Over the years I have helped quite a few brides elope. I understand that planning can be stressful so I offer help to my couples. I offer to help them find an airbnb, florist, spot for ceremony/reception and for some I have even helped with places to find their dresses and what to cook for their reception dinner. It is easy to get overwhelmed even when planning an elopement so even though I am typically mainly a photographer, I also like to tap into my planner brain here and there. The most popular place that I have helped brides plan an elopement for is Joshua Tree, California. So I thought I would put together a blog post on how to elope in Joshua Tree, California so you can see it all laid out.
If you are planning to elope within 3 months then I would do all steps within 2 weeks of getting engaged. If you have 6 months then I would plan it within the first month of being engaged. Vendors do fill up fast so the faster you book them the faster you ensure your dream vendors.
–Cielito Lindo Retreat House You could hold your ceremony on the deck overlooking the boulders or we could even go on the boulders. It has a hot tub with a view, an amazing kitchen and even an outdoor long wooden table & fireplace. It would be a dream to do a wedding here. You could also do your ceremony in the park and hold your small reception here.
–Saguaro Hideaway This beautiful mid century modern oasis has spots to get married by the saguaro cacti outside and amazing space inside for a elopement reception.
–White Moon Ranch: A couple weeks ago I shot an elopement here. It was a dream. We did the ceremony outside with the mountain view as the backdrop and came inside for a small reception. If its summer time you could hold a outdoor reception at the long wooden table on the patio.
–The hi desert: This place is beautiful and has so many places to stay on the property. In the summertime you could even use the amazing pool!
There are plenty of more airbnb’s that can hold weddings if you check out airbnb.com.
2. Once you have the location all set then you can start planning the rest of the wedding. I would immeidetly find a photographer (of course I hope that is me). After you make sure that you have your location, date and photographer set then go for your attire.
Favorite dress shops:
–Lovely Bride : They have shops in LA, SF and all over the US. My favorite lines here are Rue de seine and Willowby.
–Loho Bride: Located in norcal and socal. If you are not from around CA its worth the trip out!
–Sarah Seven: These store are located all over the US and it literally has so many dreamy dresses.
3. Next up on the planning list is your guest list. Send out invites. Most elopements are under 20 people so it should not be too costly and you can get them on the sites listed below. I listed some amazing desert ones to match the theme of the day.
4. Florals, cake (or dessert of sorts) and food:
As far as food goes the easiest way to do it is to plan a menu, shop for it and have a family member or friend cook it in the kitchen while you get ready. You also could hire a private chef to come cook for you.
5. Find an officiant to marry you. Usually its a family friend or a family member that gets certified online to wed you. If you have a pastor that is close to your family and friends that is another option as well.
7. Rentals: Most airbnb’s come with a lot of beautiful decor and furniture so you really do not need much to make it amazing. However, if you want special table settings, an arbor, chairs, rug etc. for the space then check out these rental companies.
For the day of make sure you have some friends come early to help set up. It helps to make a diagram before your wedding day of how you all want it set up so you can relax and let others do the work for you on your wedding day.