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Like many elopement photographers, I offer guidance to my couples throughout the planning of their elopement. I help them find the best locations for their photos and have a huge input in planning the timeline for the day so that everything they want to do all fits together whilst considering the light and how it impacts the overall outcome of the photos. And being based in the Alps, I’m pretty forthcoming with tips for other must-see and must-do activities as well as offering suggestions of places to stay and sharing my little black book of other vendors. So why would you need an elopement planner?

As a photographer there are some things that I simply cannot do, because it goes outside of what my business licence and insurance allows. As much as I’d love to help all of my couples in arranging everything, I’m not allowed to. But that’s why I love working closely with elopement planners. Hand-in-hand, we usually make the perfect team. Couples tell us what their vision is, and we’ll make it happen. As the photographer, I understand what’s going to photograph well, how to plan a schedule that makes your day flow and be enjoyable, how to pick locations that will blow your mind and how to get the best light. But sometimes there can be a whole load of organisation that goes into making all of that come together.

I decided to interview two of my favourite elopement planners that I work with on a regular basis to get their take on this question:

Amulet Events – Nadia Wood

Photo by Wild Connections Photography

Nadia is an intimate wedding and elopement planner who specialises in weddings in the Alps & the Nordic regions.

Jlenia Costner Weddings & Events

Photo by Marianne Bohn

Jlenia is a Dolomites wedding & elopement planning living in the heart of South Tyrol.

If a couple is eloping with just the two of them, why would they need an elopement planner?

Nadia: There are many similarities when it comes to planning an elopement or a large wedding, one being the importance of this day for the couple. Hiring an elopement planner alleviates any unnecessary stress or anxiety making the process a lot more fun & enjoyable for the couple.

Jlenia: An elopement planner can be the right hand of the couple, organising and timing everything in detail, searching for the perfect vendors and creating a concept for the elopement. 

Austrian Alps wedding planned by elopement planner Amulet events

What is there to organise for an elopement if it’s just the couple?

Nadia: Plenty! Like any Wedding you will need all the key suppliers to help your day come to life. This means sourcing and contracting photographers, videographers, celebrants, hair & make-up artists and florists whose styles and work match your vision. Your ceremony location and evening dinner reservation plus everything in between also need to be carefully planned and detailed to ensure you make the most of your day.  

If you are planning an elopement with just the two of you then the possibilities are endless and you have the added flexibility of being able to choose a day that perfectly matches your interests, hobbies & preferences. Your elopement can be stretched over days with multiple activities, excursions and dining experiences all captured by your photographer & videographer.

Jlenia: There are a lot of things to think about and plan. These include: 
– searching and finding the perfect location for the elopement
– creating a style and a concept for the elopement (flowers, arch, decorations…)
– the highlights of the elopement (picnic, tour with the helicopter, a special dinner…)
– searching for vendors: photographer, video maker, HMUA, florist, musician… 
– accommodation, transfers…
– discover other options and creating a plan B and plan C

Dolomites hiking elopement planned by Jlenia Costner

What are the biggest mistakes you see people making when it comes to planning an elopement?

Jlenia: The biggest mistake people make in the Dolomites is the geographical selection of the spots and venues. Not knowing the area and underestimating the driving distances, it’s possible to commit planning and timing errors that can turn out to be hugely stressful factors on the elopement day. 

Nadia: The biggest mistakes I see usually always relate to limited research of the destination & location chosen for a couples elopement. Most couples choosing to elope are wanting to say their vows against a beautiful scenic backdrop, however these locations are often difficult to reach, have very little amenities on the way or have access restrictions. All of which can cause delays, stress and discomfort for the couple.

There may also be travel restrictions, quarantine periods and testing required due to the covid pandemic, and when you are swept up in planning the most romantic day of your life, these important details and considerations are often missed, or it is difficult to find the correct information you need. This is why hiring a planner or working with reputable suppliers that are knowledgeable about their destination is so so valuable.

Rainy day elopement in Hallstatt Austria

Many photographers offer to assist couples with planning these days. Why would they need a wedding/elopement planner too? Do you need an extra license or different insurance to be a planner?

Jlenia: As an elopement planner I try to capture the wishes and ideas of the couple and transform them into a real elopement concept. It’s so much more than simply suggesting and managing vendors. There is much more behind the scenes: searching for the perfect location, drawing a plan B and C, creating a style and finding the best vendors for the couple.

As an elopement planner you need to guarantee flexibility to the couple and be ready to find alternatives if your first suggestions aren’t a good fit. And of course, good problem solving skills are essential! Being an expert in the local area and having contact with all the local vendors enables me to find solutions to almost every problem, not matter how last minute they arise.

Nadia: This is correct & some photographers do offer extra support when it comes to the planning a couples elopement, however the roles & priorities of a photographer & planner are very different so it is important for photographers and elopement planners to work together to ensure all areas of the couples elopement are managed successfully.

An experienced photographer will certainly know all the top spots to shoot a stunning elopement, be able to scout perfect hidden locations whilst being fully aware of the best time to do this for optimum light and dreamy images. They may also recommend an officiant or celebrant and other key suppliers; however, it is the planners role to ensure that;

–       all paperwork for a legal or civil ceremony is processed correctly & on time
–       all elements of the day flow with logistic ease between suppliers
–       all licences and permits are secured for any private land access
–       travel and logistics are managed effectively and smoothly
–       all communication is kept fluid between everyone involved in the elopement

Working in tandem, photographers & elopement planners are able to create some truly magical elopements and experiences.

Planning a wedding in the alps - image of a bride and groom in front of a wooden mountain hut in the Italian Alps by Wild Connections Photography

What advice would you give to couples trying to decide whether to elope and if they need a planner?

Jlenia: The first advice I give couples considering eloping is to think about their ideal elopement. There are no barriers, everything is possible (of course within the set budget). It’s their elopement and they are free to have what they most desire. The planner should be a helping hand, a person to call when everything seems impossible, a person who listens and understands the couple. 

Nadia: I would firstly recommend writing down your vision and priorities for your wedding day with your loved one and checking that you’re both on the same page. Is the ceremony location and backdrop the most important factor? Is staying in a nearby luxury resort preferred? How far do you want to travel from the airport? Are you open to hiking or walking to reach the perfect ceremony spot? Do you want nearby activities and excursions? Once you have narrowed down your preference begin researching your ideal elopement destination and the options available. Then research planners in this destination and look at their previous work. Set up a call with a planner to ensure you have all your questions & queries answered and enjoy the process!

Bride and groom racing down a ski slope on skis on their wedding day

What’s been your most memorable moment as an elopement planner?

Nadia: I have to say my most memorable experience was planning a couples elopement in less than a week in the midst of a pandemic! I worked with a lovely couple for 3 months to plan their gorgeous elopement in Lapland and due to heightened Covid restrictions and travel bans their initial plans had to be abruptly cancelled. My couple were both paramedics and only had a few weeks of holiday secured, so they made an incredibly brave decision to fly to Iceland before more lockdown restrictions came into play, quarantined for 5/6 days and then spent the most incredible week visiting glaciers, waterfalls, horse riding on the beach & having photos beneath the northern lights!

Jlenia: What makes an elopement memorable is the couple themselves. I don’t have a single memorable moment, but I have one for each elopement. And this is the vows exchange. Every couple teaches me something special about being a couple and about love and life together. This is absolutely my favorite part.

What would be your dream elopement to plan?

Jlenia: I’d love to organize a horse trekking elopement in the Dolomites. 

Nadia: I would absolutely love to plan an elopement in stunning Alaska, by a turquoise lake in Canada or in the Colorado mountains! Closer to home, one of my favourite destinations with so many options and activities for couples has to be the Norwegian Fjords.

Bride and groom kiss in the Norwegian fjords

Want to know more about working with these amazing elopement planners?
Here’s how to find out more about them and their services:

Jlenia – Jlenia Costner Weddings & Events
Based in South Tyrol, Jlenia specialises in weddings & elopements in the Dolomites and South Tyrol.
Website: Jlenia Costner
Email: [email protected]

Here are some previous elopements I’ve worked on with Jlenia:

E & M
Elopement ceremony in the Italian Alps by Wild Connections Photography
A & J
An intimate wedding in the Dolomites in Val Badia by Wild Connections Photography
Y & J

Nadia – Amulet Events
Based in the UK, Nadia specialises in intimate weddings and elopements in the Alps and Scandinavia.
Website: Amulet Events
Email: [email protected]

Some examples of weddings & elopements I’ve worked on with Nadia:

Winter elopement on the Krippenstein mountain in Hallstatt Austria by Wild Connections Photography
A & J
Rössl Alm Wedding in Gerlos Austria by Wild Connections Photography
E & A
Skiing bride and groom in Austria.
L & T

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