eloping couple celebrates with a first dance at sunset surrounded by joshua trees. the groom dips his bride as they smile.

How to Elope Part I: Picking Your Dream Elopement Destination

So you’ve looked into what type of wedding day you want to have, looked into what it means to elope, and decided that eloping makes the most sense for you. So…. how do you elope?

This is a great question.

And like most great questions, there is not a simple answer because so much depends on where you are eloping. And, to me, one of the great things about eloping is that there is no one way to do it. There is an infinite number of ways do this eloping thing. But before we get into all that I want to discuss the very first step in planning your elopement:

Deciding on a Date and Elopement Destination

For some couples picking an elopement destination can be the absolute hardest part. The world is soooo cool and has so many amazing places it can be difficult to narrow it down to just *one* place. If you’re debilitated by analysis paralysis, it can be helpful to think of a few things. When you envision your day, what do you see? Red rocks? White mountain peaks? A lush green canopy? Or, maybe, think of how the air feels on your skin. Does it feel warm? Crisp and cool? It can also be helpful to think of what you know you *dont* want. These sorts of feelings can be suuuper helpful to narrow down when and where. Here, take this example: “I have no idea when or where but I do NOT want it to be cold and I want an epic sunset with some variation in landscape. 

Okay! This is super helpful! So, we have no cold, some place with some variation in landscape and sunset. So winter and the desert are probably out because it’s cold and the desert landscape, by a lot of folks standards, is pretty monotonous. Also if being able to see the sunset is important it needs to be an area where there aren’t a ton of trees *everywhere.* The PNW in summer is pretty warm, and areas like the cascades have a lot of variation in the landscape and the sunsets at say, Mt. Baker, are SUPER epic. 

Still stuck on your elopement destination? Try this little exercise. It gets a little cheesy, but come with me on this journey 🙂 

Settle down somewhere comfy for you- your couch, on your bed, on your yoga mat, while out on a hike, wherever. If you wanna close your eyes do that, or just look at you know, like a wall or something. Then think about your elopement day. No visuals yet! Think of it as you are imagining yourself physically there, during your actual elopement, but your eyes are closed. So without picturing anything (yet), pay attention to your other senses. What do you hear? Do you hear birds chirping? Do you hear rushing water or the wind through a canyon? Do you smell anything? Pine? Creosote? Maybe that dense, rich green smell of Hawaii or the PNW? Does the air taste like salt or desert dust?

We spend a lot of time focusing on what things *look* like and if you’re feeling stuck there (cause everywhere *looks* cool) focus on the other details instead. You might be surprised what kind of info your imagination will give you.  

It’s worth mentioning here that your photographer should also be able to help here. Part of my process is to get this kind of “wants vs don’t wants” information from my couples and then provide a very in depth document with loads of elopement location options. Info provided includes the typical weather during that season (or when the best weather is if date is flexible), what the location accessibility is like (hiking, driving, is 4×4 required, etc) as well as elevation, what the surrounding area is like, and how private the space is likely to be, and also lots of pictures to help get a visual idea of what the area will look like.

But (pro tip) if you’re struggling on nailing this info down and you don’t have a photographer yet you can totally make this kind of list for yourself.

And if you are still not sure? Think on it. Ask for for help, perhaps from your photographer. I get it, deciding where to elope can be an overwhelming choice, especially for those of us to fall in love with lots of different places in the world. And yes, this choice does matter and is so so important… but at the same time also keep in mind that the reason why it’s so tough to decide also means that you can’t really go wrong. There’s too many awesome places? *That means you’re going to get married in an awesome place.*

And ultimately, remember this: The point of the elopement is for you to have your really mega best day ever. And while the elopement destination matters… the two of you are the thing that matter the most. The rest is just gravy.

Really… really pretty gravy. :p

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— Ryan + Styhiln

Ready to have your own adventure of a lifetime?
I'm Aimée Flynn, Southwest based adventure wedding and elopement photographer, mega nerd, former therapist, and taker of the epic pics. But don't think I'm here just to take pretty photos (though there will be pretty photos a-plenty) I’m here to guide you through every step of your elope elopement experience; I’m your location scouter, gatherer of all in info, formal wear wrangler, & hype committee. 

I’m also a storyteller. Your storyteller. And while I'm here for the epic, magazine-cover-worthy, totally bananas moments, I'm also here (and to be totally honest, live for) those goofy, silly, unexpected moments that adventure always seems to bring. I'm here to tell your story in the honest and epic fashion it deserves.
Hey friend, I'm so stoked  you're here!

  1. So freaking helpful! This would be great for any couple looking to elope!

  2. Emma Changose says:

    this exercise was so helpful! I never thought of thinking about other senses going on when planning something, I always just focus on the visuals. very insightful. Thank you!

  3. Brady says:

    Your work is so beautiful! I love this blog post, so educational!

  4. Flora Gibson says:

    Your work is seriously incredible! Great tips and ideas for elopements. Great info !

  5. Sara says:

    love all these shots so much, stunning work. Great advice for everyone to. Finding your ceremony elopement spot is so personal.

  6. Great advice for a couple eloping and lovely images!

  7. Nicole says:

    Your images are so beautiful! And this blog post is such a great help for a couple looking to elope!

  8. Courtney says:

    Love all of this!! Advice is right on for couples!

  9. Great advice. Picking an elopement destination can be so hard!

  10. This is such a helpful guide on how to elope! Also, all of these images are so beautiful!

  11. […] For more Elopement Planning resources, check out What Does Eloping Mean Anyway and How to Pick Your Dream Elopement Location! […]

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