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How Guests Can Best Prepare For Your Elopement


Elopement couple and guests at the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in Scotland


A Guide for Elopement Guests and Couples Who Want a Low-Stress Wedding Experience


As a couple eloping, you can do everything you can to prepare yourselves for the best day ever, but if you have guests who aren't prepared, then all of that careful planning can go straight down the drain. So I've created this guide for you to share with your guests to help ensure that everyone on your wedding day has a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable experience.


 

Wedding Couples...

It's your job to arm your guests with information about your wedding day. You can do this with a wedding website, create a document with Google or Canva, or create a graphic that can easily be texted. Creating a Facebook group or a group message could be helpful too! No matter how you do it - be sure you're providing guests with the following information so they don't need to burden you with questions on the wedding day...


  • Travel information - If everyone is flying to a destination, let them know how far they can expect to travel from the nearest airport, if they'll need to rent a vehicle or if there will be a shuttle, if you're providing accommodations or if they'll need to choose their own, etc.

  • Exact locations for parking and where to meet - creating a custom Google Map and sharing that link is a great way to communicate this with everyone.

  • Information about the park - entry fees, parking fees, if there's timed entry to get into the park, rules or regulations, etc.

  • The type of journey should they expect - will they have a nice paved path to walk on? Will the trail cross over water? Do they have to scramble over rocks? How far is the hike? Will they need a 4WD vehicle?

  • A timeline for the day - Everyone should receive a clear and concise timeline so they know what to expect and where to be. If you have people who are consistently late, give them more time than they need.

  • Communicate what you will be providing (meals, drinks, etc.) so they know how to prepare.

  • A phone number for someone who isn't you. This person should be well informed about the day so that they can answer any questions necessary, leaving you without having to carry the mental load that day.


 


Elopement couple during their wedding ceremony at the Tharp Knob Overlook in Ohiopyle State Park


Elopement Guests...

You are the most important people in the wedding couples' lives. The guest list is small, so you matter. They're choosing this type of wedding day because they want a low-stress experience, they want to have fun, and they want it to be laid-back. They're throwing out the wedding traditions that they don't like and are keeping the ones that are meaningful to them. That is the nature of elopements. So please - allow yourselves to do the same and support the decisions they're making. This is their one day to do things their way, so let's do what we can to make it the happiest day of their lives.


One of the easiest things we can do to make their elopement day a great experience for everyone involved is to be prepared!

1.) Check the Weather Forecast.

The weather can be unpredictable, so I encourage guests to check the weather forecast and pack accordingly, including appropriate clothing for potential changes in temperature, wind, and precipitation. The weather in which the ceremony is taking place might be completely different than the weather where you're staying, so take note of that as well. Prepare for the worst weather possible and just be super grateful when it ends up being a beautiful day.


2.) Choose Appropriate Attire.

Depending on the season and location, guests should select attire that is suitable for the conditions of the environment the wedding will take place in. For cooler temperatures, a wind-proof fleece-lined rain jacket is my #1 must have item. If you're headed to the beach, wear light-weight, light-colored clothing and a light rain jacket. For desert destinations in warm seasons, consider bringing a long-sleeved but light jacket or cardigan to protect your arms from sun exposure.


Most importantly - wear the right shoes! This isn't a regular wedding day. No one cares how your feet look. Wear shoes with good traction, that are comfortable, and that you don't mind getting dirty or wet.


3.) Stay Hydrated and Nourished.

Bring water bottles for yourselves no matter where you're going. Bring snacks to munch on, especially if the ceremony or activities will take place over an extended period. The wedding couple may provide dinner or appetizers, but it's better to come prepared just in case you're stuck waiting at any point.


4.) Plan your travel times accordingly or even early, and not just on the wedding day.

Plan to arrive at the wedding destination with plenty of time to spare. Take into consideration that flights get canceled and delayed often, flying to international destinations can take 2 days of travel, and you might have a quite a drive from the airport. So if you're flying in, be sure to arrive 2 days prior to the event if possible. If you're driving, it's best to stay at the destination the night before so you don't have to worry about any delays you might encounter on the road.


For high-elevation weddings, you also need time to acclimate to the altitude, so if you're visiting a mountain destination, like Colorado, I advise guests to arrive a day or two early to avoid getting sick. Symptoms of altitude sickness can include headaches, nausea, and fatigue and it's a very real thing.


5.) Pack Essentials.

I encourage guests to bring essentials such as sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, insect repellent (if applicable), and any necessary medications. Additionally, a small backpack or bag with essentials for the day can be helpful.


If you're bringing an umbrella, the couple would love you so much more if you bring one that's clear or black. They look much nicer in photos than hot pink or polka dots.



Elopement bride being walked by her family to the wedding ceremony in Arches National Park, Moab, Utah


6.) Respect Leave No Trace Principles.

We are incredibly lucky to be able to use nature as a venue, and we want to continue to be able to do that. We must follow Leave No Trace principles during elopements and be respectful to the parks that permit us to be there so they don't ban it in the future (or even fine the couple!). This includes packing out everything that we bring in, minimizing the disturbance to the wildlife and vegetation, and staying on the designated trails. If you're unfamiliar with these principles, visit lnt.org or the National Parks page to get the full list.


7.) Stay Informed.

Be prepared with the plans for the entire day so the wedding couple can enjoy their day without having to take care of everyone else. They're eloping to be less stressed! That being said, they should provide you with exact locations for each part of the day prior to the wedding day. If they don't, just ask before the wedding day. Program your navigation app with each location prior to starting your journey in case you lose service. It would also be helpful to screenshot the step-by-step instructions just in case.


8.) Plan for Transportation.

Find out if you need to rent a vehicle, if you will be riding with other guests, if a shuttle will be provided, or if rideshare is available for the locations that you're going to. If you're renting a vehicle, make sure that the one you're renting is appropriate for the road conditions that you can expect. Some mountain destinations will require you to have a 4WD vehicle. You may also not be allowed in some parks without tire chains during months with snow. Some national parks have very limited parking so you may want to plan to use their shuttle system (plan to arrive early though just in case).


Pro-tip: If you rent a car - you can often save money by renting from an off-site location rather than at the airport. Just use a rideshare or taxi to that location and you're set!


9.) Be Flexible.

Weather conditions can change rapidly, so we may need to make last-minute decisions to move the ceremony time around or even the location if necessary. We do that mostly so that wedding guests will be comfortable and have a good experience, so we need guest cooperation to make that happen.


and most importantly...


10.) Have Fun and Be Present.

Above all, the wedding couple wants you to enjoy the experience and be present in that moment with them. Adventure elopements offer a unique opportunity to connect with nature and celebrate love in a breathtaking setting.


Their wedding day will be very well documented and sneak peeks will be available quickly. Please allow yourself to be fully present with the couple and refrain from having your phone out during the ceremony so that in addition to the couple, I can photograph your smiles and reactions seeing your loved ones getting married. You're an important part of their wedding story too.


 




Information You May Want To Know About Photos

As I mentioned, you will have access to a sneak peek of their wedding photos shortly after the wedding day (usually the next day). They will be shared via an online gallery that you can access from your phone, tablet, or computer. You will be able to download them and share them to social media (with the couples' permission) and you can even order professional quality prints from there.


If you have any family photo groupings to request, feel free to ask! After the ceremony (usually) we will take some time for group photos of the couple with their guests, so you're more than welcome to request any photos you'd like during that time.


 

We're so excited for you to share this exciting experience with the wedding couple!

I'm looking forward to working with everyone on the wedding day, capturing genuine moments of love and happiness, and sharing those memories with you. And thank you in advance for being a positive asset to the couple's wedding day.


See You Soon!



 


Hey there! I'm Carly - The owner of Wild North Weddings and a photographer specializing in documenting weddings and elopements across the U.S. If you love the idea of a wedding with adventure, excitement, and a little romance sprinkled in, let's talk about how I can help you create and capture the wedding day of your dreams!

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