redwood elopement

Planning the Perfect Elopement - Stage 1 - Dream & Brainstorm

Dear adventurous couples,

It’s great to see you back, thank you coming back!   I’m excited to share with you my step by step guide to help you plan out the most amazing and unforgettable elopement experience!  As I wrote in my previous blog, planning out the perfect elopement happens in stages. The very first stage we are going to dive into is the Dream & Brainstorm stage.  All the best plans start with a well thought out brainstorming session. One of the best things about eloping is that you can truly go to the most awe-inspiring places in the world to say your vows. 

So... if you could go anywhere in the world to get married... where would you GO?

The goal of the dreaming & brainstorming stage is to form an overall vision for your day.  Here are 3 easy brainstorming tips to get you started! 

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Find a relaxing space together.

The best way to dream & brainstorm is to sit down with your partner some place comfortable and imagine your perfect elopement day from beginning to end. Try cuddling up at home on the couch together or going for a walk.  



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Keep an open mind.

It’s important to keep an open mind during the dreaming & brainstorming stage.  Don’t let yourselves get bogged down in all the details, what’s possible or not, or what’s realistic.  Keep your ideas vague and have fun imagining all the possibilities!



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Inspiration is everywhere. 

Inspiration can come from anywhere and the sky is the limit!  To help yourself plan and get excited, try using Pinterest, Instagram, travel guides, books or a variety of interesting magazines.   


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As you are brainstorming about your epic dream elopement day, ask yourself these questions:

What is the overall intention of your day? 

Is this day just for the two of you? Do others play a role in your day? 

What does the scenery look like?

Are you in the mountains, on a cliff, on a beach or deep in redwood country?

What season is it?

Do you two like hot or cold weather better?  Do you imagine there being snow, or fall colors? 

How much time are you able to use on the trip?

 Is the elopement day part of a larger trip or combined with your honeymoon? How much time are you able to take off from work?

Will it be just the two of you or will you include others?

This is important because it will help determine any permits you will need or accessibility concerns. 

What do you want the ceremony to look like?

 Are there important cultural or religious traditions you’d like to incorporate into the ceremony?

What do you want to wear?

 A dress or suit? Something more casual?  What footwear do you need?

What activities do you see yourself doing? 

These can be activities that you enjoy doing together or ones you’ve never tried before. Hiking, climbing, stand up paddle boarding etc...

Are you starting to have a vision on what your day will look like now?  Even if your vision is a little blurry, that’s okay! It’s a great place to start!  Congratulations, you’ve got stage 1 in the developmental process!  

In my next blog, we will be going over stage 2, the research & logistics of elopement planning.  So stay tuned, it’s coming right up! 

~  Parky’s Pics Photography








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! 

John & Laneil's Redwood National Forest Adventure Elopement

Laneil found me online and inquired about an elopement. She opted for an adventure elopement and I am so glad she did! We met in Trinidad for her first look and her ceremony, and then explored the Redwood National Forest in her wedding gown and John in his tux and got some epic pictures. But first, let me tell you where this adventure began.

Laneil was widowed in October 2013 and looking for a contractor for her lake house. She was referred to a Texas cowboy who had divorced one month later in November 2013. He lived near her town of Fort Worth Texas, but traveled south to work, so they talked on the phone and agreed to meet each other at George’s Bar in Waco Texas.

John saw Laneil get out of her smart car and stopped traffic for her to cross the street. They shared their life stories, and talked and laughed for hours. When time ran out on their meeting, Laneil still had a smile on her face while she was waiting at a red light not far from George's Bar. She looked in her rear view mirror and saw John walking toward her window. He had stopped behind her and was walking toward her car. She rolled her window down, and he bent down and kissed her right then and there. The rest is history.

This was the sweet beginning to their love story. I was so blessed that I got to be a part of one of their biggest chapters. We ended their adventure elopement on Trinidad State Beach, with the wind blowing in full force. It allowed us to be perfectly in the moment. There was no fixing the veil, or arranging the dress, as the wind would gust again and send them flying. Just like life, we can try to control things, but God has other plans.