Musings & Life

Don’t Tell Mama: How To Plan A Destination Elopement

True Romance elopement

?A DIY Guide to Destination Elopements for Alternative Brides?

Last year Jeff and I got married. We decided to eschew a traditional wedding and opted for a destination elopement instead.

It was the right decision for us, and we have absolutely no regrets whatsoever in choosing to elope.

There are many pro’s and con’s as to eloping vs having a traditional big wedding; I’m not going to dig into them in this series though, as my pro could easily be your con and vice versa. Instead I’m going to focus on the logistics of planning a destination elopement yourself (DIY baby!), some tips and tricks to help you have as stress free a time as possible leading up to the day, and hopefully a lot of fun planning too!

You’ve probably heard the term destination wedding thrown about before, a destination elopement is similar in the sense that you’re going away somewhere other than where you normally live to get married. Unlike a destination wedding however, it won’t have the traipsing of a full on wedding in a different locale. It’s likely to be way smaller and much more intimate with only a few guests (if any) joining you. Most likely you’ll also be combining your wedding and honeymoon together. It can be a pretty wild and truly romantic way to wed!

So where to start for a Destination Elopement?

Depending on what you want, even eloping requires some degree of planning; especially as there’s travel involved. But don’t get a head of yourself just yet – take it in stages and it’ll make things a lot more manageable!

Destination Elopement True Romance You're So CoolBRAINSTORM

Ok this is the part where you can think big and go wild, don’t hold back: what does your dream destination elopement look like? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? What do envision yourself & your love wearing? Hair? Makeup? Are there themes or colours you’re drawn to?

Just start writing stuff down or if you prefer create a mood board over on Pinterest.

If you’re big on list making in addition to a hot mess brainstorm page, make a list of all the places you and your partner would consider getting hitched and would like to honeymoon.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy just get it down!

And remember this is just a start, so don’t get your heart set on anything just yet because things will and can change.


Ok, time for the not so fun part, but you need to get this confirmed ASAP before you get too far along in your planning.

What can you and your partner afford? You need to have a frank conversation about what you’re willing and wanting to spend on your wedding and honeymoon with your spouse-to-be, don’t just make assumptions!

Here’s a basic Google Sheet I created (Rarrr! Rock N Roll Google Sheets!) to help get you thinking about some of the things you might need to budget for. Every couple will be different and there may be some things you need to add in or are not applicable which you can ignore, but hopefully it’s a helpful place to start.

destination elopement budgetWhen figuring out your budget, don’t just bank on maxing out your credit cards either. Coming home to a credit card hangover is not a great way to start off your marriage. Some expenditure on your plastic is to be expected, but if you’re looking to pay for your wedding totally on cards you might want to consider holding off until you’ve saved a bit more for it instead.

Setting your budget will affect what you can do and where you can go, so do this early on to avoid disappointments down the line!


Now’s the time to start reeling in your brainstorming a bit. Having set your budget will definitely help with this, but you need to also consider other factors like – how much vacation time do you have to use? How soon is your elopement? Are you trying to cram too much into your trip? And so on (I’m super guilty of that last one, more on that later!)

Timing will play a major factor. For example if you’ve given yourself 2 months to plan vs say a year, you should be prepared to be a lot more flexible as your dream photographer may already be booked, your ideal dress could take 6 months to make, or your flight costs are astronomical because you didn’t book sooner.

That’s not to say you can’t turn around something quickly – you can do anything – but you also have to realize that in doing so you may have to make some compromises, so none of this Bridezilla crap – you’re too awesome for that for that anyway!


  • Set a budget – for your trip & wedding, don’t forget all the little things as they can add up!
  • Discuss dates – are your dates not flexible/semi flexible/totally flexible? This will impact your planning time and also vaccay costs.
  • Narrow down your destinations – now that you have your budget set and your approximate dates, take your list of dream destinations and narrow it down to 3 which you think would best suit your budget and dates. Don’t throw away your list, you may have to come back to it later down the line after you do some further research.


Organize and keep track of everything with Google Docs & Google Sheets.

I found this super useful when planning. Since everything was stored in Google Docs/Sheets I could edit anywhere and it made it easy to collaborate on with Jeff as he could be editing or viewing at the same time wherever he was as well.

If you’re not sure what to budget for, save a copy of my Destination Elopement Budget sheet to your Google Drive, it’s pretty straight forward but a good place to start.

UP NEXT IN THE SERIES: Finding Inspiration, Research, and Spec’ing Out Your Trip Options.

True Romance Art Image Credit: PJ McQuade also available for sale on PJ’s Etsy store as giclee print.

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