A complete guide

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.

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, and the planning process should reflect that, as you and your person figure out exactly how you want to celebrate yourselves. 

Let me guess: you’re dreaming of an adventure elopement, but you’re not actually sure how to elope?

(Don’t forget a pen and paper so you can start jotting down ideas!)

your 'how to elope'


Settle on your ideal time of year and elopement vibe


Want some suggestions? Take my Where to Elope quiz.

The possibilities are endless.

You don’t need to have an exact location in mind to start planning your elopement. But in order to start the search for the perfect spot, it helps to know
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 snow-covered pines, then strapping on snowshoes for a wintry hike. Or maybe you’d prefer to say ‘I do’ in a lush, fern-filled forest, or in a mountainside meadow full of wildflowers

Hire your elopement dream team


An officiant, a makeup artist, and a florist. Depending on how many guests you expect, you might also want a planner and a caterer.

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

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 photographers help plan your itinerary, so make sure you know how much planning you will have to do.

2) At Between the Pine, we don’t 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 their elopement so that we can skip the awkward getting-to-know-you part on the day of. Instead we already feel like old friends.

1) You’re going to be with this person (or people) 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 and/or videographer:

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

Book the perfect place to stay


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… after all, you may not want to spend hours in the car on the day of your elopement. When we work together, we’ll take this into account when making recommendations, so you have one fewer thing to stress about.

If you’re hosting a reception, you’ll also want to consider whether there’s parking for your guests, how many bathrooms there are (seriously, nothing’s worse than not having enough), and whether the host allows parties on-site.

(Psst…want some inspiration? Here’s a guide to some stunning Airbnbs that would be the perfect home base for your adventure elopement.)

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

Say ‘yes’ to your wedding attire


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

If you’re planning on wearing a dress, we’ve created an entire guide to selecting the perfect dress for your adventure elopement. It includes advice on designers that past brides have chosen (and loved!) as well as a few of the factors that make a dress pop in your wedding photos.

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 elopement 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.

P.S. Because everyone always asks: 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.

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

Consider the must-have moments on your elopement


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

Imagining a sunrise ceremony (followed by mimosas, of course!), and then relaxing afterward with a fly-fishing session? You can do that, too.

Want to hold an adult summer camp at a cabin in the mountains for your wedding weekend, complete with canoes, s’mores, and maybe even singalongs? 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, 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 seriously 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! 

Get the legal stuff squared away


First of all, you’ll need to arrange to get your marriage license. The requirements vary by state, so once you’ve chosen your location, you can read up on exactly what’s involved. (To help you out, we’ve put together guides for Washington, Hawaii, and Oregon.) It’s often a multi-day process, and it may require booking appointments in advance, but it all goes smoothly as long as you start early.

The second legal document applies if you’re getting married on public lands, such as a National Park. It’s a Special Use Permit, which gives you permission to hold an event within the park. You’ll be asked to fill out some details about your event (location, number of guests, etc.), pay a modest fee, and then the Parks Service will issue your permit. If you’re getting married in a state park, chances are high we’ll also need a permit. Either way, we will give you step-by-step instructions to ensure that you’ll have no issues securing your permit, and we’ll be on standby for any questions.

(Most state and national parks also require a photography permit, but don’t worry—we’ll take care of that!)

Don’t panic! It’s less complicated than it sounds.

set off on your elopement adventure!


You’ve already checked off items 1-6 on this list, so we’re confident that your elopement day is going to be a breeze. 

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.

Your day-of checklist should look something like this:

✔ Pop the champagne
✔ Give your hunny a big kiss
✔ Savor every single moment of your best day ever

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

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

Check out these elopement resources:

wondering how to elope?

view all elopement resources »

Book my adventure elopement »

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


still have a few unanswered questions?

— emily + nathan

"The pictures speak for themselves. Mollie is extremely talented at her craft."