Table of Contents:
- Elopement Activity Ideas
- Elopement Ceremony Ideas
- Elopement Ideas with Family
- Elopement Dinner Ideas
- Alternative Elopement Dress + Outfit Ideas
- Money-Saving/Budget Elopement Ideas
- Ultimate Guide to Planning an Elopement
Soooo you’re engaged (CONGRATS)! You’ve celebrated, laughed, cried, and the time has come to start dreaming up your perfect wedding. You’ve decided to have an intimate elopement rather than a large, more traditional wedding, so now the question becomes: What do we want our elopement to look like? Luckily, you’ve come to the right place – as an elopement photographer & videographer team, we’ve attended more elopements than we can count!! Which means we’ve seen every unique elopement idea under the damn sun – at least it feels that way. There are SO many more ideas we probably haven’t even thought of yet!
That’s why we’ve compiled a whopping 60 unique elopement ideas into one big list for ya: so that you can see alllll the opportunities you have to craft your most perfect, ideal, dream elopement day.
Some ideas will even have bonus tips/ideas inside of them with extra insider info from us, as experienced elopement photographers & videographers.
Because you’ve opted to elope instead of hold a traditional wedding, you’re not limited to any traditions, expectations, or pressures that society may put on you. You can choose to do whatever the hell you want, and curate your day how YOU want it to look. We know every couple is so different, so in this blog post we’ve included a huge variety of ideas for you, from romantic ceremony ideas to super adventurous ideas to even ideas for your elopement meals.
The world is your freakin’ oyster, friends, and we hope this blog post helps you realize that!!
Elopement Activity Ideas
We’ll start off with some general activity ideas for your elopement, depending on the vibe you’re going for + the energy level you’d like your day to reflect.
Some couples love to hike and would thrive with an elopement day that involves backpacking or hiking 10 miles, whereas some couples would rather take a beautiful drive through the mountains and avoid walking more than 10 minutes to get to a viewpoint.
The guests you invite to your elopement will also affect the types of activities you do, so be sure to take them + their abilities into consideration. (e.g. avoid a hike that isn’t kid-friendly if your guest list will include kids)
Whatever you’d like your day to look like, we’ve got unique elopement ideas for you!
Adventurous Outdoor Elopement Ideas
These ideas are for the couples who are seeking to incorporate an adventurous, outdoor element into their elopement.
1. Hike to a mountain peak with 360° views
Just imagine saying your vows surrounded by nothing but epic views of mountains and valleys – you will NEVER forget that moment.
2. Go kayaking or white-water rafting
If you’re eloping somewhere warm with a body of water nearby, take an afternoon break and head out on the water with your guests for some kayaking fun!
Level-it-Up Idea: If you’re seeking more of a thrill, book a white-water rafting tour instead!
3. Hit up the slopes
Maybe you absolutely thrive in the cold weather and are a winter-activity-fanatic: hit the slopes and go skiing or snowboarding! Bougie ski lodge accommodations are a bonus 😉
4. Go waterfall-seeking
Eloping in a forest of some sort? Find a hike/trail to a waterfall, and make your way there for your ceremony, epic elopement portraits, or even to take a swim if it’s hot outside. Make sure to bring bug spray!
5. Book a helicopter ride up to a mountain top, to a glacier, etc.
What a freaking DREAM it would be to take a scenic helicopter ride to your elopement ceremony location, am I right?! If you want to elope (or even take elopement portraits) at a location that you can’t get to by foot, like a mountain top or the peak of a glacier, book a helicopter ride for a freakin’ out-of-this-world elopement experience that you will never forget.
Pro Tip: Let your photographer & videographer know prior to your elopement if you’re afraid of heights, easily motion-sick, etc. We can give you our best tips for avoiding this motion sickness during activities like helicopter rides, and can either give you activity ideas that avoid heights OR help soothe your nerves during your high-in-the-sky activity!
6. Arrive at your beach ceremony in a seaplane
If you’re having a beach elopement ceremony, why not add a little *flair* to your arrival and land on the beach in a seaplane? Talk about a dramatic entrance 😉
7. Go skateboarding/longboarding
8. Go sandboarding
Yup, it’s a thing – like skateboarding but on a beach or sand dunes!
9. Take a backpacking trip
Make your elopement day into an overnight backpacking trip for a full adventure experience.
10. Go mountain biking
11. Go rock-climbing
12. Go bungee-jumping over desert canyons
Thrill-seekers UNITE – what could be more rad than elopement-day bungee jumping?!
Similar-Level-Thrill Idea: Skydiving!!
13. Take a Jeep tour
Jeeps & 4-wheelers are SUCH a fun way to experience a rugged mountain or desert landscape.
Lower-Effort Outdoor Elopement Ideas
14. Take a scenic drive through the mountains
Easy-peasy – just hop in your car, grab your fave roadtrip snacks, and enjoy the views through the windows!
15. Find a beautiful view with no hiking required
There are plenty of viewpoints in most national & state parks that you can access easily without having to hike. Park your car, walk a couple minutes, and find yourselves at a beautiful view – no hiking required!
16. Have a beach day
Why not relax on a warm beach with your guests before saying your vows, enjoying ocean views?
17. Go horseback riding through the jungle
Ummm talk about a fairytale?!
18. Go ziplining through the forest canopy
Ziplining is one of the best ways to experience an epic outdoor adventure with juuust enough thrill to indulge yourselves, without having to go to the extreme of something like skydiving or bungee jumping.
19. Take a gondola ride
Hop in a gondola, relax & enjoy the views, and let it transport you to the top of a mountain!
Meaningful Elopement Ideas
20. Incorporate your favorite drinks/food from home
Bring along your favorite local beer, champagne, coffee, snacks, whatever you love to drink/eat where you’re from and include it in your elopement for a simple touch of home.
21. Do a day-after session
Get more photos of you two going on a bonus adventure, in private without your guests, the day after your elopement!
22. Give each other gifts
Hopefully you know what each other loves by this point, so set a spending limit and buy each other special gifts to exchange on your elopement day!
23. Get ready together
Say byeee Felicia to the tradition of getting ready individually, and get ready for the day together, instead! This can be a super intimate time you get to spend together before you meet up with your loved ones and get started with the rest of the day.
24. Self-solemnize your ceremony
If you’re in a state where you can self-solemnize (meaning you can officiate your own ceremony), do it! It’s super special and unique to be able to literally marry yourselves, and that’ll be one less person you’ll have to hire/who will be present at your elopement ceremony.
Check out Ali + Phil’s Elegant Telluride, Colorado Elopement to see an example of a couple self-solemnizing their own elopement ceremony!!
States where self-solemnization is legal: Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, California, Maine, Nevada, & Kansas.
Pro Tip: We also offer officiant services with our photo & video elopement packages! 😉
25. Cook your favorite meal together
26. Incorporate your four-legged BFF’s
Bringing your dogs to your elopement? Hell yes!! Just make sure that your ceremony location is dog-friendly – if it’s not, you can book a pet-friendly Airbnb where you can leave them for part of the day!
Romantic Elopement Ideas
27. Have a private first dance
Who says first dances are only for traditional weddings? You can have your first dance ANYWHERE you want. Ali + Phil literally had their first dance to a John Legend song with the Rocky Mountains in the background. Lauren & Kent had their first dance overlooking the NaPali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii. And Sarah & Justin danced in the rain on a trail near Boulder, Colorado!
28. Do a first look/first touch
We looove it when couples do a first look before their ceremony, or even a “first touch” if you’d like to be in each other’s presence, but not fully see each other. You can do this back to back and hold hands while reading your private vows, or stand on either side of a corner wall (or a pole/post) & touch hands.
Fun + Unique Elopement Ideas
29. Bring Polaroid cameras
Take Polaroids throughout the day and make a little album out of them that you can have as a keepsake forever!
30. Incorporate a theme
If there’s a certain show, place, movie, musical, story, game, etc. that you both adore, make a theme out of it!! Who says ya can’t have a Harry Potter or Legend of Zelda-themed elopement? 😉 We’ve even photographed & filmed a Disney themed engagement session!
31. Explore the local shops/restaurants
If you’re eloping in a place that’s new to you, spend some time exploring the local town/city and eating at restaurants, going into shops, and getting to know the place where you’re promising forever to each other.
32. Grab a bite somewhere mid-day
You’ll def get hungry before dinner time arrives, so make a pit stop somewhere along the way for lunch – like Ali + Phil, who stopped for burgers & fries on the way to their elopement ceremony!
33. Smoke a joint
If you’re 420-friendly, why not light up a joint together at the end of the day or after your ceremony to celebrate?
34. Go wine-tasting
This is a fun one for all you wine-lovers out there – find a nearby winery and spend some time wine-tasting before it comes time for dinner! This is a super fun experience to take part in with your loved ones, especially if the winery has beautiful views and delish food.
Bonus Tip: Go to a local brewery or cider house instead if wine isn’t so much your thing!
Elopement Ceremony Ideas
35. Have a unity ceremony
If you’re looking for a meaningful way to make your ceremony unique, incorporate a unity ceremony of some sort. This could look like:
- A hand-fasting ceremony
- Lighting a unity candle
- Planting a seed together
- Pouring sand
There are so many ways you can do a unity ceremony to bring your own meaning into your vows and ring exchange!
36. Invite your guests to speak
If you’re having a few guests attend your elopement who are super meaningful to your relationship & life together, why not invite them to speak during your ceremony? This can be in lieu of the traditional evening wedding toasts, and will add a whole other level of sentiment to your ceremony.
37. Do a shot together
End your ceremony with a shot of your fave liquor to start your married life off with a bang – just make sure someone else is driving if you’re a lightweight! Bonus points if it’s a drink from your hometown to add a little extra meaning to it.
38. Have your dogs be your “ring bearer” & “flower girl”
If you want to have a ring bearer/flower girl of some sort but won’t be having any kids attend your wedding, give your four-legged kids the job instead 😉 Attach a pillow to your pup(s) to carry your rings or have them walk down the aisle with a flower crown for the most adorable ceremony you’ll ever see!
Elopement Ideas with Family
39. Incorporate a loved one’s photo
If your family won’t be attending your ceremony, or if you have a loved one who’s passed away, you can incorporate little things like a photo of them into your day – attach it to your bouquet, have a dedicated chair at your ceremony for them, or keep a framed photo with you to include in your photos. For example, if your dad has passed, and you wanted him to walk you down the aisle, you can carry a photo of him with you while you walk to the altar so that he still “walks you down the aisle” in spirit.
40. Have your family write letters
Have family members who aren’t attending your elopement write you letters to read on the big day!
41. Wear a family heirloom
Got any special jewelry or accessories that have been passed down through generations? Incorporate them into your elopement outfit for an extra meaningful elopement look.
42. FaceTime while you get ready
Take advantage of modern technology & FaceTime your loved ones who aren’t there, while you get ready, or really at any point throughout the day.
43. Livestream your ceremony
We can thank COVID for creating an era of live streaming! If you have cell service at your elopement location, livestream your ceremony for all your friends & fam to see who can’t physically be there.
Elopement Dinner Ideas
44. Nibble on a charcuterie board(s)
Not a fancy-schmancy-dinner-type couple? Hire somebody to create a charcuterie board (or multiple!) for you, filled with your favorite finger foods, desserts, snacks, you name it. Or DIY your own if you’re feelin’ creative!
45. Pack a picnic
Picnics are a fun, classic idea for lunch, especially if you’re eloping somewhere outdoors – just imagine having a cute little picnic on the top of a mountain after you say your vows! You can easily pack a compact picnic in the backpacks you bring with you. Make sure not to pack anything that could get easily squashed, or that needs to be refrigerated for too long!
46. Hire a private chef
If you don’t want to worry about your food on your elopement day, hand it off to someone else by hiring a private chef to come to your Airbnb to cook for you and your guests.
47. Book a food truck
Food trucks are SO underrated for elopements, in our opinion. If you’re eloping somewhere where they’re allowed to park (e.g. at your Airbnb), hire a food truck to bring you your favorite meal or even late-night snacks or desserts!
Bonus Tip: You can hire a mobile bar, too, if you’d like a bartender on-hand to provide delicious drinks, without having to set up an actual bar yourselves!
48. Hire a caterer
You can also keep it simple and go with the classic wedding option: hiring a caterer! This is a great option if you’re having an elopement with more guests.
Alternative Elopement Dress + Outfit Ideas
Outfits are a major part of the way you feel on your elopement day, so here are some unique ideas to consider when picking your elopement attire.
If you feel more comfortable + confident + like yourself in a jumpsuit or pantsuit than in a gown, freakin’ do it like the badass you are!
50. Two-piece outfits
Want to be able to mix & match your pieces rather than choose one dress? Purchase tops & bottoms individually to make a two-piece outfit instead of one.
51. Casual dress
You can totally keep it more casual with a shorter, flowy, more “everyday” dress if you want – especially if you’re eloping somewhere hot and don’t want to get sweaty under a thick, multi-layer gown!
Ummm YES wedding dress capes are absolutely a thing. And they’re an EPIC alternative to the traditional veil.
53. Detachable sleeves
Detachable sleeves for the winnn – you can take them off for certain parts of the day, and put ‘em back on when you want to add a little flair to your dress!
54. Button-up shirt & dress pants
If you don’t want to wear any sort of special attire for your elopement, you absolutely do not have to. You can totally just pull a nice dress shirt & pants from your closet, or buy new ones at the store for much less $ than a traditional dress or tux would cost you!
Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to get your dress dirty! You can always get it cleaned, and we promise you’ll have a lot more fun if you’re not worrying all day about getting a little dirt on it. But if you are super concerned about it and would rather keep it clean, do your best to get a dress that you can bustle, and that’s light enough that you can pull it up off the ground + carry it when you’re walking in especially dirty/muddy spots.
Money-Saving/Budget Elopement Ideas
Finally, here are some ways you can save some money on your elopement!
55. DIY some/all of your floral & decor
56. Replace your registry with a honeymoon fund
57. Invite fewer guests
It’s simple: fewer guests = fewer mouths to feed!
58. Have a loved one officiate your ceremony
Instead of hiring an officiant, have a friend or family member get ordained online – or hire us to officiate for you!
59. Elope in a national/state park, not at a venue
Traditional venues can get really expensive, and aren’t really necessary if you’re not inviting a ton of guests. Instead, opt for a national or state park, where you can get a permit & entrance pass for much cheaper than it would be to rent an entire venue space!
60. Have an elopement reception/elopement party in the future
If you’d like to celebrate with more guests but want to save up more money for it, have an elopement party or reception in the future – whether it be a few weeks or a year after your ceremony!
How to Plan an Elopement in 2022-2023: The Ultimate Guide
You’ve made it through our big list of unique elopement ideas! We hope that you feel so excited now about all the possibilities that are out there to help you curate your freakin’ dream elopement day, no matter where, when, or how you choose to elope.
If you feel like you’ve got TONS of ideas in your head now but have no idea where to go next with your planning, we’ve gotcha covered: head to our Ultimate Guide to Planning an Elopement for a step-by-step elopement planning guide! It’ll walk ya through exactly what to do and how to go about planning your ideal day.
And when you’re feeling ready to reach out to a photographer & videographer to help capture your big day that you’re so carefully planning, we’d be honored to be considered! Check out what we offer here, and then slide into our inbox when the time is right!