So, you want to elope, but you don’t know what this means or how to do it. Do you just exchange vows, kiss, sign your papers, and leave? The short answer is: It’s up to you. If you want something quick and straightforward for your elopement celebration, go for it. But, in most cases, many couples I work with like to spruce it up so that their big day is full of special little memories.
Think of it this way: You’re probably familiar with certain wedding traditions—the walk down the aisle, the first dance, the reception and the after-party. These are all ways that couples celebrate their love throughout the day.
Now, apply the same logic to your elopement: What activities and unique celebratory acts can you incorporate into your day to make it feel special? In this article, I’ll provide my top ideas for what to do when you elope to make it feel unique to you and your love!
Choosing specific activities for your elopement can come in the later stages of the planning process, as I’ve outlined in my guide to eloping. When you get to this point, start by asking yourself questions to help with brainstorming. I recommend reflecting individually and then coming up with answers together as a couple:
Now that you and your partner have brainstormed, it’s time to throw all your ideas out there to see what sticks. Consider writing them down on a whiteboard and slowly filtering out your top contenders afterwards. Here are some unique elopement activities and ideas to help your imaginations run wild:
If an intimate elopement is your style, you likely won’t want everyone in your life to be physically there for the ride. But this doesn’t mean they can’t celebrate with you in other ways! Ask your friends, family, and other close connections to write letters or toasts before your elopement day. Then, when you and your new spouse have a moment to yourselves, read them aloud to each other to feel all the love and support behind you.
Whether you intentionally planned a private elopement or some of your family and friends can’t make it to your celebratory activities, try scheduling some time to video call the ones who can’t be there. This can be as casual or formal as you’d like—you can plan sentimental messages beforehand or just go with the flow!
If your location and the weather permits, plan your first dance under the night sky. Bring a speaker and play a meaningful song that resonates with you and your partner. This is the perfect opportunity to have a moment with just the two of you. Or, if you plan to celebrate with a small group of people, this can also fit perfectly into your itinerary, whether you’re all hanging out until the sun sets or plan to have a late-night celebration.
If you and your partner love a bit of an adrenaline rush, consider planning an adventurous activity after your elopement, like kayaking, ziplining, or hiking. Keep in mind that adventures don’t always have to mean adrenaline rushes—you can opt for other types of activities, like searching seashells along at the beachfront or taking your dog for a walk. For more ideas on incorporating adventure into your elopement, check out my previous blog.
Are you and your partner artists? Musicians? Writers? Whatever creative passions you two love, try finding ways to celebrate your elopement with them. For example, consider sketching or painting the location of your vow exchange or writing songs and singing them for the first time together (or to each other) on your elopement day.
If your elopement location is near where you and your partner first met, take a trip down memory lane to take in the incredible journey you two have been on (and will continue to go on!). You can do this with just the two of you or your loved ones. Either way, you can retell the memories out loud and experience a full-circle moment bound to fill your hearts with even more love and gratitude.
Thankfully, in today’s digital age, there are many platforms out there that allow you to celebrate online. If you have a small number of people attending your elopement, try using a virtual guest book so they can snap photos, share messages, and give thoughtful words of wisdom from the convenience of their phones. Even if you don’t plan your elopement to include guests, you can use the guest book to have your loved ones chime in on your big day from wherever they are in the world.
Put special mementos from your elopement, like maps, accessories, letters, or Polaroid photos, into a box and open it back up on a future anniversary. You can also have close family and friends contribute to the time capsule to make the celebration even more special!
Dance party for two, anyone? If you don’t have guests at your elopement, why not have a dance party together? You can have your first dance in a memorable place (or forgo the tradition altogether) and then bop the night away until you’ve filled your happiness bucket—or get sleepy. If you have a small group of people attending your elopement, consider creating a shared playlist where everyone can add their songs to keep the party going.
If you and your partner love an element of surprise, consider setting aside some time in your day to surprise each other. There are a few ways you can go about this:
Up to this point, you and your new spouse have likely planned everything together. Surprises can be a unique and meaningful way to show how much you love and care about each other, so consider mixing up the celebration with one or two of them. A surprise could be anything—a gift, a dinner, an activity, you name it.
As your elopement photographer, I can help you plan your day with your chosen celebration activities and ideas to ensure you have enough time to soak in every moment and enjoy each other’s company. The last thing you want is to pack your day to the brim and feel rushed when hopping from one thing to the next.
When planning your itinerary, we’ll consider things like:
If you have too many good ideas and can’t narrow down what you want on your elopement day, you can discuss your options with me—I can provide a more objective perspective on what works and what might not be realistic. If you’re still tied between options and can’t pick the activities most important to you, consider leaving it up to fate with a random online generator or drawing your ideas from a hat.
Pro Tip: The activities I listed above are for any type of elopement size, whether or not you decide to have guests. Your guestlist (or lack thereof) may shift how you plan your itinerary. If it’s just the two of you, you can focus solely on yourselves. But, if you plan on incorporating others into any element of your day, you’ll have to budget time for everyone to arrive and settle in.
No matter how you sprinkle your elopement with memorable moments and celebrations, you’ll need someone to capture these memories so you can look back on them forever. That’s where I come in! As a queer elopement photographer, I go beyond just taking photos; I’m here to help tell your unique love story, capture who you are as people, and make your elopement dreams everything you’ve ever imagined. Ready to get started? Reach out to me today! I can’t wait to meet you.
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