SHOTGUN ELOPEMENTS: HOW TO PLAN YOUR ELOPEMENT IN LESS THAN 14 DAYS
I think one of my favorite things about elopements is the fact that so often, they are spontaneous. It’s a beautiful aspect of my industry to see people so damn in love that they just up and decide to get hitched — can I get an amen?!
As someone who eloped with 13 family members present, and planned it in under 90 days, I often get questions about “how did you do it?!” and I am creating this post to show you that you can do it in even less time. My hope is that you use it as a resource even if you’re planning on taking a few months to plan, or making it happen in 2 weeks. The point is to give you a comprehensive guide of what’s necessary and what isn’t, and to show you that it really is as simple as it sounds.
PICK YOUR DATE. I will say that with anything last minute or short notice, a weekday grants you a better chance of your preferred vendor being available. If you’re open to the date within a specific range, mention that in every email you send to vendors.
FIND AN OFFICIANT. Depending on the state, you’re likely going to need an officiant. Finding officiants can be done by googling the area “Lake Tahoe officiant, for example”, or searching Instagram by hashtags. Here is a GREAT resource for knowing what the rules are in the state you’re looking to be married in. For instance, in Colorado you don’t need an officiant to be present - you just get a marriage license and sign it on the day you want to be married! CRAZY EASY!
DECIDE ON A LOCATION. I’m putting this one before a photographer, even though I usually am part of the process (personally) - just so you remember to consider a general location you want to elope in. It’s likely that if you hire a photographer that they will be willing to help you pick your exact spot, but it’s important to know a general vicinity that you’d like to stay within for your elopement, and it’s also important to know when researching the rules for each state and county.
Now, for the details that don’t necessarily matter to everyone, but I feel are important and should at least be considered: photographer, dress/suit, florals, dinner, lodging.
FIND A PHOTOGRAPHER. If capturing your day matters (and I hope it does, it’s really important!) then finding a great photographer should be your next priority after making sure you can legally get married. Similarly to finding an officiant, there are a ton of resources. Instagram is usually how my couples find me. Additional resources to use for finding rad photographers in your area are lookslikefilm.com and wanderingweddings.com. — wandering weddings, specifically, has other vendors listed as well. I’m listed on both sites, so if you’re coming to CA, call me! Again: most vendors are more likely to be available last minute when the date you’ve chosen is not a weekend.
FIND A DRESS/SUIT. This may not be as important to some people, but I personally love seeing couples who still go all out in spite of the casual vibe of their day. It’s fun to photograph, too, and will make you feel “legit”! I ordered my dress from lulus.com - and in the last 6 months they have begun offering so many options for bridal gowns! It’s so great to see. Additionally, I love bhldn.com if you have a bigger budget for a dress, OR want to add an amazing topper to a simple wedding dress, they are affordable, too! Both companies offer expedited shipping and with the price point and return policy of Lulus, I think it’s safe to order multiple dresses in different sizes and return after you decide. For the gents, I’m here to say: men’s warehouse or something casual that is already in your closet. You have it way easier than the ladies! We bought my husband a suit at Macy’s because I wanted something more unique than black or navy - and had a great experience.
FLORALS. Most florists are able to pull together a bouquet pretty quickly, but I’ve seen it all when it comes to the avenue my couples use to ensure they have gorgeous flowers on their elopement day. Again, search #YOURTOWNflorist on instagram - always a good avenue. Alternatively, consider making your own bouquet with flowers from a local shop or farmers market, or use farmgirlflowers.com. They create AMAZING arrangements that are shipped to you easily. I really love when couples use them! And, if you’re not super concerned with a particular look, in my experience if you’re planning on pickup being a Monday/Tuesday, many florists will offer a discount on a bouquet made of weekend wedding leftovers - which is kind of fun!
DINNER + LODGING. I’ve written an entire post about How to Elope in Lake Tahoe that talks a bit about planning for lodging and dining in Tahoe specifically - and the same tactics apply here. Find a rad airbnb so that you have your own space, not just a hotel room (unless you prefer it, but that’s rarely the case) and then see if you can hunt down a romantic spot for dinner or even lunch, if you’re eloping early in the day. AirBnB also offers “experiences” where oftentimes there are opportunities to book a private chef, get a cooking lesson, etc. It’s a really fun way to have a unique experience!
And, that’s it! That’s all it takes - and you can totally pull it off in 2 weeks, trust me! Start with one vendor, and work your way down. Be flexible and willing to go with the flow - eloping is meant to alleviate some stress! And - if all of this still sounds like too much, find a planner or photographer like me who offers planning services, to do it for you. It makes the process that much simpler.
As always, if you have questions, shoot me an email!