Episode 2: Where to Start When Planning an Elopement

Welcome back to Elope West Slope! 

If you’re here you’ve either made the brave decision to elope or you’re learning what you can while making your decision. Either way – Congrats! 

Whether you’ve known all along you wanted a more non-traditional wedding day or you came to the decision after learning more about today’s elopements or were simply overwhelmed with planning a traditional wedding and found this alternative – Regardless, you’ve made it here. 

Perhaps now, though, you’re wondering … where do we even begin planning an elopement?

As an elopement photographer serving western Colorado, today I’m bringing you my insights for where to begin when planning an elopement.

First, join me on a quick exercise: 

Close your eyes (if you’re not driving haha) and imagine you’re in your home, hanging a new photo on the wall. 

That frame holds an image from your wedding day. You gaze at it. 

Where are you? What sort of scene is in the background? Who is there with you? What time of day is it? The answers to these questions will be the foundation you work off of as you create your elopement plans.


The very first step is already done: you’ve made your decision to elope. From there, you have a couple of next options. 

Sit down and think together: do you know where you want to elope? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Maybe you immediately knew where you were in that imagined wedding photo scene. 

Realizing if you have a specific location or not is an important step to figure out, because this step is finding a planner or photographer. 

Some (probably most) elopement photographers also act as your elopement planner with their services, but not all do. It’s good to know as you’re researching photographers what services they offer beyond just photos. Do they help you find a location? Do they know the areas you’re considering? Can they recommend other pros to bring your dreams to life? How extensive are their services?

Close your eyes and imagine you’re in your home, hanging a new photo on the wall. That frame holds an image from your wedding day. You gaze at it.

Where are you? What sort of scene is in the background? Who is there with you? What time of day is it? The answers to these questions will be the foundation you work off of as you create your elopement plans.


If they do nothing more than show up the day of, you’ll want to consider finding an elopement planner as well, which is like a wedding planner but someone who knows and plans elopement days too. This is important – as different things go into planning elopements than weddings. Some elopement planners go above and beyond what even elopement photographers do. 

Think about what you need help with and start your research. Look for pros with services that will be helpful in creating an easy and wonderful day.


So you’ve got your photographer and maybe a planner  – Next step, begin to lock in your location. Hopefully your photographer will help with this step, and if not hopefully you’ve got someone local to aid you. Regardless there are some important considerations in deciding on where to elope. 

First: Go back to that thought experiment: where were you in that photo? What scenery was in the background? 

Were you in the desert, with cliffs or arches behind you? 

Were you by a waterfall or a mountain? 

Were you camping? 

Were you downtown with murals and breweries? 

Were you at a courthouse or Vegas Chapel? 

Talk to your photographer about these ideas and see what spots they know and love, or have heard about and are dying to work at. 

From there, there are some considerations to help hone in on the perfect spot: 


If you pictured yourself eloping with guests, you’re allowed to have them there! There’s no wrong way to elope, and if you’d be really sad not to have someone at your wedding, bring them along. Tell your photographer or planner these plans, though, as they’re important in choosing your location. You’ll need somewhere that all your guests can access or be transported to, and where groups are allowed to gather.

If you imagined you’d have your dogs along, that’s important for your photographer or planner to know as well so they can plan for dog-friendly locations or spaces as some locations do not allow dogs for the environment or wildlife in the area.


Once you have the where, you need to know the when. Do you have a favorite season? Did you imagine having wildflowers in your photos? Did you choose a desert backdrop for the day? These things can all affect what time of year you want or need to elope to make those dreams a reality. Wildflowers are only in bloom a certain time, and the leaves on the trees change at different times depending on location too. If you chose the desert but don’t want to sweat too much, you’ll need to plan to make that happen. If you want snowy mountain peaks but not so much snow to hike through – all of this is something to go over as you plan when to elope. Go over these goals with your photographer or planner and decide on a date.


After you have the basics down (the where, the when, and the who), you should take a breather! You’ve done a lot already! 

When you’re feeling good and ready to go on, the next steps are fun – I promise. 

Next you want to figure out what you’re wearing, and what other pros you need to hire. Begin to think back to the attire you were wearing in that imagined elopement scene. Were you in more traditional attire or something more relaxed and casual? Do you need hiking boots? Is it going to be cold and you’ll need a jacket or shawl? 

Think about whether you want to have flowers. Do you care to have an archway rented if it’s allowed where you’re going? Do you need to hire transportation to get there? What about hair or makeup artists? Do you need any seating for guests? 

Here’s a quick list of other elopement vendors you might want to hire for your day:

  • Florist
  • Transport/Shuttle
  • Hair/Makeup Artist
  • Vacation Rental
  • Videographer
  • Cake or desserts baker
  • Food (like a picnic service, private chef, or even just making restaurant reservations)
  • And finally Drinks (like a mobile bar cart, a beer burro, 420 goods, a bottle of champagne, or even a six pack from the local liquor store)


You’re likely going to be outdoors for your elopement, which means you need a certain amount of preparedness that goes above and beyond weddings. Having an emergency kit including things like bug spray, sunscreen, first aid, and other necessities is important to making sure your elopement goes off without a hitch. Your photographer or planner can likely help you with a full list of what to bring.

Lastly – Step 7. ENJOY YOUR DAY!

At this point you’ve probably got everything figured out and are ready to go! Don’t forget to plan plenty of time in your day to enjoy and soak up every moment. The day flies by even if you stop to smell the roses. Have no fear though, because you’ll be able to relive every moment through your photographs too!

If you’re on step one and looking for an elopement – I and many of my fellow photographers on the western slope are here to help.

Living and working here on the west slope means we can help you with in-depth but not-overwhelming location guides from a local perspective, as well as recommending elopement pros to help, what to bring in your emergency kit, what to do while you’re here, where to stay, what to know about weather, and so much more.

I’m excited to begin introducing you to some of the west slope’s elopement pros soon! If you’re looking for some ideas of what an elopement day can look like and what to do during your elopement – stay tuned to next week on Elope West Slope.

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