About Kate
Lifelong “sporto.” Traveler. Organized optimist. Adventure accomplice.  And, with my whole soul, I believe that you and your partner should marry in a way that feels like you. SO... Four years ago, I completely reworked my photography business to honor that vision. I changed course so that you can too.  Ready to explore eloping?!  Let's Chat!
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Ultimate Adventure Elopement Planning Timeline

How-To & Tips

A quick Google search reveals thousands of wedding planning timelines but where’s that same ultimate adventure elopement planning timeline to help you bring a unique and personal elopement to life?!?

Well welcome, you’ve come to the right place! 😉

If you’ve found this article, there’s a good chance you are looking into eloping because you value experiences, not things… And the beauty of that is that in planning, we focus on the core elements that matter most to your ceremony/vows and adventure.

So if you cut out the traditional “rules” of what a wedding needs to have, it’s a totally fair question of how much time do you really NEED to plan an elopement?

Here at MAKE / Adventure Stories Photography, over the last 5 years, I’ve planned an adventure elopement in as few as two weeks, and book out as far as 16 months. But, the sweet spot for an adventure elopement planning timeline is 6-8 months. Want a popular location, unique date marker (like 1/22/23!), or, a prime fall date? That’s where you’ll want to plan in the 12 to 16 month range, as those book up fast.

Scroll for overview of the planning timeline I give to my own eloping clients to help them plan their path to elopement “I Do!’

This is a picture taken at night of a couple holding a lantern and kissing. This elopement was a moon-light adventure.

9+ months out from your elopement experience:

Hire an experienced adventure elopement photographer! It’s truly one of the best things you can do to smooth your path from idea to elopement.

Not only will I capture amazing images to tell the story of this *amazing* experience you are creating, but also I can help you plan! I’m your photographer AND your adventure elopement concierge (similar to a wedding planner, but for way cooler things. 😉)

Fun fact: You don’t have to have your date OR location picked yet before you call to book your elopement photographer! For example, working with me, I can support you in picking a date and I’ll share information to help you decide where you want to elope and what you want to do for your activities🙌

8+ months out from your elopement experience:

If you’re 8+ months out from your elopement, you need to focus on getting the foundational things planned: who, what, where?

Picking your elopement location.

This is the fun part because there this is all about you and your partner, and creativity is the name of the game!

Start to think about what you love you most as a couple, and you’ll be on your way to deciding this super important piece of your elopement planning timeline.

Next, think about guests.

Are there any loved ones you’re thinking you might want to join your elopement as guests? (Yes, it’s totally possible to have your crew join you for your adventure elopement! ) Now is a good time to start to bring them up to speed on the experience, their role, and what they can expect for your adventure!

Knowing who is coming will be important early in your elopement planning timeline.

Why? Adding in mobility limitations for guests or having up to 20 loved ones means you’ll need to look at very different ceremony location options that can meet group needs vs just you two or you and a few of your closest crew.

In this picture there is a couple sharing an intimate moment before their wedding. This couple decided during their wedding timeline they would share a lot of special moments.

7+ months out from your elopement experience

Booking Permits: Your location and/or lodging might require permits or pre-approvals for your elopement use. These permits include access permits, special use permits, and/or commercial photography permits.

When exploring what your location requires, you want to keep in mind your entire party to get the right approvals for the permits you’ll need.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to count me as your photographer, an officiant, and hair/make up artists or caterers as appropriate for your on-the-ground elopement plan and timeline.

If you are worried original counts are changing (especially increasing in size), please let you elopement photographer know 👍 Permits will need to be updated, etc, and it needs to be planned as far ahead as possible as some locations have a size limit!

Sound like a lot to manage in your elopement planning timeline?!?! No worries! I help provide my couples information on how + when + from whom for your required permits when planning!

This picture is of a wedding bouquet of yellow, green, and white flowers.

Lodging for you (& others!)

I often advise booking additional nights stay for your elopement experience so you aren’t rushed in your wedding experience. This means booking a stay the night prior to your adventure and then often, the night of.your final adventure day.

Booking these added nights of lodging to your wedding timeline allows everything to flow smoothly with time for you two to get settled in before, and, to relax after. And as added bonus, your accommodations are a great home-base during your elopement!

Is your crew staying with/near you? This is something else to consider!

Feel free to book your own lodging and ask guests to book places on their own within a certain radius from the family ceremony & celebration location. One less item on your to-do list😉

Pro Tip: If you’re changing time zones or elevations, you (and any guests!) might consider booking a couple of extra days of lodging/time there before the event for more time to allow you to adjust!

Decide what “wedding attire” will mean for you.

Now is the time to plan and gather everything you two will need for your outfits.

If your elopement experience is a multi-activity or multi-day event, you’re going to want to think about outfits for it all. There are virtually NO rules with wedding garments or footwear for you two!

You can choose fancy, more traditional outfits, modified/slightly casual, or, something else completely. For shoes, you can wear whatever you want (and I promise it will look great with your outfit!) Comfortable & activity appropriate options are what we’re after for all your attire choices!

If you’re working on a quicker adventure elopement planning timeline, it is possible to find garments you’ll love!

I have suggestions for several “adventure ready” garment options at varying price points for both dresses and non-dress formal wear. Have more time and want something more bespoke? I’ve got options for you there as well!

Need help with thinking about what clothing will be best for the adventure elopement plans you are working on? Drop me a DM, I’m here to help!🤗

This picture is a white lace wedding dress hung up on a tree in the Georgia Mountains. In front of the dress is a pair of hiking boots. These are a little details for before an adventure elopement.

6+ months out from your elopement experience:

To Officiate or To Not Officiate

You have a choice to have an officiant or not?! Haha! Yup!

Having an officiant can be helpful to keep the “ceremony” part of your elopement flowing, but isn’t necessary. If you do want an officiant there, then you’re going to want to secure someone that is open to your elopement plan and is available for your day! That someone could be an officiant you hire, or, you can tap a loved one into duty!!!

Pro Tip: Set and share a deadline early on in your elopement planning for the date when you want the ceremony script to be fully drafted and sent to you for final review.

Note–ceremony script preview is optional! It’s a personal decision for you as a couple👍

Worried about the legality of your experience without an officiant? Don’t! I am an ordained officiant and can sign those papers to make it all legal!

This image is of an elopement ceremony.

What kind of vendors do you want?

Now is the time to think about any activity vendors you might want to create the experiences you have been thinking of! Examples:

  • Looking for a guide to help you to kayak or climb to your spot?
  • A private chef to provide celebration dinner at your Airbnb?
  • A guide to hike in to your favorite wilderness lodge?
  • Need a jeep and/or guide to get you to that perfect middle of nowhere spot?
  • Want to book the most amazing Glamping site and low-key camp experiences?
  • On the hunt for a convertible to cruise for your urban adventure elopement?

Explore what your options are and book with these vendors as soon as possible!

If you want florals for your wedding experience, now is the time to begin chatting with a floral designer.

Make sure to share the adventure aspect of your elopement because the flowers tend to need to be a bit sturdier than your traditional wedding bouquet. Try to book your florals as soon as you know your location and date. Florists can often book out quickly!

Does your elopement experience include a cake or celebratory meal? If so, it’s never too soon to chat with a bakery or caterer!

It’s time to get the rings!

If you haven’t already, you’re going to want to begin working on the rings as soon as you can as sometimes the jeweler will have to order your item. So if going that route, go ahead and order your rings!

Pro Tip: Silicone rings have come a LONG way. Some now that look almost like a standard wedding band! A good looking (and safe!) option for you if you work with your hands for your career, or, if you love outdoor sport/activity.

This picture is of rings inside a flower petal. This elopement was an adventure elopement that involved a lot of nature!!

WOOSH! TIME FLIES! 6-8 Weeks before your elopement:

It’s time to gather up the Adventure/Sport-specific Gear.

You need to determine if any specific gear is going to be needed for the adventure(s) you’ve picked.

Do you need things like:

  • Headlamps for dawn/dusk activities
  • Rain coats
  • Trekking poles, packs for hiking
  • Water bladders/bottles
  • A blanket or hammock
  • Specialized food, etc?

If so, you can buy, borrow, or often, can rent what you may need! As you plan gear, don’t forget to keep your guests and officiant in mind to ensure you have enough of whatever might be needed on-hand! 

Have a specialty vendor booked? Rad! Reach out to see what gear they will be providing for you and/or others in your group as appropriate!

Prepare your vows.

It’s time to prepare your vows! I highly recommend NOT reading your vows from your phone. Not only does it look so much better to read from a nice card stock or a vow book, but phones can be unreliable (especially on an adventure!!)!

Having a family-inclusive ceremony separate from your private vow reading? Awesome! This is also the time to finalize with your officiant or “ceremony guide” on what you want for the flow of/inclusions for this ceremony.

If you choose not to preview any scripts/readings, etc, you are basically noting that you are ok with whatever is said/done in your ceremony! 😉 There’s no right or wrong answer on requiring a preview, it is a personal decision for you as a couple👍

Making sure we’re legal…

Marriage License: Look into the specific state you’re getting married in to determine if there is a waiting period and/or the length the license will be valid for (often 30-90 days). Check out this site for some helpful guidance!

When your elopement is in 0-4 Weeks:

You’re almost there! Now is the time to confirm all the hard work you’ve already put in and really think about specific thoughtful details of your special day/experience.

Check-in & Finalize your early prep work.

You want to make sure your list (from above) is completed + ready to go!

  • Check-in with the florist!
  • Finalize the Officiant
  • Get your marriage license (minding any local rules on timing!)
  • Finalize the outfits + rings
  • Secure the adventure gear
  • Confirm all vendors are secured and ready.
  • Check-in with your crew– detail of the elopement timeline on the ground, reminder of “what to wear” and any rules of the road to keep your elopement aligned with your vision!
  • Get your photographer copies of all your permits!
  • Finalize any food, water and other drink items, whether with a caterer or things you and/or the crew will be picking up for the adventure. (pssst–it’s a-ok to keep your food and drink for the adventure simple and low fuss!)

The Home Stretch! (2 weeks before your elopement)

This is your last call, final, FOR REAL closeout time. It’s time to finalize evvverryythaaang.

  • Final confirmation of pick up/ drop-off time/location with the floral designer.
  • Finalize pick and/or drop-off time/location the meals and snacks.
  • Finish up that key points timeline and send it to everyone that needs it.
  • Final touchpoint with your photographer to confirm your pre-event meet up time and locations!

And, lastly, get ready to celebrate your love the way you want.❤️️

This sunrise elopement happened at a lake in Tennessee.

Your Adventure Elopement is Here!

Whether your adventure elopement planning timeline took 9+ months, 2 weeks, or somewhere in between, the time has come to celebrate this wonderful way to kick off the next adventure in your lives!

Set aside all hurry, any stress, and just enjoy every moment. No matter what happens in your elopement experience, you and your partner will tackle it together and you’ll make memories to last a lifetime… And the best part, at the end of it all, you will be married! And that’s worth celebrating!!!❤️️❤️️❤️️

Ready to get started on planning your own adventure elopement and wondering what planning timeline could work for your needs? Reach out to me here, share your thoughts, and let’s chat on what’s possible!

About Kate...

I put  my photography, obsessive planning, and all I’ve learned in my life + business + travels to work as an accomplice & adventure concierge for elopements of all kinds. 
Freeing couples just like you to have an adventurous wedding unlike any other!

SEARCH

CATEGORIES

How-To Planning Tips

Location Inspiration

Elopements-Us Two

Elopements-Us 2 + Crew

Activity Inspiration

Hi! I’m Kate, 

and I’m in your corner.

Lifelong “sporto.” Traveler. Organized optimist. Adventure accomplice.

With my whole soul, I believe that you and your partner should marry in a way that feels like you.   SO... Four years ago, I completely reworked my photography business to honor that vision.  To create a safe space for couples to create a wedding experience that feels right.

I changed course so that you can too.

Freeing couples to get married exactly how they want to, with no limits on what that looks like.   Is that bold?!?  Maybe, but you're ready!

Let's build your elopement adventure!

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