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The beautiful thing about eloping is that you can craft your wedding day to match your unique style and enhance your experience by hiring the vendors you care most about—splurge on the things you love and forget the rest! There are no hard and fast rules for which vendors you need to hire for your elopement, but we do have some recommendations and food for thought to help you decide!
Our Best Advice for Choosing Your Wedding Vendors
“With any wedding or elopement, you have to decide what is the most important and what you think will enhance your day. So if having someone organize your dinner in a beautiful location is really important, then definitely spend the money on it—but if you are happy getting a beer at a local brewery and eating a hot dog – do it!
If you have guests attending your elopement you may want to consider additional vendors for the ease of organization and/or removing the work from yourself. While DIY is fun, it also means work for people—and that’s not always what you want for guests or yourselves on your day.”
— Rebecca, Adventure Instead Travel Advisor and Planner
Most Common Elopement Vendors
OF COURSE, you need a photographer to capture one of the most special days of your entire lives! This is where the bulk of people’s wedding vendor budget goes and understandably so—photographs are invaluable. Although we love being with couples from sun up to sun down to capture their experience in its entirety some couples opt for fewer hours of coverage.
Flowers are by far the most popular wedding vendor behind photographers providing a range of floral touches to elopements with bouquets, boutineers, flower crowns, arches, and other little floral accents. We’re suckers for the juxtaposition of a gorgeous bouquet tucked into a backpack and being thoughtful carried through the mountainside.
We teamed up with one of our favorite local florists, Lace and Lillies, to talk about How to Choose the Best Flowers for Your Elopement!
Hair & Makeup Artists
You’d be surprised just how many hair and makeup artists are willing to get up at the crack of dawn to accommodate couples on their wedding day! We’ve even had hair and makeup vendors hike with us to do touch-ups throughout the day. This is a vendor to consider if you’re looking to pamper yourself a bit or if hair/make isn’t your forte.
Officiants are often the most overlooked wedding vendor! Although you can self-solemnize (marry yourself) in some states, have an ordained friend perform the ceremony, or get legally married before/after your elopement—if you want to get married on the spot in another state during a “just-us” elopement you’ll need to hire an officiant!
If you’re wanting to have a micro wedding, a styled picnic, or a beautiful ceremony site we suggest looking into hiring an event designer! They typically operate one of two ways—either by renting you the necessary items for your elopement or by being on sight and crafting the scene for you! This is an incredibly special way to create an entire outdoor “space” for your elopement.
A lot of elopement photographers work with you as planners to help you craft a breathable timeline and figure out the logistics of your day, but many couples outsource for this with planners. We added a killer full-time planner and travel advisor to the Adventure Instead team to assist our couples with permits, timelines, travel logistics, and booking!
Although you aren’t feeding 100 guests, you’ll definitely need something for yourself to eat on your wedding day—this is where caterers and private chefs come into the picture. If you value a beautiful and delicious meal then why not include that in your elopement and make it an experience!
Frequently Asked Questions About Elopement Vendors
Q. What wedding vendors do I need to book for my elopement?
A.Whichever ones are most important to you— couples typically hire some of these vendors: photographer, planner, hair & makeup, florist, officiant, caterer, and event designer.
There are no hard and fast rules for who you should book, it really depends on your budget and what will have the biggest impact on your day. If you HAD to choose ONE vendor we’d highly recommend booking a photographer—we are biased, sure, but for good reason! We want you to have gorgeous photos to commemorate your wedding day so you can time travel back again and again.
Check out this blog that breaks down how much it costs to elope!
Q. How far in advance should I book my wedding vendors?
A. Each wedding vendor varies, but the sooner the better! Here are the recommended booking windows for typical vendors:
Hair & Makeup: 3-6 months
Florists: 9-12 months
Officiants: 9-12 months
Coordinator: 7-14 months
Photographer: 12-15 months
Caterer: 2-4 months
It varies per vendor, but it’s always good practice to air on the side of preparedness and book far in advance to avoid added stress down the road!
Q. Do elopement vendors require a deposit?
A. Absolutely! It is typically a percentage of your total cost.
For any given vendor upon booking and signing a contract, you will also be paying a deposit that is either a flat rate or 10%-50% of your total cost. It’s important to keep in mind that some vendors, such as catering and florists, require a minimum purchase amount. Luckily though, due to elopements’ rise in popularity over the last few years most vendors offer packages specific to elopements!
Q. Do I actually need vendors for my elopement?
A. Short answer—no. You only need to book the things that bring you joy and will have the biggest impact on your day!
We’ve seen couples assemble bouquets from local farmers’ markets, bring Trader Joe’s charcuterie snacks for picnics, have friends come along to help with hair & makeup, DIY beautiful custom elements, and grab grocery store cakes, and truly do-it-all for their elopement day! Whether you want to outsource vendor help or do it all yourself, it truly comes down to your unique preference.
Adventure Instead’s Top Vendor Picks in Colorado and the PNW
We have such deep admiration for the artistry and commitment that vendors have to get up at the crack of dawn and hike mountains with us to make couples’ elopement days special! They’re equal parts badass, kind, and talented—truly the only people we want to work with! This is merely the very tippity-top of the iceberg as far as vendors we’ve worked with over the past 10 years and we’re always pumped to point you in the right direction to vendors that will accommodate your elopement needs!
Lace & Lilies
Lale Floral Designs
Freckled Fleurs (CA)
Noble Floral Co (OR)
Hey You Flowers (OR)
Tangled Roots Floral (WA)
|Hair & Makeup Artists|
Wild Brides Back Country
Face of Makeup
|Hair & Makeup Artists|
Alyssa Underwood (CA)
Urbanista Weddings (OR)
Lisa Boehm Beauty (WA)
Pacific Brides (PNW)
|Event Designers |
Elevation Weddings & Events
|Event Designers |
The Slow Cult (OR)
A&E Creative (OR)
5 Steps to Plan Your Dream Elopement
Step 1: Dream and brainstorm
All the best plans start with a quality brainstorming session! The goal of the dreaming and brainstorming stage is to form an overall vision for your day including a general area of the world and the time of year you would like to elope. Don’t get bogged down in details—it’s okay to keep your ideas vague! However fuzzy your vision is, it’s a great place to start! At some point during Stage 1 or Stage 2 is when most couples choose to contact us as elopement photographers and guides.
We love helping couples turn their “fuzzy” vision into a concrete plan with our extensive travel knowledge, location suggestions, and planning tools!
Step 2: Research and logistics
Once you’ve come up with the overall vision for your day, Stage 2 is all about digging deep into research and figuring out what’s feasible. This will allow you to start finalizing details and asking questions about local marriage laws/requirements, activities you want to do, and how you need to prepare for the weather. If you’ve had trouble with this stage or feel like you’ve gotten stuck – don’t be afraid to ask for help! It’s worth getting the right support to make your dream elopement day possible.
As elopement photographers and guides – Stage 2 is where we tend to help couples the MOST with their elopement planning process. We absolutely love helping make your vision come to life!
Step 3: Make choices and start booking
Now that you’ve decided what is important to you and you’ve dug deep into research, it’s time to make some choices and start booking things! The goal of this stage isn’t to finalize every single detail – but to get the most important things into place so you can fill in the details from there (Stage 4.) Start by picking your date, location, and lodging. Once you’ve nailed that down the harvest and most pressing parts of your planning process are complete!
Step 4: Finalize details and get ready
Stage 4 is all about filling in the details now that you have the main parts of your plan set in place.There are a lot of things to keep track of in this stage—so we suggest breaking up the many decisions into bite-size pieces. Now is the time to start booking your vendors, planning activities, gathering your attire and accessories, and building a timeline for your wedding day as well as the days leading up to it!
Step 5: Have the best elopement!
The day before your elopement, make sure to relax, take it easy, and go to bed early. You have an important day ahead of you! Now it’s time to revel in all that hard work and embark on the greatest adventure of your life—we hope you enjoy every second!! Be present with your partner and let your emotions fly.
We know how overwhelming all of this planning can be so we created this free 30+ page PDF of how to plan your elopement, jam-packed full of info, planning resources, and checklists based on our collective 10+ years of experience planning and photographing over 300 elopements! Planning your elopement should be FUN and full of possibilities. Check out this blog for an in-depth dive into planning your elopement!
Don’t worry we’re here to help make your elopement dreams a reality!