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What Do You Do on Your Elopement Day? 80+ Fun Elopement Activity Ideas

Updated: Jul 14


A bride and groom about to kiss in front of snow capped mountains on their elopement day in Alaska

Unique Elopement Day Ideas- Ways to Make Your Day Extra-Special


So... you want to get married in a way that represents who you truly are, is stress-free, intimate, and is actually fun?! Maybe a traditional, big wedding just doesn't *feel* like you. Instead of a big production, you'd rather have an incredible experience that is an intentional celebration of your love. Maybe you want to say your vows in a beautiful place surrounded by the most incredible scenery imaginable. Maybe you want to spend your wedding day doing all your favorite activities together or trying something new and exciting off your bucket list. You're not alone.

There's more than just one way to get married, and it's entirely possible to have exactly the type of day you're looking for. You can elope!


But after the vows, what do couples actually do on their elopement day? This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions that I get! So, I'm here to give you tons of elopement activity ideas to help you create an elopement experience that will be authentic to your relationship and absolutely unforgettable.


First off, what is an elopement?


An elopement is an intimate, experience-driven, intentional celebration of your relationship that focuses on what matters most- two people exchanging their vows and committing their lives to one another. Eloping allows you to set aside stress, expectations, and throw out any traditions you don't feel connected to.


People elope because they want the type of wedding day that they truly enjoy- a day they want to relive time and time again. (Read more reasons why couples choose to elope!) You can elope just the two of you, or with your closest family & friends.


There are a lot of misconceptions around eloping, with one of the biggest being that elopements are "less than" a big, traditional wedding. That they are less important, less special, and deserve less documentation. I am here to say that these statements are completely and utterly false!


Elopements are just as important as traditional weddings & they deserve just as much celebration and documentation.


The way in which you say your vows to your partner and get married matters! Your wedding day will be your anniversary for the rest of your life- your elopement is so incredibly special. You deserve to have your ENTIRE adventure captured (not just your vows and some quick portraits!) for you to relive time and time again. If a traditional wedding doesn't align with who you are or what you want- that's perfectly okay!

A couple kissing during their rainy North Cascades elopement in front of wildflowers
A couple celebrating in front of Mount Rainier at sunset during their elopement day

Why should Your Elopement Last All Day? What Would you even do with all that time?

Look, I completely get it. At first, the idea of having an elopement that lasts the entire day (and having a photographer there to document it!) sounds absolutely wild. But I promise that it really isn't! Time goes by incredibly quickly on your elopement day (it may be cliché but it goes it the blink of an eye!). And while I have elopement packages that range from 4 hours to 2 days (yes! two days! Great for backpacking elopements or if you're eloping with family and have multiple locations you want to visit), the average packages couples book are my 8 hour or 12 hour packages.


And if the idea of being photographed for that long makes you clam up- let me just be clear it's not an all day photoshoot at all! Honestly, it's not even truly about the photos. It's about your experience. While that may sound weird at first, especially coming from a photographer (because, yes- you will get beautiful photos!), the most important part of your elopement is having an incredible experience and honestly having it be the best day ever.


So, you won't have a camera in your face the entire time. Instead, you'll be hiking, laughing, doing whatever adventures & activities you want, exploring some really incredible places, celebrating your love for each other, and at some point along the way you'll get married! Your elopement photos can be so much more than just your vows and some quick portraits, they can tell the full story of your wedding day while you have the time of your lives.


Your wedding day deserves documentation, whether it's just the two of you or with 150 guests.


It is standard for a traditional wedding to get full day coverage, from the getting ready photos to the big send-off, every moment gets to be documented. Is it really so crazy to have your entire elopement documented too?


So...what do you *actually* do all day?


Honestly? Anything you want. (I know, I know, super helpful right? If you want specific activity ideas keep reading to the end of this blog!) But truly, the wonderful thing about elopements is that you are choosing to get married your way. There's no pre set expectations or standard that you *have* to follow, so you can do whatever you want and create a really intentional celebration. Make it the best day imaginable for you. Don't let anyone else tell you how it should or shouldn't look like and have a day that makes you feel full.


How to Start Dreaming up Your Perfect Elopement Day

Close your eyes...and imagine your absolute perfect day from the time you wake up to the time you fall asleep. What does that look like? Where are you going and what are you doing? Are you on top of a mountain that you just hiked up? Or are you kayaking among icebergs in Alaska? Are you in the desert in Utah watching the most incredible sunset after taking a thrilling helicopter tour? Or are you sitting on the beach in Washington with your toes in the sand, enjoying a wonderful picnic together?


Try and imagine the day- what are you feeling, seeing, touching, and tasting? What kinds of foods and drinks are you enjoying? What sorts of activities do you want to do? What does the scenery look like? Is it just the two of you or do you imagine your closest friends and family being there as well? Is there something or somewhere that's meaningful to your relationship that you want to incorporate within your day? What have been the best days that you've had together as a couple- what elements from those experiences would you want to incorporate on your day?


Really dream big right now and try and let go of what feels "realistic" (you can worry about that later!). Focus on designing an experience that makes you both feel happy, in love, relaxed, and connected. You can design your elopement in whatever way you want- there's no right or wrong way. Only what feels right to you!


I honestly believe that no two elopements look *exactly* the same- just like every single couple is different. So don't limit yourself to what you've seen on the internet, social media, or loved ones! This is all about celebrating your love in an intentional, authentic way.


Pro-tip: This brainstorming exercise is best done as a date night! Grab some delicious takeout & your favorite drinks, go for a walk or cuddle up on the couch and talk it through together!


Wondering where in the world to elope? Check out 65+ Elopement Location Ideas!

A couple kissing at sunset in front of Mount Shuksan at Artist Point during their engagement photos
A couple sitting and watching the sunrise during their hiking elopement in the North Cascades

80+ Fun Elopement Activity Ideas and Inspiration

While traditional weddings have a pretty standard set of events in the day, elopements are not limited to the same constrictions. Your wedding experience can be so much more than just exchanging your vows and snapping a few quick portraits. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to create an entire day that is representative of who you are as a couple (and is a lot of fun!). Ask yourself, what are your favorite activities to do together- what do you do for fun? How can you incorporate doing what you love on your elopement day? Is there a new activity that you want to try together on your elopement day? If there's something on your bucket list or something you've been dreaming about, now's the time to do it! (It is your wedding day after all).


Adventurous Elopement Activities

  • Hiking

  • Backpacking

  • Off roading

  • Helicopters & Plane Rides

  • Kayaking (Like kayaking among icebergs in Alaska)

  • Glacier trekking

  • Canyoneering in a slot canyon

  • Paddle boarding

  • Cliff jumping

  • Packrafting (You could packraft in an alpine lake in Washington!)

  • Snorkeling

  • White Water Rafting

  • Sand sledding

  • Snowshoeing

  • Skiing or Snowboarding

  • Zip-lining

  • Travel internationally to a place you've always wanted to go to

Extreme Adventure Elopement Activities

  • Mountaineering (so many amazing climbs to choose from!)

  • Rappelling

  • Hiking a Via Ferrata

  • Rock Climbing

  • Sky diving

  • BASE Jumping

  • Bungee Jumping

  • Scuba diving

Relaxed Elopement Activities

  • Watch the sunrise or sunset

  • Hot Air Balloon

  • Dog sledding on a glacier in Alaska

  • Walking or laying on the beach

  • Going on a safari

  • Go horseback riding

  • Yoga

  • Relax in a hammock

  • Play an instrument or listen to music

  • Dance together!

  • Have a first look

  • Exchange gifts with one another

  • Plant a plant or a tree together

  • Bring your dog along

  • Read poems

  • Write letters to each other to open on an anniversary

  • Draw or paint

  • Play a board game

  • Ride bikes

  • Ride a motorcycle

  • Relax in a treehouse

  • Go whale watching

  • Jump in the water!

  • Go boating (You could even rent a house boat on Lake Powell and then kayak around to all sorts of cool spots!)

  • Soak in hot springs

  • Snowball Fight

  • Build a snowman

  • Ice Skating

  • Sledding

  • Fly kites

  • Rent an incredible cabin or Airbnb as a home base

Nighttime Elopement Activities

  • Stargazing

  • Chase the Northern Lights

  • Have a campfire & cook s'mores (check for fire bans and be sure to extinguish properly!)

  • First dance by firelight

  • Sparklers! (again, check for fire bans and be careful!)

  • Soak in a hot tub

Elopement Activities that Include Food

  • Make breakfast together

  • Have a picnic

  • Go wine tasting or wine blending

  • Go to a craft brewery

  • Tour a distillery

  • Pop sparkling water (it looks just like champagne in photos but is much more environmentally friendly! Plus- more for you to drink!)

  • Drink coffee or tea

  • Go to a fancy/nice restaurant you want to try

  • Cook food with each other or for your guests at your Airbnb

  • Hire a private chef to cook a special meal for you

  • Enjoy wedding cake! (Or pie, or cupcakes, or macaroons)

Elopement Activities that Include Family Members

  • Play games

  • Eat a meal with them

  • Split up your day, enjoy part of your experience with your loved ones and part of it with just you and your partner

  • Ask them to speak during the ceremony or to give a toast

If they are not present:

  • Facetime them while you're getting ready

  • Read letters from your closest family & friends during your day

  • Have them send you congratulations videos to watch at some point during your day

  • Record a video to send to them later

Elopement Day Timeline Examples

To help you imagine what your elopement could look like, I created a few drafts of timelines for you to check out. Remember, there are no limits here. You can make the day you get married the most amazing adventure ever.

 

1. Adventurous Helicopter Elopement

10:00- Photographer arrives, getting ready & detail photos, making breakfast & coffee together

11:30-Leave Airbnb

12:00-Arrive at Lodge, check in for trip

12:30-Leave Lodge in Helicopter, visit multiple spots where we can explore and adventure around

3:15-Land in helicopter at lodge

3:45-Leave Lodge, snack in car!

4:45- Arrive at trailhead, get geared up and ready to go

5:00-Start hiking

5:45-Arrive at the top, explore around, get ready for ceremony

6:15-Ceremony

6:45-Ceremony finished, pop sparkling water to celebrate! First dance, read letters from loved ones

7:30- Fun, relaxed couples photos while exploring around

8:00- Sunset

8:20-Start hiking down

9:00- Arrive back at trailhead, head to Airbnb

9:30-Arrive at Airbnb, have dinner catered by private chef

10:30-Have campfire and smores, play music or games together

11:00- Photography coverage ends

 

2. Intimate Hike Followed By a Ceremony with Friends and Family

3:00 am- Meet at trailhead, start hiking up and stargazing

5:00 am- Arrive at summit, get changed & ready for sunrise

5:15 am- Alpenglow begins, First look, private vow reading

5:30 am- Watch sunrise, couples photos, first dance, explore around summit

7:00 am- Start hiking back down

8:30 am- Arrive back at trailhead, head to ceremony site, meet up with family and get ready for ceremony

9:00 am- Ceremony with family and friends present

9:30 am- Ceremony finished, photos with family & friends, pop champagne to celebrate!

10:15 am- Family photos finished, head to have a brunch celebration

12:00 pm- Photo coverage wraps up

 

3. 2-Day Elopement- Celebrating with Loved Ones Followed By a Couple’s Hike

3:45 pm- Arrive at ceremony location and get ready for first look

4:00 pm- First look

4:15 pm- Family arrives and gets set up for ceremony (scenery photos, detail photos, get people gathered)

4:30 pm- Ceremony begins

5:00 pm- Ceremony ends, pop champagne to celebrate

5:15 pm- Family and Friend photos

6:00 pm- Family photos wrap up, family goes into town, begin couples photos

6:45 pm- Sunset, head into town

7:45 pm- Arrive at restaurant, dinner, drinks, toasts, cake

8:45 pm- Photo coverage wraps up

-Next Day-

3:30 am- Meet at trailhead, start hiking

5:15 am- Arrive at summit, change into wedding attire

5:30 am- Sunrise, couples photos, explore around

7:30 am- Start hiking down

9:30 am- Arrive back at trailhead

 

4. All Day Adventure Kayaking Elopement in an Iceberg Lagoon

6:00-Photographer arrives, getting ready & detail photos

6:45-First look outside Airbnb, few photos, get ready to go

7:30-Leave for guide shop

8:00-Arrive at guide shop

8:30-Board jetboat and head towards glacier lagoon, enjoying scenery and trying to spot wildlife

9:30-Arrive at lagoon, get in kayaks and spend the day kayaking around the glacier lagoon next to giant icebergs, next to a glacier face and exploring a beautiful beach surrounded by incredibly beautiful mountains. We'll stop for lunch, we can explore the beach and take photos with the mountains and the icebergs, as well as in the kayaks themselves. Then at some point in our adventure, when the time feels right to you both, you can say your vows and get married!!

4:45-Leave lagoon in a helicopter

5:00-Helicopter lands at airport, get out and everything settled, head over to Airbnb

5:15- Cook delicious meal, eat, celebrate, play a board game or have a campfire, read letters from loved ones

6:30- Head to beach to take fun and relaxed couples photos, have your first dance

7:15-Sunset

7:30-Photo coverage ends for the day

 

5. Ultimate 3-Day Backpacking Adventure (~30 miles)

10:00- Arrive at trailhead, gear up and start hiking

Hiking ~10 miles, stopping for photos, water fill-up and lunch

4:00- Arrive at pass, set up camp and get ready, take nap to refresh

6:00- Hike on side trip trail, taking photos along the way

7:00- Arrive at ceremony location, read vows

7:15- Ceremony ends, sign paperwork, pop champagne to celebrate, first dance, picnic couples portraits, portraits with friends/family

8:30- Sunset

9:00- Hike back to camp

10:00-Arrive at camp, photos with stars

10:30- Hang out, go to bed


Day 2

7:00- Wake up, make breakfast, hang out and explore the area

11:00- Leave campsite, hike to next campsite (~11 miles)

5:00- Arrive at lake, go swimming, set up camp and cook dinner

7:00- Change into wedding attire, explore area around lake, hang out, watch sunset, play games and go to bed


Day 3

4:00- Wakeup and get ready, packed and leave

5:00- Side trip to mountain peak for sunrise photos, watch sunset and drink coffee/eat breakfast

6:00-Hike out remainder of 10 miles

1:00- Arrive at parking lot, photo coverage ends


What does your perfect wedding day look like? What can you imagine you and your partner doing? The options are endless- let your imagination run wild. If you want help planning your day and dreaming up ideas, I've got you. Contact me and we can get started!

 

Want More Resources?


Ever wonder How Much Does an Elopement Cost?


Get inspired by this Romantic Olympic National Park Elopement!


Get ideas for your ceremony and how to make your elopement ceremony extra special!

 

Tips for Planning Your Adventure Elopement- A guide

Trying to decide where to elope?


The world is full of stunning places that would be perfect to have an elopement or intimate wedding at. Choosing your location is one of the first (and biggest) decisions you need to make when it comes to planning your elopement. You deserve to say your vows somewhere that will make you feel excited, happy, at peace, and in-love. But with so many choices, how do you actually choose?


In this *free* guide you'll find:

  • The biggest factors you should consider when choosing an elopement spot and how to pick the best one for *you*

  • Suggestions of the best areas to elope with each different type of scenery

  • Ideas for fun elopement activities you could do for different locations & sceneries

  • Advice for picking the best location for you

  • Information on permits, marriage licenses, and Leave No Trace


A couple kissing during their Olympic National Park elopement. The bride has a sparkly dress and the groom has a blue suit
A couple kissing in their VW van during their adventure session in Olympic National Park
A couple exploring a trail at sunset in Mount Rainier National Park while their reflections are in the water during their hiking elopement
A couple cuddling at sunset in front of an airplane during their elopement in Sedona

A couple makes a toast on their elopement day at sunrise on their hiking elopement in Mount Rainier National Park

A couple laughs together at sunset during their Mount Rainier elopement

A couple walking on a cliff on an overlook of mountains and a lake on their adventure elopement day in Washington

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Meet Your Adventure Elopement Photographer


Hi! My name is Kathleen and I'm an adventure wedding and elopement photographer (and your new friend!). I'm also an avid hiker & backpacker who loves adventure of any kind (most of the time with my dog Ranger!). I'm here to help guide you to having the ultimate wedding day experience, and to document every single moment of it.


I would love to help you plan your elopement and answer any questions you may have! I photograph elopements in Washington, Alaska, Arizona, and Utah and would love to document your special day.


Get in touch with me and let's start planning your dream adventure.


CONTACT ME HERE!

Adventure elopement photographer who specializes in adventure and hiking elopements

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