Even though we typically think of destination elopements as spontaneous, almost impulsive acts of passion, there’s still a little bit of planning that goes into one if you want everything to go off without a hitch.
They key to a wonderful elopement is knowing the right time to do certain activities, and how to get to where you’re going in the first place.
We’ve put together a little timeline to take some of the headaches away and act as a guide for your elopement planning.
Why It’s Crucial to Plan Ahead
You want your elopement to be as stress-free as possible, right? Doing a couple hours of planning can save days worth of headaches in advance.
Even though elopements are typically smaller than weddings, there’s still a lot that goes into one if you’ve invited some friends and family and want to treat them to a good celebration. Then there is simply the importance of holding your ceremony at the right time so that it doesn’t interfere with other activities you have planned.
A properly planned destination elopement is something that can make what could be a monumental series of headaches and hiccups into a streamlined series of connected events that fit like clockwork.
Start with When You’re Holding the Ceremony
This is the centerpiece of your celebration, of course. But there’s a lot to think about other than where to have it and what to wear. The when can be almost as important, and here’s why: the lighting.
You want to avoid having a wedding ceremony of any kind fall exactly at noon or even an hour before or after. There’s a reason why it’s so desirable to have intimate photography done at sunset: it not only looks beautiful, but it makes getting incredible shots that much easier.
If you really want your elopement photos to stand out and have perfect lighting, you’re going to want your ceremony either in the morning or early evening (approx 1 1/2 hours or 2 hours before sunset), especially if you are planning to have a good portion of the ceremony outdoors. Nothing worse than a bride and groom squinting into a camera or harsh shadows across their face.
Once you know when you want to hold the actual ceremony, you can plan the rest of your day and night accordingly.
Preparing for the Elopement Ceremony
With all the fanfare surrounding the actual elopement, sometimes it’s easy to forget that you have to actually prepare “day of.”
Specifically, makeup and hair for the bride is extremely important. Even if you are going for an extremely casual, carefree elopement with minimal fanciness, the bride is going to want to make sure she’s looking her best, which means an hour or two of prep time.
Make sure you make room before the ceremony for hair and makeup. If you work this into the schedule ahead of time, you will save tons of stress when the day actually comes.
If you are having a stylist do your hair or makeup, triple check that they know the time of the day they are providing their service to you, make sure they know how to get to you if you’re not going to them, and above all, make sure you have a backup plan.
Guest Transportation and Venue Location
So you booked a fantastic hotel and you’ve planned a gorgeous little elopement – it won’t do your guests any good if they can’t get there to see it!
One of the least talked about wedding and elopement concerns is guest transportation. Not everyone will necessarily be coming by car, especially if your guests are coming in from out of state, had to fly to the destination, or if it’s taking place in the city.
Are you coordinating a couple buses? Are you relying on uber? Private car rental? Whatever the choice is, make sure you talk it over and plan ahead of time, and ensure that your guests have more than one viable option in case something goes awry.
If it’s the case where many of your guests can’t rely on their own transportation, it’s the bride and groom’s responsibility to see that your guests are accommodated. At the end of the day it’s their decision whether or not to utilize the services, but at least if you organize a shuttle or coordinate something, the option is there.
Venue location is also extremely important. All of your guests should have an easy time finding the courthouse, hotel, or ceremony location, and should have an easy means of double-checking where it is, such as on their invitation or on a social media site such as Facebook.
The location relative to parking and coordinating guests is also important. In the days leading up to the ceremony it might be wise to “scope out” the most important locations for your elopement and make sure they provide adequate parking and if not, suggest alternatives to your guests.
This is an area where the more homework you do beforehand, the less random snafus are liable to happen when you are having the ceremony. Parking can be a nightmare for dozens of people in a congested, unfamiliar area. Ease their burden (and yours) by planning ahead of time!
An elopement should be about romance first and the extras second. A proper schedule will ensure that you can focus a bit more on the former and less on the latter.
Make Reservations at Your Restaurant of Choice
One of the best parts of an elopement is not having to necessarily get tied down with a huge dinner party at a hotel. Instead, you can opt for a more romantic setting with only your closest friends and family, or even just you and your significant other.
The most important thing to remember is that a reservation is everything. The last thing you want is your heart set on a great restaurant only to be turned away. This is especially true of high class, high reputation venues that typically cater to celebrations. They’re bound to be booked, even if it’s off season or the middle of the week.
Even if you expect that there won’t be a problem getting in, you’re going to want to set up a reservation anyway. You don’t want to leave this kind of thing to chance. Also, if you’re celebrating with more than just a few people, any good restaurant is going to want to know ahead of time so that they can be properly prepared.
If you’re elopement destination of choice is indeed New Orleans, we’ve put together a must-have guide for choosing the best restaurant for an elopement dinner.
You’re also going to want to make sure you and your guests have an easy way of getting to the restaurant, so this is another instance of double-checking with uber, your private car rentals, or any kind of other transportation you are coordinating. Plan ahead!
After The Celebration is Over
What couples love about elopements is that they are like a wedding and honeymoon wrapped into one. Just because you just got married doesn’t mean the next day has to go back to the daily routine until the date of your honeymoon. The romance and excitement is just beginning.
There are a ton of amazing world-class restaurants in New Orleans, there’s no reason not to live it up and tour some of the best food the south has to offer. Attend a live jazz show, which are amazing and easy to find in the city, or tour the Mississippi river on a cruise.
With all of the art and culture in New Orleans, you can easily fill a day sightseeing the Historic district or visiting the various museums that pepper the city. Finish the night off with a stroll through the gorgeous French Quarter and stop for some drinks at one of the local lounges.
Whichever venues you decide on, make sure you do it ahead of time. Yes, there’s fun in spontaneity, but what’s even better is not having to stress about details when you should be having the time of your life.
Before the big day, sit down and plan out a time table for your celebration, including the days after, with all of the relevant times, dates, contact info, travel info, and anything else you and your guests need to make everything run smoothly. This is one of the biggest “secrets” to an unforgettable, flawless elopement. For more information and tips on Eloping, see more blogs here or email us at Info@ElopeToNola.com