How to Plan an Epic Adventure Elopement

What is an adventure elopement and how do I plan one? Learn everything you need to know about adventure elopements with this complete guide!

Couple kissing at their Colorado sunset adventure elopement with blue mountain ridges behind them

What are adventure elopements?

For many couples, a big, traditional wedding just doesn’t feel like the right choice. Instead, adventure elopements allow couples to get married in a way that feels more true to themselves. By foregoing the traditional wedding and throwing out the rulebook, you can plan your wedding day ceremony around any type of epic adventure you can think of!

Who plans an adventure elopement and why?

Even though big weddings can be fun, there are lots of reasons that couples might decide a traditional wedding isn’t the right choice for them. 

Sometimes there is a lot of family drama or stress that comes with planning a big wedding. They can easily become more about the guest experience or the fancy decorations, instead of the commitment the couple is making to each other. Not to mention, they come with a hefty price tag. The average wedding in the U.S. costs around $34,000! 

Or perhaps COVID-19 made your traditional wedding plans impossible, and you are looking for a fun alternative!

It’s a total myth that couples who elope don’t care about their wedding day. In fact, often they care even more–so much so that they are willing to break tradition and make their own rules for this special day.

Here are some common reasons that couples choose to have an adventure elopement:

  • You value experiences more than things.
  • You want your wedding day to be focused on the commitment you’re making to each other.
  • Travel and adventure are already a big part of your relationship, so it only makes sense for these things to be a part of your wedding day!
  • You want an intimate and authentic day that truly represents who you are.
  • A “just us” wedding day experience sounds perfect to you.

What could we do on our adventure elopement?

Many people think of eloping as just some quick vows and a few pictures, but why? This is your wedding day after all, and it should be your best day EVER!

If you and your partner love adventures, traveling, or the outdoors, an adventure elopement could be the best choice for a wedding day! You can literally do ANY adventurous activity you can think of.

But in case you need some help to get started brainstorming, here are some ideas for adventure elopement activities:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Backpacking
  • Helicopter adventure
  • Kayaking/SUP-ing
  • Jeeping/ATV-ing
  • Hot Air Balloon rides
  • Stargazing
  • Rock climbing/ice climbing
  • Skiing/Snowboarding
  • Snowshoeing
  • Snowmobile riding
  • Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
  • Exploring natural hot springs and waterfalls
  • Visit wineries and breweries
Bride and groom wearing their backpacks are walking through a field together holding hands

What would our adventure elopement look like?

Your elopement day can be any type of scenery you can imagine. While many couples choose the epic mountains of Colorado or the Pacific Northwest, you can have your elopement anywhere in the world!

You can choose lush green forests, sand dunes in the desert, red rock formations, or the mountainous beaches of Hawaii. Even cityscape elopements are becoming quite popular!

Also consider the time of year you want to elope! Do you imagine a romantic snowy day on the slopes, or a warm, sunny day? The best thing about adventure elopements is that you can literally think about what your perfect day looks like, and then make that vision into your wedding day!

How do I plan an adventure elopement?

Check out this elopement checklist for a complete list of everything you should consider for your elopement.

But to make things simple, here are the basic steps:

  1. Start dreaming about what your perfect day might look like!
  1. Get in touch and book your adventure elopement photographer.
  1. Work with your adventure elopement photographer to find your perfect elopement location and activities.
  1. Obtain your marriage license and hire any other vendors you need. 
  1. Your epic adventure elopement day is here! Enjoy it!

Adventure Elopement Planning Tips

When you’re planning an adventure elopement, it can be as simple or as crazy epic as you want it to be. Here are some planning tips and questions to ask yourself to help you brainstorm your perfect adventure elopement wedding day.

  • Spend plenty of time brainstorming with your partner about what each of you feels your perfect day would look like. Spend time talking about the real meaning behind a wedding day (the lifelong commitment you’re making to each other!), and what is important to each of you for this day.
  • When you’re planning your elopement day, leave more time than you think. One of the best parts about eloping is having enough time to have a relaxed and spontaneous day. Big weddings can get very rushed, and many couples that have a big, traditional wedding say that their day was a total blur. But adventure elopements don’t have to be that way!
  • If you’re traveling to a destination for your adventure elopement, plan to be there at least one full day before and after the elopement. You’ll thank yourself later for leaving plenty of time to enjoy the moment.
  • Don’t forget to look into local marriage laws! If you are planning to complete your marriage license paperwork on the same day as your adventure elopement and commitment ceremony (which doesn’t necessarily have to be the case), then definitely check into the local marriage laws to see if officiants and/or witnesses are required. If you want to self solemnize (a.k.a marry yourselves with no officiant or witnesses needed), consider a Colorado elopement!
  • Choose your photographer wisely, especially if planning is not your thing! These days, the best adventure elopement photographers do way more than just show up and photograph your wedding day. And this is important, because unlike weddings where a couple usually has either a wedding planner, venue coordinator, day of coordinator, or at least a very helpful friend or family member, with adventure elopements often the photographer is the only professional the couple has to help with things like finding the perfect location, figuring out what permits are needed, knowing the best local vendors, and more.
Woman holding man's face during embrace with mountains in the background of adventure elopement

What else should I consider for my adventure elopement?

Where should I elope?

My best piece of advice is to work with your adventure elopement photographer to find your perfect elopement location. It is literally part of the photographer’s job to find amazing spots, and it’s so much less stressful than trying to take this task on by yourself! 

But here are some important questions to ask yourself when considering where to have your adventure elopement.

  • How far are you willing or able to travel?
  • Are you willing to travel into the backcountry (via hiking, off-roading, etc.) or do you want a more accessible location? If you are bringing any guests or pets, are they willing and able to join you?
  • Are there certain types of activities you want to do?
  • What time of year are you planning to elope?
  • What type of scenery do you prefer?
  • Do you have any bucket list destinations or activities that would be great for your adventure elopement? 
  • What permits are required for the elopement location? Many parks and public lands require special use permits in order to hold a ceremony. 
  • How important is privacy?

What time of year should I elope?

Depending on where you choose to elope, the time of year can create a very different elopement experience. 

For example, in Colorado, many mountain areas are not even accessible during the winter time when certain roads close. And summer may start later than you think!

Consider how comfortable you are in certain temperatures! Do you hate the idea of sweating in your wedding attire? Or does the thought of being cold sound unbearable? Is there a certain type of scenery you want for your elopement (for example, snowy weather) that is only available at a certain time of year? 

These types of questions can help you narrow down when to have your elopement! 

What should I wear?

Since you’re already breaking tradition for your wedding, there’s no reason you have to stick to traditional wedding attire! You really can wear whatever you want!

While most couples do choose to wear the traditional suit and white wedding gown, you can choose to wear something different if you’d like! Black wedding dresses, and more colorful dresses, are definitely getting more popular! 

Also for guys, you have some freedom to dress more casually if you’d like, and could skip things like a suit jacket in favor of a bow tie and suspenders.

The most important thing is that you’re appropriately dressed for your activity, and that you wear something that feels like yourself! 

This is especially important when it comes to footwear. If you’re planning to do any hiking on your adventure elopement, heels are not the best choice. 

Luckily, hiking boots and white sneakers (for brides) are becoming very popular! Make sure that you break in your shoes before your elopement day, and I recommend packing an extra pair of socks if there’s any chance yours might get wet so that you don’t have any issues with blisters.

Couple embracing and kissing during their adventure elopement at the Paint Mines with pink and white rocks

Who to bring along on my adventure elopement?

A common question about eloping is whether friends and family can be included. The answer I always give is yes, of course! It’s your day, so you get to make the rules!

However, when you invite guests or bring pets along, you will have to consider their needs and preferences. This may impact your choices for your day on activities, food, lodging, etc. Check out this post for more helpful info on understanding how and what it means to include friends and family in your elopement!

Elopement vendors

Most couples choose to have at least a couple of vendors for their elopement. It’s still your wedding day after all! Here is a list of the types of vendors that you might want to consider:

  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Florist
  • Hair and Makeup Artist
  • Officiant
  • Musician
  • Private Chef/Caterer/Restaurant

Adventure Elopement Photographer Packages

Looking for someone to help you document your special day? I’m a Colorado-based elopement and intimate wedding photographer, and I love helping couples turn their vision for their dream day into a reality!

I’d be honored to help you with photographing your adventure elopement or microwedding. Learn more below!

What’s included in my elopement photography package?

My Colorado elopement/microwedding packages start at 4 hours (packages outside of Colorado are also available!), but when you work with me you’re getting way more than just a photographer. 

I am fully invested in making sure every single one of my clients has the most amazing elopement day possible. That’s why I offer help in ways that most photographers don’t! 

Here are just a few things that come with having me as your photographer, adventure partner, friend, and guide:

  • Documenting your epic elopement day. Of course as your photographer, I’m going to make sure you have amazing photos so you can relive your special day again and again. There are so many special moments outside of just saying your vows and taking portraits. Everything from the anticipation as you’re each getting ready, the laughs when your dog does something silly like always, the tears as you share your commitment vows, or your first champagne toast together as husband and wife. As a photographer, my focus is documenting these candid and REAL moments of your day, in a natural way. No forced or cheesy smiles here!
  • Custom elopement planning tools and guidance. Every client I work with gets access to customized planning tools, planning resources, and guidance to help make your small wedding or elopement planning as stress free as possible. From location ideas to timeline planning to vendor recommendations, no detail is overlooked. Forget the work, and focus on having fun!
  • All your photos. You’ll have access to a fully-edited online gallery of your images, which you can download in either high-resolution or web-size (ideal for sharing on social media). You can also order printed products like albums, canvas prints, or framed prints right from your online gallery if you choose. Or share your gallery with friends and family so they can relive the experience with you!
  • Travel included. All my packages include my travel, so you’re never surprised by extra fees.

Are you planning an elopement or microwedding?

I’m more than just a photographer. Helping couples create their dream day is what I do best!

Get in touch and let’s chat about your vision!

Get more elopement and microwedding info here!

Or check out more elopement planning resources…

A complete guide to Airbnb Weddings and Airbnb Elopements in Colorado
Step by step tutorial on creating a flower collar for your dog for your wedding
Couple hugging each other on their hiking wedding in Colorado
Elopement Photographer Kim from Wild and Found Photography

Hi I’m Kim, a Denver, Colorado based photographer specializing in Adventure Elopements in Colorado and worldwide! Photographing couples on the most special day of their lives is a true honor for me. But I’ve made it my mission to take it one step further than that. When you work with me, you’re getting more than just a photographer. I’m here to help you with all of the planning resources you need to have the most amazing elopement day ever! That includes everything from assistance with location ideas, timeline planning, and lots more free resources. So you can forget the work, and focus on having fun!

Adventure elopement cover photo

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