ELOPEMENT PLANNER // ELOPEMENT PLANNING // DESTINATION ELOPEMENT PLANNER // ADVENTURE WEDDING
It’s probably safe to assume that if you’re looking to elope outdoors you care about the preservation of nature. You know to respect wildlife and your surroundings, but what else? I’m happy to report that it doesn’t take much more than awareness and educated choices to have an environmentally conscious elopement! There are simple switches you can implement and basic guidelines that can minimize your impact on the area you’re choosing to say “I do”. Truly, you can have the wedding of your dreams, at a once-in-a-lifetime destination, all while feeling empowered and proud of your decisions to make it a reality.
Environmentally conscious planning starts with the vendors you hire to make it happen, who/what you choose to bring along for the ride, and how you conduct yourself outdoors during your elopement. You’ll learn that it’s not about making sacrifices, it’s about mindful decisions! I’ll warn you now, you’re going to be shocked by how easy it is. You’ll wonder why everyone doesn’t go about planning their elopement this way…
Due to the rising popularity of elopements, more and more vendors are becoming eco-conscious and are eager to educate couples looking to elope in their area! There are caterers that will arrange and pack picnics for you to take with you, rental companies that can provide decorative accents that you don’t want to travel with and florists that craft dried bouquets that can stand the test of time. And photographers (hey, that’s me!) that can help scout locations, make sure you’re prepared for the environment, suggest accommodations, and guide you during your elopement. Find good people and lean on their expertise!
Realistically how much do you want to carry on your back during your elopement? Start with the essentials and build up from there!
Then you can think about what details will enhance your experience and compliment the environment surrounding you! Luckily the nature you choose to surround yourself with during your elopement will do most of the work for you as far as looks go!
If you’re looking to invite more than 15 people to your elopement consider using a designated outdoor venue, as most outdoor spaces cannot responsibly accommodate that many guests without impacting the surrounding environment. Many of the National Parks throughout the United States actually have designated areas where you can tie the knot that hold up to 50 people! No matter how many loved ones are joining you on your wedding day, be sure to familiarize them with the LNT principles and that they have the physical capabilities to safely get to your desired destination!
Small swaps that can make a big difference →
Whether you’re having a handful of people attend your elopement or no one at all chances are you still want to keep your loved ones in the loop AND you want to show off your cute engagement photos with an announcement! Instead of traditional stationary that’ll get tossed in the trash consider recycled paper, seed paper that can be planted or composted, or a fun digital announcement!
Local florists will be able to tell you which flowers are in season, will be hearty enough to hold up during a day of adventuring, and aren’t invasive to the environment you’ll be in. It is important to avoid flowers that will drop seeds and petals while you hike. Some national parks won’t allow you to bring certain flowers on your hike as their seeds can disrupt the environment.
Who doesn’t love a good celebratory champagne pop!? But what if I told you a lot of couples are opting for sparking water for those fun photos instead of sticky champagne that attracts wildlife to the area? This simple switch is great for the environment and you can set aside a bottle of champagne to actually enjoy!
Luckily if you’re eloping outdoors you have beautiful, built-in decor all around you! As for additional touches, thrifting and renting decor is an amazing way to eliminate waste. It’s tempting to order a dozen trendy items off of Amazon, but try to think about what items will make the most significant impact on your day, if you will use them again, and if there’s a way to source them locally/used.
The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace are a framework to protect, preserve, and minimize our impact in the outdoors. Here is a brief overview so you can begin your elopement planning with these valuable principles in mind!
In planning your elopement it’s crucial to research the area you’re going to! You need to research things like what to pack, when to go, if you need a permit, if your pets can come, if there are any existing fire bans or seasonal road closures, and if you have the capabilities to accomplish your trip goals safely. The more prepared you are the more safe you’ll be, the more fun you have. And the more you’ll be able to protect the natural resources around you. Win, win, win!
It’s so tempting to take shortcuts, to run out into a field of wildflowers, and to explore uninhibited—but the cost is damage to the natural vegetation that could take years (if ever) to recover and it disturbs the wildlife. In order to move through the land with minimal impact, stick to trails, pay attention to marked signs, and understand the landscape you’re exploring. Rock, sand and gravel are things that can withstand more traffic and there’s a less likelihood of disrupting the environment.
Take your trash and waste with you. Yes that includes poop and yes, that will be the least romantic part of your elopement. As far as trash goes that means allll trash, even if it says it’s biodegradable or it’s food scraps. Not only does trash disturb the natural environment, but it pollutes waterways, spreads disease, and it harms wildlife. Make sure whatever you’re taking with you on your elopement that you have the means to also take it back.
I know it’s tempting to pocket a memento from the day whether it’s a fossil or a flower—but that takes away from everyone else’s experience in that area. And this should go without saying, but please refrain from carving your lovely initials into trees or rocks as well. Savor the moment, soak up this beautiful place that has brought you two together, and take pictures of it all so you can remember all the little details.
Nothing beats sitting by a fire, cuddled up with the one you love. But before adding that into your elopement plans first look into whether or not that county has any active fire bans. If yes, then it’s important to find an existing fire ring or designated area and have someone with the knowledge to start a fire. Keep an eye out of wind picking up or embers being dispersed during your fire. Then stay until it is totally extinguished so you can scatter the cool ashes!
Let’s keep you and the critters safe during your elopement—do not feed, pursue, or touch any wildlife. Admire them from afar, snap a few photos, and move on with caution. If you’re going to an area where specific dangerous animal encounters have occurred make sure you do your due diligence in educating yourself on how to manage an encounter.
You’re probably wanting to elope outdoors, because you want to enjoy the beauty and seclusion of nature—which is what most people are doing as well! In order to make sure everyone is having an enjoyable time, be courteous. And if you’re looking for more privacy look into trails that aren’t as heavily trafficked, going to popular destinations during the slow season, or exploring during the early/late hours of the day!
We all have them saved on Instagram and pinned to our Pinterest boards, those epic, can’t-believe-it’s-real-life elopement photos. Sadly, a lot of those photographs are taken off trail, in areas that are unsafe (straight up deadly), or they aren’t permitted to be in. Or, sadder yet, those gorgeous areas that were open to the public are now closed down due to people trashing and trampling the environment. Now, for the good news, there are countless accessible locations where you’re permitted to have your elopement!
Check out these epic and drop-dead-gorgeous elopements:
Only together can we maintain and protect the outdoors, so everyone can continue enjoying it for years to come. Now, let’s find the location of your dreams!!