Elopement planning guide

Dreaming up your ideal elopement day

It’s all about the vibe! This is the most important step in considering what your dream elopement will look like. How do you envision your time together? We help you explore how to get started with this elopement planning guide.

Do you want an intimate, romantic ceremony or would you prefer a more adventurous setting? Are there certain scenery elements that are important for your elopement such as mountains, forests, lakes, or beaches? What season is your ideal elopement? If you’re dreaming of a winter wonderland or a sunny summer day, make sure the season and location are compatible.

Once you’ve got your ideal elopement defined, it’s time to start making it a reality. Maybe campfire coffee in the morning, getting dressed together, a short hike to your beautiful ceremony site? Maybe a horse ride adventure for sunset or stopping at a dive bar for drinks, this is whatever you truly dream of!


couple on the beach on Oahu

Set your budget

When setting a budget for an elopement consider any travel expenses, accommodations, and the cost of the ceremony itself. For destination elopements travel expenses and accomodations will be the majority of your expense. A marriage license or location permits will be pretty nominal. Of course there is also your formal wear and what you choose to include for vendors like flowers, videographer etc. (we cover that below in our elopement planning guide) Elopements can be less expensive than a large wedding but that is of course up to you and your grand plans! (hint: it is usually less than a venue + catering etc for 100+ guests for sure)

It’s important to prioritize what is most important to you and your partner and allocate your budget accordingly. Remember that elopements can be as simple or extravagant as you wish, so it’s up to you to decide what you want to spend.


Montana bride and groom in the fall, elopement planning guide

Pick your location / area

Out west? Warm and sunny or snow capped mountains in Montana, what makes your heart sing?

The type of scenery or season may help you narrow this down. Consider the season you’d like to elope, if you’re up for some adventure, and any activities you may want to include in your special day. If you’re looking for some epic scenery, think about a mountain destination, a beach getaway, or a waterfall! There are so many options available and the possibilities are truly endless.

The place that is highest on your travel list or area you have have been to together and dream of returning to create new memories are a good bet. Whatever you decide, make sure the location is meaningful for you both and will create a memorable experience!


couple walking by waterfall wedding in spring - elopement planning guide

Bring in professionals

Finding the right vendors is an important part of elopement planning and we are here to help. Before you begin your search, decide what services you want and how much you’re willing to spend.

Some vendors to consider:

Photographer: A good photographer will be able to capture every moment of your elopement. Look for a photographer who specializes in elopements and can capture the unique spirit of your special day.

Videographer: Look for a videographer who does elopements, is open to travel and loves adventure

Officiant: Look for someone who is willing to travel and has experience with small ceremonies. Some states also allow other options like self solemnization (like Colorado) or to have anyone can marry you (like Montana!) Seriously, in Montana anyone can act as your officiant, no need to get ordained online or anything. 

Flowers: We can recommend a local florist, dried arrangement or other options. Please note, some national parks or other sensitive areas should not have dried flowers or choose locally grown, native plants. We provide floral services! If you are interested in this service let me know and we can chat! 

Hair + Makeup: professionals can help create a flawless look but it also longer lasting for your day.

Catering / picnics / dessert: This is totally up you but depending on your location you could have a private chef come to your vacation rental (great option if you are having a few guests) or pack a picnic for your day. We are here to help with options for that also and can deliver a picnic lunch or event breakfast!

These are just a few of the vendors you might need for your elopement. With the right planning, you can make sure all the pieces come together for an unforgettable day.


Intimate / Guests

In the past, elopements generally had no guests. But times have changed and some couples choose to include a few loved ones in their day. This is usually only a handful of guests (under 15 or so usually) who will join in their elopement. If you are bringing a few VIP’s be sure to consider their mobility for your location. You want to ensure that they can be part of your ceremony, afterward or before you can totally adventure to other locations too. No two elopements are the same, so truly make this your own! 

Choosing to fly solo and celebrate with just the two of you is so awesome! We are mobile and a small group so there are more options for what you might want to or travel to. Either way, being intentional about who is present will make a huge difference.

If your guest list creeps above 20 people that is considered more of a micro wedding which we love too! As your guest list grows the more you need a proper venue, catering and all that good stuff. We would be happy to chat micro weddings with you.


married couple with rainbow

Making it official

Don’t forget to make it legal. All states and countries have different rules and regulations for marriage licenses, so it’s important to check the requirements for your state or country of choice. It’s usually a simple process of getting a license from the county clerk, however the waiting period can vary, so it’s best to plan ahead.

Some countries and states also require additional documentation such as birth certificates, passports, and proof of residence so make sure to check what you need to get your license.

A witness or two might also be required and we are always happy to sign on the line for you!

Another option is to handle the legal formalities at home and exchange vows in your own ceremony during your elopement. This can be a great option if local legalities are complicated or an officiant is not an option.

Hope you enjoyed this guide to getting started with elopement planning.

Are you ready to make some plans? Let’s chat!

How to elope in Montana

Bozeman Elopement Locations