How To Plan An Epic Destination Elopement: A Canadian Photographer’s Guide

Destination elopement photographer captures couple in Joshua Tree desert elopement

Eloping has gained popularity for spontaneous couples who are after an affordable, intimate and adventurous alternative. However, with the whole world at your fingertips, it may feel nearly impossible to know how to plan a destination elopement and you may hear yourself asking “How do I start planning an elopement?”

Discover everything you need to know to start planning your destination elopement and keep reading till the end as I’ve added a bonus checklist to make your planning easier!

Destination Elopement Planning Guide

Eloping is a one-in-a-lifetime experience, especially if you’re looking for a smaller, intentional celebration of your love with just the two of you (or with a few loved ones). It also means you can design it to be as simple or adventurous as you’d like! 

Let’s get into the different steps to plan your elopement! 

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Have A Budget

Without a budget, it’s difficult to plan anything — do you want to keep the cost down as much as possible or have a bit more of an elaborate elopement? It’s quite easy to get excited and spend extra on things but it’ll soon add up, so make sure to stick to it.  

Guests Or No Guests? 

Whether you invite your family and friends will have an impact on your location and budget. It may be important to share the day with your nearest and dearest or you would prefer the freedom which comes with having no guests. Whatever you decide, it’s important to make this decision for you and not for anyone else.

Elopement Location

The best elopement destination is dependent on every couple and how you imagine your day looking. From an intimate Vancouver wedding, a seaside elopement by the Mediterranean sunset, breathtaking mountain views of the Canadian Rockies, or a forest fairytale wedding in an Australian outback, there are so many beautiful places to elope!

Destination wedding photographer captures couple in helicopter elopement in Whistler

Picking A Date

When picking your date, consider the weather, the season, your budget, and any sentimental dates for you both. It can equally be a date that’s convenient for your schedule that works best — just don’t overthink it. Once you choose the date, it makes things real and sets everything into motion!  


For a legal wedding, you’re going to need a marriage license. Some countries allow self-solemnizing, others you’ll need an officiant and some witnesses and for some countries, you can only have a celebration which you will need to make official once back home. 

As the legalities differ for each country, it’s important to research early on as things could take time to organize. 

Plan Your Perfect Day

This is the fun part where you turn your wedding day desires into reality. Whether it's using the hiking trail as your aisle and having a picnic at the top of the mountain with your four-legged friend or watching the Northern Lights dance around you at night, you can plan for an epic elopement adventure!

Destination wedding photographer captures couple in Joshua Tree desert elopement

Elopement Outfit

Keep in mind the climate and how you’ll get to your location — you might want a traveling outfit if you’re hiking for example. You don’t have to wear white or wear a suit, but make sure you wear something special so you’ll look back with fond memories.   

Travel & Accommodation

Get these booked early to keep the cost down and make sure nothing is booked up. From plane tickets to renting accommodation and thinking about how you’ll travel around, you might need to rent a car especially if the elopement location is a bit more remote. 

Hiring Vendors

For a simple elopement, you’ll probably need an ordained officiant and a photographer to document your day. After that, it’s up to each couple on what else they require — you could hire private chefs, hair and makeup artists, a videographer, and a florist as well as decor rentals. 

Destination elopemen t photographer captures couple in Joshua Tree desert elopement

Do You Need A Planner For An Elopement?

Wedding planners can be beneficial when planning a destination elopement, especially in a location you’re unfamiliar with. They can give you advice and recommendations when planning your day, as well as suggest lesser known places. 

For those couples thinking “How do you structure an elopement?” or wondering about what an elopement timeline looks like, a wedding planner can help you organize your day so you can make the most of every moment. 

Best wedding photographer captures couple in Alaska elopement

Elopement Planning Checklist

Make sure you have the following sorted to ensure the most magical and romantic day!

  • Travel arrangements
    • Plane ticket
    • Do you need to rent a car?
  • Book overnight accommodation  
  • Marriage license 
  • Rings 
  • Write your vows 
  • Elopement day outfits 
  • Any extra accessories you need for the day 
  • Wedding vendors
    • Photographer 
    • Wedding planner 
    • Videographer 
    • Hair and makeup
    • Caterer or chef
    • Bouquet and florals
  • Post-elopement celebration: Celebrate your marriage in a special way and start your honeymoon!  

Hopefully this guide has given you plenty of ideas for planning a destination elopement! If you need an experienced destination elopement photographer, get in touch so we can plan your amazing day exactly as you’ve imagined it.

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