On any wedding day, your vendors are a big deal. They’re the ones who make sure everything runs smoothly so that you don’t have to worry about it, and they’re the ones who can give you advice throughout the planning process.
But, when you’re eloping, your elopement vendors are especially important! Some of them, like the photographer, planner, and videographer, stick around all day – and with little to no guest list, it’s extra important that you get along! But, aside from making sure your personalities click, your elopement vendors will also be your go to planning assistants, hype people, and adventure guides throughout the planning process.
Elopements are amazing because there’s no rule book, and each one is different – but this can also make it difficult to know where to begin as you plan your day, especially if you don’t know anyone who’s eloped.
To make sure you find the right people, who you totally vibe with and who feel like you’ve been best friends forever, who help you plan a day that’s so unbelievably perfect and totally you, keep reading this guide for all my tips on how to find elopement vendors!
What Elopement Vendors Do I Need?
Before you start searching, it’s important to know what you’re actually looking for! There are no rules when it comes to elopements, so your needs will vary. Here’s a list of vendors that you may find yourself in need of.
Not to toot my own horn, but we’re pretty important. Your ceremony may be small, and your wedding day may be untraditional, but all that means is that your day is even more meaningful! Your photos will capture all the love, laughs, adventures, happy tears, and memories of your day.
But, aside from taking the photos, a good elopement photographer will also act as your guide for the day. They’ll have all the secret, less traveled locations, know the ins and outs of getting a permit, and have the outdoor experience needed to keep you safe and ensure your day goes perfectly.
Elopement Planner & decorator
An elopement planner is an amazing addition to any elopement day. They’ll take a lot of pressure off of you, and will handle the logistics! if you are planning a lot for your day, have guests, or just want a hands-off approach to your elopement, hiring a planner/coordinator will save you so much stress.
One of my favorite planners in the pacific northwest region, is Jaime ta who set up a beautiful spot outside that is set-up for your ceremony, picnic, or family dinner. All ready for you to come and enjoy without the fuss of setting it up yourself.
hiring a videographer can be a great addition to documenting your love story and it’s something I highly regret for my own wedding coverage! when you combine a elopement photographer and videographer that work cohesively together, it increases your cherishing experience.
it’s key to find a videographer with a similar shooting approach to your photographer. I personally prefer collaborating with non-intrusive, documentary-style, videographers who don’t turn your day into a production.
if you are looking for a fun photo/video duo for your elopement – isabella griffith and myself offer customized packages. check out one of her beautiful super 8mm videos below!
most elopement couples chose to get married this way because they want an intimate experience. a lot of my clients will either 1) have me as their photographer officiate (yes, i’m legally ordained) or 2) have a family or friend get ordained to officiate. this is easy to do online through Universal Life church.
but there is a lot of value to hiring a professional officiant. they help bring all of your wedding guests closer, take the stress off of family members, and give you direction in how to conduct your ceremony.
there are a lot of great officiants that specialize in elopements and aim to still keep your wedding a unique experience. just make sure to hire someone that you really click with, as this is a very intimate moment of your day.
Who doesn’t want a gorgeous bouquet to hold? professional Florals for your elopement will add so much color, romance, and quality to your wedding vibes. And there are so many cool floral arrangements, so you can make it totally customizable for you.
the best floral arrangements for elopements need to be sturdy – so hiring an expert that can let you know what will be in season and best for your elopement day is extremely helpful.
there are certain types of arrangements or flowers that will leave seeds or may be invasive to your elopement area, so keep that in mind when chatting with your florist.
elopement Hair and Makeup Artist
A hair and makeup artist who specializes in elopements is vital for ensuring that you stay looking fresh all day, throughout all the adventures!
there’s an incredible value in hiring a professional hair and makeup artist to make sure you are getting all-day coverage for your special day. Especially if you are going to be sweating, crying, or outside in the elements of nature.
Even if you don’t like to feel all “glammed up” – you can find a natural look with an expert and it will make a huge difference in your photos and how you feel on your wedding day.
wedding meals, cakes, and desserts
Food. this is such a huge part of our human lives and traditional weddings, but we seem to forget about the vital role it plays in elopements too! there’s nothing worse than being hungry, especially on such a special day. so – treat yo’ self and splurge on this indulgence.
you’re going to have to eat throughout your day – why not make it a fun, high-quality experience that you’ll remember?
some elopement food ideas could be:
- hiring a private chef to cook a meal for you at your air bnb
- picking up a high-quality charcuterie board for an afternoon picnic
- sharing a customized dessert while watching the sun set (think macaroons, donuts, hand pies, or even a cake)
- making a bottle of wine together at a local winery and then eating at their restaurant
i’m a huge music lover, like i’m sure a lot of us are. there’s something beautiful about enjoying your favorite music – especially on the day you are getting married. it’s romantic and memorable!
although most state and national parks do not allow musicians, there are some great wilderness, forest, or BLM lands that do. if you still want to get married in a national or state park and still want to include music, consider:
- having the musician come to your lodging and play during your first dance on the deck or while enjoying dinner
- hiring a songwriter to make you a song and play it for your partner during your first look or while you are getting ready
How to Find Elopement Vendors
Now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s talk about how to find them!
1. Decide on a Budget
First, have a candid discussion with your partner about your budget. Talk about what’s important to you, what you can live without, and what you’re willing to spend on each part of your elopement day.
2. Start Dreaming
Make a mood board, and let your imagination run wild! Think about what kind of photos you like – dark and moody? Light and airy? True-to-life colors? Look around and find some elopement inspiration, and this will make it a lot easier to search for vendors!
You can make a date night out of it – pop open some of that leftover champagne from when you got engaged, and talk about what you want out of your elopement day. Don’t be afraid to dream big!
3. Start Searching
If you’ve already decided on a general location for your elopement, start by researching that area – whether it’s as broad as a state or as specific as a park! I recommend starting by looking for a photographer, as they’ll usually have a list of recommendations ready to go for all your other vendors.
You can Google elopement photographers in the area, or type “Oregon elopement photographer” into the Instagram search bar – or whatever location you’re looking for, of course. One thing that pretty much all elopement vendors have in common is that they love to travel.
so after you’ve written down a few names, don’t be afraid to expand your search to nearby locations! Make sure to save any vendors who look promising, and send them an inquiry.
4. Schedule Phone Calls
After you’ve emailed back and forth with a few people, your list might narrow a little more. Now it’s time to talk to them beyond the computer screen. It’s important to schedule phone calls with any potential vendors, so that you can talk to them and get a feel for their personality, ask questions, and make sure you can see yourself spending your elopement day with them!
When you’re on the phone, ask any questions that you have about the elopement process, how they do things, and anything that will help you get to know them. It’s totally okay to chat with different vendors before you make a decision – just be upfront and let them know if you aren’t ready to commit, or let them know if you are!
5. Go With Your Gut
All right, you’ve had your phone calls, you’ve narrowed it down some more, and you’re ready to make a decision. This decision is a big one, but don’t freak yourself out or get overwhelmed!
After you’ve narrowed down your list to two favorites, go with your gut on who to choose. If there’s one person you just felt like you connected with better, or one person who really made you feel at ease about the process, don’t second guess it! Make the decision, let them know, and get on their calendar.
Hire an Elopement Photographer Who Can Help
As an elopement photographer, I’m usually the first vendor that couples will book for their day. Which means from the time the contract is signed to your elopement day – I’m there to help with the entire process.
I’ll be honest, this step in the planning process can feel a bit overwhelming and lengthy. Just remember that your elopement day is all about what you want—so if your vision doesn’t include some of the things I go over here, don’t sweat it. What matters most is that you two are planning the day that speaks to you!
This includes recommendations for other amazing vendors! If you’re ready to start the process, contact me, and let’s see if it’s a match!