How to elope: A step-by-step guide in 2023

How to elope: A step-by-step guide in 2023

Eloping sounds epic! But how does eloping work?

When we think of eloping, we’re no longer thinking of a runaway bride who’s secretly getting married to a forbidden love. No, these days eloping means you choose to celebrate your wedding day exactly the way that fits you! That’s why every elopement is unique and beautiful in its own way. If you ever felt overwhelmed with the idea of a big wedding and were thinking; ‘man, if only I could just elope!’ then you’re definitely not the only one. Many would actually prefer a small and intimate elopement instead of that big, traditional wedding! In this blog, we will explain to you how to elope in a step-by-step guide!

Dare to be different

If you found this blog, you’re probably searching for different ways to get married. Ways that feel more in line with the wishes of you and your loved one. Eloping might just be the way to go for you! Elopements are an incredible experience, tailor-made to fit your wishes. Whether you want to climb a mountain and get married at the top with just the two of you or to say your vows while watching the sun set into the sea? It doesn’t matter what you choose – the possibilities are endless!

You’ve probably already seen some epic images on Instagram of couples that got married at the most amazing places the earth has to offer to us and all you thought was… ‘damn, that’s gotta be us!!! We want to get married like this!’ But then you have no clue where to start? This blog is for you, we got you!

We’re here to help!

We took it upon ourselves to help you out. With our years of experience as wedding- and elopement photographers, we have lots of knowledge to share with you. In this blog, you will find a step-by-step guide to plan your dream elopement, a bunch of frequently asked questions answered and loads of tips along the way. So get comfy and enjoy the read!

How to Elope: find your dream location

One of the most important things to figure out if you want to elope is where you want to elope. Maybe you already have a special place in your heart! That’s great! But for most people, it takes a few brainstorming sessions. To help you on your way there are a couple of questions you can ask yourself to get a better view of what it is you’re looking for.

  • What is your favourite environment? (think mountains, forest, sea, snow, warm or cold weather, etc.)
  • At what time of the year are you thinking to elope?
  • Do you want an indoor or outdoor ceremony?
  • Will there be guests? Or just the two of you?
  • What time of day do you want the ceremony to be held?
  • What activities do you want to do after or before you say yes?

All these questions help you narrow down all options. In the end, you will choose the option that can accommodate most of the answers above. Is your choice Iceland, the Dolomites or Scotland? Then you can visit our guides by clicking the country!

How to elope: decide on a budget

Thinking about the budget is probably the least exciting thing when you’re planning your dream elopement. But nonetheless, it’s a very important part. Since everyone’s budget is very different and knowing there is no right or wrong, it’s best to sit down with your soon-to-be spouse and decide how much you are willing to spend on your wedding day.

Our advice would be to start with setting the maximum budget you are willing to spend in total. Once you set the budget, you can start to write down all your wishes for the day and research how much these things are going to cost you. Put everything in the list and sort them in order of priority from high to low and see how everything fits into your budget. To help you get started we already have listed some typical expenses to think about.

Travel cost to your location

When you know where you want to elope, you can check out things like flights, car rentals, public transport etc. So: figure out how much it’s going to cost to get you to your destination.


Where do you want to stay and for how long? Once you know these things you can check out the cost. If it is a hotel you want, then you can check out their rates. If it’s sleeping under the stars in a tent, then you need to figure out the cost and where you can camp.

Food & Drinks

Do you want to eat in a fancy restaurant? Do you want a private chef to cook you a meal on a mountain top or do you want to have a picnic? All these things are possible, but have different budgets!

Wedding Clothing

What will you wear on your wedding day? This is very personal and there are so many different options. From dresses to suits, to hiking gear. Or perhaps you’ll feel better in a swimsuit?

Hair & make up

To give you that finishing touch on your wedding day, it’s always a good choice to have a professional hair & make-up artist. They will help you look your absolute best!

Marriage license

This one is different in every country or state. Depending on where you go you need to sort out the documents needed and get the marriage license sorted. We’re here to help you out if needed!


Obviously, you never want to forget this day! So it would help if you had someone to capture it for you in the most beautiful way possible. That’s where we come in. So a little self-advertising here: take us with you on your adventure and we’ll make sure you get those beautiful and epic shots you want!

Now you should know if you have room to spare or if you need to cut back. Making a budget (and sticking to it) will save you loads of time, headaches and sanity in the long run.

How to elope: choosing your vendors

Now that you know what you want out of your day, it is time to choose the vendors needed for your dream elopement. If you choose Tim Wouters Photography as your elopement photographer, then we will supply you with a list of recommendations. But when you’re planning it all by yourselves It is very important that you choose the vendors that fit your needs. Every photographer, florist and even officiants has their own style. So make sure to interview all of them to get a good feeling about who it is you’re dealing with and if they fit in your picture.

It is important that you take the time with the chosen vendors to talk them through your vision of the day. Tell them what you really like and what you dislike! Come with examples and/or mood boards for the vendors. This makes it easier for them to understand your wishes. Don’t wait until the very last minute to figure out the details with the florist, in case they need to get certain flowers from different locations.

How to elope: making it official

A very important part is making sure your marriage is legal. Every country or state has different rules and laws about granting a marriage license. Make sure you do your research beforehand so that you have everything you need to get legally married.

Sometimes it’s just easier to get the official stuff done locally to where you live, as you can follow these rules. This often goes for destination weddings or elopements in different countries. As it can be complicated or confusing to get everything sorted for your license, you can also still do a symbolic ceremony at your chosen wedding destination.

After you said yes to your lover and you signed all the documents, you need to get them to the right place. Sometimes your officiant will take care of this for you, but sometimes you have to do this yourself. Be sure to have this all sorted out and have a clear who is responsible for this.

How to elope: your wedding outfit!

Deciding what to wear is a big step. It’s smart to take your destination and activities into consideration when you choose your attire. If you go hiking; are you willing to do this in your dress/suit or do you change into it when you reach your destination? Also: think about protecting your dress or suit against all elements you might encounter!

How to elope: share the news with family and friends!

Getting married is something to celebrate with your friends and family. It’s no different when you’re eloping. You should celebrate your love with your family and friends! But getting married by eloping means most are not there with you when you say ‘I do’. This can be disappointing for some of your family and friends. So to deal with this, we’ve got a couple of ways to share the news with everyone.

Don’t tell anyone until it’s official

This one has the biggest shock effect on your friends and family but it makes sure there are no discussions on who was or wasn’t invited. Some couples choose to stream their official moment, so some people can still sort of be there. You can also announce it with a card or a marriage post on Facebook. Or even hold a party afterwards where everyone is invited to celebrate with you!

Announce and bounce!

This way you announce that you’re getting married by an e-mail or announcement card and then you leave right after sending them and not responding to any calls or emails until it’s done. This way you’re sure that your elopement is private and just the two of you. Obviously, you can still celebrate afterwards with a good party.

Invite those closest to you

Eloping doesn’t mean that it has to be just the 2 of you. If you’re getting away into the mountains or a big city, it doesn’t matter. It is your day and you can invite anyone you want. Obviously; the point of eloping is to make it more intimate, so this will limit the number of people to invite. So you only choose your closest friends and family and take them with you. Throw a big party afterwards for all those that didn’t get the invite to celebrate with you.

Explaining eloping

You probably get a lot of questions about why you chose to elope instead of having a traditional big wedding. Don’t be afraid to talk people through how important it was for you and your partner to have this experience and for it to be about you and your love for each other instead of following tradition or being pressured into something. Just remember that there is nothing wrong with wanting this moment to be between just you and your partner. Even if some people don’t agree. They should still respect your wishes, as you will have to have respect that they might have a different opinion.

How to elope: the most important part. ENJOY!

Now that you know how to elope you can make your dreams a reality. Whatever you chose to do, a big wedding or eloping. Don’t forget to really enjoy the day. It is your and your partners’ day and choosing to elope is often a decision to be able to enjoy it even more. If you hire Tim Wouters Photography, we’re there to help you every step of the way. If you book us, we will supply you with a list of recommendations for lodging, vendors and activities. It is our job to help you plan timelines for the day and we find all the beautiful spots for you. Let us make sure you end up with incredible photos to remember your day forever! Shoot us a message via the following link: contact us!

Frequently asked questions

Of course you can! It is your day and you decide with whom you wanna spend it.

There isn’t an exact number from which it is no longer considered an elopement. We at Vantastic Photography specialize in small and intimate weddings and elopements with a maximum of 20 guests. In the end, it’s all down to who you want to take with you on your adventure. Just you and your loved one? That’s absolutely fine! Take a few of your closest friends and family members with you? No problem! Your day, your decision.

Most people choose between these 3 options:

  • Just the 2 of you (and of course a photographer). Invite nobody else!
  • Invite family and friends, up to 20 guests.
  • You, your partner, two witnesses  and the officiant to fulfill legal requirements

 It looks exactly as you want it to look like – however: there are some typical things that are done we can list.

Elopements don’t have set rules and this is no joke! You can do whatever you want. So the ceremony can be fully customized to your wishes. We have listed some things for you to get you inspired:

  1. Write and read your own vows! Get rid of the standard script often done by the officiant and create your own unique and much more personal vows. Tell your partner exactly what you feel and love about him or her.
  2. A ring exchange or any other symbolic tradition
  3. Any ‘firsts’ – this could be anything you want. A kiss or a first dance for example!
  4. Any religious or cultural traditions like sage smudging or handfasting
  5. Unity or any other custom ceremony you would like
  6. Make a romantic gesture with your talents. Can you sing? Great! What about a serenade to your lover? 😉

This is probably the number one reason people chose to elope: you can go wherever you like to go!

You can go anywhere in the world. It’s completely up to you. That’s what makes eloping so great, but we can also understand that there is just too much to choose from and you don’t know what to do. Therefore, we made a cool quiz you can take HERE to help you decide where to elope! We also have loads of blogs with inspiration for you: for example this one. [THE BEST PLACES TO ELOPE IN EUROPE BLOG HERE]

This depends heavily on the location where you live & want to go for your elopement

Sadly for this question, there is no simple answer. It differs for every couple as it changes for everyone. It also depends on where you live and where you want to elope. Every country or state has their own rules and regulations. No worries though! We will help you, if needed, to sort out the paperwork.

This is another question that depends on the local laws and regulations. But mostly it’s more a question if you want one or not.

As you probably already noticed, a lot of these questions are not a one-size-fits-all-answers as it is depending on the location, local rules and regulations and laws of the country where you live and want to elope. 

Some countries or states require an officiant, others don’t. Some places even need someone appointed by the court to be present if you want your marriage to be legal. Some places let you self solemnize (don’t know what it means? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a second).

You can also choose to take care of all the legalities on a different day to make eloping a lot easier. It doesn’t make your wedding any less important than a wedding where you sign a piece of paper.

Perfectly fine! It happens all the time. 

Being partners for life is more than just a piece of paper. It’s not about that signature, but about the promise you make to each other. So if it’s too much of a hassle to sort the legalities out in the country or state your planning your elopement, just don’t! It’s no problem to get that stuff sorted back at home. Our advice : DON’T WORRY! Just enjoy your elopement day.

 Always have a plan B!

You have no influence on the weather, so be prepared to go with the flow! If it rains, we’ll dance in the rain! Now for the serious answer: it’s good to come prepared for a bad weather scenario and have a plan in place. Obviously we will still go with the flow, things can change and plans don’t always go as planned. We always come prepared: our gear is weather proof so if you do end up dancing in the rain, we will be able to capture it!

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