what is an adventure wedding and how to plan an adventure wedding

No two couples are exactly the same, which is why your wedding day shouldn’t feel cookie-cutter and should instead reflect your unique connection and personalities. Weddings come with heightened expectations about it being one of the best days ever, so why not make sure it’s something that’ll actually be fun for you, your partner, and any guests you choose to include?

If you prefer the non-traditional, enjoy traveling, value experiences over things, or love exploring outdoors, an adventure wedding or adventure elopement could be calling your name.

What is an adventure wedding?

An adventure wedding (or elopement) is all about the experience. Imagine hiking up a mountain with your significant other, reaching the top, and then exchanging vows with a rush of adrenaline and nothing but love for your partner.

No matter what type of outdoor experience you prefer, adventure weddings of all kinds are meant to celebrate a couple’s love by doing something they love to do. While a bit nontraditional, an adventure wedding day is preferred for the free-spirited couples who are wild at heart and looking for an experience that’s unlike anything else.

How do I plan an adventure wedding/elopement?

Adventure weddings make for a memorable story to share down the road. Just know that if you’re considering planning an adventure elopement, there are a few details you’ll want to make sure to consider when designing the day you’re dreaming of. Here’s how to plan the day in 5 easy steps:

1 – Choose the perfect adventure wedding location.

While the name may sound daunting for those who are curious, an adventure wedding doesn’t necessarily have to be at the top of a mountain or require a wild trek through the woods. These types of celebrations just have to be an adventure for the two of you.

This could mean a secluded location in the forest, the rooftop of an insanely high building, or even flying through the sky in a helicopter. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box — most things can be turned into a venue for two if you want them to be!

Figure out what interests or adventurous hobbies you two have and see if you can find a way to incorporate that into your ceremony location. You might even head over to our other blog post Wedding Ideas for Daring and Adventurous Couples for more inspiration!

Wherever you choose, always remember to Leave No Trace so that future couples and adventure lovers can enjoy the same views and locations you do. Just taking a few simple steps to be more aware of your actions and surroundings can do wonders for preserving beautiful natural spaces.

2 – Determine your guest list.

The big question here is, guests or no guests?

Depending on the location and how challenging the trek to get there is, you may or may not want to have guests join you. While some locations are favorable to a small group of 5-10 people, other spots may be a better fit for an elopement with just the two of you, the officiant and, of course, a photographer to document it all.

If your loved ones want to join you after the ceremony, set up a small dinner or host an intimate gathering at a later date to celebrate with close friends and family. Once you’ve experienced your small but scenic ceremony, you’ll want to gather your loved ones to share the thrilling details from your nuptials and view the photos from your big day.

The size of your guest list will also help you determine what arrangements you need to make for accommodations. Will you need help scouting out the best lodging in the area, or will you be celebrating back home with everyone later? Figuring out who will share in your big day is important to nail down all of these details.

3 – Select the right vendors.

Depending on whether you’re leaning towards simple and rustic versus elegant and glam for your ceremony, your vendor list may look a little different. Will you be doing your own makeup or hiring a makeup artist? Will you include florals or let the natural beauty of the area speak for itself?

You’ll have to make decisions about which vendors you need based on how you and your partner want your wedding day to look and feel.

Most likely though, you’ll at least want an adventure wedding photography and videography team to capture the memories of your day. Hiring a photographer first can be super helpful — with plenty of adventure wedding and elopement experience, we love helping couples with the planning process, including finding the best spots, recommending other vendors, and ironing out all of the tedious details.

4 – Pick a date.

This step could come earlier on in the process, but remaining flexible with your date can be beneficial when selecting vendors and locations.

For help picking out a date for your adventure wedding or elopement, think about the seasons and types of activities you’d enjoy on your wedding day. Certain parks and locations may not be open in the winter, but if you and your partner are avid skiers or big fans of the winter holidays, it may be the perfect time to get married!

It all comes down to the things you both enjoy and how you can incorporate that into your big day.

5 – Plan your adventure wedding logistics.

When planning an adventurous experience like this, it can feel like the hard part is over once you’ve figured out the when and the where. And while these smaller, intimate weddings do require less planning and less money than a traditional wedding, there are still details to consider before you can officially check off all the boxes. 

Here are some other important considerations:

Creating an Adventure Wedding Packing List

Where and when you have your ceremony will determine what you might need to bring or prepare for.

For example, if your ceremony spot requires an uphill hike to get there, you’ll need to either stash your heels in a bag and switch them out once you get to the top, or forgo the fancy heels altogether and wear your favorite hiking boots.

Because most adventure weddings and elopements take place outside, it’s key to think about all of the elements that might affect your big day and how you prepare for it. Think layers for colder weather, umbrellas or jackets for rain, breezy materials and sun protection for warmer climates, etc.

Getting to/from Your Adventure Wedding

What kind of transportation will you and your guests need for your adventure wedding or elopement? Are you hiking there yourself? Is it a remote or backcountry location that requires a 4×4 vehicle? 

How will you get from the ceremony to the reception to your accommodations if they’re in different locations? All of these things are important to think about when planning your adventurous wedding day.

Deciding on a Timeline for Your Wedding / Elopement

Having a private, intimate ceremony may require waking up early to get to that scenic viewpoint before the other sightseers wake up. Depending on how adventurous you want to be, planning for activities like kayaking, skiing, (more) hiking, will help you craft your day-of timeline too.

No matter what, make sure you schedule in some extra time before, during, and after your ceremony to soak it all in with your partner. This is a special day, and you don’t want it to fly by in a blur! So be intentional about your time.

Obtaining the Necessary Paperwork

Depending on where you choose to get married, you’ll very likely need a permit to use the space for your ceremony. Make sure to call the appropriate offices or check online for more details about whether a permit is required for your spot, how much it costs, and how to apply for it.

Another important document you won’t want to forget is your marriage license. Different states have different license requirements, including how and when you apply, witness requirements, and waiting periods. Make sure you do your research ahead of time so there are no surprises.

6 – Pack your bags!

The planning will go by faster than you think! Once you’ve checked all the boxes and completed all the to-do’s, it’s time to get excited about your adventure wedding and enjoy your day with the person or people you love.

Planning an Adventure Wedding? Reach Out to Skyewater!

Skyewater Photo + Film is an adventure elopement and destination wedding photo and video team based in Colorado. We help couples plan elopements all over the US, and offer insight for more than just photography: from planning assistance, finding and booking locations, vendor references and more! Reach out to our elopement photography and videography team today to get more info!

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