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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Elopement Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them!)

How-To & Tips

When someone aims to talk you out of doing this “crazy” thing called eloping, they tend to word-vomit all the elopement mistakes and ways that things could potentially go wrong.

The thing is, that’s just a fear tactic (maybe used with love, but fear-promoting nonetheless). By creating a stacked list of what-ifs, they hope that the potential elopement mistakes will kindly overwhelm you.

One thing I like to tell my clients is that “luck favors the prepared.”

Let the below tips be a way for you to become prepared for all the things that could go “wrong” within your elopement so that you can have lots of “luck” on your side. 😉

Dealing with Family Disappointment

Whether you tell them ahead of your adventure or after you’ve said “I do,” family (or friend!) responses can be the biggest “nerve” factor about eloping. People worry that their family will be disappointed in their choice and therefore, ruin the whole experience. I’ll say it here (and, will remind you a 1000 times more)–

Your wedding is for YOU.

The biggest thing I encourage you to remember is that if they really love and care about you, any disappointment is temporary. If you are planning to tell them after you do this amazing thing, share your news with pride. NO apologies.

Share about the experience and why you and your partner built your adventure the way you did. Share a favorite moment and how it made you feel because the more you help them understand your “why” the more they can see it’s not about them.

And if it’s true, share that you were excited to tell them this news–help them know and feel like they are still part of your elopement story. ❤️️ Need more ideas on how to speak your truth on eloping? This blog gives you even more ideas on what to say to people who think eloping is a “mistake”.

Another way to counter family disappointment as an elopement mistake? Eloping doesn’t have to mean going at it alone, so perhaps you actually want them to be a part of the experience, but only on your terms! Take a look at this blog to learn ways to include your family in your elopement!

Location Mistakes and Travel Issues

Another elopement mistake you might encounter is issue with your location or travel snags.

Location Issues

Sometimes even the best-laid plans get tangled by weather, etc. (We’ll cover that below!) But, truly, one of the best ways to avoid a location issue as an elopement mistake is to plan from the outset to avoid them.

So, choose your elopement location considering seasonal weather…

  • Knowing when is fire season at its highest.
  • Knowing that at altitude, travel impacting snows can happen as early as early October.
  • Knowing that in the mountains summer thunderstorms reliably hit in the early afternoon.
  • Etc.

And, choosing your elopement location considering visitation trends:

  • Avoid many national park locations on weekends, holidays, and free-entry days.
  • Steer away from picking the most Instagrammed spot in a park or a trail with the highest number of ratings on AllTrails.com
  • Researching whether Saturday or Sunday (or a Tuesday!) could yield fewer crowds in your desired spot.
  • Know if the spot is loved most for sunrise or sunset
  • Etc.

That may seem like a lot to think about, but worry not, managing location specifics like this is a huge part of my support for my couples as their elopement concierge!

This is a moody picture from a stormy day. It is a picture of the blue ridge parkway, a road through the words that would make a great place to elope in North Carolina

No Permits or Incorrect Permits

Proper permitting for your elopement or micro-wedding is critical.

Not only is it the respectful thing to do in spirit of Leave No Trace outdoor ethics, the relatively small investment (often $50-$350) in a required permit actually puts money back in to protecting, restoring and expanding the natural spaces we love. ❤️️

PRO TIP: In an increasing number of national parks, elopements and ceremonies are limited to certain locations, and, with each permit at a designated time.

So, if approached by a ranger or park police, you and/or your photographer may be asked to show your proper special use permit, making it critical to definitely plan ahead. The risk of being “asked” to leave this amazing place you thought you would be married is not the vibe you want for your wedding day.

In short, if your photographer doesn’t mention it in the location decision-making, ensure you ask them about it AND do your own homework. Don’t leave it up to chance.

The only approved wedding & elopement ceremony locations in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Updated: October 2022)

Mobility Issues

Mobility considerations for you and/or your crew don’t have to be a limiting factor! Like so many other so-called “elopement mistakes,” simply planning ahead and thoughtfully designing your elopement experience will allow you to still create an amazing adventure in the places you want to be!

My best advice? When adding guests to your elopement, always plan thoughtfully to the least mobile member of your crew.

We will allow extra time, add in trekking poles, look for smoother trails, or shift to non-people-powered methods of travel so no one has to feel they are impacting the experience. Say hello to Jeeps, gondolas, boats, and more!🤩

Travel Snags

Pro Tip #1 — PLAN that you will need buffer time. For every part of your trip. Not only might you need it, but you also will want it.

No one wants to rush from a delayed flight to a courthouse that is closing in five minutes and try to plead to the clerk to still give you your marriage license even though they have “closed the books for the day.” 👀

What’s better? Arriving a day or two before, having a leisurely breakfast at a cute cafe down from the hotel, and then strolling to the courthouse to be there when the clerk opens.

And, avoid having to fly out or leave the night of, or, the day following your elopement.

Enjoy this experience and aim to be able to have a slow and lazy morning the day after your adventure out with me ends! You’ll love being able to just be together and not hurry onward–the rest of your life will still be there waiting whenever you get home. 😉

The issues that could hit any wedding or event

Vendor Issues

The beautiful thing about elopements is that you often end up with more manageable vendor situations than in a traditional wedding. No non-RSVP’d guests showing up and destroying your caterer’s plate service counts. No hair & makeup artist stretched thin, trying to wrap all the prep for a big bridal party on time.

That said, elopements can have some unique issues, so here’s my guidance…

ONE–

If you are hiring a floral designer, caterer, or baker, don’t forget that while they’ll often ask you for your “ceremony date,” you’ll need to account for your travel before your ceremony date to the adventure location.

This way, when arranging pick-up, shipping, or drop-off timing for any items, they are ready when you need them in order to head out to your elopement spot! 📆

TWO–

Make sure any vendors REALLY understand what your elopement is going to be like.

If you’ve hired an officiant, make sure they are ready for, and, can actually do whatever your day calls for!

Same for a hair & makeup artist–many MUAs will service elopements. Not as many are willing to sign up for a 2 am call time, so you can be on your way in time to be positioned for a sunrise vow reading. So, transparency is key, and yes, when asked, your timeline is firm. 😉

Wardrobe Malfunctions & Safety

Honestly, shit happens! A missing button, a blown hem, a broken bustle or belt loop, wayward bra straps…Enter my Mary Poppins kit! 💼 Once again planning comes to the rescue!

With a sewing kit, buttons, eye-hooks, boob tape, zip ties (which, btw, also work on car bumpers, lol… let me tell you that story!), SHOUT stain stick, wrinkle release spray, and so much more we’re ready for any wardrobe mishaps!

The same goes for keeping YOU safe! I maintain my Wilderness First Aid certification and plan ahead to keep safety as our focus in adventure. I also carry a Mary Poppins of first aid supplies as well, to help me to respond to chance situations we could encounter.

My motto? Luck favors the prepared!

How to avoid the elopement mistake of unrealistic expectations

In order to avoid disappointment as an “elopement mistake,” as simple as it sounds, let’s make sure you have realistic expectations!

“Bad” Weather

It may be sunny, or, may rain. Or crisp bluebird skies turn, and now it’s dumping snow. Or maybe it ends up unseasonably hot or cold. The weather is never guaranteed, but with prep, something unexpected doesn’t have to end up as a series of elopement mistakes! This is why in our pre-adventure prep, we talk about Plan B locations or options to cover us on those “what-ifs.”

And, this is absolutely why we stay nimble in our planning!

If you approach your elopement with a relaxed and open state of mind to embrace whatever happens, it makes rolling with the punches in the moment so much less stressful.

So, and a huge PSA– You may have heard the saying: “There is no “bad weather”, only bad gear.” And, honestly, that’s not entirely untrue!

  • Fitting your suit to be able to wear a base layer (long underwear) for warmth
  • Having fleece-lined/warm, skin-toned leggings for under a dress
  • Proper outdoor-ready footwear with traction for the surfaces you’ll be on
  • And…raincoats & umbrellas! Puffy coats! Stocking cap & gloves! All the things you can turn to in the adventure to combat the elements as they come 😊

Overpacking Your Elopement Agenda

You chose to elope for lots of reasons, and I’m 99% sure that one of THE BIGGEST is a less stressful experience. So to make that happen we start by allowing lots of time as a buffer throughout your elopement experience.

And, really think back to what matters most for your elopement experience, and edit your agenda ruthlessly keeping that in mind!

When planning, keep in mind not just the distance between locations, but the actual travel time. Five miles of winding mountain 2 lane road is not the same as a local highway, so allow extra time to drive safe & slow.

Want the valley waterfall AND the summit view? Had your heart set on the picnic lunch at the lake too? Really work with your photographer to understand the logistics of trying to do all the things in one day.

And then… step back and assess: Are you overcommitting yourself and on the fast track to creating one of the most common elopement mistakes?🤔

Chances are that in an 8-12 hour elopement time will melt away… ⏰ And my goal for each of my couples is that there is no rush, no hurry. I want for you to really soak in each experience, and be able to stop and savor each moment when you see and feel something that moves you. NO STRESS.

So how do we make this happen? Yes, you have options!

  • Eliminate items from what you plan to do
  • Shift locations to bring things closer together to reduce drive time
  • OR, lean into the idea of your elopement as a true adventure and book a multi-day experience😍

You can build a perfectly custom elopement timeline out there, ready for exactly what makes your heart sing!

Overpacking Your POST-Elopement Agenda

I know that it can be tempting to give in to the crew’s excitement and agree to host the big celebration party right when you return from your elopement. My advice? Don’t do it.

You chose to elope (likely!) for a waaaaaaaaaay less stressful experience. So trust me when I say that trying to plan your party/get together/post-elopement reception while also planning for your elopement is the type of traditional wedding-leaning stress you need to avoid 😉

What to do instead to avoid creating elopement mistakes for yourself?

  • If it has to happen shortly after you elope, hire a wedding or party planner at a service offering/package that allows them to take much of the legwork off your plate.
  • Tap in a loved one to help on your behalf. Trust is the name of the game though, so make sure you are 100% good with how they interpret your vision for your celebration so you can be (and STAY) truly hands off
  • Keep it simple! Party favors, guest gifts, and party amenities (like photobooths, celebratory llamas, live artists, etc) are like the siren’s song of any wedding… good intentions and “just one small thing” can spiral quickly into stress.
  • Downsize the party. Invite your favorite crew to a private room at your favorite restaurant or brewpub and BOOM. Done.
  • Delay –or ditch!– the party. Celebrate at 1 year, or, know that your experience is for you, and honor the fact you may not want to host a formal party.
  • Creatively “celebrate!” One of my couples did a road trip on the way home from their destination elopement, spending focused time with those they loved most in celebration ❤️️
  • Send a fun “We Eloped!” announcement or holiday card, or a fun “grand reveal” post on your favorite social media.

At the end of the day, know that like your actual elopement, being true to yourselves about what you want this part of your experience to be (or not be!) is the only thing that matters. Choose wisely and hold firm.

The final piece of advice? Embrace what is to come.

No matter how much we prepare, we can’t force everything to go according to plan, and elopement mistakes will happen. Instead, we must embrace the unexpected.

I promise that the unexpected hurdles of your elopement experience are going to become your fondest “holy shit, and then we…” memories!

The main priorities of your elopement are to share your love and let the experience create beautiful memories. Both of these require you to let go of the planning stress and live in the now. You won’t regret stepping back, loosening control of “perfection,” and embracing whatever comes.

If you’re worried about some of the elopement mistakes I listed above, I would love to help.

Sure, it can feel overwhelming to think about things that might not go “right.” This is where elopement pros like me come into play!

Not only do I have a lot of resources to help you plan a feel-good elopement on the blog, but I also capture fun, story-telling images, AND, provide elopement concierge support to help my clients steer clear of common elopement mistakes. More of the fun stuff for you, and less of the worry ❤️️

Reach out, set a time to chat, and say hello! I’d be stoked to help support you in your elopement journey!

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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