Whether you’ve always dreamed of a romantic elopement for your wedding day, are just checking out some options, or are now considering an elopement due to the pandemic, I am so excited that you’re checking out this page! I know that the idea of eloping can be confusing with figuring out where to start & what all you need to plan! Well don’t worry, here is an all-inclusive step-by-step guide on planning your dream elopement.
Are you ready to plan your perfect Michigan elopement? Let’s do this!
Your day is about YOU! Not about what your family wants, your friends say, it’s about you and your partner having an intentional, meaningful wedding day and whatever that entails!
STEP 1: DREAMING UP YOUR DAY
This is the most fun step in my opinion! After you and your partner have decided to celebrate your love by eloping, now you get to start thinking up your plans. By the end of this step you’ll probably have a foggy idea of what you envision your day to be, and that’s the goal! Here are some things you can do to start figuring out your perfect spot.
Where do you envision yourself?
When you close your eyes and picture you saying your vows, where are you? Sandy dunes? Flowing waterfall? Rocks along the water? A vast green forest? Beautiful beaches? A spot that is meaningful to you? Somewhere on your bucket list? Figuring out what setting you see yourself in is the first step to coming up with your perfect location!
It’s also important to consider the time of year you would be at your location. Are you more warm-weather or winter people? Do you envision fall colors? Snow on the ground? A hot summer day along the water? Do you have to hike to your dream spot?
When thinking of your day, make sure that you both keep in mind what you really love! This day is all about you two, so make sure it involves what you both enjoy the most!
STEP 2: TIME TO RESEARCH
Now that you’ve got a foggy idea of what you want for your day, it’s time to start looking into some of the details.
This part isn’t always everyone’s favorite, and if you truly hate doing research, it might be helpful to hire along a wedding planner or coordinator for your day to take the work off of your plate! But if you’re ready to do this thing, let’s keep going!
Start by honing in on some of the details for your day. Most of my couples reach out to me in either this step or the one before to help them along in this process! Here we can go over your location ideas and start truly narrowing down to one perfect spot for you. Once you’ve got your perfect spot, it’s time to dig into some logistics!
Basic things to keep in mind while planning:
- PERMITS – Most public and private lands require some kind of permit to hold a ceremony there! Look into your location to see what might be required for you to elope there.
- TIME OF YEAR – This is important for many reasons! If it’s the busy season, will your spot be filled with tourists? If it’s the off season, are there any accessibility items to take into account such as seasonal roads, or a long hike in the snow? Would you need to rent an off-road vehicle? The time of year you choose could also impact the overall cost of your elopement, as costs of lodging/transportation go up during the busy season!
- WEATHER – Look into weather patterns for your time of year from past years! Is it usually stormy? Windy? Biting fly season? If you’re from here you know how unpredictable Michigan can be so I’m more than ready to adventure with you no matter what, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind!
STEP 3: VENDOR DREAM TEAM
The amount of vendors you bring along for your day depends entirely on your vision! You could have along anywhere from 0-10+ vendors, all based on your needs for your day. Here are some of the most important vendors to consider for your elopement celebration!
- PHOTOGRAPHER – Now I may be a bit biased here (😜) but whether or not you bring along a photographer is a super important decision! You won’t be having the traditional large amount of guests to bank on capturing these moments, so most of the time the only things you have to remember this day by are going to be the photographs your photographer delivers to you. So, pick a photographer whose work you LOVE, who is going to help guide you through the elopement process, and who you are ready to be with you for a long chunk of time on this important day!
- HAIR/MAKEUP – Do you envision having to do your hair/makeup yourself the morning of your wedding? If you do, then rock on. If not, consider finding a local squad to meet up with beforehand, or bring one along for the ride!
- FLORIST – Do you want a bouquet to hold during your elopement? Or a boutonniere? Flower crown? Flower collar for your pup? Can you get one near where you want to elope? Or do you need to pick one up from a larger city and drive it there?
- OFFICIANT – Do you want to bring along a friend or family member to officiate? Or hire somebody local? If you’re trying to keep it as small as possible, are any of your vendors officiants? *I am!!*
- AND MORE – There is still more to consider! Do you want music playing at any point? Do you need someone to come play music, or are you ready with your travel speaker? What do you envision for food & drinks, packing a picnic, hiring a personal chef, or going to a local restaurant afterwards to celebrate? Do you want a videographer to capture highlights of your day?
The number of vendors you want to be a part of your day is totally up to you! I’m always happy to help my couples find vendors that fit their vision for their day!
STEP 4: START BOOKING
Now that you’ve got an outline of what you want for your day, and are prepared with details on the logistics and the vendors you want to help bring your vision to life, it’s time to start making things official!
The first thing to book is your lodging, because it’s one of the key factors that everything else revolves around. Is there a cool cabin you’d want to stay and get ready at? A campsite? A local Air Bnb that matches your vision? Find a spot that you love, but that also makes getting to your dream location as easy as possible!
After lodging, time to look into transportation. Michigan is surprisingly big, but flying to places like the UP isn’t always the most affordable option, although it is still an option! Do you need to book a ferry ticket to get to places like Mackinac Island or Isle Royale? Is the waterfall you want only accessibly by a 4wheeler? Do you need to hire any sort of guide to help you find the area you want?
When you’ve got everything locked down, time to start making some of those vendor relationships official!
Pick the vendors that are truly going to help bring your vision to life and who are experienced with elopements!
STEP 5: DETAILS
After you’ve got your location, date, lodging, and dream team set up and ready to go – now it’s time to start planning some of the fun and meaningful things you get to incorporate into your day!
Consider your ceremony – are there any intentional or cultural or meaningful things you want to incorporate into your elopement ceremony? Letters from loved ones, a significant rug you’d like to stand on, an arch that your partner made, vows you wrote yourselves? Whatever it may be, take some time to think about the details of your ceremony!
Activities & fun – Is there anything you two LOVE to do that you would love to incorporate into your elopement day? A long hike? A sunset stand-up-paddleboard ride? A campfire under the stars? Spraying each other with champagne? Playing fetch with your pup? Dream it up!
Sketch out your timeline – Plan out a rough sketch of what your elopement day looks like, starting from when you want to start getting ready! Don’t forget to take into consideration any drive time, hike times, and of course the all important sunset time when making the timeline to make sure it can all be one in one day! And if not, nobody ever said 2 day elopement adventures weren’t a thing!
When considering your location/activities for your elopement, always keep in mind to go by Leave No Trace principals!
IS THE MAIN PARTS OF YOUR PLANNING DONE? SWEET!
Now all that’s left is the details!
STEP 6: WHAT TO WEAR
If you’re planning some sort of an adventurous outdoor elopement, your attire has to be a little more strategic than most traditional weddings! You want to make sure you’re wearing something comfortable that you can move around in, as well as potentially hike in (which means maybe don’t go for the ultra-tight mermaid gown). Or, are you planning on packing your dress & changing at your location? Then you might want to get a dress with a material such as lace so that it doesn’t show wrinkles!
It’s also super important to keep the climate in mind when picking your attire. If it’s a crisp fall day, you might want a cool denim or leather jacket to cozy up in after your ceremony! If it’s winter, you are definitely going to want to pack a warm jacket and other cold weather accessories to stay warm on your adventure.
STEP 7: THE INVITE LIST
Yes, you’re probably like “wait I can invite people to my elopement???” And the answer is a resounding YES. Let me reiterate it one more time, this is YOUR day. And you can do whatever you damn well please!!
I consider anything under 25 people an elopement. And I’ve done elopements with that amount and they can absolutely still have the same vibe as just a 2-person elopement! But eloping is a very personal decision, and whether you envision a day with just you two, or just your immediate family, or close friends, just do whatever feels right to you. It’s easy to feel the pressure from loved ones to do something that they want, but there are other ways to incorporate them into your day – such as having them write letters for you to read, throw a post-elopement celebration, or even join you on your travels to celebrate with you after you elope! Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that feels true to you and your partner.
Whether it’s just you and your partner, or some of your closest loved ones, make sure your elopement is what YOU want!
AND THAT’S IT! NOW YOU’RE OFFICIALLY AN ELOPEMENT PLANNING EXPERT.
Now that all of the work is done, it’s time to just get EXCITED about all of the amazing adventures that you get to embark on so soon! Kick back & relax and get ready to have the freaking best elopement day ever!