If you are planning your California elopement and looking for inspiration to make it memorable, fun, and unique to your personalities, check out this list of 50 elopement ideas that I personally recommend to all of my elopement couples to consider incorporating into their day. The best thing about photographing elopements is that each one is different and unique to that couple. You’ve already decided to kick societal expectations by not getting sucked into the big wedding industry, now select just a few of these ideas and run with them!
1. Hire a seasoned elopement photographer!
By hiring a seasoned elopement photographer they will help you plan your special day and guide you to making informed decisions, and provide you with really high-quality photographs that tell your story!
2. Make a day out of it!
Elopements don’t have to just be for a couple of hours you can make it a whole entire day if you wish! Why not celebrate the love you have for one another all day long. You can start off with having breakfast at your favorite restaurant or trying someplace new. Then do your favorite activities throughout the day like hiking up to a beautiful cliffside view and having your ceremony at the top. Then to finish the day have a romantic candlelight picnic while watching the sunset.
3. Have one of your close friends or mentors officiate your ceremony.
What’s better than having your best friend you’ve known since middle school officiate your elopement? I can’t think of anything better!
4. Order small vow books and write your own vows.
One of my favorite things is seeing my clients bring their handwritten vows to read during their elopement ceremony. I tear up every time I’m on the sidelines hearing such beautiful vows read to one another, it’s the most touching thing to experience.
5. Exchange your personal vows with just the two of you and have me sign as your officiant.
Hiring me as your photographer is a two in one deal! Not only am I your photographer I am also legally ordained to sign as your officiant! This comes in handy for two-person elopements and in locations that are a little more remote! Or if you want the “Just us” experience!
6. Elope in a location you haven’t visited yet.
Many clients love eloping in a location that they haven’t visited yet because it feels like a first date all over again. Your experience a new place together and have the awe sensation when exploring. It’s so much fun looking at my client’s surprised faces when I take them to somewhere new for their elopement!
7. Plan your elopement in a National or State Park.
I can’t rave enough about National park elopements! National parks are seriously one of the most beautiful places to get eloped and they have SO many different areas to explore and take photos in. For example Big Sur. Big Sur has forests, beaches, and cliffside views! Check out my Big Sur Elopement Guide if you want to elope in Big Sur!
8. Elope in the middle of nowhere in a desert.
Another one of my favorite places to take clients is the desert! Desert elopements are like no other especially ones in Joshua Tree. I cannot deny how much I love to shoot in Joshua Tree National Park, it is an incredible destination to elope to. The unique desert landscapes, the wild plant life, and picture-perfect sunsets combine to create an otherworldly destination to tie the knot in. While also offering those boho vibes that look so magical on camera. Looking to elope in Joshua Tree check out my Joshua Tree Elopement Guide.
9. Rent an RV, camper van, or trailer and plan a road trip together to your elopement spot!
10. Have an intimate elopement ceremony by the ocean. Choose a unique spot for your ceremony such as sea caves! Learn about my unique Malibu beach elopement experience here.
11. Plan a sunset or sunrise elopement ceremony.
12. Include your closest family and friends.
Theres this misconception that eloping means you cant invite family or friends. This is not true by any means. Its your special day you can invite you ever you like! Elopements are just a much smaller and more intimate wedding day and are commonly outdoors, it has nothing to do with who you can and cannot invite.
13. Elope where you honeymoon!
14. Purchase a wedding dress you love!
Not sure what dress to get for your elopement check out my blog on Best Dress styles for your elopement.
15. Accessorize and personalize your wedding attire!
16. Book a couple’s massage appointment for the morning.
Book a couples massage to relax the morning of your elopement day! Let all the stresses dissapear to get you ready to enjoy the best day of your life!
17. Get your hair and makeup done by a professional hair and makeup artist.
18. Hire a professional florist to create your bouquet and boutioneer with your favorite flowers.
19. Exchange gifts – surprise your partner with a gift!
20. Take a lunch or snack break and eat your favorite food!
21. Create your favorite playlist to listen to throughout the day!
I always bring my bluetooth speaker to every elopement for my clients, so if you create your own playlist we can play it throughout the day or during your first dance!
22. Help each other get ready or have a “First Look.”
First looks are extrememly intimate special moments for just the two of you. Its such a beautiful moment where you can be yourselves with one another without any pressures or other people watching you. First looks calm the nerves and gets you ready to walk down the aisle!
23. Go horseback riding! Malibu is the perfect place for that!
24. On your elopement day, or the day after, do your favorite activity together like kayaking!
Catalina Island is great for that! Check out my blog on how to elope on Catalina Island.
25. The day after your elopement, try something new you both have not done together like a surf lesson! Malibu has many opportunities for this!
26. Hire a violinist or another type of musician to play at your ceremony.
27. Start your own family tradition that you can do for anniversaries or vow renewals.
28. Pop some champagne, or crack open a beer! Whatever your drink of choice is, bring it along!
29. Choose your favorite song and share your first dance together.
30. Cut a mini wedding cake for a modern twist on wedding tradition.
31. Read letters from loved ones.
32. Bring a blanket and have a picnic after your ceremony.
33. Elope during your favorite season.
34. Go on a helicopter tour. Los Angeles has many helicopter companies that offer packages to many locations around southern California.
35. Rent your dream car for the day and take it for a joy ride and have photos taken with it!
With the movie industry located in Los Angeles, there’s several options to rent classic cars at competitive prices.
36. Exchange your vows with an EPIC view.
37. Stay in touch with loved ones by video chatting, record a video, livestream the ceremony, etc.
38. Go scuba diving or snorkeling in a coral reef. Catalina Island offers these experiences!
39. Get creative with with photos in the water!
40. Jump in the ocean at the end of your elopement session!
41. Spend some quality time with just each other on your elopement day! (Learn how I do this with split-day coverage for my all-day elopement package)
42. Cook together and share your favorite meal.
43. Splurge on a 5 star hotel, resort, or fancy, air bnb or rent a cozy cabin!
44. Make a bonfire and roast some marshmallows.
45. Have a personalized sign made with your new married names
46. Have a custom catered meal by a private chef.
47. Make a reservation to a local 5 star restaurant with a gorgeous view.
48. Take pictures with the milky way galaxy in the background!
Joshua Tree is the perfect place to see the milky way galaxy! Check out my blog on how to elope in Joshua Tree.
49. Go on a sunset/night hike and have pictures taken with the city lights in the background or get creative with nighttime photos!
50. Stay up late and stargaze!
Whats better than stargazing with your soulmate at the end of your elopement day?
I hope these elopement ideas have inspired you to plan your special elopement day in California! If you are ready to discuss how I can help you plan your elopement, please fill out my contact form, and I will be in touch!