How to Ditch the Big White Wedding + Elope

Oahu hawaii intimate wedding elopement photographer

So heres my philosophy: There’s not a right or wrong way to get married. If you want a big white wedding, please have one. But don’t have one because you think you’re supposed to have one. There are lots of ways to celebrate your union. Personally, I love elopements. I mean love them so much, I made being apart of them my job. I love the intimacy and the rawness, and I’m partial, but the photos are amazing. If you’re here reading this, I feel like we might be on the same page. So if you wanna ditch the Big White Wedding, but you’re unsure of what to do, here’s how you can start.

Oahu hawaii intimate wedding elopement photographer

Letting family down gently 

So you wanna elope, but… you’re family isn’t a fan of the idea of not seeing you get married. Thats fair, and understandable. Especailly in a society that promotes the big wedding industry. But the thing you need to understand is that this is YOUR day. Not Grandma’s, not Aunt Sue’s not even Mom’s. This is your day, and you get to decide how to celebrate it. But explaining it can be difficult, so, here’s an idea on what to say :

If you have a family member who wants to be apart of your day, explain to them how special they are to you, but that this is how you want to celebrate the union of you and your partner. Let them know, that while untraditional, you feel its the best way to start you and your partners lives together. Explain it was a carefully made decision, but ultimately, the decision is yours to make.

If you still want some inclusion of family, here are a couple options to merge elopements and the people you love!

  • Let super close relatives come with. Personally, I’m going to have an adventure elopement. But both our parents, siblings, and best friends will be there on that mountain with us. 

  • Have a reception afterward. If you’re trying to save money, this option is less viable. But having a small reception later in the day, or when you’re back from the honeymoon, and inviting the family that really wants to be there is an option. Going back to my dream day, that I’ve meticulously planned as a single pringle, I’m eloping with fam with us, ditching them for an hour to take rad photos (and probably make out a little…), and then heading back to a venue where more friends and family are waiting to celebrate. I love the idea of eloping, but I still want a father daughter dance, and to shove cake in my future hubby’s face. The reception will still be small, probably no more than 30-50 people. But this is a way to celebrate while still eloping. 

  • I feel like grandparents are typically the most offended about getting uninvited- another way is suggesting a celebration at grandmas, or aunt sue’s. A small party, celebration, but not a wedding. 

  • Have an Intimate Wedding. Merge a wedding and an elopement, and have a small gathering of people at an intimate venue. Many venues are nestled in really amazing places, so you can still get the adventurous feel, while having family and friends be apart of the day.

Finding a freaking cool location 

Okay, so there’s a few different ways to elope. You could climb a mountain or hit up some really amazing place like Yosemite, or Arches national park. This is an adventure elopement. You could also find a significant location in you and your partners lives. The park where you met, your living room, etc.. And there’s the classic courthouse elopement. Its you, a judge, a witness (maybe a friend or a photographer). All of these options are wicked cool. And finding the right one really depends on personality. 

Some really rad locations to have an adventure elopement :

  • Yosemite NP, California

  • Paris, France

  • Bend, Oregon 

  • Hawaii ( I’m a bit partial to this one) All the islands offer amazing places to elope!

  • Joshua Tree NP, California

  • Mount Rainer NP, Washington

  • Redwood forest, California

  • Arches NP, Utah

  • Big Sur, California

  • Golden Gate Bridge, San Fran

  • The Almafi Coast, Italy

And there are so so many more. The great thing is, you can elope pretty much anywhere, so pick a dreamy location and make it happen!

Oahu hawaii intimate wedding elopement photographer



Finding the vendors 

** Finding vendors far away from you is difficult, but you’re in luck! Search no further, you’ve found a photographer that will go to literally any of the places listed above, and really, anywhere else! if you’re interested in booking a destination elopement, or you just want to learn more about elopements and have questions, inquire with me here , and I’ll send some extra info about travel and destination elopements! **

Eloping and having less vendors doens’t mean having no vendors. Depending on what kind of elopement, and how intricate or simple you want to keep it, this is a list of the things you’re gonna need.

  •  Officiant

    This one is a bit obvious. But you don’t have to hire a minister! Anyone can get ordained, and you can Monica-and-Chandler this thing, and have a close friend or family member marry you! I photographed my dads best friend’s wedding: He officiated, I took pictures, my sister played music. We took over the wedding, and it was awesome.

  • Photographer

    Okay, I might be biased. but I think this one is super necessary! Plus you always need a witness. Plus the photos are so cool! Plus, c’mon, you can’t not have photos of your wedding day!

  • Dress

    You don’t have to buy a $5000 dress though. There are plenty of other options!

    • You can rent wedding dresses!

    • Etsy has great dresses that are a fraction of the cost

    • Thrift. Use a family members, or buy a used dress

    • Unconventional: Prom dress. Y’all my prom dress was mistaken for a wedding dress multiple times. Me and my date got congratulated like every 2 minutes when we were in public. The dress was beautiful, and like $150!

  • Rings

    Gotta have em. Etsy is a great place to look for these guys, too! Or, matching tattoos anyone?

  • Flowers

    • a bouquet / floral aragements aren’t necessary , but if you have the budget, they can add real deminsion and expression to the day! And since you won’t be needing as many, its still hella cheap!

  • Shoes / Accessories

    Maybe you’re wearing boots or chaos to climb a mountain. barefoot on the beach is always acceptable. And I’ve always loved a good bridal jacket!

  • Backpack

    Eloping on a mountain top? You might need a pack to carry your stuff. REI and other stores like it are a great resource!

Alright, you’re now officially pre-prepared to elope! If you aren’t convinced yet, check out my other very conviening blog post about why I think you should elope here, and if you still need convincing after that, check out my favorite elopement of all time : Tyler and Anna’s mountain top elopement here


Oahu hawaii intimate wedding elopement photographer