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The Elopement Checklist

10 Steps to Planning Your Elopement (updated for 2021)

Planning Your Elopement Starts Here!

Are you planning your elopement but don’t know where to start? The beauty of eloping is that they are completely unique to you and your partner. Get creative. Go on an adventure. The best part is that there is no wrong way to elope! The day should just reflect both of you, be just for you, and be created by you. Your wedding day should be about you and your love- not expectations. You can invite a few family members and friends, or elope just the two of you. While creating a day  is super exciting, you may not know where to begin. Read on to see how you can get planning with this elopement checklist.

Table of Contents

This checklist is great for you no matter where you are in your planning process! I hope it can help inspire you to find if eloping is right for you and give you ideas on what you can include in your wedding day.


1. Find Your Elopement Photographer

The first thing on your elopement checklist should be finding a photographer. On your elopement day you will spend the most time with your photographer. Crazy right? Find someone who’s photography speaks to you, who’s soul you can vibe with, and who has the tools to make your day authentic and unique.

We Can Adventure Together

A photographer who specializes as an adventure wedding photographer or elopement photographer can ensure to create the magic you are looking for. That is what us photographers are here for! We are your guides, biggest fans, and storytellers.

As your photographer and guide I  will be with you every step of the way in planning your dream elopement, and you can rely on me to carry the stoke level high. If you enjoy my work and want to book me for your elopement please get in touch! I’m super excited for the experience that we are going to create together. These are the photos you will look back on for years to come to remember your greatest adventure yet, so it is important to me that your story is a well told one. 

halie west utah wedding photographer

2. Find Other Vendors

Below is a list of vendors that you can choose to add to your team. Every type of vendor has something unique to offer to your elopement!


Videographers can help you relive your elopement and feel all that you were feeling during your day. Having video of your day is just as crucial as having photographs! They help to capture your love in an artful way so that you can relive the little moments over and over again. Storytelling from your elopement is priceless, especially if it is just the two of you eloping.


Officiants are here to help you officially tie the knot, make your marriage legal, and remind you of why you are vowing your love in the first place with personal anecdotes and funny jokes. They can be strangers who become friends, or even a friend or family member of your own. Friends or family can get ordained through the Universal Life Church through an easy process.


Florals can be a nice pop of color that can make you both smile and bring a little life to your day! Floral artists are pretty incredible. They create these beautiful bouquets that can fit your style and location with an artistic flair. You can choose to work with a florist local to your elopement location, or a floral artist that you adore.

Hair + Makeup

On your elopement day you can choose to either do your own hair + makeup, or hire a professional to do it for you. Let’s be real though, who doesn’t like being pampered a bit? You especially deserve it on a day where you are going to vow your love to the person who matters most. 

You can choose to skip the stress by getting your hair + makeup done by a pro. This may be done at a crazy hour if you are starting at an epic location for sunrise. Makeup artists can even tag along on your adventure to keep your makeup + hair looking fresh after a long hike or surprise weather! You deserve to feel great on your day so your elopement photographer can capture your glow.

Elopement Planner

Elopement planners are great at helping you both achieve your vision and inspiring you with new ideas. A planner can show you how to plan an elopement while keeping you on track. A planner can be a great option if you don’t really know where to start or don’t want to put all the stress of planning your day on yourself.


Depending on the amount of guests for your wedding day, you may want to choose between a caterer or a private chef. When choosing the type of food you want to eat, think local and find what sounds yummy to you!

If you elope just the two of you, you can totally just go and eat out on your wedding day. However, hiring a chef to create a meal for you may really add to your experience!


Live music may be important to you for your wedding day, and just because you are eloping does not mean you can’t hire a musician or small band! Some creatives are down to hike to a mountaintop with their instrument. How magical is that?

3. Save Your Date

When choosing your elopement date you can decide whether you want to be flexible or not. If you have a certain date in mind, say the anniversary of the day you both first met, then start contacting your dream team and finding that perfect location as soon as you can! Any outdoor place that requires a ceremony permit typically needs three weeks to process your permit. The best thing about elopements is that they can be spontaneous. You can even plan yours a few weeks out if you want to go with the flow and love the idea of seeing where adventure can take you. Be Mindful of the Weather When choosing the time of year you want to elope, and where you want to elope be sure to keep the weather in mind. Eloping in Moab in the Summer is doable but may be way more miserable than doing it in the Spring when temperatures are lower. Eloping and mountaineering to the top of Mt. Rainier is possible May through September, but would be way too dangerous in the Winter. Your photographer will be able to help guide you to the best time to adventure in your dream elopement location.
elopement at cecret lake in utah. A couple kisses by an alpine lake at sunrise

4. Choose Your Location

The next step of the elopement checklist is finding a location that speaks to you. If you are planning an adventure elopement then that means that you are going for a hike. Your elopement could include climbing a wall, finding  the surf, or hitting the slopes. Maybe you are backpacking to say “I do” on a mountain top at sunrise. Whatever your adventure, location is key. You should both decide on a location or two that speaks to you. Maybe it’s a place you always wanted to explore, a place where you first met or had your first date, or a place that you just truly love. Getting to experience nature with your partner is such a treat, so you can’t really go wrong with any of the public land spaces that there are to choose from. From National Parks, to State Parks, to BLM land, there are so many wild places that can become part of your elopement.

5. Get Your Marriage License Info

Your marriage license declares that you are officially married! Finding the correct information or getting your license is important. Every state has different marriage licenses that can be picked up in the county you are to be wed in. Some states require an officiant or a number of witnesses. In states like Colorado you don’t need an officiant, but in states like Utah you need an officiant and two witnesses. I recommend reading up on the marriage license rules in the state you plan to elope in, and ask your planner or photographer if you have any questions. Don’t let the legality of it all ever deter you from eloping when and where you want to. While it may make it legal, a document doesn’t tell you the date of your anniversary.

6. Apply For Permits

If you choose to get married on public land you will likely need to get a ceremony permit. Don’t let that deter you. It’s a pretty easy process that takes up to three weeks to get approved, and will typically cost less than $200. Your photographer or planner can help you with the permit process.

7. Book Your Accommodations

Depending on the location you choose, you may need to plan a road trip, get plane tickets, rent a car, or rent an airbnb. Once you have your permits secured it is a great time to start booking everything you need to make getting ready for your elopement comfortable and stress free.

8. Find Your Elopement Attire

Elopement attire is completely up to your own creativity on your elopement day. You can keep the tradition of wearing a white dress, or you can choose any color from the rainbow. You don’t even have to wear a dress. Find your fashion statement that compliments the environment you will be eloping in. Are you going to get wet? Find fabric that won’t weigh you down. Will there be wind? Find a dress that flows so you can have some fun. Are you going to get dirty? Yeah that’s a given.

You can also decide to choose colors that compliment the area you are eloping in and help you stand out. Blues can be beautiful in the snow. A black suit is snazzy against orange sandstone. It is totally up to you so have fun with it!

an eloping couple kissinf at the bonneville salt flats in Utah
arches national park wedding

9. Pick Out Rings

Rings are also an important element for your elopements. Your rings should be a beautiful reflection of yourselves. They don’t have to be the typical stainless steel, gold, or diamond mix. However, if that’s what you are into the go for it! Find the type of rings that speak to your personality.

10. Choose Your Adventure!

The greatest part of your elopement, apart from getting married to your love, will be the adventures you embark on. You may travel to a new national park and go on a hike. You could see your ceremony site from the air and go for a helicopter ride. You’re ideal ceremony spot could be on top of a rock, so you gotta put your climbing harness on to get there. The possibilities for adventure are endless, but it’s most important that you choose something that brings you and your partner joy. Any adventure you take is only important as long as you do it together. These adventures may require you to pack your wedding attire alongside your hiking boots, get an adventure guide, or acquire permits. If you are feeling stuck or need inspiration have your planner or photographer help you out!

Use this elopement checklist as a starting point for planning your own elopement! Make it your own. Add to the checklist and take off what doesn’t work for you. I hope that you can use this guide to feel inspired. Get excited on planning your greatest adventure yet!

Your elopement checklist is ready! Now you are ready to start planning your elopement!

adventure elopement photographer halie west

Hey there, I’m Halie! Your elopement photographer and guide!

You deserve a unique wedding day that you will always remember. Your love story deserves to be told!

Ready to Elope?
Your Adventure Starts Here
Don't know yet? That's ok!
An ideal season works too
Dream big!
I want to hear all the fun details
moab elopement ceremony locations