Pulling off a small, intimate wedding ceremony invites simplicity as much as creativity. This is why some modern couples prefer elopement. In fact, eloping continues to grow in popularity for its convenience and flexible planning. In the spirit of “quick and easy”, here’s an essential elopement checklist to help guide and inspire your upcoming wedding elopement plans.
1) Research Legal Marriage Requirements
The first thing on the elopement checklist is to get all the legal work sorted out. Once you know your state’s marriage laws, the real planning can begin. For instance, consider how long it will take for documents to process. If it takes several days, then you will want to account for this in your timeline leading up to the event. Also, you will need an officiant accepted by law, along with one or more witnesses as required.
Thankfully, California has one of the most straight-forward set of marriage laws. Couples receive their marriage license the same day they submit their application. Moreover, officiants can be from any denomination and only one witness needs to be present. So couples who elope in San Diego have it relatively easy!
2) Understand Your Wedding Elopement Budget
Unless you’re local to San Diego, figuring out how much things will cost (or should cost) may be a difficult task. Even in a spontaneous elopement, having a general idea of local pricing is an important part of any wedding plan. For instance, you’ll want to set a budget for photography, floral arrangements, travel, food, and other vendors. These can vary in price depending on location. By evaluating different vendors, over time, you’ll start understanding how to put your budget to use.
As a simpler, more appealing option, why not select a wedding package? That way, you’ll know exactly what to expect from the start. To find the best package, work directly with a local elopement team. This is the best way about it, since they are well-connected to the community, and can offer practical and on-target advice.
For example, our local San Diego elopement package includes a wedding resource specialist, photographer, videographer, wedding officiant, flowers, and hair and makeup. In fact, we are experts in all inclusive wedding options. All for the sake of keeping wedding elopements easy to manage and stress-free.
Establish Your Guest List
A huge advantage of elopement ceremonies is the intimacy of small gatherings. With an elopement, you have complete control over who to invite. In most cases, shorter guest lists are more manageable than a large gathering. So even if you want to keep your guest list small, or have none at all, there’s always the option to throw a wedding elopement party after the ceremony. This way, you can invite a larger crowd to be a part of the celebration.
3) Decide On Your Wedding Elopement Location
Once the paperwork is accounted for and a budget drawn out, the next thing on the elopement checklist is to pin down a location. This can be as simple as celebrating in your backyard or a nearby park, or choosing a venue with gorgeous scenery. As you drive around town, look at local options with fresh eyes. You may be surprised to find a perfect elopement spot that’s both convenient and easily accessible.
Of course, San Diego is a popular wedding destination for its beaches, downtown area, and charismatic venues. This is why it is loved by locals and tourists alike. In addition to its beach-city vibe, it has plenty of historical sites, vineyards, roof-top venues, and so many other unique wedding ceremony locations.
If you’re running on a tight schedule, you may want to consider the classic courthouse ceremony for your last-minute elopement. We will have options and recommendations for you, regardless of your choice of location.
Make Travel Arrangements Ahead of Time
If you decide to elope away from home, make sure you know the best time to travel to your elopement destination. For example, many couples choose San Diego as their elopement destination, even though they live elsewhere. If you’re visiting San Diego, keep in mind that travel costs fluctuate heavily throughout the year. When deciding between a spontaneous or planned-out elopement, keep in mind that arranging travel ahead of time is best for booking good rates and availability.
If you do have your honeymoon here, read reviews before selecting a San Diego resort or villa. This is especially important if arriving from out of town, so you know what to expect. Additionally, try to keep your lodging close to your actual elopement location. This will minimize the possibility of getting lost on your wedding day.
Advantages of a Local Elopement
When considering where to elope, keep in mind that staying close to home offers many advantages. Namely, saving time and money on travel and accommodations. Also, being in a familiar place will make it easier to adapt if anything unexpected happens.
If you’re a San Diego local, for example, there’s really no reason to leave! Sticking to your immediate area will make tight deadlines easier to manage, especially if you decide to work with a local elopement team.
4) Pick the Date(s)
Circling a day on the calendar truly begins to set things in motion. It is good practice to select a few dates in case of the unexpected. This will give you flexibility with factors such as seasonal pricing. Moreover, selecting locations with year-long sunny weather, such as San Diego, allows flexibility from their predictable, consistent forecasts.
If your wedding elopement venue is pricier during busy tourist seasons, try booking off-season or on a weekday. The same goes for outdoor locations. Choosing a spot that’s open to the public may limit privacy and could invite larger crowds depending on the time of year. Ultimately, make sure to consider weather, privacy, and pricing when selecting dates for your wedding elopement ceremony.
5) Choose your Wedding Vendors
The tail end of the elopement checklist is figuring who to hire, and how to prepare for a ceremony that is uniquely yours. Consider photographers, officiants, wedding attire, flower arrangements… Or, bring on an elopement team to accomplish everything in one place.
Our suggestion is to have a highly trained professional for each role in your elopement. For example, there are “elopement photographers” who double as officiants, which can make your audience size even smaller. But consider how capable this person is of also capturing the amazing images you are after. Unless budget prohibits it, it is always better to have a photography expert, rather than a jack of all trades.
What to Wear
When it comes to the attire, having formal wedding outfits isn’t mandatory. However, the option is always there. In any case, eloping couples wear anything they deem fit for their wedding ceremony. Try to order flower arrangements and cakes in advance so you aren’t left to pick from the in-stock options on your wedding day.
Hire a Professional Elopement Team
By having an elopement team manage the vendors, you save on a lot of stress and preparation. This is why couples often rely on pre-assembled teams when learning how to pull off a last-minute elopement. In fact, local elopement teams like ours have strong ties to the wedding community, with packages that include all the essential wedding vendors. From the wedding officiant to photo and video, search for a team that is capable of being your one-stop solution.
Even if there are services we don’t provide directly, we will be happy to make specific recommendations to trusted resources. This way, you have everything you need, all in one place.
6) Make It Yours!
Once you have the elopement checklist completed, it’s time to get creative. It’s also a good point to set aside time with your partner to discuss shared expectations. Around this time, many couples decide whether to include any wedding elopement ceremony traditions. If you’re a minimalist couple, you might prefer the essential wedding ceremony experience only. On the other hand, couples who want a more of a small wedding experience may enjoy a first-look photoshoot, an exchange of personal vows, or tying cans to the bumper of your “just-hitched” vehicle.
All things considered, elopements are adaptable, flexible, and personal. Add your own flair, and make it uniquely yours. We are here with our expertise and guidance so you will have the peace of mind to enjoy every moment.
Our Elopement Team
Having a local team by your side is by far the easiest way to plan. A highly professional elopement team will be very familiar with this elopement checklist, along with other priority recommendations for the wedding day. For example, our San Diego elopement team has years of wedding experience. In addition, each of our team members has a stellar reputation.
Having us onboard means we’ll be there every step of the way. Our experienced team will iron out all the details, answer all your questions, and work with you to design your perfect elopement day.
Contacting Our Professional Team
If you are beginning to plan your elopement, we suggest reaching out as soon as possible. This way, we’ll be able to suggest the best time and date for ideal weather and photography conditions. We will also be able to check availability, and reserve your spot for high-demand dates.
To discuss details, make arrangements, or ask questions, reach out to our professional elopement vendor team. We will ensure that your San Diego elopement is a fun, personal, and stress-free experience!