Elopement Planner | Benefits of an elopement planner | Wedding Planner
So you've just made the decision to elope or have an intimate wedding. The non traditional route that was intentional and one that you're excited about. Now the next steps goes into the planning process. While you may not be having a full on large wedding, this does NOT mean that it is not any less special. If anything, it can be even more special. You get to spend quality time with every single person you have there - including your significant other. It is anything BUT less special.
Once you've come to the decision, now comes in the planning. Elopements and intimate weddings can be just as detailed as a wedding, or as relaxed as you want it. The options of what you can do are endless. Whether that's an adventure and hike to a secluded mountain for your ceremony. Or find a super unique airbnb so your family and friends can be gathered there. If you are trying to decide what to do, check my blog post here for inspiration on how to plan, and some ideas for your elopement!
There can still be a good amount of planning that goes into an elopement. While as a photographer, I tend to do a lot of location scouting for ceremony and epic portrait locations, there can be so much more to it. So that's why I interviewed several outstanding elopement planners to share the benefits of hiring them. These questions go through the benefits of having a planner and how people like her reduce the stress to make sure your day is as special and wonderful as possible. Let's get into it!
Why should you hire an elopement planner?
So, why would you even think of hiring an elopement planner? While we will go into what they do in just a second, there are some things to think about beforehand. While elopements are smaller in number, it doesn't mean that they have to be any less "extravagant". Nope, you can still have a stunning dinner set up, a delicious cake, activities galore, and a ceremony arch. See where I'm going here?
But not only that, you may want a completely stress free day. You may not want to handle any of the vendor communications. Or trying to find a place for you and your family to stay. Or even dealing with tips and all that. Elopement planners can do all that too! They are extremely helpful throughout the entire process including the actual day itself!
So read below. If you can relate to any of these, then an elopement planner may be a viable option to creating the most beautiful, stress free day ever.
- You want a smaller, intimate setting, but still want it to be beautifully set up for your mini reception.
- The thought of planning stresses you right out. You want someone to take the reins and just do it all for you.
- You don't quite have a vision. You'd rather tell someone what you are looking for. That way they can do all the brainstorming and prep work for you.
- You want to just show up to your day and enjoy it. Your brain will be clear to just focus on your human you're marrying.
- You don't want the burden of planning or giving tasks to your family and friends.
- You don't have the time to be communicating with all the different vendors. You'd rather a planner be the one to handle it all.
- Want too many things and have several ideas that it's now become overwhelming and confusing.
If you've read these and can relate, then a planner may just be for you. If that's the case, keep reading and learn from the experts.
Incredible Elopement Planners Interviewed
Danielle Rand |Grandest Gatherings | @grandestgatherings
Jessica DeWitt | DeWitt Planning & Design Co. | @dewittplanning
Kay Northrup | Kay Northrup Events | @kaynorthrup
Nicole Mower | Nicole Mower Events | @nicolemowerevents
Kayla Madden | Madden Made Events |@maddenmadeevents
Erica Tran | Exuberant Planning | @exuberantplanning
1. As an elopement planner and stylist, can you give an overview of what your job entails?
Danielle with Grandest Gatherings: At Grandest Gatherings, I love celebrating elopements— couples who want to truly focus on each other, with no other distractions. Although you may assume eloping comes without a worry in the world, it still involves forethought and planning. Choosing to forgo an elaborate wedding with dozens of vendors, hundreds of guests, and even more small details doesn't mean that an elopement is automatically less stressful or overwhelming.
There are still details and planning involved, and I believe you shouldn’t have to navigate it alone. If I had to distill what I do as an elopement planner, I would say it boils down to 1) Fostering connection and alleviating pressure by lifting the logistical load and creating space for you and your partner to focus on each other. 2) Creating stunning designs that enhance the natural beauty of the scenery and create meaningful moments for you and your partner and 3) Organization and logistics of everything from scouting the perfect location to organizing vendor details to creating a general timeline for your day and most importantly, on the day-of making sure to create a space for you to relax and enjoy each moment throughout your day.
Jess with Dewitt Planning: As an elopement planner and stylist, I assist my clients in the logistics of planning an elopement, and walk them through the process of making their elopement a memorable experience for them. Many of my clients reach out to me with an idea of what they are looking for, but have no idea how to make it happen. That is where I come in! From booking to day of, I either assist or fully plan elopements for clients and style their day to match what they are looking for. Elopements are often seen as an "easy alternative," however there is a lot of planning that goes into securing the right vendors, picking the right location, and styling it within budget. I love working with my clients, and being apart of their special days
2. What do you think are the benefits of hiring an elopement planner?
Jess with Dewitt Planning: Gosh, where do I start? Planning any special event from a distance adds a lot of stress. Having a planner helps take away that stress so you can focus on each other. For each elopement, I complete hours and hours of research so my clients don't have to. One of the main things my clients appreciate that they did not originally think of is that all they have to do on the day of is show up. It adds a special element to the day when you get everything to be taken care of for you, and it signifies this day is special. Setting up your own decor and florals day of can feel like setting up your own birthday party... So can you DIY? Of course! Do you want to? Maybe not! It adds a special flare to have your airbnb decorated for you. Along with the florals and the ceremony decorated when you get there for sure!
Kayla with Madden Made Events: Your elopement should be filled with intention and details that reflect you and your partner. An elopement planner can guide you to finding your ideal ceremony location (near or far) and then conceptualize and implement the design details that will elevate your day. These personal touches big or small enhance the magic that makes elopements so unique and special.
Erica with Exuberant Planning: Having an elopement planner is basically like having a swiss army knife of a person! You need someone to hold your bouquet while you’re taking photos? I got it! You need someone to zip up your dress or help put on a boutonniere? I got it! On the day of your elopement, there may be some things you want to do privately without your partner there to help you. Having a planner with you to do whatever you need will keep you at ease.
Planners will also make sure you are in your perfect location, that it is decorated to how you have imagined it, and that you are kept on track with timing!
3. For anyone who is looking to hire an elopement planner, what advice would you give to them?
Dana with Wild + Wed: Do your research! All elopement planners are different and you will be spending a great deal of time with them. Make time for consultation calls and see who you vibe and resonate with the most. And don't be afraid to ask the tough questions! Dive into their pricing, their experience in the industry, their personal style, how well their workflow and personality type jives with yours and so on!
Gut intuition tells you a lot, so if something doesn't feel right, that planner isn't for you. There's someone out there for everyone so don't get discouraged! Finding a planner is like finding the perfect pair of jeans; a perfect pair for you exists, you just have to take time to find them! So my number one piece of advice is don't rush into choosing your planner, or any vendor. Take time to think, let things marinate, then book your team with a clear vision in mind.
Kay with Kay Northrup Events: Inviting a stranger into your elopement plans is a big deal, so you’re going to want to make sure they are just as excited to celebrate your love as you are. Make sure you find an elopement planner who you vibe with. Weddings are already extremely personal, but elopements are even more so. Scaling everything down to a micro level requires great attention to detail and understanding of the couple. Make sure they ask you lots of questions and get to know you and your love story. If you can find someone who you really connect and feel comfortable with, they’ll be able to make your vision sing!
4. Are there things you take care of as an elopement planner that many couples are surprised by?
Danielle with Grandest Gatherings: I think elopement planning is all about setting expectations with your couple in terms of the services you are providing. But it's the little things that pop up that were unplanned, or unexpected that I find most couples to be surprised by. It's the special touches I'll add to a couple's day that weren't laid out in a design board or in a quote like an extra special little toast with the couple's favorite libation that they weren't expecting or knowing how much a couple loves s'mores and prepping their fire BTS so all they have to do is light up and enjoy. It's those little extra mile moments I bring to a couple's day that make their moments together extra special.
Nicole with Nicole Mower Events: We treat our elopement couples just like we treat our larger Full Planning and Design couples! Just because someone has decided on an elopement or micro wedding doesn't mean they get a "lesser" service. Often our Elopement and Micro Weddings are just as intentional and detailed with their wishes and expectations.
5. What is it about elopements and intimate weddings that you love? Are there any specific things about them that excite you the most?
Dana with Wild + Wed: Elopements and micro weddings are magical. There's something so liberating about being able to celebrate love in an authentic, organic way. No pressure, no expectations, no strings attached; just marrying the love of your life. I encourage all of my couples to prioritize what they value most and then we build and plan their day around these elements. If they love flowers but don't care for dancing and cake, then guess what? They don't have first dances and they don't cut cake! Elopements allow freedom and the day can be anything you dream. When planning a big wedding, it's extremely easy to get caught up in the cinematics, the fluff, the extra "stuff" but with micro weddings and elopements everything is stripped back and streamlined. And it makes planning damn fun! Rules don't apply; just love.
Kay with Kay Northrup Events: There are no limits when it comes to elopements. You can stretch any budget to create something truly magical when it’s just for two people. With larger weddings, typically the focus gets shifted away from the intimate details and towards making the budget work to keep a big crowd happy. Couples who elope can use their budget to invest in things that are important to them on their wedding day, rather than stressing out about spending money to keep everyone else around them happy.
6. For a couple who is looking to elope, what advice would you give them?
Nicole with Nicole Mower Events: An elopement and a micro wedding are two completely different things and I think it can be confusing for couples as the phrases have been used by vendors interchangeably. An elopement is typically between the couple and their officiant (and witnesses if necessary based on the state). It's important a couple understands what they want to achieve - if they want to have a micro wedding where they get married in front of a few of their nearest and dearest and host a lovely dinner, there are many more details involved in planning that kind of experience vs planning a ceremony only. Having a clear understanding of what they're looking to accomplish will benefit them greatly when beginning vendor research.
Kayla with Madden Made Events: Think of a moment where you were so overwhelmed with your love and the world that time seemed to stand still. Use that moment as the inspiration in planning your elopement - the location, the design details, and the flow of your day should all reflect you and the times you've felt the most alive. Start there, stay there and then let a planner take care of your day-of logistics so you can soak in every moment of your epic adventure.
Erica with Exuberant Planning: Literally just do it! If you have come across the idea of elopement, you have your heart set on just wanting to have an intimate moment with your partner, and that is beautiful. There is no one you need to impress when you are eloping, there is nothing you need to worry about, which is why eloping is so appealing! Eloping gives you the opportunity to still share a special moment with your partner - literally the only thing you need to be married!!
7. Do you have an example of something you did for a couple behind the scenes that they wouldn't have been able to do alone?
Danielle with Grandest Gatherings: I've done a few adventure elopements that included hiking 60+ pounds up mountains, waterfalls, you name it. On one hike I even managed to balanced a charcuterie and cheese board in one hand with a hiking pole in the other. I'll typically hike ahead of the couple to have time for setup and styling. That way they get there and just see "magic" vs. the labor (and mostly sweat in my case) that went into getting everything there and setting it up.
When it comes to adventure elopements, I'm very particular about styling a picnic or dinner with a beautiful backdrop. This enhances the design and provide memorable photos for the couple. In one instance, this meant clearing away wet leaves on rocks from a rainstorm the day before so the picnic photos would photograph better. I like to say, "whatever it takes." That's what being an elopement planner is all about.
Dana with Wild + Wed: Due to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of my couples who eloped on a Friday had their Airbnb venue fall through. I worked quickly to find a replacement location that I felt would resonate with them and fit their needs under the time constraint. I made it happen and they're so relieved! The stress of the venue change fell on me, not them, and they didn't have to worry about a thing. And this is my goal - to help you plan an epic day that's stress free!
Jess with Dewitt Planning: Many of my clients have pinterest type dreams of what they want their elopement to look like. However, they don't see the work that goes behind making those pictures possible. The 4 mile hikes, giant floral installs on a side of a cliff, dresses with lengthy trains, it isn't a piece of cake by any means. I work really hard for my friends (aka clients) to make them get the absolute most out of their day. I'll do anything I can to achieve the goal they are looking for, for their special day! I've swam under kayaks in the ocean to get the shots, I have stood on the edge of cliffs, etc. I love doing it!
Kay with Kay Northrup Events: Honestly you’d be surprised by the number of men who can’t tie a bow tie, LOL. Beyond that, pinning boutonnieres, receiving the bouquet delivery in the morning, ordering and hailing down Ubers for the getaway car, confirming vendor arrival times, perfecting the décor set-up before the big reveal, making sure every hair, hem and veil is in place during photo sessions, fixing small problems like stains, broken buttons, etc., orchestrating the sneakiest first look set-ups, prepping the officiant with the marriage license and rings, cueing ceremony music, tossing flowers over the newlyweds’ heads, the list goes on! I also pack a cute, personalized emergency kit for my couples to use on the big day (but shh, it’s a surprise).
Nicole with Nicole Mower Events: With over ten years in the business, I literally have thousands of examples of something I've done for my couples that they wouldn't have been able to do alone. It's honestly hard to choose which one to list. I have had vendors make exceptions to their rules because of their relationship with me. I've secured venues for events that couple's would have never found on their own because the venues were either so new they were not yet listed anywhere or were private locations not open to the public. And, I guess in the most basic terms, I design experiences for my couples that they would not be able to create alone.
I am able to read between the lines; ask the right questions; gain inspiration from their personal lives and then work behind the scenes with the design vendors to propose to them something beyond their expectations. It's always so rewarding to me when a client thinks they want "A+B" but when I instead propose "Y+Z" they are totally blown away and even more excited about their day. It's my job to communicate well, understand their desires, and craft something unique to the couple that they would have not been able to create on their own.
Kayla with Madden Made Events: For a recent winter beach elopement I sourced florals, chair rentals, a cake, and other design details locally and transported them to the elopement location. Because of this my couple could put one hundred percent of their energy and focus into enjoying their day with no logistics in sight. When they walked down the private beach path together and saw their oceanfront ceremony set up with music flooding the air they got to FEEL the magic instead of loading or unloading it (that's my job!)
Erica with Exuberant Planning: All my couples should be in the moment enjoying their day, creating memories, and capturing memories with their photographer! As a planner, I am able to help with holding your props but I also am able to clean up so that the couple can just enjoy the day and not worry about cleaning up later!
I’ve heat up pizza for my couples. I’ve brought them snacks. I hold your dogs and pick up after them so you can read your vows, take some photos, make out!
A New Hampshire + Vermont based adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer team for the adventurous souls. We specialize in New England and destinations worldwide, empowering you to create the most beautiful, adventurous day and give you the memories you'll be able to look back on for all the years to come.
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