One of the first things on the to-do list for any wedding day is to set a date! When you elope outdoors, there are some extra considerations. You’ll be more impacted by weather, and if your ceremony is in a public place, you’ll need to think about avoiding crowds and other folks on the big day! This guide is all about how to choose an elopement date – things to think about, tips to help you decide, and advice on how to get the most out of your experience.
Choose a Season for Your Elopement
The first thing I recommend doing when you choose an elopement date is to think about the season you want to experience. This will depend on a few things – so to help you narrow down a general timeframe for your elopement, here are some things to consider!
Your Elopement Location
Your elopement location will make a huge difference in what season you choose. If you don’t know where you’re eloping, check out this guide and brainstorm that first!
Having a general idea of where you want to elope, or at least what kind of landscape you want to experience, will allow you to consider the seasons. For example, in the mountains, winters are very snowy, very cold, and the hiking trails are often inaccessible, but summers are warm, snow free, and perfect for hiking! Meanwhile, if you want to elope in the desert, summers are often too hot to be comfortable, and winters are much more mild. Your elopement location will affect the season you elope in, so think about what kind of weather you want, and what you want to experience.
What You Want to Do
Another factor in choosing the season is what you want to do on your elopement day! Many locations offer different activities throughout the year. For example, summer in Oregon is amazing for hiking or surfing, while winter is best for skiing, and spring is a great time to see waterfalls and wildflowers.
Think about what you want to do on your elopement day – keep in mind that you can do absolutely anything! Dream big, talk with your partner, and decide what feels right to you. If you have an idea of your location and what you want to do on the big day, this will help you narrow down dates that work for your plans.
What Kind of Vibe You Want
Every season brings a different feeling – summers are great for couples who love the sun, people who want to wear a sleeveless dress, or couples who want a laid back, “chill” elopement day vibe! Winters are amazing for snow, layers and glamorous, elegant elopement outfits, fall is great if you love colorful foliage, and spring is best for wildflowers and waterfalls.
Think about the vibe you want for your elopement day, what you see yourself wearing, and what kind of experience you’re dreaming of.
Of course, along with dreaming up fun activities for your elopement day, you also need to consider logistics when it comes to how to choose an elopement date! Think about your schedule, your jobs, and whether there’s a time of year that will be easier to take off work. For example, teachers may have more flexibility in the summer, other jobs may be less busy in the winter.
If you’re inviting guests, think about their schedules as well, and whether there’s a season or time of year that will be better for all of you.
I recommend taking a week or two, or even more, for your elopement! Combine it with your honeymoon, and ensure that your experience is absolutely perfect – no rush, no stress, and plenty of time to unwind or to adventure.
How Soon Do You Want to be Married?
Another factor in choosing an elopement date can be how soon you want to be married! Some couples want a long engagement and plenty of time to plan, others don’t want to wait to tie the knot. There’s no right answer – like everything else on your elopement day, this is about doing what’s best for you!
Prioritizing is key when it comes to how to choose an elopement date. Is it more important to you to get married in the next four months, or to wait for snow so you can bring your snowboards?
Avoiding Crowds on Your Elopement Day
Last but not least, something to consider when it comes to the season you elope in is avoiding crowds. Since you likely aren’t renting a private venue, you’ll have other park visitors out and about – to ensure some privacy when you exchange vows, do some research about the popular times to visit your elopement location. Most of the time, the most popular time to visit places in the northern hemisphere is summer – in the mountains, this is the only time it’s warm and trails are snow free, and in places with four seasons, like Kentucky or Ohio, summer brings the best weather. However, there are some exceptions! Desert locations are most popular in the spring and fall when weather is more mild. And places that are really popular for winter sports (Lake Tahoe, for example), can get pretty crowded in the winter!
Do some research about your location, but keep in mind that busy season typically coincides with the best weather, so there will be a trade off if you decide to tie the knot in the off season. Shoulder season (the time right before or right after the peak) is often a great time to elope, because your chances are better for good weather, but with fewer crowds! Another perk is that you’ll get better deals on travel – flights, lodging, and rental cars – if you elope in the off season.
But, even if you elope during the busiest time of year, there are still some things you can do to minimize crowds – so don’t let that stop you if you have your heart set on a season!
Choose a Weekday Elopement Date
No matter what time of year you elope, one of the best ways to avoid crowds is to tie the knot on a weekday. Weekends are always busier, whether you’re in the mountains, in the city, or anywhere else!
Weekdays are typically much less crowded, since people are at work or school – Friday evenings can get crowded as well, so Monday through Thursday is best! Be careful to avoid three day weekends and holidays, as these get extra crowded.
Another way to avoid crowds once you have your elopement date set is to plan your elopement ceremony for sunrise or sunset – and to create the elopement timeline around the times of day that are going to be least popular for other visitors!
Consult an Elopement Photographer
When you choose an elopement date, it can be helpful to stay flexible – come up with a general timeframe or season, but talk to an elopement photographer before you decide! This will allow you to work with your favorite vendors to choose a date that works for everyone, giving you more freedom to choose a photographer you really love.
If you’re planning an elopement, contact me! Part of my job is to help couples plan the perfect day, so I’m happy to give you advice on the best time to elope in your favorite locations, how to avoid crowds, and more!