Top Ten Elopement Planning Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
Can we be honest here? We have seen far too many couples think they can pull off an elopement by doing everything themselves – and then end up just as stressed as couples who have big weddings.
Whether you choose to plan your own elopement, or are searching for the right photographer to help you – we want you to be completely informed as to mistakes that couples make when planning their elopement. Avoiding all these mistakes is why you need an experienced elopement photographer to lead you through the planning steps & help you with the day-of coordination.
Not understanding the hidden costs of DIY
You might be looking at what it costs to book an elopement package with an experienced photographer, and think “we can save that money.”
If you don’t have the experience of planning elopements on a regular basis, however; you can easily spend too much by missing out on opportunities to save in areas.
Let’s take renting an Airbnb or VRBO for example. It may look straightforward, to research a place to rent and then have your ceremony there. However, there are a lot of details to watch out for if you’re thinking about an Airbnb or VRBO elopement. Rental agreements are a mile long and it’s easy to miss some stipulations that could prevent you from having your event at the location. Or you might find a place that you love but it has a steep fee for weddings on the property.
An experienced elopement photographer will also be an experienced elopement planner – and will know ways to save you money. They will have some trips and tricks to navigate the finer details of booking a place to stay that can double as a ceremony location, all while staying within the property owners policies.
Missing the hidden work of DIY
This is a pattern we’ve seen with big weddings and it’s why we place such an emphasis on planning and day-of coordination for our couples. What we’re talking about is the amount of stress that compounds on couples – especially the brides – in the last weeks of a wedding.
This happens because someone in the bride’s team of vendors dropped the ball, or their planner hasn’t been able to keep up with all the details. Or worse yet, they don’t have a planner or coordinator at all and are left managing everything.
To put it simply:
- Do you want to spend hours online in the months prior to your elopement searching for vendors? Wondering if you’ve hired the right people? Looking for an Airbnb or VRBO?
- Do you want to be on your computer and phone constantly in the weeks prior to your elopement making sure everyone is where they are supposed to be? To coordinate with vendors about time and location? To write out instructions for your family?
These are just a few examples of work that we take off of the shoulders of our couples. It is a LOT of work to put together just the right event for your day. Underestimating this can be a big mistake, and the downside is not having any time to enjoy your engagement or your wedding day.
Not anticipating the hidden pitfalls of DIY
Maybe you’ve found an amazing location to have your ceremony in the mountains. Did you get a permit? Do you know if a permit is required? What if you’re not getting a response from the general email account for the permits office – how do you find the direct contact to resolve issues?
This is a message for the grooms: Your bride will try to do all the work. Guys, it may look easy to you to put together an elopement – after all, all that is seems is just finding a place to get married and having some photos taken. There is so much more involved than that. All the extra work tends to land on the shoulders of your fiancée – do you really want to create stress for her wedding day?
Deciding “we just need someone to take photos”
Another common mistake just above DIY, are couples who don’t realize there is a difference between someone who shoots portraits / weddings and an experienced elopement photographer. There is a VERY big difference!
Traditional wedding and portrait photographers are more accustomed to working in a system – a system of cookie cutter weddings where there are many other vendors around to do specific jobs in the “production” of a wedding day.
In contrast, elopement photographers are well versed in all the aspects of your day, and are essentially taking on the roles of the multiple vendors (especially your planner and day-of coordinator) into one.
If you hire someone who “just takes photos” you will find yourself having to do a lot of work that adds stress to your planning experience and your day.
Trying to host everyone
This is for those brides who are people pleasers. We know where you are coming from! Planning your own wedding day can come with the stress of feeling like you have to do things for your guests, and “play host.”
The solution here is to have the right professionals along your side to take that worry away from you. You need someone who can insulate you from that “need” to be the host, by taking on the role of “day-of coordinator” so you don’t have to.
Bringing along family because “you are supposed to”
Eloping is about freedom to choose the day you want. Are you having your family along for the whole day because you feel like you have to? Don’t make the mistake of prioritizing your needs below others. This day is about you.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t include your family – it’s your personal decision! Just know that there are ways to plan your day out so you can still have some family time but prioritize your time together too. It can be done!
Forgetting important details
While eloping is about freedom and choosing your own path, there are still things that run parallel to traditional weddings that need to be considered. Hiring a hair and make-up artist that fits your vibe; florals to match your style; buying a wedding dress that works with your elopement plans; finding an officiant … all of these are important to include!
Above the traditional aspects, don’t forget the activities you like to do together as a couple. Most couples initially think that they couldn’t do something on their day but realize later that it was actually possible. Want to kayak, hike, mountain bike, play pool, go to a winery… or something else? Yes, it can be done!
Not considering loved ones in your plans
Yes, earlier we said that it can be a mistake to bring family, but also it can be a mistake to not consider them at all. There are ways to run the right balance of including your loved ones, and the answer is different for every couple. Maybe you Zoom with your family after your ceremony, or read letters from loved ones on your day, or plan a reception that evening with everyone after your ceremony for just the two of you. Read more here: How to Elope with Family
Forgetting about traditions
Again – you don’t have to feel like you need to do anything in particular for your elopement. But at the same time, it’s important to consciously consider those things that you want to include. Are there things that you want to do to memorialize this day together? Sand pouring, a unity candle, or other symbols of your marriage?
Another common thing we’ve seen – using your phone to read your vows. We understand, our lives are all digital these days. But there is something very tangible, real & timeless about hand writing your vows. They will forever be captured in your photographs and will become keepsakes for later years. Why not take the time to write them out?
Not hiring the right Photographer
Speaking of photos … for all the effort going into your beautiful elopement together, don’t skimp on hiring an inexperienced photographer. We’ve heard so many stories of regret from couples who just had some smartphone photos of their day, had a “friend with a camera” along, or they hired a cheap photographer.
Not hiring a Videographer
If you’re counting, you’ve realized that we’re already over 10 in this list … but here is a bonus number eleven! An often quoted statistic from big weddings is that “not hiring a videographer” is the number one regret of couples after their traditional wedding. Even more so, this is a regret of couples who eloped – especially if you had wanted to involve family and loved ones.
Capturing your ceremony on video allows you to share it later with family and friends who couldn’t make it. Choosing a Highlights Film of your entire day gives you the chance to live it all over again in movie theatre style and share with your loved ones the whole reason why you chose to elope in the first place, because they get to experience it and see “what it was all about.”
How to avoid Elopement Planning Mistakes
The simple way to avoid mistakes – hire the right elopement photographer.
We’re not usually this up-front with things but we just have to say it here. If you hire the right people, you’ll have the elopement you have always dreamed of. In fact, you’ll have the elopement beyond anything you could have dreamed of, because right now where you are – honestly – you don’t completely see all the possibilities. Once your eyes are opened to how things can be, you’ll look back and realize you had an incredible day because you chose to hire the right kind of help.