How to Elope

Go ahead and fix celebratory drinks for two. 

Then sit your other half down, because we’re about to walk through our How to Elope checklist. (Don’t forget a pen and paper—or maybe just use the Notes app—so you can start jotting down ideas!)

If you’ve never been to an adventure elopement, it can be tricky to imagine how it all works. Luckily, you found us! We’ve created this How to Elope checklist to walk you through planning your elopement step-by-step. We want your elopement to be your best day ever. The planning process should reflect that—you and your person will figure out exactly how you want to celebrate yourselves (and who, if anyone, you want to bring along). 


Let me guess: you’re dreaming of an adventure elopement, but you’re not actually 100% clear on what has to happen to pull it off?


Want some expert advice?
Take our Where To Elope quiz.

P.S. If you need an ADA-accessible elopement location, they’re abundant—especially around national parks. We’re here to help you find the right one.

The possibilities are endless.

a) what time of year you want to get married and
b) the sort of landscape that moves you.

Maybe you’ve always imagined getting married amid the mist in a lush green forest? Or maybe you’d prefer to say ‘I do’ overlooking Mount Rainier and then celebrate at tables brimming with wildflowers? Or take a helicopter to a faraway alpine lake set within a glacier? 

But in order to start the search for the perfect spot, it helps to know:

You don’t need to have an exact location in mind to start planning your elopement. 

01. Settle on your ideal time of year and elopement vibe

If you’re looking for a photographer-slash-planner-slash-local expert to help you plan your dream elopement, we’re going to throw our name in the hat right now.

A hair & makeup artist, a florist, and an officiant if you need someone to conduct a ceremony (if you just want to do private vows, we’re ordained and can sign your marriage certificate!). Depending on how many guests you expect, you might also want a planner and a private chef.

And of course, you’ll also want to hire the rest of your team: 

At Between the Pine, we work with you to find the right trails and scenic overlooks, and we create a detailed day-of timeline. We even provide you with a curated list of potential vendors, lodging, and more. Not all elopement photographers help plan your itinerary, so make sure you know how much planning you will have to do. (And don’t forget a backup plan or two in case of weather!)

2) You need someone to do more than just show up and take photos on your wedding day. 

It’s really important that you ‘click’ on a personal level (excuse the photography pun). We meet with our couples via video several times before the wedding so that we can skip the awkward getting-to-know-you part on the day of. Instead, we already feel like old friends.

01) You’re going to be with this person your entire wedding day—and it might even be just the 3 of you.

But whether or not you choose to work with Between the Pine, there are two things to keep in mind as you’re searching for the right photographer:

02. Hire your elopement dream team

(Psst…we even have a woodsy Airbnb of our own that you can book for your wedding.)

We’ve photographed weddings at a ton of unforgettable venues, including cozy A-frame cabins nestled in the woods, adobe casitas with miniature donkeys grazing nearby, and stunning eco-lodges tucked in the jungle.

Whether you choose to stay in an Airbnb, a campground, a camper van, or at a National Park lodge, your location adds personality and charm to your photos.

Don’t forget to think about logistics, especially how far your lodging is from the locations you plan to visit during your elopement (trust us, you won’t want to spend hours in the car on the day of your elopement). 

If you’re hosting a reception, you’ll also want to consider whether there’s parking, how many bathrooms there are (seriously, it’s critical), and whether the host allows parties on-site.

Your lodging sets the mood for your elopement...and you’ll want to consider how it’s going to look in your getting-ready photos.

03. Book the perfect place to stay

Many of our couples who go hiking opt to change out of their formal attire for most of the hike, then change back when we close in on our destination.

ps. Because everyone always asks:

If you and/or your partner plan to wear a dress, we created an entire guide to selecting the perfect dress for your adventure elopement. It includes advice on designers that past marriers have chosen (and loved!) as well as a few of the factors that make a dress pop when we’re out in nature.

And if a suit’s more your jam, past marriers have found their perfect suit at Richards Bespoke (not to play favorites, but their custom suits for all genders are FIRE), Nordstrom, and Indochino.

Once you’ve chosen your main attire, it’s time to find the accessories that will complete your look. Many of our couples add playful touches like flower crowns, wide-brim hats, jean jackets, or faux-fur wraps (for our winter wedding folks). 

If you’re still having a hard time deciding, you can FaceTime your trusty adventure elopement photographer (that’s us!) while you’re out shopping, and we can give you advice on what will photograph best at the location you have in mind.

Our number one tip is to choose the wedding attire that feels the most like you and makes you feel confident and comfortable. 

You don’t need us to tell you that your wedding attire has a huge impact on how your photos turn out. 

04. Say ‘yes’ to your wedding attire

Want to start your day surrounded by family at a lodge surrounded by tropical greenery, go for a dramatic sunset hike in Waimea Canyon, and stop for shave ice between the two? You can.

Imagining a sunrise ceremony in a Washington rainforest, followed by a pizza-and-cake picnic and then a sunset hike? You can do that, too.

Want to take a scenic cruise to Alaska, then meet us there for an epic two-day elopement adventure, including a helicopter ride to land on a glacier? You can (and you should).

Almost anything you can dream up, we can do. If you want to eat pepperoni pizza at the summit after your mountaintop ceremony, consider it done. You can bring your pup or your closest family members…or keep it to just the two of you.

Helping our couples plan *their* best day ever is one of our favorite parts of the job - sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to make sure we really get to do this for a living.

The best part of deciding how to elope is choosing exactly what you want to include in your day—and no two elopements are exactly alike! 

05. Consider the must-have moments on your elopement

Just show up with your person (and your guests, if you’re so inclined), ready to go on an adventure, and your epic team will work their wedding-day magic.

The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here!

07. Set off on your elopement adventure!

Have everything on hand for your fave fancy drink, whether it’s champagne or something zero-proof

Give your forever person a big kiss

Savor every single moment of the best day ever

Your day-of checklist should look something like:

P.S. You can count on us to pack the snacks and take plenty of jaw-dropping elopement photos.

Book my adventure elopement »

Now that you know how to elope, do you feel ready to take the plunge?