By Brooke Payne

 When people think of elopements they often imagine someone running away to Vegas and breaking all the rules to marry their love as

quickly as they can. Although “elope” means to “run away and get married,” elopements have become one of the most popular and beautiful ways of getting married in recent years. There is something incredibly special about creating a day based on intention and intimacy.

Elopements can include just the two of you or a handful of guests. You can incorporate traditional wedding details and traditions that you love and that hold importance to you, for example: a first look before the hike, a first dance under a sunset, or reading your own written vows. This is one of the most special days of your life and you should make the day exactly how you and your fiancé want, even if that means eloping in a beautiful place and being completely unconventional. There is no right or wrong way to do a wedding, all that matters is that you both say “I do” and the rest is up to you!

We want to share some ideas on how you can plan an elopement and make it all you have ever dreamt of and more. Aside from the beautiful backdrop for your ceremony and photos, there are a lot of financial benefits in eloping. You don’t have to pay for a venue or food for hundreds of guests, and you can add amazing details to your elopement for far less money. This allows you to save more for starting your marriage and not spend the majority of your savings on the wedding. There are hundreds of national parks to choose from with a variety of different unique locations ranging from mountains, deserts, coastlines, to anywhere your wildest dreams can imagine.

Some popular national parks with amazing scenery are Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Arches National Park, and Zion

National Park, but there are so many you can choose from. Another exceptional thing about eloping is you can have your honeymoon in the same destination you chose to get married. Lots of national parks have campgrounds; some even have beautiful lodges and Airbnbs that are located near the parks for your stay.

The first step to eloping is choosing your location. Researching the area is important for understanding if there are any seasonal closures or entry requirements. Research the times of the year that the location has the best conditions for your wedding. The best part of elopements is the nature and scenery, but the worst is the changing weather when it comes to planning. National parks also require permits, so make sure to check out the park’s website to guide you through the process.

The next step from there would be hiring your vendors. Hire a photographer and videographer who are familiar with elopements and can find a view that is insanely beautiful to read your vows and celebrate your love.

Photographers will know the permit rules, the best times of the day to go, and secluded spots. They will be a big help in your planning. There are also wedding planners, florists, and officiates who specialize in elopements anywhere you choose to go. Vendors will help your elopement come to life, bringing in all the astounding details and organizing everything for you. Vendors will help to create a timeline for your day that will allow you to have an ample amount of magical moments. In your wedding day itinerary, make sure you have allocated enough time for your getting ready photos and the time it takes for you to travel and hike to your location before your ceremony.

When packing for an elopement there are a few crucial items your checklist should include. Comfy shoes are so important—let’s face it, hiking in the mountains or trekking through the sand will not be the easiest in heels, so you will want comfortable shoes with good tread and support to get you through your hike comfortably. Once you get to your location, you can always slip into your cute shoes for your dress or suit.

Top priority of the list is bringing your vows, especially if you have written your own, and also your rings. Make sure to keep them in a safe place where they won’t be misplaced. Snacks and water are a must when doing a hiking elopement to keep you hydrated and energized. Whatever florist you choose can make you a gorgeous bouquet that you can pack on your backpack or carry with you. Bringing champagne is a great way to celebrate after your ceremony, to pop for a photo and toast with each other. Aside from those things, you can bring anything that makes your elopement unique and special to you.