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How to Plan an Elopement!

Dear dreamers and adventurers,

More and more couples are considering eloping instead of having a traditional style wedding.  So, if you’re reading this, congrats on stepping outside the box and choosing to do something different!  

Eloping means that all of the wedding day choices you have to make, are YOURS entirely. There are no rules. You can truly make your day any adventure you want—it can be a day that reflects the two of you instead of being focused on everyone else’s needs, opinions, and expectations. 

Keep in mind that all of this freedom to plan your dream day can feel a bit overwhelming, which is totally normal!  To help ease some of the stress I’ve put together a step by step guide to help with the process and make things all fall into place relatively easy for you!  

Each week I will post a new blog with content to help you plan the perfect elopement so be sure to come back and check each week!

Before we really dive in, let’s go over some frequently asked questions about elopements.  

What is an Elopement?

Elopement planning doesn’t necessarily have clear consecutive steps, it happens in stages.   Just like climbing most mountains, there are many ways to the top—but if you feel lost, follow my lead!

How long do I need to plan?

The average time it takes to plan an elopement is about 4-10 months.  Planning things out during this time frame gives you a chance to book flights at good prices and find great lodging in advance.  However, I have seen couples successfully plan incredible elopements anywhere from 1 week to 4 months out though. Anything is possible!   

How much does eloping cost?

The U.S. national average for a traditional wedding is $34,000(crazy huh!), but you can have an incredibly amazing elopement for less than half of that!  Expect to spend 50-80% of your budget on photography and the rest on travel, attire, rings, flowers, hair & makeup, an officiant, food, activities, and your marriage license.   The awesome thing about eloping is that you really do have room to play if you are on a budget! 

Can other people come?

Absolutely! An “elopement” is defined by intentionally focusing your wedding day on YOU TWO (the couple). If you have close family & friends that want to support & celebrate with you—go for it.  I’ve experienced elopements with up to 25 people with the same vibe as a 2-person elopement.

Now that we have the most frequently asked questions answered, keep an eye out for my next series of emails that will be focusing on the 5 stages of elopement planning!  The 5 topics we are focusing on are: dream & brainstorm, research & consider logistics, make choices & start booking, finalize details & get ready, and... Have the best elopement day! 

Get ready, stage one is coming right up! 

Curtis & Katie's Sunflower Rosina Vineyards Wedding

I photographed a wedding at Rosina Vineyards in July of 2018. Not long after, Katie contacted me about shooting her Rosina Vineyards wedding the following July. Her plans were for sunflowers everywhere. Fast forward one year, and one pregnancy later. This mama got married not long after having a baby! Big props to Katie! Planning a wedding while pregnant and then having a newborn is definitely not easy! : ) Curtis and Katie’s wedding was on a very warm Southern Humboldt day. It was filled with sunflowers, lots of love, and even more laughter. Tears were shed, amazing dance moves were recorded, and lots of laughs were had. I hope you enjoy viewing their photos! : )

Lucas&Vanessa'sRomanticRainyDayBenbowInnWedding

I have been dreaming of shooting a Benbow Inn Wedding ever since I started shooting weddings four years ago. There are two reasons for this. It is a gorgeous venue, and it is 5 minutes from my house. I was so happy when Lucas and Vanessa chose me as their wedding photographer. I was envisioning a beautiful, warm day full of sunshine which is typical here in Southern Humboldt. I kept checking the forecast for their wedding day, but the chance of rain just kept climbing until it reached 100%. I had been picturing their family gathered on the beautiful green lawn of the Benbow Inn with the bridge in the background, in the golden sunshine, followed by a romantic reception on the balcony under the starry sky. We like to make our plans, and then God likes to make his. Lucas and Vanessa took the rain in stride. They were down for anything! They had a vision of doing their first look beneath the majestic redwoods on the Avenue of the Giants. They didn’t let the rain stop their vision. I am so glad they chose to stick to the plan!

After the first look, we traveled back to Benbow for some bridal party portraits. This bridal party was down for anything and still had smiles on their faces despite the constant rain. Catrina Chavez of Above and Beyond Creations helped save the day with the vintage umbrellas which made for some romantic photographs.

After the bridal party formals Lucas and Vanessa said “I Do” in the quaint library of the Benbow Inn with a reception following upstairs. Their close family and friends traveled all the way from Central California to the middle of the United States to witness their vows and celebrate their love.

As their friends and family continued to celebrate, we snuck outside for some romantic sneak away shots which are my favorite. The rain still continued to bless their day, and we have some romantic and magical images to show for it!

We like to make our plans, and then God likes to make his. We can dream and plan all we want. But we can't control what happens in this life, all we can do is control how we react. It rained the entire wedding day of Lucas and Vanessa's wedding. But they took it in stride with each other by their side. I have 100% faith that this couple will be able to weather any storm that they face together.

Venue: Benbow Inn

Hair and Make up: Paige Paup and Calilyn Quinn Lyon