How to Make an Elopement Special – What to Do on Your Elopement Day

Planning Resources

November 28, 2021

A lot of people still think of elopements as something reserved for courthouses or Vegas chapels, but you want something more. This is still your wedding day, after all. You want to know how to make an elopement special, and how to ensure that your small celebration still feels important!

The good news is that today, eloping is about deciding to be intentional in how you get married, and planning a wedding day that’s a real, authentic reflection of the two of you and your relationship.

Elopements are about adventure, and embracing your unique love story. A smaller ceremony doesn’t make your day any less meaningful than a traditional wedding, but how do you plan an elopement that’s unique? How do you make sure the day still feels special and important?

This guide will give you some tips on customizing your day and how to make an elopement special, and some ideas for what to do on your elopement day!  

Pin this photo for elopement activities inspiration!

Make it A Full Day Elopement!

The first tip I have when it comes to how to make an elopement special is to give it a full day! A couple hours – a quick ceremony and some photos – isn’t enough to celebrate the beginning of your marriage, and your wedding day deserves more than that. A full day elopement gives you time to relax and enjoy the moment, being present and intentional in how you spend the day. 

If you aren’t sure what a full day elopement looks like, don’t worry! We’ll talk about what to do on your elopement day and some ideas for your adventure. For more information about what a full day elopement can look like, check out this guide about elopement timelines!

What to Do During Your Elopement Ceremony – Ideas & Tips

The main event is the part where you get married: the ceremony.

Most ceremonies consist of vows, a ring exchange, and a kiss – but there are a few things you can do to make your elopement ceremony special. Here are some elopement ceremony ideas to consider.

Write Your Own Vows

Instead of saying the traditional “I do’s,” write your own vows for your ceremony! Something written by you will be so much more meaningful and special. Don’t worry if you aren’t the next Shakespeare – your partner will love hearing your words because they came from you, and they’ll appreciate your unique vows!

Have a Friend or Family Member Officiate

For your elopement, you can hire a professional officiant to create a ceremony for you. This can be amazing, as they can write a custom ceremony that’s personalized for you. But another elopement ceremony idea and something you can do to make your wedding day special is to ask a friend or family member to officiate. If you’re planning to invite guests, ask someone you trust to perform your ceremony! Getting ordained is insanely quick and easy on ULC.org.

Do a Unity Ceremony

Another unique element ceremony idea is to add a unity ceremony! Unity ceremonies can be cultural or religious traditions, or something that you made up yourself – like putting together a sandwich or mixing some ingredients for a banana bread you’ll bake later. The point of a unity ceremony is that it symbolizes the two of you coming together as one unit. Some common unity ceremonies include handfasting, knot tying, tree planting, and candle lighting.

Ideas and Things to Do on Your Elopement Day

The ceremony is just one part of the day, and what makes elopements really special is how customizable they are! A full day elopement includes adventures and activities, and you can choose absolutely anything. Think about what makes you the happiest, and what would make this the best day ever. Here are some ideas for what to do on your elopement day!

Get Ready Together

Traditionally, couples get ready for their wedding day separately, not seeing each other. But, one idea for your elopement is to get ready together! This can include breakfast and coffee, a morning soak in a hot spring, or hanging out with your cats before getting dressed. If getting ready for the day feels right to you, spend some time together before the elopement festivities begin!

Go Hiking

A hike is a great addition to any elopement day, and if you’re an outdoorsy couple who loves to hit the trails together, this is the perfect way to make an elopement special! You can hike to your epic ceremony location, having an adventure before you tie the knot. Or, plan a ceremony with your guests, then head off to adventure together and end the day with a sunset hike!

Rent a Canoe

Grab your kayak or canoe (or rent one at your location), and get in the water on your elopement day! This is a really great way to relax on your special day, taking some time to enjoy the peaceful water. 

Have a Picnic

Adventures don’t have to be heart stopping, adrenaline rushing events – it can be something as simple as a picnic. Cuddle up together on the beach or in a meadow, and have a picnic for lunch, or for dinner, ending the night with a sunset and maybe some stargazing!

Explore a Waterfall

You don’t have to hike for epic scenery! There are plenty of spots on short walking trails or easily accessible overlooks where we can wander around and explore. Elopements allow you to be spontaneous, so whether you plan ahead or just find somewhere to stop along the way, sightseeing and nature walks are a wonderful way to make your elopement special – especially if it includes a waterfall!

Take a Scenic Drive

A road trip or a scenic drive is a great way to sightsee and explore on your elopement day! You can enjoy the view from your car, and hop out whenever the landscape calls you to explore some more. You’ll see so much in a short time, and for couples who want an adventure without hiking, this is the perfect thing to do on your elopement day. You can even rent a 4×4 and explore dirt roads to find places that are less traveled!

Hammocking

Your day should include some time to relax! Set up a hammock and spend some time hanging out (get it?) together before or after the ceremony. It doesn’t have to be all go, go go – taking it slow, enjoying the quiet moments with each other, and being present are what it’s all about. 

Hire a Private Chef

If you love trying new foods, consider hiring a private chef for your elopement! This is a great way to make an elopement feel special, as you probably don’t often have a chef dedicated to cooking you dinner. A meal prepared just for you is the perfect way to end the day!

Hiring an Elopement Photographer

My last tip when it comes to how to make an elopement feel special is to talk to an elopement photographer! My job is to document the memories of your elopement, but it’s also to help couples plan their unique, personalized day – because every couple deserves a wedding day that just feels like them

I’ll help you find things to do, give you suggestions and tips, and create a timeline for your elopement. 

Ready to start planning? Contact me!

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  1. Lovely ideas! I’ve been dying for a canoe wedding!

  2. abi says:

    this is great!

  3. Rita says:

    it’s so awesome how many ideas you are giving here. What i most love about elopements is that you truly get to do whatever the heck you want out of it and make it 100% you! :))

  4. Kat says:

    Such lovely ideas to make your elopement something unique to you. <3

  5. Nate says:

    Mary, these are such fabulous ideas. I think a lot of people have this misconception that once you have your elopement, you’re done. Nahhhh you’ve explained it so perfectly that the day can be as active, inactive, adventurous, intimate, or whatever they want it to be! LOVE!

  6. Weirdie Grizzly says:

    Great meaningful tips for couples who are planning an elopement with beautiful photos.

  7. Stacy says:

    I love all of your recommendations so much for how to make your elopement extra special and uniquely yours. I also agree that it should be the whole day!

  8. These are such great ideas for a small wedding! I love all the photos as well.

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Mary Andrikus is a Kentucky & Southeast Asian photographer for nontraditional weddings, elopement and family stories in documentary style. Mary Andrikus captures moments to be preserved for lifetime and finds beauty in unexpected places.

Mary believes that Black Lives matter and always; all bodies are beautiful; and LGBTQ+ individuals should have the right to respect and full equality. Mary does not and shall not discriminate folks of any race, body size, ability, gender identity, creed, sexual orientation, age, religions and national origin.