If you’re worried about the stress and pressure of planning a big, traditional wedding and want your special day to be more intimate and meaningful, elopement might be the perfect choice for you. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean sacrificing the day’s romance, magic, and beauty. As a queer wedding and elopement photographer with over ten years in this industry, I’ve compiled a growing list of benefits of outdoor elopements, which may be particularly helpful for LGBTQ+ folks — romance, magic, and beauty included.
If you and your partner love nature, an outdoor elopement may be the key for you. One study showed that people who spend at least 120 minutes (2 hours) a week in nature report better health and well-being. You can easily achieve at least two hours outside during your elopement. And who wouldn’t want the added health benefits?
Pivoting off of my first point, let’s talk specifically about trees. If you’re like me, an essence of calm and serenity comes from walking through a forest. It’s peaceful, it’s tranquil, and there’s no other place I’d rather be in that moment. And there’s a reason we feel these things. Research shows that immersing yourself in a forest has mental and physical health benefits, including the following:
There’s also no right or wrong way to enjoy a forest — you don’t need a long treacherous hike to feel good outdoors! Without getting too far into the research, you might ask: Anna, what does this have to do with the benefits of eloping?
If research shows these advantages of being in nature, surrounded by trees, wouldn’t this be the perfect place to get married? Often, wedding planning can come with stress, but if you consciously place your celebration at the heart of nature, this might just help bring those stress levels down, allowing you to enjoy the day to the fullest.
Being away from the hustle and bustle of busy life helps you focus on the present, which can connect you more intimately with your partner. These natural settings also allow you to get in tune with your spirituality, whether you believe in the sacredness of nature, a creator, or a higher being.
On the other hand, if you aren’t a spiritual or religious person, being outdoors can also help you escape traditional venues and wedding language. At the end of the day, nature will always be a judgment-free zone — it’s there for you regardless of what you believe and how you want to celebrate your love.
Sure, arches and handmade backdrops are pretty, but can you really beat the view of earth’s natural treasures, like mountains, forests, or beaches? While all weddings and elopements are memorable, imagine just how unique it’ll feel to hold the person you love while peering out at a vast, vibrant landscape, listening to the sounds of nature, and breathing in the fresh air together. There’s something harmonious about moments like these that simply cannot be replaced by large-scale, indoor weddings.
Often, wedding venues have specific rules and policies. You may be required to rent a certain number of chairs or work with their vendor list only. This can be restricting, especially when you want to make your wedding day your own.
When you have an outdoor elopement, you have complete control over decisions about your special day from the beginning. Keep in mind that while there are fewer restrictions than in traditional venues, you still need to follow park or ground rules, which may include permits and Leave No Trace policies to ensure the space remains undamaged and protected.
There are some harmful narratives out there that brand elopements as “cheap” and “less than.” First and foremost, I want you to remember that no matter how big or small you go for your wedding, it doesn’t reflect your financial worth or the value of the elopement community.
While you’ll have to spend money regardless, an elopement can save more financially because fewer people will likely be involved. For example, if you invite a small wedding party, you can spend less on flowers and other items. Since you have more control over the day, you can also try unique practices that happen to save money — who says you can’t do your own makeup after a hike?
LGBTQ+ love is already “untraditional” in the eyes of the world. Going the traditional wedding route may mean jumping through numerous hoops to find vendors and venues to accept you and your partner. If you have these worries, the elopement route may be just for you.
There’s a lot of acceptance in the elopement vendor community because this wedding “alternative” is known for breaking traditions, setting new standards, and leading with your unique needs and identities. While many traditional wedding vendors and venues are full of acceptance, the elopement community, in general, is known to be a lot more encouraging and enthusiastic about you showing up as exactly who you are.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: to be invited to someone’s wedding or elopement is a privilege, not a right. Unfortunately, many folks in the LGBTQ+ community have strained relationships with their families. I experience this myself, and I understand how this can impact planning for your big day.
Sometimes, when you have a large celebration, it’s harder to get away with eliminating questionable guests from the list. However, when you elope, you can automatically release that pressure on yourself to invite everyone. You get to be intentional about who can and cannot come to the ceremony, whether you want a small gathering or just you and your partner.
At the end of the day, having a selective guest list allows you to be more present with your love and focus less on entertaining and putting on a performance. I’ve heard couples say they remember a lot more from their elopement than they would’ve if they had a traditional wedding. This is because they have full control over the day and can enjoy the freedom to be unique. They also likely have less to keep tabs on, which helps them focus on the important things.
One of the best parts about getting married in a beautiful outdoor space is that you can extend your trip and enjoy your time, whether or not it’s a honeymoon. Your bags are already packed, so you can make the most of this trip away and explore everything the area offers! Even if you plan to travel somewhere else for a honeymoon, eloping means you’ll likely have fewer loose ends to tie up after the ceremony, making it easier to pick up and leave.
If you couldn’t already tell, I’m a huge fan of the outdoors and elopements. I also happen to be an LGBTQ+ elopement photographer. So, if you’re looking for someone to capture those special moments on your day of love, reach out to me. I can’t wait to connect!
By the way, if listening is more of your style, check out the 11th episode of my podcast, Queerly Beloved. Can’t wait to catch you there!
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