Hey there friend! I’m Alexandria, and I’ve found home in the mountains of WA. Like you, I personally thrive and feel so fulfilled in small groups, intentional moments, and love photos to remember days by.
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HI friend! If you’ve made it to this page, I can only imagine how you and your partner are feeling right now as you contemplate how to cancel a wedding and elope!
Or maybe you’re here, feeling excited because you’re considering switching to an elopement? The bigger wedding experience isn’t one you want anymore for your wedding day. You’d rather do something smaller, to celebrate yourselves, rather than your guests.
Please know that you’re not alone (check out some of these stories!) and that there is light at the end of the tunnel!
If you’re still trying to figure out if making the switch to an elopement is right for you, be sure to check out my resource on if you should elope or have a big wedding!
But if you are ready to make a switch, here are all the things you should think about!
What have you spent so far? Is it possible to cancel or change at this point?
Firs things first, tell your vendors of your new plan and how you are evaluating your options to see who you can reuse. Looking at a new date? You’ll need to look at their rescheduling clauses and check with them to understand if they are available on your new date. If you choose a new date and they are not available, you may be accidentally forcing a cancelation of services.
If you need to cancel, look at the cancellation clauses in all of your vendor contracts. Figure out what the terms are and how much money you’d lose from vendors if you decide to cancel.
Small businesses usually have stricter canceling policies – why? By booking a date on our calendars, you’re entering into an agreement that says the photographer can’t book anything else. Dates are our inventory or product, so by taking this date “off the shelf” you’re turning away other possible business this company could receive. Depending on the contract terms and how close you are to your wedding day, you may lose out on the non-refundable retainers or you may need to fulfill the contract monetarily. Some businesses also allow a refund if they are able to book the day in time to recoup their loss from your cancellation. This is not something everyone does, but it is a possibility.
If you love your vendors, who can you reuse? Reach out to them to check if they are available on your new date (If you’re changing dates) and cancel the ones you won’t be using anymore.
Take into consideration the money you’ve spent, the money you might lose out on, or money that could transfer over to your new event.
If you’re trying to figure out a new budget for an elopement, check out my post on a cost breakdown between an elopement and a real wedding!
You might be starting to feel overwhelmed again – change is hard, especially when you’re going in a completely new direction. Even though numbers are realistic markers of what you can afford to do, something we forget about is our feelings and our experience which you can’t put a price tag on. What would ultimately make you happier? Suffering through something you’re not excited for that you just want to be done and over with? OR choosing something that ignites your soul, allows you to be intentional, and makes you REALLY excited for your wedding day?
I personally LOVE Washington state and its diverse nature. Check out my resource here on how to plan a hiking elopement in WA State!
Do you want a nature adventure? What about checking off a bucket list item in your wedding attire? do you want a small intimate day with your closest family and friends?
If you elope you can still invite a few family members! Deciding who you want to invite (if any) is an important step in creating an intentional experience. Check out my blog post here on how to involve family and friends in your small wedding and another one on how to narrow your guest list! Please keep in mind logistics when thinking about who you invite. Sometimes natural areas are not the best spot for larger groups and your photographer will tell you in your inquiry if your group size is too large and should be at a venue, as we try to be good stewards of the land we work on and keep areas open for future eloping couples.
Just because you aren’t having a big wedding doesn’t mean your day has to be celebrated with any less gusto and you should celebrate all day! Because you are not spending money on a venue and the rest of your guests, you actually have the money back to do something amazing for your selves that probably will be a more personal choice for you and your partner. You get to hand-select everything you do and create something truly unique to just the two of you. Take your time, relax, enjoy every moment, and celebrate all day.
Not sure how to fill an entire day? Check out my resource on timeline examples for Washington elopements! I’ve also got blogs on How to Elope in Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and how to elope at the San Juan Islands!
A specialized elopement photographer should be able to help you plan and photograph your unique experience more than a larger wedding photographer. While big wedding photographers could technically help, they usually don’t provide more of the planning aspect elopement photographers do.
I personally have a guide exclusive planning guide I give to my couples. This helps with brainstorming and planning so everyone can choose the things that mean the most to them to celebrate their day. If you’re opting for a nature ceremony, specialized elopement photographers can also help you with location suggestions, best time of day for lighting, know how to photograph the landscape + you in addition to creating backup plans, understanding permit needs for different land areas and what areas can fit your group size as unfortunately not all areas are conducive to elopements. We are usually hikers/outdoors people ourselves who will hike with you and be up for whatever adventure gets thrown our way! If this sounds like something you need, reach out, I’d love to chat!
If your closest family and friends will be impacted by the changes you’re making, let them know what’s happening. You have several options here!
If you’ve already sent save the dates, you can remedy this! If your save the dates were digital, you can send an email to all invited telling them you’ve decided to elope instead. Or if you’ve sent paper save the dates, you can send another postcard mailer out to tell them you’ve decided to elope instead.
OR if you decide to elope well before any invitation would go out to guests, your postcard could be a “we decided to elope, we’re canceling the wedding” or “we decided to elope, we’re just having a potluck party instead!”
Hopefully, the people in your life will support your decisions when you decide to cancel a wedding and elope, but if you do run across a few people who have unsolicited opinions about what you should and should not do, check out my resource here on how to manage those opinions!
With a little planning and a little open-mindedness, you can make sure you pivot your day to something you won’t regret 🙂
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No couples I have photographed have ever regretted eloping. You’ve written a super helpful blog post for any couples considering it, well done.
I definitely was the overwhelmed bride who ended up eloping and doesn’t regret a thing!
wow this is such a great resource for couples planning their elopement! thank you so much for writing this article!
this is really good advice. I feel like most of the time couples feel guilty about eloping, I wish they were not. It’s so important to just do whatever you want to do for your wedding and you covered so well how not to make others left out :))
Such a great idea for a blog post and excellent advice shared for couples wanting to elope!!
Traditional weddings can be so overwhelming – your advice is helpful when it comes to making the switch! Choosing to elope can be a hard decision, but is always worth it!
These are such great tips! Thank you! I know that I would 100% do things differently if I got married again, and it would be a badass elopement. Had I had the boldness to cancel my wedding and elope instead this would have been a great resource!
ohhhh yes SAY IT LOUDER!!! I hope more couples lean into what feels the most authentic to them, even if it’s not the vision others have for their wedding!