Adventure Elopements + Intimate Weddings


January 25th, 2021

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In a worldwide pandemic, tons of couples have had to cancel or postpone their weddings. Some however, have taken a more memorable and unique route - eloping! My fiance, Devon, and I planned to have an intimate wedding on top of a mesa before COVID-19 hit and it was all the craze, but now that it’s become the modern way to get hitched, planning is so much easier. We live in Virginia but will be having an intimate wedding ceremony near Zion National Park, Utah. Here are some of my tips and advice as a bride and a photographer!


Facebook groups have been my hail-mary when it comes to planning my own intimate wedding. They offer advice from vendors and brides from all over the world. A few of my favorite are:

Elopement vs Intimate Wedding

To keep the “Karens” off your back, know the difference between eloping and having an intimate wedding. Both are awesome ways to go, but have distinct differences. If you’re wanting to avoid paying for 300 people who you see once a year to eat and drink all night, in return for a toaster that you already have, elopements and intimate weddings are for you!


Typically in a true elopement, it would just be the two of you and at most a photographer (if you choose to have one) and officiant (if the state you’re eloping in requires it). Elopements are generally a private, secretive, spur of the moment situation, meaning no friends and family are involved.

Intimate Wedding

An intimate wedding is similar to an elopement in the aspect of avoiding the whole big wedding, crowds, cost ordeal, but still involves planning and including your loved ones. Intimate weddings usually have between 5-15 guests.

Location Scouting

Finding the location for your adventure elopement or intimate wedding can sometimes be difficult. Devon and I found our wedding spot while on a trip to Utah. Zion National Park holds a special place in our hearts, so we decided it would be the best place for us to share this special day.

• National Parks - National Parks are beautiful places to hold elopements and intimate weddings. They offer stunning scenery, but DO YOUR RESEARCH! Having a ceremony within park limits usually results in fees and needing a permit. Often, National Parks only have a few designated spots where you can get hitched. Rangers WILL track you down and ruin your big day, so don’t even think about trying to get away with it in another location, or without a permit. I’ve also seen that some National Parks have employees whose job is to literally stalk your social media and if they see you had an unpermitted wedding, they will fine you.

• BLM Land - The Bureau of Land Management is an awesome alternative instead of using National Park Land. They usually border National Parks and give the same stunning scenery. You also need to reach out to a BLM agent, but permits are typically much cheaper and sometimes not necessary. Devon and I are having our ceremony on BLM land literally 10 feet from Zion National Park and we got a Letter of Authorization for free! Letter of Authorizations are based on the amount of people attending.

• Photographer’s Insight - Part of a photographer’s job is to know shooting locations. If you’ve picked your photographer and are unsure of a location, see if they could help in planning!

• Physical Scouting - If you have the opportunity before your big day, get out there and drive around! This is what we did for our own wedding, we drove around on public land until we found the perfect spot.

• Google Maps - If all else fails, Google Maps is your best friend. Take advantage of their street view and virtually drive around until you see something you like. If you are unsure of who the land belongs to, be sure to check the county tax records to see property lines and owners.

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Location of our Intimate Wedding

Our Airbnb for the "reception"

Choosing Your Vendors

Picking the right vendors can be tricky, especially if you’re having an elopement or intimate ceremony far away from home. Get to know your vendors virtually until you find the best fit. You can read my previous blog post about Picking the Right Wedding Photographer to help narrow down your search criteria. Here’s a breakdown of how we found the vendors for our wedding:

• Flowers - I made my flowers myself at home

• Photographer/Videographer - We found a husband + wife duo to cover both photo and video together. I found them on the Lets Just Elope Facebook page.

• Officiant - Found through WeddingWire

• Ceremony Decorations/Chairs - Found through WeddingWire

• Reception - Airbnb all day, every day baby! We use Airbnb for EVERYTHING, so we figured it would be the most fun to rent a large house and have all of our loved ones stay together. This also removes the chances of drinking and driving in a foreign location.

• Food - My dad is a killer cook so we’re just going to stop by the nearest Costco and pick up some steak and lobster to cook and eat when we get back from the ceremony.

Devon and I are simple and don’t need much to be happy. You may want something more extravagant, but having something small and simple with the people we love most was the most important thing to us.

Flying With a Wedding Dress

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One of my biggest fears when flying is losing a checked bag… You can only imagine my stress of bringing a wedding dress with us! Most airlines will accommodate wedding parties and allow you to use the captain’s closet to hang your dress. Call before booking to see if this will be allowed. A lot have cracked down on their rules since COVID-19 began, so definitely double check! You can also get a compact foldable garment bag to put in your carry-on or personal item if your airline cannot accommodate your needs.

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