5 Tips for Planning Your Adventure Elopement | Adventure Elopement Photographer

5 Tips for Planning Your Adventure Elopement | Iceland Adventure Elopement Photographer

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Planning your Adventure Elopement is a really exciting time in your life.

Being an Adventure Elopement photographer in Iceland (and anywhere else the wind takes me!) gives me a lot of insight on the best way to plan your Adventure Elopement.

Have you finally decided to take the plunge and say ‘no’ to the conventional weddings? Have you and your boo decided to ditch all of the traditional wedding activities, including the planning processes? But now you are like ‘I have no idea where to go from here?’. I am here to give you a quick jump-start on things to think about to get you moving in the right direction.

There are SO MANY beautiful places on this planet to get married in and these 5 tips for planning your Adventure Elopement should help you figure out where to start and what to do. I know there is a lot more involved, which I help my couples figure out, but this is a great place to start if the only thing you know is “We are going to have an adventure elopement somewhere fucking epic”.

I will talk about how to pick your dream location and logistics to think about that go along with it and saying YOLO and taking the plunge into hiring amazing vendors, I will also talk about how to tell (or not tell) your friends and family you are eloping, and finally get into the most important tip once you get to your Adventure Elopement day!

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How to Pick your location for your Adventure Elopement

There are really two ways to go about this and neither of them is the wrong choice. In my experience, couples decide to elope for the same reason: to have a day just for them with no added pressures from anyone for their day. They just want to have fun, be in their little love bubble, and be in nature for the day instead of a venue. After that, there are two major deciding factors driving the decision on where to elope together.

  1. Picking a spot that is sentimental to have their adventure.

  2. Picking a location that they have never been before and want an adventure that they can have brand new to them.

If you are picking a sentimental spot, sometimes it is the place you met while hiking one summer in the Redwoods Forest. Or maybe it is a place that you both go to on the weekends up in the Catskills to get away from city life for a bit and re-charge. Or maybe you fell in love with a country you both adventured to before and that’s where they asked you to marry them. There are many reasons why a certain location could be sentimental, and sometimes choosing one of those spots makes your elopement THAT much more special. You can even pick a spot that is close to home but just unbelievably gorgeous.

Deciding to go on an uncharted adventure together for your wedding is SO exciting, too. It might not have the sentimental piece attached to it, but after your elopement it always will. Most of my adventure elopement couples decide to go this route and have a full on honeymoon vacation adventure before and afterwards since they are going to a really awesome location they have never been in before. So sit down with your love and think about what TYPE of place you want to adventure to. Do you want mountains and the sea? A lot of open grassy areas with flowers? Volcanos? Glaciers? Do you want to hike up to a summit of a mountain? Do you want to be on a beach around palm trees in Hawaii? There are so many types of places to be, so sit and think what kind of environment you want to be in. A lot of my couples pick to elope in Iceland because it offers a HUGE variety of environments to chose from and is an amazing country to stay in for a few days after their elopement to explore. It also is a great ‘hop over’ spot, where you can stop in Iceland for your elopement, stay a few days, and then head on further into Europe for another country or two on your honeymoon.

A few ways to help you pick your location if you have never been before are:

  • Utilize google maps in satellite mode.

  • Hiking apps such as The Outbound Collective and AllTrails.

  • Facebook groups for locations you are thinking of such as Intimate Weddings & Elopements and Elopement / Intimate / Destination weddings for couples.

  • Search Instagram hashtags for #adventurewedding or #adventureelopement.. HOWEVER, if you are finding LOADS of Instagram photos for a specific location, you are going to probably not want to elope in that EXACT location. You will not have privacy and that can get awkward.

  • Check Travel Guides like Lonely Planet and Fodor’s Travel. You can also check out some travel bloggers who tend to go to more remote locations and local travel guides in the country you are considering.

  • Have a list of ideas and contact your favorite Adventure Elopement photographer you KNOW you want to book and have them help you out after you have booked them. Most of us are here to help and if you pick someone who is an experienced traveler and elopement photographer, we can really help you make that decision.

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Do you need permits, accessibility, and legalities?

Something to consider when choosing your Adventure Elopement spot is if you need any permits to be there and bring a photographer there. A lot of U.S. National Parks have some pretty strict rules on where you can and can’t have a wedding (or a photo session with a professional in general). If you are wanting to be on Federal, State, or City Park owned land you will need to check with the local jurisdiction in that area and see what permits are needed and how far in advance you need to obtain it. If you opt to get married in the outdoors in Iceland, you do not need a permit. You just need to make sure that you are not disobeying any rules by hoping ropes and always having Leave No Trace principles in your ceremony. If you are wanting to elope outdoors in areas that are not marked as National Parks, the best bet is to contact a wedding coordinator within that country to double check any legalities you might need, such as double checking it is not on sacred lands where a wedding is not appropriate to have there.

Next to consider is accessibility and time of year. Is this area hard to get to in the winter time? Is it even OPEN in the winter time? Is the area possibly closed due to flora regrowing? Some spots you might even need to hire a proper guide for safety reasons, such as going inside or on a Glacier or inside a slot canyon and can not just go in on your own with your photographer and officiant. Another thing to think about accessibility is that if it is very well known, therefore very accessible, therefore very busy with tourists. If you have a general idea of where in the world you are thinking, your experienced photographer should be able to help you out with location ideas.

If you are wanting to have a legal ceremony in the location of your elopement versus a symbolic ceremony, I highly suggest you research the laws in the country / state you are considering. All countries are different and the laws can also vary from state to state within the U.S. You should also double check if the country has Residency Laws in order to get legally married there. Here is a really great article on Martha Stewart Weddings to help you with that. For couples who have already decided on Iceland, part of my service is giving you all of this information, step-by-step, on how to legally get married in Iceland. Including the paperwork. ;) For all other locations I will do my best to give you all of the information I have and help you out on this process.

Moral of the story- do a bit of research while deciding on your adventure elopement destination and hire an experienced elopement photographer and / or coordinator who can help you out. Some might think hiring a coordinator for an elopement seems silly, but they can save you a whole lot of time and maybe some headache. This is probably the hardest part of planning your elopement, which if you ask me, is way better than planning a wedding for a few hundred people.

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Picking the right photographer- Spoiler Alert: basing it off of price is probably the worst thing you can do.

Ok, you might be thinking I am a bit biased since I am an Adventure Elopement Photographer, and if you are reading this for Iceland specifically and know I am an Iceland Wedding photographer, you might discredit this as helpful. BUT HEAR ME OUT! This is actually one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. Junebug Weddings actually just made a really great comprehensive blog on this and they happen to not be photographers. So. I am onto something here. ;)

My reasons are pretty straight forward:

  • if you are not comfortable with your photographer then you are not going to have a good time. We are generally the only one with you for the entire day. Sometimes an officiant is there briefly, or maybe some loved ones, but either way we will be with you the longest. So just going off of price, and not off of how you feel talking with them, will put a hinder on your wedding experience.

  • Check out their work that really speaks to you and makes you feel all the feels. Picking someone who is only based off of price will probably give you a final gallery you are not fired up about. People who charge a premium are because they are experts at their craft, know how to make the photos tell a story and give depth and feeling into them, and are keen to grabbing those little moments you didn't even know happened. Not to say low priced photographers do not know how to use a camera, but really check out their work and see what photographer makes you feel the feels when going through galleries. Your photos for an elopement are even more special than a conventional wedding: there, I said it. Since it is generally just the two of you, the only thing you have to show for the day to all of your loved ones, to look back on the day in 20 years, and to relive your adventure are the photos. So really, don’t cheat yourself of this just to save a tiny bit. It is not worth it in the long run. Treat yo’ self.

  • Your photographer tends to be your planner (to some degree) also. For my couples who book me, I do everything from spoon feed them Vendors (hair & makeup, florals, officiants, etc.), make a location itinerary for the day, create the timeline, give them all sorts of guides for planning their trip, and a lot of other things. I even can book everything for them and offer to help with with literally everything they need. So picking one that has local connections to the area / country you are going to elope in will be a MASSIVE help to you. And, if your photographer doesn’t offer these things, you will probably need to get a coordinator. I see very often couples will book a photographer to their destination who is working for free just for travel and I can not express enough how this might actually make your day harder and you will lose out on the special touch of someone who knows what they are doing the area you are going to be in. I mean, I also tell my couples the best restaurants I like to go to, breweries, places to catch a show, etc. That kind of help will relieve some stress off your shoulders.

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Telling your family & loved ones you are eloping in a far away, epic, beautiful, land. The pressure.

This is one of the things my couples usually express to me as concern in their initial consults with me. Usually, my couples have come to me at the stage of ‘we know we want to elope, but we aren’t totally sure where’ and before the stage of ‘we have let everyone know and are planning our party for when we get back.’. I actually have a lot of couples who opt into not telling anyone until afterwards, which I 100% fully support. There is no right or wrong way to go about this. Here are some pros of both ways.

Pro’s of telling your loved ones before you elope:

  • You will not feel the guilt (if you have it) of telling them that you are abandoning all of the wedding industry norms and are not having the big-ole-center-of-attention-bash in secret anymore. They will get a chance to have feelings about it and then everything will be ok.

  • You can then plan a big party for afterwards, where everyone who wants to celebrate with you two can celebrate with you two. You can enlist some help for the planning of this, which is much less planning than a full on wedding, and it will feel a lot easier.

  • You can use your registry as a Honeyfund and have your wedding gift help you pay for your wedding instead of asking for a bunch of things you more than likely don’t even need. (#elopefortheplanet)

  • Honestly, they probably will not care as much as you might think. Your loved ones usually know you pretty well, and if you are the adventurous type and the type of person who is always excited for a new experience, they will understand why you are wanting to go this route. The term ‘Eloping ‘ has drastically changed in the last few years, thanks to Adventure Elopements. Now, people seem to understand why you want to frolic around the Scottish Highlands or the lava fields in Iceland as your wedding venue. If they do care a bit because they are sad they can not be there, express to them that this has nothing to do with them, you would love them to be there, but you really just need to get out in nature and have an amazing experience.

Pro’s of not telling your loved ones before you elope:

There is really one main pro of not telling anyone before you adventure on out, which is that you can keep it just for yourselves for a bit. You can stay in your love bubble for as long as you want, celebrate your love and union together for the entirety of your wedding vacation, and not have anyone ‘in’ your bubble. A lot of my couples do this and I think it is so romantic. I am such a mush, I know, but I love this idea. I think your wedding is intimate, personal, and about you both. Not about others. I love the idea of holding onto that special moment for as long as you can. Most of my couples don’t even update their FB status, share photos, or anything until they are back and out of their ‘just married love bubble bliss’. The rest of the items I listed above can also be accomplished for your wedding, just at a different time even if you don’t tell anyone your little love secret.

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And finally, how to plan what to wear on your Adventure Elopement.

Dresses, suits, jackets, tuxedo, bridal jumpsuit. whatever you are wanting to wear make sure you are comfy. You are going to be moving around in it more than you would for a conventional wedding. Climbing up rocks, mountain sides, walking on black sand & pebble beaches, through lava fields, around waterfalls, etc. will put your wedding attire to the test more than just some dancing at a reception would do. So make sure it is something that isn’t too tight everywhere to give you room to move your legs. For a dress, I highly highly suggest getting something that is flowy on the bottom! Being outdoors will put you in the wind and let me tell you, wind and flowy wedding dresses are a match made in heaven. If the bottom is not too heavy, with many layers of light fabric, that is ideal. Make sure the bodice of the dress isn’t too tight so you can still breathe as we run around and hike! For suits, something that is a Coolmax suit is ideal, it will help you stay less sweaty and has enough stretch to it. For either, wearing some thermals underneath if you are in cooler climates outside of Summer will help you out. If you aren’t into getting your dress dirty, you can put one of these bad boys on underneath to use as we hike around. ;)

For shoes, I always suggest hiking boots or shoes with a tread on the bottom. If you really want some shots in dress shoes, then bring both. Dress shoes are usually a death trap on rocks and slick surfaces, so I don’t suggest them for most of the day. Bring something that you are ok with getting a little dirty, wet, and possibly dusty. I also LOVE the way hiking boots look paired with a wedding dress and wedding attire for Adventure Elopements. It just tells such a story by itself.

And lastly, outerwear- bring something that will keep you warm if you are eloping in a cooler climate. Having a nice shell layer to break the wind that is hitting you AND is water proof is your best friend. If you want to loop ultra chic still, then bringing a shawl, knitted sweater, or a fake fur to switch in and out of is also pretty great. Being comfortable on your day is the main priority (besides looking like the Goddess you are, too ;)

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The biggest tip I am saving for last, as a special bonus. And that is:

Be present in your day and enjoy every moment of it!

Just go with the flow, have fun, be with your love, play in the rain, and really really soak it all in. The day is for you two and you two only, so really live your best life no matter what that means for you.

No matter where in the world you are dreaming of to elope, these 5 tips for planning your Adventure Elopement should give you a nice base to start from.

Want to see some more? Ain’t no thang, peep the blogs below!