elopement vendors we reccomend, what to look for, specific questions to ask them, and a few of our personal favorites
The Hearnes :: Adventure Wedding Photographers
So you and your partner have decided to elope, but now what? What vendors do you book for an elopement? Do elopement-specific vendors exist? If so, how do you find them? I truly believe the beauty of elopements is how flexible you can be with your plans — the only *necessary* part of an elopement is you and your partner committing your life to each other. The rest is up to you! Over the past three years, after working with over 100 couples, I believe we have a pretty solid idea of what vendors are worth considering for your elopement, so this is a list based on my own experience.
Please note, this is not set it stone. This is not what you MUST do. This is my opinion, and I hope you find it helpful as a tool to help you do your own thing! I’ll do my best to explain which vendors I’d consider essentials for an adventure elopement, but I want to reiterate this can all vary based on the couple, their plans, their location, and their vision for their elopement day! Also, last thing: if you’re a wedding vendor please do not take anything I say here personally. This is based on my own experience and I hope is helpful for anyone reading. If you disagree with anything I say here, feel free to reach out with a kind message — I’d love to hear you out!
Okay, here it goes! I will list the type of vendor, my advice when searching for one, elopement-specific questions to ask them, and my own opinion of how essential they are to the adventure elopement process. I’ll also do my best to link to incredible vendors I’ve loved working with in the past when applicable! (Note, do not message me to link to you if we haven’t worked together, I take these referrals very seriously and won’t refer someone I’m not familiar with!)
My number one advice when you start planning your elopement is to find a photographer first (and I’m not just saying this because I’m a photographer!). Your adventure elopement photographer should be someone with experience in this specific field, and if you find the right person (or people HAAAAY) they’ll be able to walk you through all of the steps and ensure you have an incredible experience that truly reflects YOU.
When you’re searching for your adventure elopement photographer, make sure you find someone with experience in the outdoors, someone who knows the legalities behind having an elopement in any given area, someone with experience photographing couples in various lighting situations, landscapes, weather scenarios, and so on. Truly, your photographer will be the most important vendor you choose for your adventure elopement. They will be with you for the whole process, sometimes even signing as your legal witness — you need to trust them fully and you need to genuinely love their work as well as their personality! I can’t stress this enough; make sure your photographer knows what they’re doing, cares about the environment you’re getting married in, knows and follows the rules whether its a National Park, public land, or other natural landscape, and has the experience to ensure your elopement day is everything you want it to be.
Here are some questions I’d reccomend asking any elopement photographer you’re considering:
Do they have experience photographing elopements specifically?
Do they have experience photographing in this place? If not, what is their process for getting ready to photograph in a place they’ve never been before?
Do they know and abide by Leave No Trace ethics, follow specific rules for specific regions, and know the legality behind permitting in your specific location?
What is their plan in case of rain, road closures, wildfire, or other unexpected weather scenarios?
As for as elopement photographers I reccomend, well obviously, US! We have been doing this for years and have worked with over 100 couples. In my opinion, the reviews speak for themselves, but also we take pretty dope photos and are great fun to hang with on your wedding day (also vv humble 😜). What are you waiting for? Email me right now!! (or after you finish reading this blog post)
Almost all of our couples choose to have an officiant for their elopement day. While there are some places that you don’t legally need an officiant, and some couples choose to get the legal stuff covered ahead of time (which is a great idea if you’re eloping in a foreign country to don’t want to deal with any complicated red tape on your wedding trip!), a majority choose to have an officiant, aka someone to lead their ceremony and make it a legal marriage. Elopements break tradition in a lot of ways, and the wedding officiant (also referred to a minister) is no exception. While some couples prefer to have an ordained pastor preform their ceremony (which I reccomend if you want to incorporate your religion with your wedding ceremony), there are so many other options to consider!
If you’re planning to have guests at your wedding, I highly reccomend asking one of them (a dear friend, sibling, parent, or relative) to perform your wedding. It can be so special to have someone you love do the ceremony for you! They can get ordained online through the Universal Life Church, which is a surprisingly cheap, fast, and easy process!
If you aren’t having any guests, or prefer your officiant be someone “neutral” that you don’t yet know, I reccomend asking your photographer for recommendations. Simply googling for officiants in your location might turn up disappointing, and while they may only be part of your wedding day for 30 minutes, it’s a REALLY important 30 minutes! I highly reccomend finding an officiant that you connect with, that’s invested in getting to know you two, your relationship, and is invested in your marriage. This is a huge moment in your life, and the ceremony is a very important part of any elopement day, and an officiant can have a huge affect on the mood of the ceremony.
If you’re looking for an elopement officiant, here are a few things I’d ask them:
Are they comfortable hiking? How far? Can they get themselves back safey if we stay out at a point after the ceremony?
Are they willing to travel? If so, what kind of accommodations do they need? What are their travel fees?
What is their process for planning the ceremony? Do they have any recommendations for you to get prepped for the ceremony?
Ask to FaceTime or Skype with them to go over the ceremony procedure so you know what to expect.
Make them aware of any special ceremony traditions you’d like to take part in. Will you be reading your own vows or repeating some? Will you be exchanging rings? And so on.
After noticing a huge lack of great, adventurous elopement officiants, I actually started reaching out to people I knew that I thought would do an amazing job and encouraging them to consider getting certified. As of right now, both of my brothers are wedding officiants and have done multiple elopements with us (in fact, my brother Conner is so good at it and loves it so much, he’s officiating my brother Ben’s wedding this summer!). Conner is based in Austin but works with us frequently in Utah. Our best friend Jordan Cannon is also an incredible officiant, often working with us in Yosemite National Park. If you’re interested in working with any of the wonderful officiants we know, reach out to us directly via instagram and I can connect you!
Elopement Hair and Make Up Artist:
Aside from a photographer, this is one of the most frequently booked vendors for adventure elopements! When couples first reach out to us, they often assume we’ll be out in the middle of nowhere and there won’t be anyone available to professionally do their hair and make up, and while that may be the case sometimes, often we can connect with adventurous HMU artists that are willing to wake up at 1am and apply make up in a little cabin in the woods for a sunrise first look. While some brides prefer to do it themselves, your wedding day is a great time to sit back and let someone else do the work! Plus, these artists know how to do make up that looks incredible in photos and stays on all day long (yes, through sweat and dirt!), as well as hair styles that will look gorgeous through all the adventures whether you want your hair flowy and long or up and controlled. Our favorite hair and make up artists work directly with brides to plan their look around their dress, activities, and even their location!
If you’re planning an adventure elopement, here are a few points I’d go over with your hair and make up artist:
Are they willing to start HMU multiple hours before sunrise? Can they guarantee they’ll be finished at the right time?
Are they familiar with HMU practices that work well in the outdoors? Can they provide an experience that’ll last through hiking and other activities?
Are they willing to travel to where you’re staying and do your HMU on site?
Can they provide touch-up materials and advice in case you need to adjust anything once we’re on trail?
I absolutely can’t talk about hair and make up artists without mentioning Lesley Lind, a Utah-based artist that goes above and beyond for every single bride. Lesley travels to our couples, wakes up at ungodly hours for sunrise sessions, always gets brides done on time, and even has a package where she’ll meet back up with you later in the day for touch-ups or a new look. In fact, last week she worked with one of our brides for her 5:45am sunrise session, gave her specific instructions for how to keep her beautiful waves pristine after a 1.5 mile hike in the dark, then got back with her in the afternoon to do a whole new look, had her put on her dress and gave endless advice that our bride SO appreciated since she was eloping with no guests!
We HIGHLY reccomend hiring a florist for your wedding day! When you’re breaking so many traditions, it feels quite special to hold on to a few of them. I’ve found that having a bouquet made for your elopement day really elevates the experience and makes it feel so much more “real.” While it can sometimes be difficult to find a florist who is willing to make one single bouquet, I’ve found more and more florists are embracing elopements and finding a way to make it work for them! When you’re planning your bouquet, it’s important to think about the elements that matter to you, how it will feel to hike with, if/how you’ll secure it to a backpack for hiking, how well it’ll stay together, how it’ll survive in the varying (hot, cold, windy, sunny, etc) weather, and so on. In my opinion, the best elopement bouquets are visually big, but don’t weigh 10lbs, easy to hold with one hand, have a good amount of movement, have sturdy florals, and I personally love when they have long flowy ribbons that look amazing in the wind!
Here are a few things I’d suggest asking your elopement bouquet florist:
Can they create a one-bouquet order? Consider adding a boutonnière, hairpiece or crown, or ceremony arrangement if you want to have more florals!
Can they create something that won’t fall apart or drop flowers? This important to avoid dropping flowers and littering in the beautiful landscapes! More info on that here.
Can they create a bouquet that will be easy to hold and hike with, ideally easy to hold in one hand and not too heavy. Explain that you might be strapping it to a backpack for park of the day!
Can they incorporate colors and flowers that will match the landscape you’re getting married in?
Are they familiar with which flowers last longer during long days, sun exposure, high winds, etc?
My two favorite florists are both Utah based, Tellurian Events (SLC) and By Bloomers (St. George). They both make absolutely incredible bouquets that I LOVE photographing! And if you’re somewhere without any nearby florists, I highly reccomend checking out Farmgirl Flowers — they’ll ship you a gorgeous bouquet and it always arrives looking fresh and wonderful!
I went back and forth on including this on the list because honestly, most of our couples don’t use a planner! But I’m sure you were wondering, so here are my honest thoughts: I don’t believe an elopement planner is necessary for small adventurous elopements, in most scenarios. As elopement photographers, we often do a lot of the planning, especially when couples are eloping in places familiar to us like Moab, Yosemite, Alaska, and so on. The definition of planner can get a little fuzzy in the elopement world, so I think a planner can be very helpful if you’re doing one or more of the following:
Having multiple guests and need someone to coordinate lodging, catering, and/or transportation for them.
Having an elaborate set-up and need someone to hand the day-of styling, set up, and coordination for those details.
Working with a lot of vendors or moving parts and don’t want to handle them yourself.
Prefer to have someone coordinate and book all of your vendors, lodging, etc for you.
For an adventure elopement, I don’t personally think you need a planner (especially if you’re working with us) to assist on any of the following:
Finding locations, coordinating said locations
Finding vendors such as hair and make up, florals, officiants and photography
Making a timeline (your photographer will handle this)
Please note — these are MY opinions, and mainly apply to couples working with US. I don’t intend to offend any elopement planners with these opinions, I am just sharing information based on my own experience of working in the elopement-specific setting.
As I mentioned above, this is just a glimpse at the top vendors I reccomend for elopements! There are plenty of other vendors to consider, like a private chef, catering, live music, hired transportation, and so on. I hope you found this information helpful whether you’re working with us or not!
If you’re just now starting to plan your elopement and found yourself here for the first time, hello and welcome! We are The Hearnes Adventure Photography and we specialize in adventurous elopements + intimate weddings in beautiful locations such as Yosemite National Park, Moab Utah, and Alaska (although we love to travel the world and are open to pretty much anywhere!). You can read more about us on this page, follow us on instagram to get to know us (if this post is any indication, our captions are full of helpful and interesting information!), and get in touch with us TODAY right here (yes I get psyched on the all caps there thinking about you contacting me right now)! Let’s start planning your dream elopement day!