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Being a hiker, mountain biker, backpacker, and all things mother nature lovin’, outdoor elopements are my soft spot.
With some experience, I have put together some little tips for any of you couples out there planning to elope or have an intimate wedding outside with a handful of friends and family.
Find a more intimate location
If you want the ceremony to feel intimate and personal, try and find a location that isn’t very popular. There’s a handful of places that are really well known and have become crowded with photo sessions, engagements, and elopements. This is true all over the country for lots of different natural spaces.
If you want to be more likely to have the space to yourself, choose a spot that isn’t well known and requires some effort to get to. If you are having family members attend I know this can be difficult, but if it’s just the two of you and you’re willing to hike a bit, I think it is 100% worth it.
If you are unable to do the exploring yourselves, find a videographer or photographer who know the land and are willing to scout locations for you.
You could also find and book a vacation rental that will allow you to use the land for your elopement. I’ve had multiple couples choose this options so that they know their day will be private.
Wear proper clothing
Wear comfortable shoes and pack warm layers (if needed) that you don’t mind being in the video/photos. Also make sure your clothing is something you feel comfortable hiking in. Comfort is key for a fully enjoyable experience, at least it is for me!
Enjoy the journey to your final ceremony destination
Making a trip out of your elopement? Plan a few stops along the way to really make the most out of your time together. Your elopement experience doesn’t just have to be the day you are married and have cameras around. Enjoy the entire trip and make the most of it!
I’ve had a couple travel up from Florida and stay at 3 different spots along the way, doing different fun activities before they even got to NC for their actual ceremony.
Plan for a time that isn’t as busy
In public locations sunset is way more popular than sunrise. Weekends are way more popular than week days. Certain seasons are busier than others depending on where you are. If you want to use a popular spot, try planning your elopement at a time when it usually isn’t as busy. It is a lot less likely that very many people will be there before dawn, because most of us like to stay in bed and catch as many z’s as we can get! Plus, how often do you see the sunrise together? Also, you’re eloping, so take advantage of week days where more people are working and less are out in the woods. You don’t have to worry about anyone else attending and having weekends off.
Research the rules and regulations of your location
Many outdoor locations have rules and regulations on what is allowed for weddings. Be sure to do your research on what is and isn’t ok. You might need a permit, might not be allowed to have live flowers, and might have to avoid a few locations when planning your perfect spot.
Respecting those natural spaces are important.
Hire a videographer and/or photographer whose personalities you love just as much as their work
If you are eloping in a small group, the people you surround yourself with are that much more important. They should feel like comforting friends to you because you are going to be spending your elopement day with them directly. Make sure you’re investing in people that you enjoy.
Embrace the weather
It could rain, it could snow, it could be hella windy. Who knows what the weather will really do, so if you plan to get married outdoors, just let the weather be whatever it will be and enjoy it. There is no controlling it and no point worrying about it. Plus your video/photos will turn out even more unique with imperfect weather circumstances.
A handful of my couples have just gotten drenched in the middle of a rainstorm and have left their day happier than ever because we rarely dance in and enjoy the rain. It helps the day feel more special and magical. It brings you to the present moment.
Take time to enjoy the view
Plan some time to just sit and be in the place you decided to elope. There’s a reason you chose it, and it is most likely because it is beautiful and inspirational to you. Don’t just go there, do the thing, and leave. Just plan some time with everyone to just sit and not do anything other than enjoy the moment. No video-ing, not photos, just be.
Extra Tip: If you are hiring a videographer and they are recording any audio, be aware of the sounds in the locations you choose. Waterfalls, lots of hikers, road noise, etc. can all add unwanted background noise to your audio. Make sure to talk to your videographer about this to plan the perfect location for clean audio.
What is RAW footage?
RAW footage is all of the unedited video files, straight from the camera. It does not include any post production work like color grading, stabilization, slow motion, etc.
So here's the thing - I started out my career as a photographer. And as a photographer, providing the unedited photos to your clients would be the silliest thing. It would, in theory, be a "worse" version of the final image. Pointless right?
When I began shooting video I took this idea with me. My first year in business I didn't offer RAW footage at all and I also couldn't understand why any other videographers would give away the unedited footage they took. I truly thought that as a creative, we should only provide our best work to our clients. Therefore the unedited footage is just the first step of the process - why would I ever give someone that?
But, with time and experience comes new knowledge, and for this I am very thankful.
Throughout that first year of business I started to notice that I continually had some footage that didn't quite fit in the stylized short films I created for my couples. They wouldn't fit for many reasons including things like the clips being too long, not fitting with the flow of emotions I was creating, or simply not having enough time to include them in amidst everything else.
I began to realize that these moments are things that a couple might really enjoy having to remember their day by. Even though they aren't perfect, when it comes down to it, they are their memories, plain and simple. I set my ego aside as a creative and decided that this was a service I could provide to better care for my couples and to more fully preserve their wedding day experience. Plus I still get to create the beautiful, flowing, emotional films that I'm proud of. In my opinion it was a win-win choice.