How To Elope or have a Small Wedding Part 1 - Jamie Tobin Photography
Midwest + New England .. Well anywhere in the United States! ;) 

How To Elope or have a Small Wedding Part 1

So, you’re engaged and the one thing you know for sure is that a large wedding is not for you.. you’re looking for answers on “How To Elope” or “How to have a small wedding” and I am ready to help you in this blog mini series!

Just want to skim? In this blog post I focus on how to pick a mood, location, and date!

How to Elope or have a Small Wedding (Part 1)

When it comes to eloping there is no set way to do it, you can adventure in the mountains, trees, desert OR you can roam the streets of your favorite urban jungle, favorite brewery, winery – what motivates you two as a couple?

So let’s pick a mood first, almost like those old school magazine quizzes that you flow through.

Nature Elopement >

Great! You want to be outdoors and in nature, but now you realized you’re flexible on where you want to go! That’s great, lets divide into categories …

Woods – Mountains – Water – Desert – Ice / Snow

1: Which one of these are you imagining in your head when you dream of your wedding images?
2: Are you dreaming of standing on top of the mountains, with a cool breeze so that you can get married in August and not be sweating all day?
3: Are you obsessed with the warm tones of the desert like Joshua Tree?
4: Are you both dying to see the red woods and stay in a treehouse?

For the sake of this post let’s pick a mountain location in Colorado, now what would the next steps be?

Colorado (and most National Parks) have a permit system to keep our parks wild + beautiful, as well as knowing who is in the park doing what. These rules do change from time to time, and from location to location.

My best tip is to always check with a park ranger early to make sure you are good to go! I have no shame in admitting I had out dated information, and learned more speaking with rangers earlier this year.

Obtaining a few permits may be necessary, one for you as the couple to marry, and sometimes I (photographer) will need my own separate to be able to work in the park. Don’t let this process scare you, or think that I am gate keeping!

I want to do my part to help keep our parks amazing for everyone to enjoy. Besides the park rangers are fun to talk to (maybe I am biased because my little brother is one hehe)!

Colorado is a very popular place so we want to make sure to put the paper work in EARLY because starting in 2021 they started limiting how many permits would be given per year.

Now there are some places in Colorado that you don’t need a permit, and I will gladly help do all the research for you to make sure we are good to go!

Alright, so we have a location, we have permit information, now what about a date?

That is the beauty of elopements, you can get married on ANY day of the week. You don’t have to have a Saturday to make sure 300+ guests can attend because your elopement is either only you two, or with 20-30 of your close family / friends.

Don’t believe me? Mark + I eloped on a Wednesday morning in a garden! We wanted to get married on our anniversary!

Plus being flexible on your date can get you into your dream locations.

Certain locations you can’t get to at certain times of the year due to weather, and other locations are amazing during some months, and miserable during others… so if you want a location over an exact date let’s plan that way!

Urban Elopement >

Are you shy to say you want to stay in the city? DON’T BE!
Stay true to who you two are as a couple and if that means you want to elope in the city, let’s do it.

Do you have a favorite brewery or winery?
Do you fantasize about the courthouse steps like Big + Carrie? (Check out this City Hall in San Fran)
Do you want something a little bigger than just you two, but still small like 20-30 people dinner party?

What about a botanical garden in the morning, then brunch, then roaming the streets without a care in the world for who sees your PDA ?!

With urban elopements it can be easier to plan more styled elements too, like table scapes, champagne wall (yes you can still have these things at an elopement!) You can plan a full 4 course dinner with some of your closest family + friends, hit up all your favorite spots in ANY city you want.

Let’s focus on still picking what kind of mood or places you really want to go to, and then we can pick a date and contact those places. The reason we should pick 1-3 places first is so we aren’t contacting 10+ places and then leaving any vendors hanging.

Some places we still will need to apply for a permit even in cities! Don’t worry we will do our research together!

Urban elopements can make it easier to book multiple vendors if they are all in the same city, like hair + makeup!

In Review for part 1 of How To Elope Series >>

Whether you are a nature couple or an urban couple you CAN elope!

You can get married how you want because I believe you SHOULD do exactly what you want. Nothing has to look the same as someone else’s.

So after this post we have our big bullet points done, Mood, Location, and Date… let’s continue this post next week with finding vendors, setting a budget, and do I need TWO photographers for an elopement still?!

How to Elope or have a Small Wedding PART 2 HERE

What did this post bring up for questions? Share this post with your family + friends, let’s start the conversation!

Jamie Tobin Photography is an elopement photographer based in Iowa that travels anywhere for eloping couples.


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We help quirky and untraditional couples find joy and adventure on their special days by providing passionate and wild photography that captures the big moments of loveā€¦ and all the little candid ones in between.


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