Elopement planning 101: picking your location, date, and season!

Mar 1, 2021

Elopement Resources

Jenna + Hugh _ Previews _ 038.jpg

Welcome to Elopement Planning 101: a series where we’ll dive into how to plan your elopement with 8 key steps and considerations.

Each of these blog posts is also a podcast episode. You can listen to The Elopement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play.

picking your location, date, & season

There is no solid order to the three elements that make up today’s post – so as we go through, keep that in mind! Before we dive in, I want to define what a vendor pool is. A vendor pool is the vendors you’ll have to choose from within the region you plan to elope. During COVID, going outside of a local vendor pool is not only challenging with travel restrictions, but can possibly take business away from the communities who need it! As someone who lives in a small mountain town, the amount of reprieve we’ve received from covid is far different than that of a larger city. Our infrastructure is simply not as stable. If you’re already set on a specific vendor, consider going to them or at the very least, ensure that wherever you go, you infuse some dollars into the economy to help support them through this time, by utilizing other vendors and supporting restaurants and shops, as well. 

Brittany _ Jonny _ Previews _ 049.jpg

picking your elopement location

  • If you already have a place in mind, awesome! Start by checking out the lodging options, vendor pool (super important) and searching for inspiration photos of other couple’s weddings. 

  • If you don’t have a location in mind, make a list of how you want the day to feel – from temperature to the vibe. Do you want small town or city feels? What color palette inspires you? Do you envision red rocks, alpine lakes, or a city mural? 

  • Start researching how you might be able to access the backdrop you’re envisioning. This might be where you start reaching out to photographers who serve that area, if you have specific questions regarding location. Any “typical” view of Tahoe that you can find on google will be easy to access, or at least straightforward with good instructions, but you’re more likely to run into large groups of tourists this way. Something I personally prioritize is going to the lesser known local gems, that might require a little bit more work to get to, in order to avoid this. This is another benefit of working with a local vendor.

  • Once you’ve determined your location, you’ll need to start browsing the vendor pool. I recommend starting with a photographer as I mentioned, (and videographer, if applicable), officiant, florist, hair & makeup, and then fill in other pieces as you go!

picking your elopement season

  • Accessibility: will weather impede your ideal plans? Some roads are inaccessible during winter in many places. Other locations have rainy seasons that wash trails and roads out for a spell, and summer months can always run the risk of being too hot, depending on where you go.

  • Temp: are you grouchy in the heat, like me? Or super miserable if it’s cold? 

  • How soon is it – does it give you enough of a lead time to make it happen effectively?

  • Peak season vs. off season – more vendors available in down time and likelihood of picking your preferred date is higher 

  • Tourism implications. Traffic, lodging, and general busyness is always at risk in some seasons more than others. This is another great reason, if you’re not set on any one element, to talk to a local vendor to help you make these choices.

  • SNOW: even in places like Tahoe, Colorado, Utah, and other snow-prone locations, it’s never guaranteed that you’ll have the winter wonderland you dream of. If you’re aiming for a winter wedding, just know that it can look a few different ways – and all will be so beautiful. 

  • Wildfire season is real, especially in the PNW, California, and Colorado. Know that it can be smokey at the end of the summer; and there is no way to predict it. Having a vendor team & photog who is able to work around the potential hiccup of smoke will be key if you choose this season.

libby & vince | 001.jpg

picking your elopement date

  • Sometimes couples know before they even start the planning that a date is their priority. In these cases, you can pick the best options of your top choices for the previous topics. If you’re eloping in February, you might decide you want a high chance of snow vs. rain, maybe, and you can do some research on where in the world is most likely to fulfill that. 

  • If you don’t have a date picked out, there are a few things to keep In mind. 

  • Weekdays rock, especially if you’re going to a popular tourist destination. Here in Tahoe, the weekends are significantly more busy than the weekdays, even when school’s out in Summer. There are just some locations I will not utilize in certain peak seasons, and on Saturdays specifically. 

  • A weekday opens you up to traveling on cheaper dates (Wednesday is still the best day to fly, for the most part!) and you can get your marriage license when you arrive in most places. A lot of offices do not issue weekend licenses, and for California at least – you need a state license to get married here, regardless of the county. 

  • Popular dates (such as 10-10-20, 4-3-21) are usually booked very quickly. It’s fun to have a date that is easy to remember and has some sort of pattern to it, but you’ll need to be on it as soon as possible to book your vendors for a date like that. Every year there are a few “hot” weekends and elopement photographers and vendors see “hot” weekday dates, as well, as there is less of a need to have the elopement on a weekend 

  • Picking a weekday is also an easy way to naturally cut down your guest list, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed there but have already established who you’re inviting. In these cases, make sure your “absolute must have” people can make the date, and then let the date filter out the rest. You might not lose any more guests, but a lot of couples say this helps them have a more intimate group without having to choose. 

Samantha & Ryan _ Sneak Peeks _ 069.jpg

A few other general things to note:

  • Do your research on what you need as far as marriage licenses go – in California, you just need a CA license, doesn’t matter which county it comes from. It varies state to state, though. 

  • Many couples reach out to me without any info other than the location they want to get married in, which is usually Tahoe! IN these cases, I’m always happy to help them determine the best fit of a season with them after we’ve had a phone call and I’ve gotten to know their dream day a little bit. 

  • Several of my colleagues in the elopement sphere are known for helping couples pick all 3 of the elements we’ve talked about. If you’ve got your eye on a photographer and want their guidance picking the best place, date and season, I know most are more than willing to assist! Dare to dream, baby! 

Above all – pick the date, location, and season that speaks to you the most. Find what sets your souls on fire and do that within your elopement experience. You’ve got the chance to dream big, and have a day that is unmatched by anyone else’s. I can’t wait to see what you choose!

Ruthanne is an Elopement Photographer & Expert based in Lake Tahoe, California. She specializes in elopements inspired by the beautify and elegance of the High Sierra mountains, but you can find her all over the west at any time. She lives in Truckee, California where she was born & raised, with her husband Demetri & Australian Shepherd, Sasha. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *