Share this story
Over the past couple of years, elopements have grown in popularity, and you may be wondering yourself, ‘’Is an adventure elopement right for me?”. This guide was designed to help bust some common myths about eloping, what the difference between elopements and adventure elopements are, and whether an adventure elopement is right for you.
If an adventure elopement sounds like your perfect wedding experience, you’ll want to keep reading for ideas on where to have your adventure elopement, activity ideas for your adventure elopement, and even example timelines.
Let’s get started!
What is an elopement? What does it actually mean to elope?
Depending on whom you talk to, you’re likely to hear a lot of ideas about what an elopement is or isn’t. One of the reasons it’s hard to pinpoint an exact elopement definition is because elopements come in all shapes, sizes, and experiences, despite the common misconception that elopements are just a last-minute wedding ceremony done in secret.
On the contrary, as I’ve worked with couples that chose to elope from the US to Europe, I’ve seen that elopements have little to do with getting married in a fast and thoughtless manner. Instead, elopements are a way for couples to throw out the ‘’wedding rule book’’ in exchange for something unique and meaningful.
Some eloping couples may decide to spend their day taking a helicopter to a private mountain ceremony spot and exchanging vows, others may pick a new city to explore before saying ‘’I do’’ at the courthouse.
If I were to explain what an elopement is, I’d define it this way:
‘’An elopement is a type of wedding that allows couples to strip away all the preconceived ideas of what people believe a wedding should look like, and instead opt for building an experience full of connection and intention on the day they say, ‘’I do’’.
What’s an adventure elopement?
An adventure elopement is just like it sounds like- an elopement experience, but with an element of adventure involved, generally outdoors.
Many couples who opt for an adventure elopement love to spend their free time outside hiking, camping, and connecting with the world around them. For couples like this, an adventure elopement is the perfect choice, because it allows them to incorporate the love they have for each other and the outdoors into one awe-inspiring experience.
Adventure elopements can look different to many couples and are a great choice for a variety of ability levels. Adventure elopements don’t require 10 miles of hiking to be considered an adventure (but hey, more power to you if that’s your thing!). Whether you explore a series of easily accessible locations, get whisked away by a helicopter to an epic spot, go paragliding, or spend a day paddling along a crystal clear lake, adventure can look and feel a little different to everyone. Even with all these activities, adventure elopements still have time for relaxation and just soaking up the scenery, though!
Is there a difference between an elopement and an adventure elopement?
The biggest difference between an elopement and adventure elopement is whether you plan to spend the day or majority of your time in a city, indoors, etc. or you’d prefer to have an outdoor-centric experience (and don’t mind your wedding attire getting a little dirty 😉 ).
At the end of the day, your elopement should focus on what *you* would love to do the most, so there’s no right or wrong way to craft your wedding.
I specialize in capturing adventure elopements for couples who love the outdoors, so if this sounds like you, keep reading!
Can I invite guests to my adventure elopement?
Yes, you can invite guests to your adventure elopement! Elopements aren’t restricted to just you and your partner, although many couples do go that route. Generally, elopements will have 10-15 guests or less (others may also refer to elopements with guests as micro weddings and involve closer to 25 people).
If you plan to invite guests to your adventure elopement, a few things to consider include:
If you do choose to invite guests to your elopement, splitting your time between two days is a great way to enjoy the best of both worlds. Some couples even have two separate ceremonies, one in private, and one surrounded by their close family and friends.
- Will I be able to access my dream elopement location if I involve guests?
- Do I want to include my guests throughout the entire adventure elopement, or just a portion of the day(s)?
- Will all the guests invited be supportive of our choice to get married the way that we are?
- Do I need to rent a venue for my adventure elopement with guests? Depending on the area, if you plan on including more than 8-10 guests, you’ll likely need to secure a venue.
Reasons to have an adventure elopement
Thinking of planning an adventure elopement? Here are some of the reasons couples decide they want an adventure elopement. Do any of them sound like you?
1. You and your partner love to travel and explore together
Adventure elopements often involve an element of travel and exploring, so if you and your partner already enjoy doing that, your wedding day may be the perfect time to check off some bucket list experiences.
2. You’d rather be outside
If your most inspiring and unforgettable moments have been spent outside, don’t you want a wedding day that feels the same? Eloping allows you to craft that experience in the places that matter most.
3. Eloping creates a space where you can feel connected on your wedding day and soak up every moment
Why stand in a reception line when you could be stargazing or enjoying a picnic in the mountains? One of the biggest regrets of my own wedding is wishing my husband and I had more time to just connect the same way we do during weekend hikes. Instead, we were kept busy hugging people we’d never met before, leaving little time for each other.
4. Adventure elopements allow you to ditch the stress
Adventure elopements allow you to ditch the stress because the planning is fun when you get to craft a day that’s true to you. Adventure elopements are also stress-free because you’re no longer worried about the expectations others place on your day. It’s just you, your partner, and the breathtaking scenery that surrounds you.
5. You’re introverted and prefer small gatherings over large events
I always joke that if I could, I’d write “INTROVERTS UNITE!’’ across the banner of my website. While you don’t have to be introverted to elope, many of the couples I work with prefer small gatherings over large events and don’t want their wedding day to feel like a production (I feel you!). Eloping provides the perfect ‘’wedding experience for introverts''.
6. Elopements are more environmentally friendly
Often, large, traditional weddings create a lot of waste-did you know the average wedding produces over 400 lbs of garbage? Elopements are more environmentally friendly since they involve fewer single-use items and often strip away unnecessary fanfare (goodbye over the top guest favors for 100+ people). For couples that care deeply about the planet, elopements can be an environmentally-friendly choice.
Leave No Trace and your elopement
Even when eloping outdoors, there are still environmental factors to consider so you can recreate responsibly. To keep your adventure elopement location pristine for years to come, make sure to follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles. If you want to learn more about Leave No Trace and keeping the environment at the forefront of your day, check out this blog post!
7. The photos are EPIC!
You aren’t doing this for ‘gram, but it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve EPIC photos of your day 😉 You’ll be sure to keep reliving your one-of-a-kind experience through the stunning images captured adventuring together. Need a photographer who knows the ins and outs of working in the mountains? Look no further, I’d love to chat!
8. Eloping allows you to invest in an experience that matters to *you*!
One of the best parts about eloping is that you have the power to invest in an experience that matters to *you*! Don’t want a wedding cake but love chocolate chip cookies? No biggie. Stay overnight in your tent, a treehouse, or a luxurious 5-star hotel? The choice is yours. Eloping allows you to customize your experience and make room for adventure, relaxation, and everything in between.
Where should I go for my adventure elopement?
The possibilities are truly endless when picking an elopement destination. Whether you desire the mountains, sea, forests (maybe even all three!), you can go just about anywhere for your adventure elopement.
Some epic adventure elopement destinations include:
- The German Alps
- Faroe Islands
- The Swiss Alps
- Patagonia, Chile
- New Zealand
If you’re looking for some more elopement location inspiration, I have a blog with 40+ of the best places to elope in Europe.
Searching beyond Europe? Reach out, I’d love to chat!
What can I do during my adventure elopement?
While many couples just envision eloping to include saying their vows in a beautiful place and getting some photos, it has the power to be much more than that! Eloping gives you the chance to craft an extraordinary experience to connect you and your partner. As an adventure elopement photographer, I am there to capture all the in-between moments that make your wedding day into the special time that it is.
Below you’ll find some ideas for what you can do during your adventure elopement.
Activity ideas for your adventure elopement
Some great activities to add the adventure into your adventure elopement include:
- Take a hike
- Charter a private helicopter tour or seaplane
- Rent a boat
- Hire a mountain guide and climb a via-ferrata
- Go paragliding
- Paddle-board around an alpine lake
- Take a snowmobiling tour
- Enjoy a picnic
- Shred the slopes and go skiing
This is just a small taste of activity ideas for your adventure elopement, the sky is the limit!
Example adventure elopement timelines
Do you wonder what your adventure elopement will look like? Here are a few example schedules to help you see how your adventure elopement timeline all fits together.
8-Hour Elopement Timeline
- 09:30 Getting ready
- 11:00 Leave hotel and drive to nearby lake
- 11:45 Hike around lake and take portraits
- 13:15 Lunch break and drive to local cable car
- 13:45 Arrive at the cable car, purchase tickets, etc.
- 14:30 Ceremony and Portraits on the mountain
- 16:15 Take the cable car back down mountain
- 17:00 Arrive back at hotel + and photos of starting dinner
- 17:30 Coverage ends
12-Hour Elopement Timeline
- 05:30 Getting ready
- 07:30 Travel to nearby lake + sunrise first look
- 09:00 Boat across the lake, hike, explore, and portraits, lunch
- 13:30 Arrive back at lodging
- 14:00 Meet with family and get hair and makeup touched-up
- 15:00 Ceremony with family
- 15:30 Champagne reception and family photos
- 17:30 Reception Meal + Coverage Wraps Up
Two-Day Elopement Timeline
- 09:00 Meet at the resort you’re staying at
- 09:30 Enjoy a relaxing morning soaking in the infinity pool overlooking the landscape
- 10:00 Eat breakfast and get ready for the day + pack up adventure gear
- 11:30 Take a scenic drive to a nearby mountain pass and do some small hikes
- 13:30 Have a picnic at one of the lakes you’ve hiked to
- 14:30 Drive to the cable car that will take you to your mountain-top lodging for the night
- 15:30 Snack, relax, and settle-in. Take a three-hour break.
- 18:30 Getting ready in your wedding attire
- 19:30 Have a first look outside and walk 30 minutes to your ceremony location
- 20:15 Ceremony and vows
- 20:45 Sunset portraits and stargazing
- 06:00 Meet up for sunrise portraits and exploring
- 08:00 Head back to the hut for a traditional European-style breakfast
- 10:00 Pack up and take the cable car back down the mountain
- 11:00 Meet with a paragliding instructor and go tandem paragliding
- 12:30 Wrap-up & Coverage Ends
How much does an adventure elopement cost?
Adventure elopements can vary a lot in cost, ranging from simple to luxurious. An adventure elopement local to you can cost as little as $5,000, including the cost of photography coverage, marriage certificates, food, lodging, wedding attire, etc. Couples planning destination adventure elopements can expect to invest $10,000+, depending on the location you're flying to, accommodation, rental cars, a photographer, and additional wedding vendors. One benefit of destination adventure elopements is that you’re already at the perfect honeymoon location!
Some expenses to consider when planning an adventure elopement include:
- Visas/Necessary Travel Documents
- Rental Car
- Food for the length of the trip
- Marriage certificate + other legal wedding documents
- Wedding Attire + Adventure Gear
- Other vendors such as an HMUA, florist, caterer, mountain guide, etc.
At the end of the day, your elopement experience is about the moments spent connecting with your spouse and not the amount of money you spent. Prioritize investing in an experience that you’re both sure to love, and you won’t go wrong.
Adventure elopement packages and pricing
Does an adventure elopement sound like the perfect fit for you? If so, you’ll want to check out my adventure elopement packages and pricing. I’m an American photographer based in Europe and serving couples wherever mountains are found.