HOW TO PLAN YOUR WEDDING
PLAN OUT THE DETAILS
Once you've figured out the big picture decisions for your day: who you're inviting, where you're going, and how long your trip is going to be -- the next step of your wedding planning process is to plan out the details.
You're going to need to book your travel, book a place to stay (either for just the two of you or also for your guests), choose what vendors to hire, what activities you two want to include in your experience, pick out your wedding day attire, and gather any extra gear you may need.
I'll be honest, this step can feel a bit overwhelming and lengthy and yeah, there's a lot going on. Just remember that your wedding day is all about what you want, so if your vision doesn't include some of the things I go over here, don't sweat it!
What matters most is that you two are planning the day that speaks to you!
Take your time with all of these decisions and most of all, have fun with it! I'm here for you every step of the way, so if you have any questions or want more ideas or suggestions, feel free to reach out with questions. I've got your back.
BOOK YOUR TRAVEL
TRAVEL BOOKING PRO TIPS
TIP 1: SCHEDULE SO YOU CAN GET TO YOUR LOCATION EARLY
One thing I've learned by traveling is to not fly in the day before a big activity -- so if at all possible, I highly suggest getting to your wedding location as early as your schedule allows. If there's a time change from your home to your destination, giving yourself a few days to get adjusted really helps. If you're going to a high-elevation location, it's extremely helpful to have at least 48-72 hours to acclimate to the altitude before doing anything strenuous to best avoid altitude sickness. No matter how far you're headed, giving yourself time to get settled and gather all of your day-of details without any stress (flowers, marriage licenses, wedding cake, etc) is a much more relaxing experience.
TIP 2: CHECK FLIGHT SALES & USE REWARDS (if you have them)
If you have been collecting travel rewards with credit cards, this could be a great reason to redeem them and splurge on your travel experience! Oftentimes, business class or first class flights are a really good value to redeem with points. If you haven't explored credit card rewards for travel yet, exploring these two sites is a great place to start!
Flight sales may make more sense than using points. You can us the following to set flight alerts for sales from your local airport, to monitor sales for particular routes you are interested in, or to use their explore or map functions to find the best flight deals:
BOOK YOUR LODGING
When it comes to planning your wedding, picking where you'll stay is almost as fun as choosing your ceremony spot. It's the place you'll wake up on your wedding day and where you'll come back to after you're married!
I personally suggest viewing your lodging as part of your whole wedding experience. Think outside the box and give yourself permission to consider fun rentals like cute AirBnbs, A-frames in the woods, treehouses, yurts, oceanside villas, or any kind of place that you think is aesthetically appealing, super enjoyable, and fits the vibe for the rest of your day. Pick somewhere that you two will thoroughly love spending time together.
ACCOMMODATION BOOKING PRO TIPS
TIP 1: THINK ABOUT NATURAL LIGHT & AESTHETICS
Are there good windows in your space? Does the decor vibe with the vision you have for the day? You might want some getting ready or other photos where you're staying and good lighting and decor can make a huge difference in your photos.
TIP 2: CHECK REVIEWS
Especially when it comes to lodging, it's important to read listing descriptions and reviews thoroughly before booking to avoid any unwanted surprises.
TIP 3: HOW FAR IS IT FROM YOUR CEREMONY SPOT?
Map your route on Google Maps between your ceremony spot and where you plan to stay. I suggest trying to find lodging as close as possible (within a 60-minute drive, if you can) so that you don't have to spend too much of your day driving. Some more remote areas may require more travel, but the closer you can stay to your ceremony location, the smoother your timeline will be.
TIP 4: GET SOME PRIVACY
If you're having a wedding with guests, think about booking your own space the night before and after your wedding so you can get plenty of rest and enjoy even more time together, just the two of you.
NEED SOME ACCOMMODATION
I'M HERE FOR YOU.
Where you stay for your wedding will absolutely affect your experience, so find a place that makes you happy! Here are a few resources I like to scope out when I'm looking for fun, unique places to stay:
3) Glamping Hub
4) Boutique Homes
5) Under Canvas
7) Book a Treehouse
8) Castle Rentals
CHOOSE YOUR VENDORS & DETAILS
While it's not required to hire any particular vendors (hair & make-up artist, florist, etc) for your day, partnering with a few high-quality, amazing vendors who are on board with helping you create your dream elopement can absolutely elevate your experience and shows your unique style.
Hiring vendors isn't necessarily about turning your day into a big production, but about getting some help so you don't have to do everything yourself. High-quality vendors means you can relax, knowing some of the big day-of "to do's" are in the hands of the professionals, and you can just sit back and enjoy the experience.
The most common vendors that couples hire for elopements & weddings are florists, hair & make-up artists, officiants, chefs & caterers, and videographers. If you have an idea and aren't sure who to hire to help, just ask.
Here's my best advice on how to pick the best high-quality vendors:
Before you hire any vendor, read lots of reviews to make sure they not only have the professional skills required but also fit with the vibe and experience you're looking for.
Read contracts carefully and make sure everything you've agreed upon is in writing.
If a vendor is going to be physically present on your day, see if you can talk to them on the phone or a video call to get a feel for their personality and make sure you enjoy being around them.
If you're not sure where to start when it comes to looking for vendors, don't worry, there are plenty of resources to search through, like: The Knot, Wedding Wire, Google, Junebug Weddings, Green Wedding Shoes, Pinterest, Instagram hashtags, & more.
Remember, I have a lot of suggestions for talented vendors based in or around the locations I shoot in frequently --
I'd be more than happy to share them all with you! Just ask me!
THING TO CONSIDER WHEN HIRING THESE VENDORS...
HAIR & MAKE-UP ARTIST
I've gotten a lot of feedback from couples that they were happiest with their photos when they looked closer to their everyday selves. For example, if you typically wear your hair down, a fancy updo might not be the best option for you on your wedding day. Similarly, if you don't wear a lot of make-up on a daily basis, you might not feel comfortable with a heavy make-up style on your wedding day.
It even happened to me for my own wedding day! After spending hundreds of dollars on my wedding day make-up, I ended up returning to the venue and washing it all off so I could make myself look well, more like myself!
To keep your skin look true to life, it's best to avoid mineral sunscreens, spray tans, and self-tanner on or before your elopement day.
Professionally designed florals can add so much color and romantic "wedding vibes" to your day in a way that can be totally customized to your style. The floral arrangements I've seen that work the best for weddings need to hold up to transport well (especially if we're hiking!) and also potential outdoor elements such as hot or cold temperatures or wind. Ask your florist for hearty blooms that aren't super fragile and look for things like dried flowers, grasses, plants with woody stems, sustainably sourced feathers, and materials that don't produce seed. Depending on your location, you may need to go with native, non-invasive species.
When talking with your florist:
Let them know your budget, color schemes, season location, and vision for your day.
Tell them if you are hiking or expect the flowers to be jostled around a lot. If so, communicate that you're looking for a hearty bouquet that will last.
Send photos and inspiration of what you're looking for. Are you looking for a more "wild" bouquet, or something more round and traditional?
Would you like any floral hair pieces? Boutonnieres? Corsages? Additional florals for decorating? Loose stems to use for photos of your details?
Be sure to trust in the professional and let them guide you through color theory and the creative process. Do your best to remain open to the ideas -- a collaborative process always results in the most wonderful outcomes!
Marriage laws vary greatly throughout countries and the states. For example, in some U.S. states you can legally self-solemnize (marry yourselves), while others may require an officiant and/or witness(es). In some states, you can even have a friend or family member get ordained easily and for free through an organization like the Universal Life Church, which is recognized in most U.S. states. If you do choose to have an officiant, they will play an important role in your ceremony, so it's important to make sure you find someone you really click and connect with.
Video can be a great additional way to document your wedding story! When considering adding video to your day, it's key to find a videographer with a similar shooting approach to your photographer. I personally prefer collaborating with non-intrusive, documentary-style videographers who don't turn your day into a production. To keep an intimate and private feel to your wedding day, consider hiring a solo videographer rather than an entire team.
CATERING & PRIVATE CHEFS
It's super important to stay well fed and hydrated during your day, and one of the easiest things to forget about is food! Hiring a private chef to create you a stunning and delicious one-of-a-kind meal is a well-worth-the-indulgence experience that you'll never forget. Don't be afraid to treat yourself and remember that this is your wedding day, and while hiring your top-choice chef or caterer might most more per person than someone would typically spend on a plate of food for a big wedding, with less guests (or just the two of you!), it's something definitely worth considering splurging on!
A musician can be a great touch to your wedding day. Having live music can really amplify your wedding day experience, whether you plan to invite someone to play softly during your ceremony or you hire your favorite local band to perform a private concert as you enjoy dinner and dancing.
Not all locations allow amplified music, especially in National Parks and public spaces, so a live musician can be a great alternative.
Your lodging can offer a great private space for your wedding concert, especially if amplified music is not permitted at your ceremony site.
Consider the mood you're setting. Are you looking for something mellow and acoustic? Or something more upbeat for dancing and celebrations?
Will you be doing a first dance? Are there specific songs you'd like played?
Remember, music can be a great source of entertainment for all, especially if there will be some "down time" for guests while you're out taking portraits.
While I love helping couples find amazing outdoor locations for wedding ceremonies & portraits and giving all the advice I have, I'm not a full-service wedding planner who will book vendors for you. If you need in-depth assistance with booking lodging and catering, would like to have someone do all the coordination with your vendors, or are looking for a day-of coordinator who could help with set up and tear down, I'd suggest reaching out to a full-service planner who specializes in elopement and wedding planning.
OUT OF THE BOX VENDOR IDEAS
DESSERTS & WEDDING CAKES
Many eloping couples choose to indulge in some sort of sweets on their wedding day and hey, why not!? Traditionally the dessert of choice is wedding cake, but you could absolutely think outside of the box and choose any favorite dessert -- pies, cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, donuts, etc! Your baker will be able to guide you with portion sizes for the number of guests and will work with you to create the perfect design. Pinterest is a great place to gather some inspiration ahead of time too!
If this isn't an area you'd like to splurge on, but you'd still like to enjoy a nice treat, consider going to a nearby bakery or organic grocery store and purchasing a pre-made dessert. You can easily transfer it to a beautiful plate, add some floral decorations around the edges, and have a professional-looking dessert in no time!
Some unique ideas to infuse into your wedding day:
A jeweler who will let you make your own rings
A tattoo artist who will give you wedding day tattoos
A hot air balloon, helicopter, or bush-plane pilot
A professional 4x4 or vintage vehicle driver
A rock-climbing, canyoneering, or mountaineering guide
These are a few (local-to-the-Adirondack) vendors I recommend!
However, these are ideas and suggestions only. I do my best to vet everyone who is on this list but ultimately it's your responsibility to do your own research, contact vendors directly, and to make your own decision on who you feel is best to hire.
This is a constantly evolving list so if you have a personal experience with a vendor that you'd like to share, I'm all ears!