There’s no doubt about it – eloping is one of the most intimate, romantic, and meaningful ways a couple can start their marriage.
However, because elopements allow unlimited freedom for creativity, many couples are lost when it comes to planning their day. Unlike traditional weddings, elopements do not have a strict timeline leaving many to wonder how they can fill the day day with love and excitement while still keeping the day intimate and meaningful.
Lucky for you, I have tons of suggestions on elopement day activities you can include to make the experience special and memorable.
Part I: Getting Ready
Make breakfast together
Now I may be biased on this one because I’m the biggest fan of breakfast food, but I think starting with a homemade breakfast is the perfect way to kick of your elopement day. In fact, this is exactly how my husband and I started off our own wedding day – we sipped on coffee and enjoyed breakfast as a family with our cats. The entire day was designed with our “normal” in mind because our “normal” is our favorite part of our relationship.
Visit the Spa
What could be better than incorporating some well deserved relaxation into your elopement experience? Start off the day with a couples massage or steam in a sauna. For a little extra pampering, add on a pedicure or facial treatment.
Have Your Hair & Makeup Professionally Done
Whether you visit a salon or have some one come to you, hiring professional hair and make-up can be a game changer. Even if you feel comfortable doing your own hair and makeup, hiring a professional means no longer stressing about packing all of your supplies or researching products that will hold up against any wind or rain you may encounter during your elopement day.
Video Chat with Loved Ones
Before you head out for the day (and while you still have a reliable internet connection), pay a call home! This allows your loved ones to feel included in your day, if even for just a few minutes. Tell them how your travel has been, enlighten them on your elopement day activities, and let them know you’ll be thinking of them during one of the most incredible experiences of your life.
Journal Your Emotions
There will come a day you no longer able to recall all the little sights, sounds and scents that made your elopement experience so special. If you’re someone who enjoys journaling, record a video or write down all the emotions going through your head. By documenting all these feelings in your own way, you’ll be better able to recall them and even share the experience with others even after the day day is long in the past. If you’re hiring a videographer, this could be something you work together to create, that way you’re able to look back on it for the rest of your lives.
Part II: First Looks
You’ve separately spent years dreaming of this day, then together so much time planning and preparing for it… the suspension builds slowly then all at once. There’s just something so magical about seeing each other for the first time without any distractions or obligations – it’s just the two of you, your emotions, and a beautiful surrounding. You’re free to be vulnerable, knowing it’s just you in that moment. You can say what you want to say, hold each other, cry in each other’s arms.
Even if you’re eloping without guests, there’s no reason you can’t have a first look! If you do choose to have one, I do suggest looking for a location that’s not only picturesque but also provides privacy.
Part III: Ceremony
Incorporate Cultural Ceremony Traditions
Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you have to skip any meaningful cultural traditions you’ve always imagined including in your wedding day. Rather than a sunrise hike or yoga, feel free to kick off your elopement celebration with a tea ceremony or Mehndi painting. Or, during your unity ceremony, feel free to honor your heritage with a handfasting or lasso ceremony. Choosing elopement day activities that honor your culture + heritage can be a warm tribute to the bigger wedding you’re avoiding!
Create An Anniversary Capsule
In a box, seal letters from loved ones and your hand-written vows which you can re-open at a future vow renewal or milestone anniversary. If you have children, this would be a great thing to one day share with them.
Read Letters From One Another
I think one of the best ways to set the mood for your elopement is to read letters you’ve written for one another in private right before your first look or ceremony. These letters will have words different than those those you have written for your vows, and rather than focusing on your past and future, can instead focus on the emotions and excitement you’re feeling right before you make your upmost promises to one another. For an extra dose of romance, I suggest spending a few minutes apart once you arrive to your elopement location, allowing the scenery to influence your emotions as well as the words you write.
Read Letters From Loved Ones
One way to include your loved ones in your elopement day is by asking them ahead of the wedding date to write you letters to read during your ceremony. In their letters, your loved ones can recall stories, share words of wisdom, or maybe just words of encouragement. Whatever they choose to write, these words can easily me integrated into the rest of your elopement ceremony, or stand alone as a highlight of your elopement day.
Part IV: Reception or Celebration
Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you can’t include some of the traditions so often seen at conventional weddings. While some couples decide to elope to escape some of these traditions, other couples have been dreaming of their first dance or cake cutting since they were little, and can’t imagine their wedding day without those little touches. And that’s okay!! Elopements are amazing because they provide you the time and space to do whatever you want to do.
Host A Dinner
Wanting to spruce things up a bit? Because you don’t have to worry about feeding hundreds of people, you now have the opportunity to spend a little more time and money on styling to make the tablescape of your dreams. Don’t be afraid to ask your florist for scraps to scatter around the table, or source more unique details like plates, cutlery, chargers, candles, and vases to really make the place settings pop.
Have A Picnic
One of the best ways to truly enjoy your elopement location is to sit down and enjoy your elopement location. Whether on a beach or mountaintop, you and your elopement photographer have already spent so much time scouting a location that offers both privacy and insurmountable views, so why not spend as much time there as possible? So bring along a picnic and some music, and enjoy the view.
Cut A Cake
After your celebratory dinner or champagne toast, cut into a tiny two-serving sized cake (or a bigger one, I’m not judging). And the best part? Left overs for breakfast the next day… yum.
Share a Toast
One little teeny tiny disclaimer here… popping the champagne can be fun, but messy, and often not too healthy for the surrounding environment. Just be sure to bring along a towel for any clean up, and don’t forget to pick up the cork!
Have A First Dance
Okay, this is a tradition that I feel every couple out there secretly dreams about for their wedding day, and just because you decide to elope in nature, away from any event space or dance floor, doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen. I personally try to bring along my portable bluetooth speaker to every session I shoot because I find music to be the universal “chill pill”. When working with me, I’m happy to bring along my speaker for you to hook up to your phone, then of course step away to capture all the feels.
Part V: Other Elopement Day Activities
- Snorkel or scuba dive
- Go kayaking or canooing
- Go horseback riding
- Take a helicopter tour
- Go cave spelunking
- Rent some 4×4’s and go off-roading
- Go rock climbing
- Visit a hotspring
- Camp (or glamp) outside in a tent
- Pack a picnic and go for a hike
- Play a round of golf
- Rent some scooters or bikes and explore the area
- Sip on cocktails at the beach
- Read a book out loud together
- Visit a local winery or distillery
- Go to a show (perfect for big city elopements)
Whatever you do, don’t convince yourself (or let anyone else convince you) that your elopement day doesn’t deserve the same treatment as a traditional wedding. No matter how big or small, your wedding day is just as important as anyone else’s!