting that you can find in the PNW? Is it a boho desert vibe that catches eye? Think about all the colors, the climate and overall vibe that you want.

Once you have a general idea of an area, we start to look into specific locations and landmarks that you want as a ceremony location.

Seasons and Date

Your next decision is the season and ultimately a date. This plays a huge role in the surrounding colors, the weather, and what type of attire you’d like to wear. Spring and Fall are some of the most popular times for elopements especially on the weekends! Take all that into consideration when choosing your location, as it may be a busier time of year if you are doing it in a National or State Park.

How to Elope legally – Permits and Marriage Licenses

Your plans are starting to come together for your elopement, you’ve got a location picked out and you have selected a date. Now it is time start getting everything together for you to legally get married. Every state and even counties and cities have different requirements to obtain a marriage license. This is an incredibly vital step, we want to make sure we do this properly so that your marriage is valid. The varying requirements you may find are the waiting period which is the time that you apply for your marriage license to when you can actually have the ceremony, the number of witnesses, who can officiate your ceremony and if you have to be a resident of that county or state.

The next important step you will want to complete is obtaining any permits needed to have your elopement in your desired location. Every location varies with these permit requirements especially in National and State Parks. Some parks only issue a certain number of permits per year and can take upwards of at least 30 days to process the application. So, the sooner you have a location picked out, the sooner we can begin the process of obtaining the proper documents.

Elopement Activities

This is where you get to make your experience truly unique. Is there something that you love to do together? Or is there something new that you both have been dying to try? Now is the time to do it! This is your big day, let’s make some core memories.

You can take a helicopter ride or even a hot air balloon ride, or maybe you want to go paddle boarding across a peaceful lake. Let’s make it happen, this is your adventure!

Additional Vendors

To end this guide, let’s talk about other vendors! Some of the more common vendors that you may consider hiring in addition to your photography for your elopement may be a hair and makeup artist, a florist, an elopement planner or a videographer.

Other vendors could be a a stationary designer to announce your elopement, a private chef, or even a picnic company to set up an intimate lunch after your ceremony. The doors are wide open and you can have this day any way you want it!


I know this is a lot of information coming at you and it can seem overwhelming. This is where I come in. I am here every step of the way from the day you book with me. We will sit down and talk everything out, really dive deep into what you are envisioning and from there, I will put together permit information, marriage license information, trail reports if needed and so on. All of this will be available to you in your client portal along with an extensive guide to help you prepare for your elopement day. This is meant to be one of the most amazing days, I want it to be an incredibly fun experience.

So if you’re ready to get started, inquire here and let’s get adventuring!

Palo Duro Horseback Rides at Palo Duro Creek Ranch

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PHOTOS BY Dallas Wedding Phototgrapher, Karli with Juniper & Fox Photography + DESIGN BY THE BUFFALO COLLECTIVE + Powered by Showit. I am available worldwide for weddings in Texas, California, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and other amazing destinations!

I'm Karli, a luxury wedding photographer serving Dallas, Texas and beyond. I work with authentic, vibrant couples who crave a day full of intentional moments.

Juniper & Fox Photo Co.

I'm Karli, a luxury wedding photographer serving Dallas, Texas and beyond. I work with authentic, vibrant couples who crave a day full of intentional moments.

Juniper & Fox Photo Co.