Jeff Brummett

Tips For Planning An Elopement | Destination Wedding Photographer

Planning An Elopement | Destination Wedding Photographer  Jeff Brummett

Bride and Groom On cliff over Yosemite Valley at sunset elopement wedding

Planning an intimate elopement

Elopements are special.  There is nothing quite like saying your vows in a place that you are in awe of.   There’s no need to worry about the venue, meal, or how the guests are getting along.  It’s only the two of you and whoever you deem worthy enough to help out and capture the moments.  Planning an adventure elopement tends to be much easier to execute but there’s a few things to keep in mind.
 
Glacier point Yosemite landscape view of half dome

Choosing the perfect destination for your elopement

This is one of the most important decisions you will make.  It really does affect every other aspect of the day.  A good rule of thumb is to start by asking this question.  Would you prefer somewhere that already has meaning for the two of you or a new location to make new memories at?  You can’t go wrong either way. For the sentimental, a place holding importance can add value to the experience.  A favorite childhood vacation spot or the first place you said “I love you,” are great options.
 
 
I prefer going someplace you’ve always dreamed about.  That way, every moment spent exploring will have great meaning attached to it.  Having a trustworthy photographer tell your story is the icing on top of your adventure cake.  (See below for some of my favorite destination elopement locations!)
 
Bride and groom kissing in front of Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco black and white planning elopement wedding

The best time of year for an elopement

There are several factors in choosing the best time of year for an adventure elopement.  Of course, the biggest factor are your location and the weather.  For example, you’re not used to cold weather but want a mountain ceremony.  You’ll want to plan something in summer.  
 
It’s also smart to think about the time of year in terms of crowds.  Many destinations have peak times of the year when they’re most crowded.  One of the best things about an elopement is the intimacy involved. I’ve experienced fighting with tourists to get a photo next to a popular spot.  Saying vows over whistles and congratulatory screams from passers by is not ideal.  The right photographer can help suggest the best times of day and show you areas off the beaten path.

planning elopement wedding destination tropical  beach white wedding dress hanging on palm tree

Planning and timelines for an elopement

The planning any kind of wedding can be stressful.  We care so much about the day being perfect. Adventure elopements usually make this a lot easier because of their spontaneous nature.  But you do need to expect the unexpected.  It’s a great idea to have your vow exchange spot picked out ahead of time, and to have a plan B and even C selected.
 
The time of day you want the ceremony to take place will determine your schedule for the day.  It’s good to know the sunrise and sunset times.  Still, don’t forget to ask your photographer their opinion on when the best light will be.  If there are trees or mountains involved, those times can get tricky.  I also love the idea if a romantic late night dinner or intimate celebration afterwards.  Find a special place and make reservations.  But be sure to leave enough time for all the unforeseen circumstances that can crop up.  Of course, you don’t want a timeline in the traditional sense.  A few guidelines of when and where will suffice.   The goal is to relax and take in the day as it happens.
 
Bride and groom kissing in front of green palm leaves wedding

Choosing a wedding dress for an elopement

This may seem pretty obvious, but you’ll want to prepare for the elements if outdoors.  Your dress should reflect this as well.  But I never recommend sacrificing style for functionality.  In the long run, you’ll regret it.  Try to find a happy medium.  In most cases, you can wait to change into your dress at the location.  This also gives the chance for some incredible first look images!
 
If your elopement features an extreme climate, it’s tempting to “tough it out.”  While that’s an option, I usually prefer not to rush such an important moment.  You want to be thinking about the once in a lifetime moments you are experiencing.  Not how miserable the wind, rain, or heat feels.  Accessories like coats or hats can be well thought out ahead of time to compliment your dress.  Adventure elopements also give you the opportunity to think outside the box.  Look at options that might be a little too “out there” for a traditional wedding days.
 
Bride kissing groom in front of mountains  Italy planning elopement wedding destination black and white

Who to invite to your elopement

This is a very personal choice you have to make.  Adventure elopements are usually very intimate. Many people opt only to bring a photographer.  This works great as they are able to focus on each other and still share their story with family and friends.

But sometimes there are people that have to be there.  In this case, it can be helpful to give these people a role in the day.  They can act as an officiant, carry essentials, be in charge of hair and makeup, or even be crowd control. (those pesky, but well meaning tourists mentioned earlier).  Not only can this take a little weight off your shoulders, it makes them feel more connected and part of the day.

man in cowboy hat and suit elopement wedding camera

Finding the right elopement photographer

I may be a bit biased, but this is the most important decision you will make.  Your photographer will determine most of the memories of this experience.  Plus, how the story looks and feels for everyone who were not there with you.  You should choose someone enthusiastic about the location and the spirit of your day.  I love getting to know my couples, and telling their story in a way that reflects what is important to them.  I want you to see yourselves in the photography.  

I often hear people say that their images help fill in the blanks of their experience.  That’s important to me.  I don’t want to you to look back at an image and think about how you were being posed or directed.  Be adventurous and have fun, then I’ll capture what happens authentically.  I also believe in photographers helping out when it comes to traveling.  Part of the reason I love elopements and destination weddings, is that I get to explore with couples.  We end up collaborating on the places we go and the things we experience.  It’s a powerful thing that plugs me into the story even more.

man and woman wearing black wading in surf beach Maui Hawaii elopement sunset

I hope this has you dreaming of your perfect elopement or destination wedding adventure.  If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch and learn more about what I do.  I’m always up for a traveling with couples!

Speaking of adventures, here are some destinations I think would be amazing options for an unforgettable elopement:

Yosemite

Venice, Italy

Joshua Tree

Maui, Hawaii

Iceland

Patagonia

Isle of Skye, Scotland

Paris

Olympia

Rocky Mountain National Park

Fiji

Japan

Ireland

Lake Como

Andes, Peru

Kenya

Tulum, Mexico

Columbia River Gorge

Santorini

Mount Rainier

Kuai

The Alps, Switzerland

San Francisco City Hall

Norway

Crater Lake

Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend

New York City

Zion National Park

Oregon Coast

Rome

Cinque Terra

Lake Tahoe

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Tetons 

California Coast

Charleston, SC

Spain

New Orleans

Brooklyn

 

Here are some of my favorite destinations for desert elopements.

Also, look for how to make your wedding day more intimate.

Looking for a venue to host your destination wedding? Here are my picks for Italy, Hawaii.

bride and groom standing in the middle of Grand Central Station New York City

 

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