January 31, 2022
The very first thing we want to say is that if you book us for your elopement, we will help you every step of the way. So, if you’re booking an out of state elopement (even if it’s not our home state of Washington), we will help you figure out all of the things! But first, check out this blog with all of our best tips on how to plan an out of state elopement or tiny wedding. We’ve not only gathered our own information, but we’ve polled our 2021 couples to gather information right from the source. A bunch of our couples gave us tips as well as their pain points throughout the elopement planning process. So, hopefully this blog will help solve your pain points and making planning a breeze!
It’s really important to always add a couple of days to your trip before your elopement. This helps you to avoid any flight delays or stress that can be caused by flying out of state. And if all goes well and you have extra time, then you’re able to explore the new location. You can take some time to enjoy being in the state that you’re going to get married in.
Just like with adding a few days before your elopement, we recommend staying in the state that you’re eloping in for a few days after your wedding, too. It’s extremely rare that we have to change your wedding date, but it can happen, and it’s best if you have a couple of days of flexibility with your travel. This only ever happens if for some reason the location/weather is dangerous or it’s mutually agreed upon. Overall, it’s best to just add extra days before and after your wedding date when planning an out of state elopement. It definitely won’t hurt!
Anytime you’re leaving for a trip, you should definitely do this, but especially when you’re having an out of state elopement! Before you leave your house, double/triple check your bags. We personally like to lay out all of our things on the bed or the floor before we pack them into our bags. This helps us organize everything and make sure that we didn’t forget something important. You can also make lists to check when you’re packing. And sure, this might seem like a simple tip, but it’s sometimes overlooked when you’re stressed or in a rush. So, make it a point to be organized. Worst case, you forget something small and either we’ll bring it or you can pick it up from a local store. But some things you really don’t want to forget like your attire or rings!
Get alterations done well in advance and make sure to double check all of your attire a few weeks before (in case you need anything else). For brides, we highly recommend making sure you have good options for undergarments that are going to fit well and be comfortable. If you’re eloping in the winter, make sure to have nude leggings to keep your legs warm!
Steam your dress and/or suit ahead of time as well. If you’re hiking for your elopement, consider getting a dress/suit that is made of material that won’t wrinkle easily. But honestly, a few wrinkles aren’t going to ruin your day, we promise! And then, if you have the option to, you can ship your dress and/or suit to your location ahead of time. We had a couple flying in from Florida, and they got their tuxedo from a Men’s Wearhouse in Tampa. After they got the tux, they sent it to a Men’s Wearhouse in Seattle, so they didn’t have to worry about flying with it.
When deciding on which vendors you want to include on your special day, make sure that you check how local they are to where you’re getting married. For HMUA, photographers, florists, etc, you want to see if they’re local to the area to avoid travel fees or get their expertise. Of course, you don’t have to book local vendors! Heck, we travel all the time for elopements! Book who you want to. Book the people that you connect with and who you think are going to create the best experience for your special day. If they aren’t local, make sure to check if they’re willing to travel to your Airbnb/ceremony location and what they charge!
Also, some vendors might not be present at your elopement location. For example, maybe you’re just picking up a bouquet from your florist instead of having them come and do a floral installation for your elopement ceremony. If that’s the case, you need to figure out how you’re going to pick up your florals. In this case, we recommend hiring a florist who is either local to your location or local to where you’re flying into.
Local vendors are hard to find when you’re out of state. Here are some ways to find them:
After you hire a photo + video team, the next step is to choose your location! Don’t worry, we’ll help you with that! But the second that you choose a location, we recommend booking lodging accomodations. This is super important especially during the summer season and in popular areas (like Mount Rainier or other National Parks). If you book well in advance then you have good options for lodging instead of resorting to the only available place. Popluar areas and busy seasons book out extremely quickly. This is a really important step that you don’t want to procrastinate on when you’re planning your out of state elopement.
If you’re planning on having a special dinner for your elopement (or even before/after your special day), you’ll want to call ahead and make dinner reservations. It’s just like with booking lodging, flights, or vendors. You want to have everything planned ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about anything on the day of your elopement. Especially with covid and popular restaraunts being busy, it’s important to plan ahead. And I mean who doesn’t love to find great food?! Exploring local restaurants is a great way to find good food, celebrate your day, and explore a new town or city that you have never visited before.
In National and State Parks, it’s common that a Special Use Permit or Wedding Permit is required in order to have an elopement or small wedding ceremony. It’s usually an easy process and all it takes is going to the park website and searching for permits. Then, you just have to read the requirements and fill out an application if necessary. We always recommend being in touch with the permit office via email. Each park is different in their requirements and how long it takes to get a permit approved. That’s why it’s important to do it quickly. Make sure to print and/or screenshot your permit so that you have it with you on your elopement day. Also, send it to us so that we have it for our records as well!
For help with all of the legality of eloping out of state, hire a good officiant. Take the time to find someone who fits your needs. Don’t just choose someone who is the least expensive. Officiants often help with securing the proper licensing and anything else you might need. Each state is going to have different requirements, application processes, waiting periods, and filing periods. In some states, like Colorado, you’re allowed to marry yourselves (self-solemnization). If that’s the case, we can help you figure out your marriage license! if you’re getting married in Washington, we recommend getting the Pierce County Marriage License because it has an image of Mount Rainier on it.
Make sure you have your transportation mapped out! The last thing you want to do is be stranded at your hotel with no way to travel to your elopement location. Make sure you look for deals as well before you book. Many travel agencies and organizations, such as AAA, will have discounts for members. And travel websites, like Expedia, have similar deals that will help you save if you book a flight and a car through them. Plan your travel for your entire trip beforehand. Plan out when you’re arriving, how you’ll pick up your rental car, how much you will need to travel, etc. Also make sure you pick the right rental car. If you’re eloping in the wintertime or you need to drive along a forest service road in order to get to your ceremony location, you will need an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle.
Not sure where your ceremony location will be? Make sure you take the time to do research on what spots interest you the most. Take the time to look at some inspiration online of other ceremonies and weddings. Look at your photographer/videographers website for location inspiration. A couple of ways to organize your ideas include: creating a Pinterest board for inspiration and adding locations & links to a Google Docs. We also use Google Earth to scout out locations, so we always recommend checking that out if you can’t visit your location in person.
Also, when you hire a photo + video team, it’s important that they give you as much information about your elopement location as possible, especially if you can’t visit it beforehand. We use Google Earth and scout out almost all of our locations to the best of our ability. When using Google Earth, we mark up images to show our couples a few options for portraits and/or their ceremony. When we’re scouting locations, we take photos and videos to send to our couples, so they can get a better idea of what their location looks like.
Many eloping couples are also interested in having a reception at some point after their elopement ceremony. We’ve had a lot of couples go this route so that they can celebrate with family and friends later, while still having an intimate day. If you are interested in having the reception in the same location you got married, make sure you find a local hall or even hotel that can host a large enough group that you are planning on having. If you are still going to keep the group on the smaller side, (think 30 people or less) it is likely that you would be able to have the reception at a restaurant. Or if you want to plan a reception for later, you’ll want to find a good venue that can host all of your people. If you’re planning your reception out of state, we 100% recommend hiring a wedding planner for this piece!
Lastly, one of our active military brides gave us this tip! She told us that Brides Across America gifts active duty military brides (or fiancés) and first responder brides a wedding dress. Meaning that you could receive a free wedding dress if you are active military or a first responder. They do the free dress giveaway around the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Brides for a Cause participates in this giveaway, and that is where our bride got her free dress. They have locations in Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, and Sacramento. There are also several other bridal shops that participate in the giveaway nationwide. Anyone that qualifies can get a free dress- it’s not a drawing or lottery. Definitely check this out to see if you qualify!