The Best Elopement Planning Checklist Mobile Image

The Best Elopement Planning Checklist

March 18, 2021

Running away to elope has been a big mood ever since COVID-19 put a wrench in extravagant wedding day plans. And while eloping is a much cheaper alternative to a traditional ceremony, you still need to figure out quite a few aspects before you set out on your big day. From figuring out the best location to tie the knot at to nailing down the steps you need to take to make sure your marriage is actually legal, don’t miss out on this comprehensive checklist that will guide you through all the nitty gritty details of eloping with the one you love.



Decide on your location.  


Choose a place that’s meaningful to you and your partner. Whether that means tying the knot at the place you were proposed to or travelling somewhere you’ve always wanted to go together, the more meaning the place holds for you as a couple, the better!   


For those eloping overseas, book your airfare early! This way you can get in on any deals that may be happening in order to allow for room in other areas of your budget.


If a courthouse wedding is what you’re after, you definitely need to check out that city/county’s clerk’s office for the specifics on how your day is going to run way beforehand. It’s integral that you do this as some courthouse appointments fill up in advance while other courthouses require you to book 2 different appointments in order to make your marriage legal. 

Photography by: Maleigh Canon



Photography by: Vasva Omanovic

Yes, you can still invite guests to your elopement!


While eloping means that your wedding day will be more low-key, that doesn’t have to mean your friends and family can’t come. After all, you’ll need witnesses and an officiant, so you can always just incorporate them into your wedding ceremony (maybe even ask your mom to be the wedding day coordinator while you’re at it!).   


Secure your marriage license.


Obviously, this part is key to having a successful elopement. Again, do your research on the state/country you’re planning on tying the knot in. Each place can require different items when legally authorizing your marriage—from the number of witnesses you’ll need to the proper identification papers that you’ll need to bring (birth certificates, blood work, divorce papers, etc.).  


And don’t forget to ensure that your officiant is legally authorized to perform the wedding ceremony! Especially if you’re asking a close friend or family member to perform this duty.   



Figure out travel and accommodations.  


We’ve mentioned this before, but if you’re planning on flying to a destination for your elopement, it’s important that you book any flights/travel expenses as early as possible. This will ensure that you and yours get the best deals out there.     

This goes for booking any overnight accommodations you might want as well if you’re looking to turn your elopement into a romantic getaway for two!


Consider hiring a photographer and other vendors.


Just because you’re having an elopement doesn’t mean that you won’t have vendors. Here are some people you should consider hiring as you run away to tie the knot: 


Chances are, you’re going to want images from your elopement. With all of the money you’re saving by opting out of a traditional ceremony, you can splurge a little bit by hiring a professional photographer to capture special moments from your big day. 

Photography by: Jessica Lauren Photography



Photography by: James Rose

Pro tip: ask them if they have hourly rates as you more than likely won’t need them the entire day. Just another way to save some cash!   


If you can’t be bothered to hire a photographer, a newer iPhone will easily capture some breathtaking moments.  


If you’ve got the budget for it, we highly recommend hiring a wedding planner to work through all the nitty gritty details of your elopement so you don’t have to. Wedding planners especially come in handy when trying to schedule an event overseas as they will probably be more familiar with how to handle long-distance planning. Finally, they’re a great tool for legal advice when it comes to getting your marriage license!  


Other vendors you should consider hiring: florists, videographers, caterer or a cake-maker! These vendors definitely aren’t necessary for an elopement, but they can add a little something special to your low-key ceremony depending on what you’re looking for. 



Sort out your attire & hair/makeup.


You can still wear the wedding dress of your dreams. As we’ve mentioned above, eloping allows for more wiggle room in terms of what you spend your money on. So if you have your eyes on a luxurious gown to elope in, we say go for it!  


Consider travel when planning out your elopement outfits. You don’t want to pack anything that’s going to get incredibly wrinkled sitting in a suitcase. Garment bags are your friend!  


Decide on the approach for your hair and makeup. Whether you’re doing it yourself to save some extra time and money or have a stylist in mind for your special day, make sure you have this part mapped out so that you don’t stress the day of. Also, a lot of salons can do walk-in styling if the look isn’t too complicated, so this is always an option if you’re eloping away from home!

Photography by: Kristen Wynn



Photography by: Melissa Wilson



Now to figure out how to celebrate your elopement, post-ceremony! We love the idea of an intimate dinner party with family and friends to celebrate your newlywed status. If you want more of a party vibe, you could always try to rent out your favorite local bar or venue!   


If you and your partner aren’t into the after-party idea, you still need to give your closest friends and family a call about your new marriage status. They’ll appreciate a one-on-one conversation before you announce it to the rest of the world!   


The final step: sending out announcements. You don’t want your grandma finding out about your new marriage status on facebook, do you? Formal announcements are a sweet way to let friends and extended family know about this new chapter in your life. And if you’re not about sending your elopement announcements in the mail, you can always send them through email. This is a great way to quickly let people know, and it’s a more cost-effective (and green!) way to get the message out. 


If you’re overwhelmed by this elopement checklist, take a deep breath. The stress is only temporary! Once you begin checking off items on your to-do list, you’ll feel so much better. Remember to keep the focus on eloping with the one you love, and everything else will fall into place!