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A destination elopement checklist for adventurous couples

June 6, 2019



Antelope Canyon, AZ

Take the journey of a lifetime

Why elope?

Although all weddings are sacred in their own way, destination elopements allow a couple to explore (or perhaps revisit) someplace that calls to them, a place that will forever be marked to them as special. Read on for helpful planning tips, an elopement checklist, and travel inspo for your special day!

An elopement allows couples to be present and to create new memories beyond the traditional fanfare of a wedding, focused only on their vows and the beauty around them.

Weddings can be incredibly stressful and costly – many couples are now opting for destination elopements because it gives them a trip to look forward to without the excess of wedding hoopla, like getting a wedding/ reception venue, DJ, bartenders, caterers, favors, flowers, invitations, cake, AND asking bridesmaids and groomsmen to pay several hundred dollars for their wedding attire.

Instead, with an intimate elopement, a couple can splurge or save as they wish, enjoy a celebration that is 100% for them, and invite a select few important people to witness an exclusive event.

Why hire an elopement photographer?

Travel started my journey into the photography world, and to be able to fuse my appreciation of outdoor beauty with the love celebrated by two people is truly an honor. When you get married, it is SO important to be fully present and soak in every precious moment of what you are participating in, without having to worry if someone got a clear picture for you to look back at later.

If close friends are in attendance, it is also a luxury for them to be able to remember every aspect of the experience, without the pressure of possibly messing up your photos, accidentally deleting them, or not pressing record when they thought they were! Take all the pressure off of everyone with an iPhone and leave it to a professional whose job it is to make YOU look great! Ensure that these moments are captured through a professional eye, professionally edited, and transformed into albums or prints that are literal works of art afterwards. A destination elopement is something you invest your time and money in to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and in order to remember this experience, be 100% sure that you will have images you will remember forever.

Planning your elopement: Have a clear vision in mind

What vision do you have for your elopement? Creating a Pinterest board or Instagram collection can help you to plan your elopement ceremony and give your photographer a sense of what style you are looking for.

If you’re undecided on destinations, check out my blog post with recommendations for U.S. and International elopements – I’ve also been to most of these places, and I’d love to help you plan!

20 Question Elopement Checklist

Be sure you have researched all aspects of your elopement spot before booking travel plans. If you are eloping at a location you have visited, you may already know a lot about the accommodations and weather, but if you’re going somewhere new, you need to do your research in order to avoid inclement weather, heavy tourist traffic, or forgetting important details like wedding permits for national parks.

Here are 20 questions to help with your preparation:


  • What kind of destination appeals to me and my partner? Beach, mountain, desert, winter, forest, urban?
  • What is the best way to access my elopement location?
  • Are there any required permits or fees for getting married at this location?
  • Is there a limit on guests allowed at this location?
  • Will we/guests need passports to get to this location?
  • Is there cell service at my elopement site for last minute needs or emergencies?
  • When is high season/peak time of day for tourists?


  • What is the weather typically like in the season and time of day we plan to elope?
  • How will the weather complement our color palette/ artistic vision of our ceremony?
  • When is sunset?

The ceremony

  • Are accommodations available on site or close by? Enough for guests?
  • How will couple/officiant/guests arrive to elopement site conveniently?
  • Will there be a day-of coordinator or someone in charge of details?
  • What items will need to be brought to the site?
  • Until what time will we be allowed at the elopement site?
  • How will we ensure the privacy of our ceremony from outside visitors to the location?
  • How much travel time should be allocated to get to the elopement site the day of?
  • Will we be able to do a rehearsal the day before?
  • Where will the reception/after party be located? Do we want pictures there?
  • What picture(s) will be THE most important to us?

I hope this post was helpful for those of you planning a destination elopement! Fill out a contact form on my website for a custom quote.

Happy planning!!!

johanna elise

A photo of Johanna (owner of Frames and Letters Photography)

Johanna Hribal is a wedding photographer based in Louisville, Kentucky. She enjoys traveling to other states and countries for weddings and elopements whenever possible! People love her colorful and vibrant edits and the way she captures their love in a natural and non-intrusive way. Click here to visit her website to learn more about current wedding collections. Follow me on Instagram to see more engagement sessions, weddings I’ve been photographing!

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