How to Plan Your Destination Elopement / Intimate Wedding

If you’re planning a destination elopement or intimate wedding, this blog post is for you! After being a part of countless elopements as a traveling wedding and elopement photographer, I’ve listed out an 8 step process to start planning your destination elopement. From first vendor booked to wedding announcements sent, these steps will make sure your elopement is stress free, meaningful, and authentic to you! 

Alana & Lucas: A Destination Elopement in Washington DC

The elopement photos throughout this blog post are from Alana + Lucas’ destination elopement in Washington DC! DC is one of their favorite destinations, and their immediate family flew in from around the country to celebrate with them. They got married at the amazing Patterson Mansion on DuPont Circle (I highly recommend!), and had a celebratory lunch afterwards at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Check out their other wedding vendors at the bottom of this post! 

Now, onto the 8 steps to plan your destination elopement. 

Step 1: Book Your Most Important Thing First

Whether that’s a venue you’ve been wanting to get married at, a photographer you really want to to work with (book with me here!), or a certain date, book the most important thing to you FIRST! 

Let’s say photography is your number one priority. A lot of people who prioritize their photographer choose their wedding date based off of the photographer’s calendar! Then, you figure out the best elopement package for the amount of coverage that you’re looking for.

Check out our elopement packages (and how many hours couples typically choose) here!

Step 2: Figure Out WHERE You Want Your Destination Elopement

Not only the city, but what type of set up? A venue (If you’re eloping, you might not even need a venue!)? A park? Will you need a permit, and how long do you have access? Some other location ideas could be your backyard, the beach, mountains, or your family’s property.

This wedding couple rented a venue for their DC destination elopement! We had enough time to have the ceremony, a few group shots, and bride and groom photos while the family had champagne in the other room. It was perfect!

Another client of mine has booked a suite for their DC elopement. They are planning on getting married on the balcony with the backdrop of the DC skyline! The options are endless. 

Do you know where you’re thinking of getting married? Let me know!

Now, before we move on to the little details.

These are the most important things when you’re planning a destination elopement!

Finalize these first:

  • Your Photographer
  • Venue (if you want one) / Location
  • Date

Step 3: Prepare a Getting Ready Space

If you’re not getting married at a venue, you need to think about where you’re getting ready! A popular getting ready location is your hotel room. Just make sure your hotel room is big enough, or book multiple rooms! Alana and Lucas got ready at the Mayflower Hotel for their DC elopement. 

Step 4: Pick Out Your Outfits!

The sky’s the limit! Are you going to buy, borrow, or thrift a wedding dress? Or are you going to choose a fun alternative wedding dress idea? Choose outfits that you both love!

Step 5: Plan Your Destination Elopement Celebration

How are you going to celebrate after your ceremony? Here are some ideas!

  • Go to lunch, dinner, or cocktail hour (don’t forget to make reservations if you need to!)
  • Reserve a party room
  • Eat at the hotel you’re staying at! A lot of hotels have nice restaurants attached. I’ve had a couple reserve an 8 course meal with wine tasting at their hotel for their celebration!

Alana + Lucas reserved a room for lunch and had a cheesecake cutting at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse with their immediate family. Then, they had the whole rest of the day to continue celebrating! They went bar hopping and hung out with their family.

Step 6: Decide on Wedding Flowers

Order a bouquet of flowers or plan to go to Trader Joes to DIY! While it’s typical to do a bouquet, you can throw tradition out the window for your elopement. If the groom doesn’t want a boutonniere, he doesn’t have to! You can also choose a flower crown or another cool prop to use instead of flowers if that feels more like you you. Plus, if you want your destination elopement to feel more fancy, get a vase arrangement or centerpiece as decor for your ceremony or celebration dinner!

Step 7: Prepare for Hair and Makeup

Do you want to feel pampered on your wedding day, or do you want to DIY? Alana did her own her and makeup, and I thought that a professional had done it! Choose whatever would make you feel confident, comfortable, and stress free. 

The Final Step to Planning Your Destination Elopement:

Decide on Your Announcement

Now that you’re married, it’s time to announce it! Are you going to send out a physical announcement, or are you going to upload a post to social media? When you book with me, you can use sneak peek pictures from the same week you got married!  

Do you feel more confident planning your destination elopement? 

Yay! I hope these 8 steps are super helpful for you as you plan your elopement or intimate wedding! To book with me to authentically capture your wedding (and support you with elopement ideas!), fill out my contact form. I’ll be in touch soon! My top priorities include serving you, capturing the candids and the classics, being creative and true to you! Check out more blog posts for more wedding ideas, elopement locations, and wedding photography. 

Chloe Marie Photography | Destination Elopement + Wedding Photographer

Check out more wedding photography from this destination elopement in Washington DC below!

The Incredible Vendor Team & Photography Locations From This DC Destination Elopement

Getting Ready Location: Mayflower Hotel // @themayflowerhoteldc

Ceremony, Family Photos, and Some Portraits at Patterson Mansion on DuPont Circle // @pattersonmansiondupontcircle

Bride & Groom Photos at Constitution Gardens with the Washington Monument in the Background

Celebratory Lunch: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (the One on K Street)

Bride’s Bouquet: Little Acre Flowers // @littleacreflowers

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