unique elopement ideas

We’re firm believers that every wedding or elopement — no matter the size or location — should feel uniquely special to each couple. But if you’re not sure how to go about making your elopement day unique, what to do on your elopement day, or ways to make your elopement personalized to your love story, we’re here to help give you a variety of elopement ideas to choose from.

  1. Makes the day more meaningful. By committing your lives to one another, you’re already making a choice to add more meaning to your relationship, your life, and to this very special day. And when you personalize your elopement, the day becomes even more significant and heartfelt.
  2. You’re uniquely you, and no one else has a love story quite like yours. Whether you have a funny story about how you met, or distinct characteristics and traits in common, or you’re both complete opposites in ways that complement each other beautifully, honor it.
  3. More quality time and memories to cherish. Every wedding day, even when it’s just the two of you, can fly by so quickly. We definitely recommend finding ways to slow it all down, so you can be fully present and remember how this day actually felt. By giving yourself more quality time together (and/or with your guests) and activities to do on your elopement day, you’ll have even more memories to hold onto for years to come.
  4. We simply have more fun! It’s true — whether we’re paddling out on a lake, taking a sunset boat ride, or popping champagne with epic mountain views in the backdrop, even the simplest of activities can make your elopement day more joyful.

A brief, step-by-step guide to customize your elopement day from start to finish:

  1. Spend time playing around with ideas — the sky is limitless! We always recommend taking the time to literally have fun with it. What would you two want to do if nothing were off limits? If no outside opinions, budget, or distance could get in the way? Where would you want to go and who would you want to be there with you (if anyone)?
  2. Talk with an elopement photographer. You don’t have to have it all figured out before reaching out to chat with an expert. In fact, we often recommend talking with our photo + video team as early as possible, since there are many steps we can help with and guide you in the right direction to make your vision for your elopement a reality.
  3. Select a location and time of year. While most larger wedding days are commonly booked on weekend dates during summer and fall so that everyone can attend, the beautiful thing about elopements is that you get to decide the where and when without feeling restricted to traditional venues. Do you love the rain and cherry blossoms of the PNW in spring? Do you love the heavy snow of the Rockies in winter? Think about the scenery and weather that speaks most to you and go for it!
  4. Use our list of ideas and activities below to start crafting your dream elopement day. Sometimes couples already have a very specific “dream” in mind for their wedding day. But if you’re one of the many who still have an open mind to new ideas, you just might stumble across one that fills in the remaining gaps of your elopement plans. So, talk openly with your partner as you read through these ideas, and write down the ones that feel the most “right” for you both.
brainard lake elopement photographer boulder

1. Involve Your Closest Friends/Family

If you’re planning to bring guests along for the big day, there are dozens of great ways to involve them in the celebration. You can opt to have them present for your vows (and even have a friend/family member be your officiant!), or have a private vow reading alone and plan to meet up with family later for an evening together. Think: a dinner together hosted by a private chef, a reserved room at a local restaurant, an evening dancing and drinking by the campfire, or doing one of the many other activities below as a group.

Even if you’d prefer a “just us” elopement day experience, you can still involve friends and family in the planning stages. Or on the day of, you can read letters/open gifts from them, or chat with them on a phone call or FaceTime.

2. All-Day or Multi-Day Elopement Experiences

Sometimes, there’s just not enough time in one afternoon or one whole day to do everything you’re dreaming of. There’s absolutely no reason why other weddings can be an all day event and your elopement day has to feel limited to just a few hours.

We’ve done several all-day and multi-day elopements, and this can give you the freedom to do more than one activity, see more than one location, or split time between being alone and celebrating with family.

alaska helicopter elopement photographer

3. Adventurous Elopement Activities (and Not Just Hiking)

Hiking elopements have gained a lot of popularity over the last few years, but there are so many more ideas to be adventurous or spend time outdoors without trekking several miles up a mountain. Here are a few of our favorites:

4. Elopement Ideas at Night

Just because the sunlight ends, doesn’t mean your elopement day has to be over. Here are some of our favorite nighttime elopement ideas:

  • A romantic candle-lit dinner
  • A walk through the town/city, or having a few of your favorite drinks at local bars, distilleries, and/or breweries
  • Gathering with your guests by the campfire
  • Stargazing
  • Relaxing by the fireplace
  • Having a first dance at night under string lights
  • Cheers-ing to a few toasts by your guests
  • Dipping into the hot tub for a steamy end-of-the-day soak

5. Reduce Anxiety: Calm + Relaxing Ideas

As someone who also struggles with anxiety, I completely understand how many couples feel during the wedding planning process. But one of the top benefits of eloping is that you can take time to really, truly slow down the entire day to feel more present, at peace, and calm with the one you love the most. A few of my favorite suggestions to couples who want more relaxing vibes on their elopement day include starting the day slowly with a hot beverage, meditation/yoga, taking a slow walk outside, and choosing a location that feels truly peaceful to you.

6. Food + Drinks

Think about your favorite celebratory beverages and tasty treats — often these are the perfect addition to your elopement day! Whether that means you splurge on your favorite bottle of bourbon or champagne, you stop by a local bakery for a freshly made pie, or you make reservations at the best eatery in town, these are great ways to end the night of your wedding day.

And if you’re bringing guests, we love it when couples opt for having an elaborate picnic brunch, hire a private chef to come to a rental house and whip up a fancy meal, or rent out a space in a local restaurant for everyone to celebrate together.

7. Unique Transportation Ideas

This is especially fun if you’re already going to a destination far away from home! Why not get around the area with transportation outside the norm?

  • Rent a fun vehicle, like a 4WD Jeep, convertible, or vintage car
  • Take a helicopter or seaplane ride
  • Hop on a ferry or boat ride out to a nearby island
  • Try horseback riding (or in some places: donkeys or camels)
  • Ride a train or shuttle through a scenic area

8. Unique Lodging Ideas

Choosing a quirky A-frame or a place with a lot of character can really elevate your elopement experience. It’s a great way to have unique getting ready portraits before you venture out for the rest of the day, or even a cozy place to gather with your loved ones for an evening celebration.

And even better: you can enjoy the space for more than just the day. Consider booking for at least 2-3 nights, or bounce around to a few different unique lodgings on a week long trip!

9. Try Something New

Is there something that you both haven’t done before but has been on the top of your bucket list for a while? Maybe it’s the perfect way to kick off your marriage and have some epic memories from the day.

10. Choose a Meaningful Location

If you’re still in the very early stages of planning your elopement day, then focusing on a location that has a lot of meaning or memories already might be a great fit for you. Whether you go back to the first place you adventured together, or you have a lot of family ties to a specific location, or there’s some other memory that you keep coming back to (such as the first time you said “I love you” or one of you proposed), opting for a location you already love can add a lot of emotion and intentionality to your day.

This video of Renee + Preston’s elopement is the perfect example: a location Renee grew up visiting most of her life and one that Preston has come to love deeply as well.

unique elopement ideas personalized wedding vows

11. Personalize Your Vows

By far the number one thing we believe makes your wedding the most “you” is having personalized vows.

When you each take the time to write vows from the heart, it’s a way to reflect on your favorite memories together, sprinkle in your own personality and connection for one another, and add deeper meaning to the commitments you make to each other.

12. Unique Ceremony Ideas

There are so many great ways to turn a very traditional wedding ceremony into something personal or completely one-of-a-kind. The simplest is to have a friend or family member be your officiant instead of hiring a professional to join you.

But some other fun ideas include things like a wine-blending ceremony, a sand unity ceremony, a hand-fasting unity ceremony, having your friends/family “warm” the rings with their blessings, or an anniversary box with a letter you’ve written to one another inside.

Or if either/both of you have a meaningful tradition from your heritage, such as breaking the glass (Jewish) or jumping the broom (African American heritage), consider including that as a part of your ceremony.

unique bridal attire jumpsuit

13. Dare to be Different: Wear Non-Traditional Attire

We love that couples are going outside the norm these days, by wearing things like colorful wedding dresses, or opting for an outfit without a dress at all! Bridal jumpsuits and jackets are so fun, especially if that’s what you feel most comfortable in.

And formal suits can look really sharp (on people of all genders!), but if something simpler is more “you,” then go for it!

elopement ideas getting ready together

14. Help Each Other Get Ready

Throw out the old tradition of waiting until the ceremony to see one another. After all, it’s your wedding day . . . who says you can’t start it off by getting ready together?

No matter the size of your wedding, getting ready together is sometimes just what feels like the best fit. And if you’re eloping, it’s also sometimes a little necessary.

15. Gifts + Surprises

Personalize your elopement day with a gift or surprise for one another. From unique perfume or cologne you know the other one loves, a surprise letter for your partner, to other custom-made gifts (like engraved jewelry or watches) or surprise activities on the day of, it’s a fun way to get creative.

16. Bring Your Pets

Make your wedding day unique by bringing your pets along for the adventure!

If you opt to plan a dog-friendly elopement, like choosing a location that’s pet-friendly, it can be a nice way of having your own fur-family together for the wedding day.

17. DIY Elopement Ideas

The world of DIY weddings and elopements is nearly limitless, and we’ve seen plenty of great examples. From custom-made wedding dresses and other attire (bridal jackets and head pieces), to DIY picnic and charcuterie boards, feel free to play around with making some (or all) of your elopement details by hand.

18. Embrace Your Weird + Funky Side

There really are no “rules” to what makes a great elopement day. And you can come up with more unique ideas we haven’t even considered yet by embracing everything that makes you you. Bring out your inner weirdo, book or game nerd, theater-geek, or whatever else lights you up inside!

19. Elopement Ideas for Couples Who Love Water

If you’re anything like us, you love being by, on, or near water of all kinds: lakes, waterfalls, oceans, rivers, rain.

And if water is a key part of who you are individually or as a couple, you can integrate it into your elopement day plans. Ride a boat together, swim in an alpine lake, go underwater, soak in a hot spring, dance in the rain, or hike to a waterfall.

20. Capture Your Elopement on Video

While we hope it becomes less of a “unique” factor, hiring an elopement videographer for your big day is still pretty uncommon. But it’s also one of the best ways to remember how your day looked and felt!

Photos are great for capturing split-second moments in time, while video complements your photos by adding a whole different dimension: with moving visuals, audio (of your vows and other ambient sounds like wind and water), and a deeper way of storytelling that photos just can’t quite create in the same way.

Destination Elopement Photography + Videography Team

No matter how you decide to make your elopement day unique, we’d be excited to join you! Skyewater Photo + Film is an elopement photography and videography team based in Washington state, capturing small weddings and elopements all over the US. Reach out to our photo + video team today to get started!

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