I’ve been an elopement and intimate destination wedding photographer for a while now, and I’ve been to some pretty amazing places with even more amazing couples. One of my favorite parts of what I do is making my couples’ day as stress-free and magical as possible. Over the years, I’ve learned many tips and tricks that help me do just that. I’ve been dying to share all these tips and decided to write a blog for newly engaged couples beginning the planning process! So, keep reading to learn my top 10 tips you need to know before your elopement or destination wedding!

Tip #1: Hire Local or Expert Vendors That Are Familiar With Your Ceremony Location

Traveling to a new place can be stressful, especially when it’s for your elopement or destination wedding! Hiring local or expert vendors can help alleviate pre-ceremony jitters. From weather patterns to ceremony site protocols, location familiarity, and more, you’ll feel confident knowing the vendors you’ve hired are reliable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable.

A neutral tablescape is pictured on a wooden table

Tip #2: Hire A Photographer With A Second Photographer

This tip needs to be spoken about more! Hiring a photographer and investing in a package that comes with a second shooter ensures you’re not photographer-less on your wedding day. While unexpected events and emergencies are rare, they can occur. It’s best to be a step ahead in the area of precaution and preparedness when it comes to documenting your special day. 

Destination wedding | Mexico wedding at an Airbnb | Tulum Elopement | Mexico destination wedding |  Beach wedding | Beach elopement

Tip #3: Send Out Save The Dates ASAP

If you plan on inviting a few guests to your elopement or intimate destination wedding, give your guests plenty of notice! 6-months is standard for save-the-date cards. 4 months is standard for invitations. The sooner, the better, especially if the ceremony is taking place outside the country you and most guests reside in. 

Also, remember to create a wedding website full of accommodation options, ceremony location details, and travel tips! It will make the RSVP and planning process much easier for your guests because all important information is in one place.

Tip #4: Avoid Busy Weekends + Holidays

Avoid busy weekends and holidays if you want a more secluded and intimate ceremony. Often, accommodations, transportation, vendors, and paid ceremony sites charge more for holidays and peak-season weekends. Consider getting married on a weekday or planning your ceremony for a weekend at your desired destination’s off-season.

A couple is pictured holding hands on a dirt path in Joshua Tree

Tip #5: Book Accommodations As Early As Possible

As I mentioned in Tip #4, popular ceremony spots and surrounding accommodations can get crowded and book up fast, especially during weekends and peak season. Booking accommodations well in advance will ensure you’re able to secure your dream hotel, Airbnb, or resort without hassle!

San Diego Elopement | Beach Elopement | Sunset elopement in San Diego

Tip #6: Communicate + Coordinate A Timeline With Your Photographer 

The unknown can unduly stress you and your partner out. Communicating with your photographer in the months leading up to your ceremony about your day-of timeline will clear up any uneasy feelings you may have about your big day!

Tip #7: Shop For Ceremony Appropriate Attire 

Shopping for ceremony attire is one of the most fun parts of wedding planning. I always love it when my couples schedule a fun shopping date with each other, friends, and/or family to pick out their dream ceremony outfits. The best thing about having an elopement or destination wedding is that you don’t have to conform to the traditional wedding attire. You can wear a white dress and hiking boots or sandals and a tux! Choose attire that 1) makes you feel celebrated and 2) you’re comfortable in will make your elopement or destination wedding much more enjoyable!

Hawaii beach elopement  | beach wedding in Kauai | Beach wedding | destination wedding

Tip #8: Research Local Marriage License Requirements 

This tip should be at the top of your to-do list, especially if you’re traveling outside your home country. Popular elopement and destination wedding locations like Iceland have complicated marriage license requirements for tourists. 

If you reside in the U.S. and plan to get married within the States, check the local County Clerk’s hours of operation, license fees, application protocols, and timelines online or by phone well before your ceremony date!   

Tip #9: Write Your Vows In Advance

Suppose you or your partner plan to write your ceremony vows; don’t put it off until the last minute. Your trip will be an exciting whirlwind, and stressing over vows will take time away from reconnecting and spending time with your partner before the big day!

A bride and groom say their vows while standing on Haleakala Summit in Maui

Tip #10: Make A Packing List

About two weeks before your elopement or destination wedding, make a packing list with your partner! This will ensure that you don’t leave anything important, big or small, at home. Here’s a short, essential packing list to help you get started!

  1. Passport | ID
  2. Rings
  3. Vow Book 
  4. Ceremony Attire
  5. Wallet | Credit Cards | Cash 

A couple hugs in Haleakala National Park at a Sunrise Elopement

Need Help Planning An Elopement or Intimate Destination Wedding?

I’m an elopement and intimate wedding photographer based in Colorado, and I’ve spent the last few years meeting up with couples in some of the most beautiful places around the world. From vendor recommendations, location scouting, timeline planning, and more, I’m excited to help bring you and your partner’s dream ceremony to life! You can tell me about your vision here and read about all the breathtaking places I’ve visited in my blog!

Hey there, I'm Reagan!

A destination wedding and elopement photographer based out of Colorado! You can usually find me with a hot cup of coffee in my hand, sporting some comfy tennis shoes, or in pursuit of my next big escape! 

~ Get to KNOW me better ~