Congrats on deciding to elope!
Now what the HECK are you going to do to make your elopement unique to you and your partner? Here are 55 ideas for how to make your elopement special, whether you’re staying in your city, saying your vows in a local park, or flying to an exotic location.
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One of the greatest things about eloping is having the freedom to break the rules and do anything. So, how can you make your elopement special? By doing something that YOU like to do, and by doing activities or traditions unique to your hobbies, styles, and personalities. You don’t have to say hello to 14,897 of your father’s bowling club* friends, so HECK—go do something no one else is!
(* No offense to bowlers. I actually LOVE bowling, and will go bowling with my clients any time I’m invited. Please invite me.)
Here are a few creative ideas of mine—well, 55 elopement ideas, for how to make your elopement special. Some are for your elopement wedding day, while some could be for that morning, that night, or the next day. And definitely take your photographer along to catch the best moments on film!
The best part of an elopement? You can do as little or as much as you want. Have it last an hour or a whole week. Go to City Hall, or have an extended adventure elopement…hike, bike, and be merry! The best elopement ideas are whatever YOU love, so make sure your idea resonates with you (and not with what others think you should do). In no particular order, here we go:
55 of the Best Wedding Elopement Ideas to Make Your Day Special (and Unique):
1. Ski or snowboard down a mountain after saying your vows!
2. Have your wedding rings made with local materials or stones. Local craftspeople and jewelry makers can customize your pieces no matter where you’re eloping
3. Wear a non-white wedding dress. Do you have to wear white for your wedding? Heck no! Wear black, red, yellow, or whatever. Don’t want to break from tradition too much? Try a multicolored skirt or a flower design. Or, go for a colored veil for your elopement day.
4. Go to a museum to celebrate (and get cool photos while your learn or explore!)
5. Have a private chef cook for just the two of you
6. Ask your closest family/friends to write you notes before you elope, and read them on your elopement day. This one is from intimate wedding planner Sarah Carroll of Small Shindigs, a NY/NJ-based small wedding planning service
7. Get ice cream. What’s your favorite specialty flavor?
8. Rent a ride: splurge on a Lamborghini, Hummer, or McLaren
9. Stay in a treehouse
10. Go play some arcade games. There are adorable outdoor arcades in a bunch of cities ranging from Colorado Springs, CO to Bangalore, India
11. Hire a live musician to give a private performance for just the two of you. Imagine how romantic it would be to have a guitarist or violinist play for you in your backyard—or on a mountaintop? The Wedding Doctor, Martine Dardignac of Wedding M.D. in NY/NJ, gave us this terrific idea!
12. Take a hot air balloon ride! Do it in Rhinebeck, NY…or take a hot air balloon ride for your Cappadocia, Turkey elopement
13. Test your trust with a ropes course or zipline together
14. Go caving! Better yet, go explore Iceland’s ice caves! I’ll document it all in the most beautiful blue ice you’ve ever seen
15. Take a tango class together, either at a private class or online in your living room!
16. Hike, hike, hike: Backpacking elopements and hiking to your elopement ceremony are always in style, but consider a real experience with a multi-day backpacking trip—or an epic day-long hike! You’ll get one-of-a-kind photos for your time and effort (plus, no unwanted guests photobombing your shots)
17. Plant a tree together
18. Pack your favorite beer, wine, or mocktail in a cooler, and enjoy it on the mountain/beach/backyard
19. Go grape stomping at a local winery!
20. Rent a bounce house
21. Horseback ride to your wedding site
22. Pop the champagne. There’s nothing like those reaction shots!
23. Bring custom-made accessories (monogrammed jacket, vow books, fans, hats)
24. Rock climb UP to your ceremony site and say your vows where no one else has!
25. SUP or kayak in your wedding clothes
26. Fly a kite
27. Get right in the water for a trash the dress session. Don’t worry about ruining your dress…it will survive!
28. Go on a secret planned adventure or a surprise honeymoon. Several companies like Pack & Go will help organize all the details.
29. Escape rooms are a good way to socially distance…just don’t get too frustrated with your partner on your wedding day 😉
30. Take a helicopter to your ceremony site. It’s seriously, seriously awesome
31. Head to a museum to learn—and take unique elopement photos while you’re at it
32. Smoke bomb wedding photos are awesome. Make sure your environment is safe, keep water nearby, and snap away!
33. Get a live painter to capture your favorite moment
34. Have a socially-distanced-by-household picnic “reception” at or after your wedding. You can get blankets, picnic baskets, a bottle of prosecco, sandwiches, and a dessert treat for each family, and enjoy an intimate time in the park while staying safe. This idea is from wedding planner Genevieve Roja of San Francisco-based Lily Spruce. She’s actually planned this for COVID weddings in 2020!
35. Adopt a kitten or puppy instead of releasing birds or butterflies
36. Go snorkeling / SCUBA diving and exchange your rings underwater. Or do an underwater shoot!
37. Get a suit/dress made in another country. These two had a destination elopement at San Francisco City Hall. They lived in Ohio and had their suits custom-made during a trip of theirs in Thailand
38. Bring decorations (rug, candles, signs) to customize your elopement ceremony site
39. Play frisbee, go rollerblading, or ride a tandem bike in your wedding clothes
40. Get in a waterfall…or at least sneak some water balloons along to surprise your partner
41. Enjoy a custom treasure hunt designed by a company or your friends
42. Do a rose petal toss and add color and movement to your celebration
43. Take a cooking class (or chocolate making class) the night of your elopement
44. Wear a reconstructed or custom-made dress. Kirstin (below) sadly lost her mother the year before her wedding, and reconstructed her mother’s wedding dress for her rehearsal dinner and adventure session. It was a beautiful way to preserve her memory in a beautiful location
45. Get married in a theme, or with your favorite decade. Great Gatsby wedding elopement? Steampunk wedding? An 80s-inspired neon wedding?
46. Order a custom cake topper
47. Get a custom-made floral arch and splurge on the splash of color
48. Recreate your parents’ or grandparents’ (or great-grandparents’!) wedding photos
49. Play laser tag on a mountain. We do this while camping, and it’s so silly and fun. Be a kid again…why not?
50. Splurge on an epic bouquet. “Aside from your wedding dress, it’s the most iconic part of your wedding look,” suggest floral designer Edith Villavicencio of Garden of Edith Event & Floral Design in New Jersey. She recommends picking unique and exotic flowers, like King Proteas, to make it a real focal point
51. Elope at a music festival and have a wild night of dancing in the desert
52. Create your own veil. No need for it to be white!
53. Bring fairy lights and hammocks, and create your own romantic bubble
54. Don’t want a bouquet? Get a headpiece! Feathers, metals, florals, or something else, a headpiece really makes a statement
55. Go on a roller coaster–or elope at Disney World!
There are hundreds of creative elopement ideas I couldn’t fit in here, but I’d love to know if at least a few of these li’l bits of elopement inspiration have helped you! And this isn’t just about elopements: Whether you need ideas to make your intimate wedding special, your engagement session unique, or you just want an awesome couples’ session or adventure session, you can likely draw photo inspiration from this list.
Whether you want to make your small courtyard elopement more special or are looking for a creative wedding photographer to capture your unique helicopter elopement, it’s easy to add a few personal touches and go from typical to truly memorable.
I hope you enjoyed my 55 ways to make your elopement special—and that you can take your favorite ideas and run with them. I can’t wait to hear what amazing details you decide to incorporate into your elopement wedding day!
Kathryn Cooper Weddings | Creative Elopement Photographer | Hudson Valley Elopement Photographer | NY Elopement Photographer | SF Elopement Photography