Updated: Oct 14
Make your backyard wedding sparkle!
Maybe having a large wedding was never part of your plans, or you belong to the many couples that were forced to move their wedding dates or downsize their weddings significantly. But, just because your wedding might turn out much smaller than originally intended, doesn't mean it has to be less beautiful and memorable! Having only your immediate friends and family around, or saying your vows by yourselves at your favorite getaway spot definitely has its own charm! The best part about keeping it small and simple: You can pretty much do whatever you want, and most likely keep the cost much lower than a full size wedding and you can save all that money for an amazing trip instead (once you're allowed to travel again...)
There are so many different ways to elope, but many have one thing in common: A photographer that joins the event to capture this special moment so it can be shared with friends and family and be relived and remembered forever. I already planned and photographed many elopements and intimate weddings before they became "mandatory", and I've learned that with just a few small tricks, you can make your elopement extra special, and most of all, picture perfect.
The great thing about eloping or planning a microwedding is that you have so much freedom when choosing the location and planning your timeline, since it’s much less complicated than organizing a huge celebration. Technically, you can elope anywhere you want! There are countless state parks in and around Maryland that offer great views and variety in backdrops. You love water views? No problem, let’s find you an amazing spot on the beach or the Chesapeake Bay to say "I do". Some places require a permit for gatherings, but they are usually easy to obtain and don’t cost much. There are some advantages to booking an actual venue though, since they'll most likely have an alternative location for you in case of rain, and probably provide chairs and bathrooms. Many offer discounted elopement packages! Make sure to consider those aspects when planning, especially if you do have guests attending.
If you want to keep it extra simple and have the space, your backyard will do just fine! And if you don’t have one, maybe a close friend or family member will let you use theirs if you ask nicely (shoutout to my friend Jenn who let me get married in her backyard 8 years ago!).
Make sure to schedule your elopement around golden hour. It will give your photographer the chance to capture you in the absolute best light. It depends on your location and time of the year when golden hour will occur, so make sure you do some research beforehand. There are some helpful apps such as Photo Time that will tell you exactly when the sun will be setting and how long golden hour and blue hour are going to be. If you’re planning your elopement at a rather popular location, you might want to consider sunrise as well. I know, not everybody is an early bird, but I met this couple you see above at 5.30am and it was totally worth it! They used the solitude of the morning hours at the beach to say their vows at sunrise and then we created some epic photos together!
Keep in mind that if you choose a location in the middle of the woods, you will lose light slightly earlier in the evening, so plan in a little buffer!
This one is for the couples that want to have their elopement or mini wedding in their own backyard or family property. Cleaning up the premises should be a no brainer, but sometimes you can get so used to certain things that just sit around in your yard, that you don’t realize that they will be disturbing in the photos. You have to realize that your photographer is going to want to capture many different angles and walk all around you during your ceremony. When preparing the location, stand in the middle and do a 360° turnaround to scan the area. Anything that sticks out to you that doesn’t look “pretty”, move it somewhere else during the event. Objects that can be disturbing are umbrellas wheel barrels, trash cans, cars, or garden furniture that’s not being used at the time. Take some sample photos with your phone, that might make it easier to decide if an object is in the way or not.
I’m sure you already have a great vision of how you want to decorate your elopement space, and you probably already checked Pinterest for some amazing ideas. Perfect, get creative! If you're wondering if less is more, when it comes to flowers, my answer is, no. Flower arrangements will make your place pop, and the more the better!
If you’re having your ceremony in the evening hours, think about using lots of light sources to add some extra sparkle to your set up! You can never go wrong with string lights and candles, every photographer will love you for putting lots of them up!
Of course you can only hope for good weather, but keep in mind that rain might cross your plans. Like I said above, think of a plan B location just in case, and definitely get some clear umbrellas if you don’t mind a little drizzle. If you’re thinking about putting up canopies at your elopement location, definitely go for white ones, since any other color will throw a color cast on your skin. You can also get creative and use white sailcloth and mount it to the trees (or whatever you can find around your location), they look a little nicer than canopies and still keep your elopement dry.
Pro Tip: Don't read your vows from your cell phone! We stare at our phones all day, all the time, and we're surrounded by people doing the same thing. Even though phones have taken over pretty much every aspect of our lives, don't let them take over your wedding photos too. Take the time and write them on some pretty cards or fancy paper. It is so much nicer to photograph than people staring at their phones.
Elopements or Micro Weddings leave much more room to get creative than regular sized weddings, mostly because you simply have more time you can dedicate to the photos since you don’t have to worry about attending hundreds of guests. You can use props such as smoke bombs, twinkle lights or sparklers, and think about other ideas, such as getting in the water somewhere, laying in the ferns, or anything else you and your photographer can come up with. The list is endless, just make sure you find something that doesn’t feel forced and is in line with your personalities.
You still have some questions or need help planning your elopement? We plan, officiate and photograph elopements & intimate weddings in and around Maryland. Don’t hesitate to contact me directly or follow me for more inspiration: www.instagram.com/isabelstudios