You might just be getting into planning the logistics of your wedding/elopement and you face this common dilemma. Should you book a wedding venue for your elopement? Or is it even still an “elopement” if you have a venue? Or if you invite guests? Let’s break down common misconceptions of what an elopement is and can be, and then get into WHERE you can have it!
The term “elopement” has changed soooo much over the last decade, and more significantly over the last few years. If you ask your grandma what eloping means, she might describe it as something that’s hush hush that is done in a hurry and in secret. The reasons WHY a couple gets married is totally unique to them, and so special each and every time. As is HOW they choose to get married. From signing the papers at the courthouse, to having a big traditional wedding; there are so many different ways to celebrate the day you say ‘I do!’ From wedding, elopement; an intimate wedding, micro-wedding, mini-mony, commitment ceremony, etc. it’s up to you to define what your day is called, AND up to you to decide what kind of a day you want to cultivate.
In my expert opinion, as long as your decisions are focused around you two, you can’t go wrong with whatever you decide to do. As soon as you start to feel like you are planning more for others and less for you, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate.
Wedding planning should be fun- if it’s not, then you are most likely not connecting with the plan. Switch it up!
So you’re considering going with an elopement or intimate wedding. This usually means something along the lines of a private ceremony with either just you, or some guests too. When you start planning your elopement with guests, there is a bit of an added stress in terms of the logistics. From accommodating everyone’s transport, parking/carpooling, permits and restrictions, etc. In addition to leaving more room in your timeline for socializing, more photos with guests, and extra buffer time between activities. There are a few more things to think about. If the stress starts to get too much, consider booking a small venue and having a more intimate style wedding.
Option 1: Have a private vow exchange with just you two. This gives you more flexibility with location. You can go on a hike that not everyone may be able to do and get epic photos! Then you can go back to your venue/house/restaurant for a dinner celebration with friends/family. A lot of couples choose to dedicate the sunrise portion of the full day package to just them and then their sunset portion to their guests. Check out my elopement photography pricing packages here.
Option 2: Have full day with your guests. From getting ready all the way to the reception, with a little adventure dedicated to just the two of you you can involve your guests in your day. They can help you get ready, witness you say ‘I do,’ you can take photos with them, socialize, and then take off at sunset for a private vow exchange and photos just you two then meet back up with everyone for dinner, cake, and dancing. However, when it comes to choosing a ceremony location with guests, the smaller your guest count, the more options you have to choose from.* This is due to parking, permits, potential traffic, and environmental impact.
*If you don’t want to have to limit your guest count (because we all know just how hard that really is to do!) then consider an affordable venue. Depending on the location you choose, there may be hidden gems that can accommodate your guest count. Then you can take the stress of all the logistics off your shoulders. Inquire with a local elopement photographer for recommendations.
Option 3: Consider a multi-day elopement. Dedicate 4 hours to a sunset ceremony and celebration with friends and family. Then 8 hours the next day to just you two and adventuring. You could even save your vows for when it’s just the two of you to make it even more special the next day.
When considering your options on where to elope with guests, you may come to the idea of just booking a wedding venue. Maybe your family members aren’t capable of hiking or permits wouldn’t allow that many people at your ceremony; there are a variety of reasons that may prohibit an adventure elopement. OR maybe you just want an intimate wedding that feels like an elopement, but logistically is more accommodating!
There are many benefits to having your elopement at a venue. Whether it’s a traditional wedding venue, or a space that is specifically designed for smaller events; there are lots of perks!
Finding the perfect intimate wedding venue doesn’t have to be too difficult. There are lots of way of finding a location that will fir into your vision and budget:
You can even find some hidden gems on Airbnb or VRBO for properties that will allow small events.
Liz and Matt booked the wedding venue Hidden Lakes in Buckeye, AZ for their elopement. They wanted something intimate and simple, but also a place where their closest family members were invited to attend the whole day. They had cute wooden benches set up with a gorgeous floral arch for their ceremony, a few cocktail tables for their charcuterie board appetizer. And then a few tables surrounding a small dance floor for their dinner. It had the perfect views for sunset overlooking the mountains and the water. They got ready in their glamping tents, said ‘I do’ by the lake, took photos with everyone, and then spent the evening celebrating together.
Check out their sweet boho intimate wedding at Hidden Lake, in Buckeye, Arizona.