How Eloping Works
Updated: Jun 21
Before you get started reading I wanted to let you know I have a new guide on this, either click the banner above or here to read about how to elope.
Pick up your marriage license before running off!
Quick and dirty facts: It's $30, you'll need your ID or Passport, you don't have to be a Colorado resident, and you'll need to sign and date it within 35 days of picking it up! Oh, and you can apply online ahead of time to save time. If you're a Denver resident here's your link:
Do you want an officiant, or do you want to be alone?
One of my favorite things about getting married or eloping in Colorado is that you don't need an officiant. You don't even need a witness. It can just be you, your lover, and a majestic mountain view. Or it could be you, your lover, and a bottle of wine on your couch, no judgment. This law differs from state to state, so I won't pretend to be an expert at all 50. Research your state or planned destination before running off!
You can find more information from Colorado here: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/performing-marriage
If you decide to have an officiant, I've had clients hire a public official, a friend, or even a parent. It's your moment, so you have the power to decide who's most important to have beside you. Did you know your photographer could be an ordained minister? OH HEY THERE! In fact, I’m an ordained minister! That means I can photograph your day and sign your marriage license in most states. Keeping your special day small and intimate. Win, win!
Set a budget:
You're not having a $40K wedding, but you could spend anywhere between $50 - $15,000 eloping. For some, the eloping is the wedding and the honeymoon, for others it's much more simple.
Plan it out in advance:
Hear me out. I know you want to make this quick and easy, but this is also a day you're going to celebrate once a year forever. So please, put some preparation into it, regardless of whether you're hiring vendors or not. If you are, reach out to vendors early to see if they're available and for best pricing. Waiting till the last minute most likely means you'll end up spending more, and the quality vendors will already be booked.
Do you want to plan a destination elopement? Hire a travel agent.
Travel agents are kind of like event planners. Not only do they get you from point A to B to C, but they also are knowledgeable resources, and they are experts at curating life-changing experiences. You can use Google as much as you want, but from personal struggle, I know that using a travel agent for adventure elopements is the way to go. Eliminate headaches before you ever step on the plane, and know you can have someone to lean on if you need help.
Jenn Hunter of Soul Trek Travel specializes in curating adventures that meet your wildest dreams. Do you want to find a location with penguins specifically? Done. Do you want to elope to Peru? Perfect. Are you thinking about a honeymoon on a boat cruise? She's got you covered. Want to find a private helicopter ride to your scenic ceremony site? Consider it booked.
Should you hire an elopement photographer or videographer?
Just because you're not having a big wedding doesn't mean you shouldn't have an elopement photographer or videographer! This is a moment you're going to cherish for the rest of your life no matter how you do it, so why not have your photos taken? Find a photographer that fits your needs: do you want them only to capture candids? Do you want to be posed? Do you want someone you chat with? Hike with? Like an adventure photographer? Or do you want a photographer who pretends they're not even there?
Lean on your photographer for help planning.
Whether it's a destination or a nearby park with a view, your elopement photographer is going to help you plan your day around the best lighting. Do you want epic sunset views in your photos? I would too! Ask your photographer to help you plan accordingly.
Can you tell anyone?
That's a pretty old school mindset that you can't tell anyone. You may have reasons not to, and that's fine! However, I've had clients tell and even invite their parents.
Can you invite people?
Absolutely! I've had siblings, parents, and friends join for very small and intimate ceremonies.
This may be as formal or as informal as you’d like. You may plan out who’s standing where and when. An officiant can lead the ceremony. Or, the two of you can read vows you wrote to one another. Find a ceremony spot that you want to be special to you for the rest of your lives!
Post ceremony celebration:
It's time to party! That looks different for everyone. If you're the adventurous type, bring your photographer on a hike, canoe ride, horseback riding, drive up to a great view, or whatever sparks your fancy. Otherwise, a great dinner alone is appropriate, too!
What do you wear when you elope?
A lot of folks still wear your traditional wedding dress and suit, but by no means do you need to comply with tradition. Wear your favorite color or favorite dress! Or whatever makes you feel great.
Should you buy a bouquet?
It's a celebration! Absolutely! If you're not into carrying flowers around all day, opt for a flower crown or a corsage and boutonniere.
Send a marriage announcement!
FLAUNT THE FACT YOU GOT HITCHED! I mean it. People are going to be excited for you, no matter what. They'll love to see a beautiful printed picture of the two of you.