Picture this: An enchanting escape, breathtaking scenery, and a heart-pounding adventure. If you’ve ever dreamed of saying “I do” in a way that’s uniquely yours, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the magical world of elopements! Thankfully, gone are the days when elopements were plagued by secrecy or considered an act of rebellion. Today, while some of those connotations may still exist for some folks, elopements, for the most part, have transformed into celebrations of love, individuality, and grand adventures that reflect the wild spirits of those who embark on them. No matter who you are, planning an elopement can be an exhilarating and liberating experience.
This week on my podcast, Queerly Beloved, I spoke with Amber Jackson (she/her), owner of Glacier Weddings & Events, to get some of her top tips on how to plan an elopement, with some specific pointers for LGBTQ+ couples. As an elopement and wedding planner, she strives to create inclusive and welcoming spaces for everyone and encourage folks to make more eco-conscious choices. To say the least, she brings a valuable perspective on elopement planning to the table! With that said, let’s dive right into these tips and get you on your way to making memories that will make your heart skip a beat for years to come.
The most crucial starting point when planning an elopement is answering the question: “Where should I elope?” This is your opportunity to let your imagination run wild and dive deep into the realms of location selection.
Imagine basking in the golden hues of a secluded beach with soft waves offering a background melody. Or perhaps you fancy the majestic embrace of towering mountains, where crisp air fills your lungs as you exchange your vows. Whether it’s a beach, forest, mountain elopement, or somewhere in between, the key is to choose a spot that speaks to your soul, sparks excitement and offers something that’ll make promising forever even more memorable.
Remember, an elopement location isn’t just a backdrop; it becomes an essential part of your love story! “There’s something so precious about it,” says Amber. The moment is so much more personal when it’s just the two of you, an officiant, some witnesses, and a photographer. So, take your time when browsing locations to elope, indulge in research, seek inspiration online, and talk to experts in this field for their industry secrets and advice.
During this process, one of the trickiest parts you may face is figuring out how to plan an elopement with family or friends involved. As LGBTQ+ folks, this may be especially hard if we have complicated relationships with those around us. Remember, your love story should always come first. If you don’t have the capacity to allow others into this intimate celebration, that’s okay! That’s one of the many benefits of eloping — you can do whatever you want and involve whomever you want.
For those who still want their loved ones to be a part of the elopement planning process, it’s essential to set boundaries while still compromising. Amber has first-hand experience compromising with her own elopement and wedding. “Make sure you’re balancing what you want with the people around you because they will stress you out real quick if you’re not careful.” Meeting in the middle can be as simple as splitting up the celebrations. For example, you can have a small and intimate elopement for you and your partner and throw an elopement party or reception afterwards with all the people you love.
Ultimately, you know your friends and family the best, so it’s crucial to really reflect on how much you want to let them in. As a couple, ensure you discuss your boundaries and stick to them — you’re in this together!
Money talks can be intimidating, especially when you’re starting a new chapter in your relationship. But think of elopement planning as a practice run for other big financial decisions you’ll make in the future. So, how much does it cost to elope? Well, the answer is entirely up to you! And it all begins when you identify your priorities. Ask yourself:
Once you work through your must-haves, it’s essential to have a clear elopement budget in place. It’s all too easy to get carried away in the excitement and end up with unnecessary items and expenses. By establishing a budget right away, you can confidently navigate all your options.
As you embark on your elopement adventure, consider this: Your love story is intertwined with the love we share for our beautiful planet. Amber is all about helping you make your elopement as eco-friendly as possible. “The environment very intensely affects people. We want people to feel comfortable, and we also want the planet to feel comfortable.” The main principles of Glacier Weddings & Events are to buy less, buy secondhand first, and dispose of waste properly.
These values align with the principles of Leave No Trace. For example, we can reduce waste on our treks by buying less and opting for pre-used items, which promotes a circular economy. One of the convenient things about elopements is that you likely can’t bring a lot with you anyway, especially if you’re hiking to a far-off destination.
When exchanging our vows in picturesque locations, we must protect our fragile ecosystems by leaving everything around us in better condition than when we found it. This means:
Remember, eco-consciousness is for everyone. Regardless of the size or scope of your elopement, you can always take steps to minimize your impact. Plan for these choices ahead of time!
If you want to travel to a different state or country for your elopement, it’s important to remember that you will be a guest in someone else’s home location. Planning for destination elopements can be tricky because it likely means you can’t scope things out beforehand. One way to ensure things go as planned is to connect with locals and learn from them. They can offer advice on the best places to go, things to do, and practices to ensure you can enjoy your time and be respectful while doing it. Other things to consider include the following:
As an LGBTQ+ couple, it’s essential to find vendors who provide exceptional services and embrace and support your love story wholeheartedly. While you may require fewer vendors for your elopement compared to a wedding, you may still seek out photographers, wedding officiants, and planners.
One way to ensure your vendors are genuinely there for the right reasons is to chat with them over the phone or in person. You can tell a lot about someone’s character and beliefs by communicating outside an email chain. For more tips on how to find LGBTQ+-friendly wedding vendors, check out my podcast episode.
As you begin the journey of elopement planning, remember that intentionality is the key to creating a truly meaningful experience. Each decision you make, every choice you embrace, and every moment you cherish should reflect your unique love story. Aside from the tips we discussed above, here are some other ways you can be intentional about your elopement:
As an LGBTQ+ elopement photographer, I’m here to help you capture your love story in all its glory. Get in touch with me to discuss your vision and share your dreams. Let’s embark on this journey together!
To learn more about Amber and her business, Glacier Weddings & Events, tune into “Tips for Planning Your LGBTQ+ Elopement,” the 16th episode of my podcast, Queerly Beloved. Catch you there!
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