Elopement vendors: how to find them, who to book, and when
Every so often, the question of elopement vendors comes up. Are there specific people you need to hire if you’re eloping? Do you need different vendors for elopements and traditional weddings? How do you find these people? Do you need to book them as far out as vendors for traditional weddings?
It’s a lot.
And if you haven’t even thought about it before, your head is likely spinning just reading that. Take a few deep breaths (it helps)–it’s actually pretty easy! I’m going to lay out some tips and tricks for elopement vendors and how you should go about choosing yours.
For starters, the type of elopement you’re having will determine whether or not you need vendors with specific experience. The more remote and wild the wedding location, the more important I think it is to find vendors with outdoor experience.
The most important thing, I think, is that your vendors get you. That they understand what you’re doing and why, and that they support you. It makes a world of difference!
Please please please do yourself a favour and hire a photographer who specializes in elopements, not someone who includes them as a cheap, 2-hour add-on service when they aren’t photographing big weddings. Even if you hire someone other than me.
You are worth more than that. Your wedding day deserves more than that. I have very strong feelings about this. It’s incredibly important to only have people present on your elopement day who are fully on board with what you’re doing, and who really “get it.”
An elopement photographer has a lot of planning experience–eloping couples rarely hire wedding planners and instead rely on their photographer (hi, it’s me, right here) to help them with location scouting, timelines, vendor recommendations, etc. We know the best times for photos, we spend 20-30 hours looking for the best locations for you, and we help you pull off the elopement day you’ve been seeing in your head. And then some.
If you’re using an officiant (check the local laws to see if you need one!), find someone who can get to where you’re going (hiking? etc.?) and who understands what you’re doing. This can be someone who officiates for a living, or a friend or family member who gets ordained for you. (It’s super easy and doesn’t have to be religious at all.)
Much like your photographer, your officiant should be someone who gets it. They’re guiding your ceremony! You don’t want that person to be all about big weddings and disdainful of elopements.
If you’re getting your hair and/or makeup professionally done, find a makeup artist you vibe with who knows how to apply makeup that lasts. Who is either willing to meet you at a trailhead super early and work out of the back of a car or give you a lesson so that you can do your makeup yourself at sunrise at that mountain lake.
Find a hairstylist who can do the same, who knows which hairstyles are best for windy weather, who knows you need to stay comfortable and move around.
If you’re hiring a florist, find someone who is familiar with the area where you’re eloping. Someone who knows which colours and types of plants will look best with the environment, which bouquet will look like it belongs instead of out-of-place.
Real life: my partner and I eloped when I was too broke to hire a florist–I put together two bouquets and two boutonnieres myself. I ended up not carrying the bouquet for almost all of our portraits because it had bright-ass green eucalyptus and other fillers in it, and the location had muted greens and browns. It looked all wrong. I didn’t know any better. A professional would have.
One of the upsides of eloping is not having to cater a dinner for 300 people.
But you still have to eat!
I’m all about snacks (I have photo evidence from my own elopement of me eating a freaking chocolate power bar in my wedding dress…I know), but this is your wedding day. Are you packing a picnic that brings up all kinds of good memories for you? Are you hiring someone else to do that for you? Maybe a private chef…?
You can also go to a restaurant, but feel free to think outside the box!
Video is becoming more and more popular in the elopement world, and for very good reason.
Some things to consider when hiring a videographer:
Photographers and videographers are often up in your business at the same time. So if you find a videographer with a similar style to your photographer, everything is going to go so much more smoothly. And by style, I’m more focused on the way they work, not so much on the way they edit their films. For example, I’m on the more unobtrusive, documentary-style side of the spectrum. My posing technique is based on permission and consent. Working with a videographer who operates in a similar way means we can both do our jobs to the best of our ability, which works out better for you!
Bear in mind that this is another camera, another human. If you really want to keep the intimacy on your elopement day, consider hiring a solo videographer rather than a team, or opt for a highlight film instead!
Not on every list, huh? Hiring musicians isn’t the norm for elopements (yet), but I think this is such a cool way to celebrate your day!
Live music makes me feel things.
I know some awesome musicians here in WA, so definitely reach out if this is something you’re interested in.
Just be mindful of where you’re eloping; you can’t play loud music in certain places. It can be an environmental issue (animals do not like it) or just a pain for other people.
Ok, I’ve grouped them together, but I could go on and on about how much these incredible people can elevate your day. Think about it: instead of just doing a hike (amazing on its own), you could also be in a hot air balloon or floatplane, you could head up a 4×4 road with an experienced driver to get to some super private places, you could take a helicopter over a glacier, you could get tattooed or make your own rings…
I can go on and on. (Whale watching, anyone?!)
I know I said I usually do a lot of planning, but a true wedding or elopement planner is a major step up.
They do way more than I ever could, keep everything moving smoothly, herd the cats (vendors, guests…), and handle a bunch of things for you that you don’t even know you need to be handling.
The more people that are going to be involved in your elopement or intimate wedding, the more important it is to hire a planner or day-of coordinator. They’re worth their weight in gold.
It’s not always as easy as finding traditional wedding vendors, is it?
Hopefully, from what I’ve said above, you’ve gotten a better idea of the things you can search for. You may have to search through a list of different vendors to find someone who “clicks” with you, and that’s ok!
You can also ask friends or family for recommendations, ask me, search hashtags, etc. Most photographers will also tag the vendors who were involved in an elopement on their blog, so that’s a good place to look too!
For the couples who book me early enough in the process, I have lists of vendors for them as part of my (enormous) VIP Client Guide.
Yes and no…?
If you really want to work with someone, and you know they’re “the one,” book them as soon as you can. Even in the elopement world, vendors are starting to get booked out further than they were before.
That being said, from what I’ve seen, you’ve got a wee bit more wiggle room. Most of my couples book me the same year, anywhere from 1-9 months out, but more time is never a bad thing!!
I hoped this helped with any vendor confusion you may have had!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about and want to learn more about elopements, click here. If you want to talk to me about your elopement–either for booking, more info, or whatever–you can reach me here! Can’t wait to meet you xx
If you’re looking for tips on how to plan a queer wedding, I’ve got you covered there too!