One of my favorite parts of photographing elopements is that each couple gets to choose exactly how to spend their day—including which activities will be the most fun for them.
Unlike traditional weddings, which almost always follow a structured timeline with the same activities in the same order, elopements are all about creating a day that you’re both going to love from start to finish. But that kind of freedom can feel overwhelming.
When I get on an initial consultation with a couple, they always know that they want to elope in a beautiful location, and that they don’t want the day to feel stressful—but beyond that, they’re often at a loss for where to begin.
If that sounds like you, you’re in the right place. Keep reading for my favorite elopement activity ideas, with photo examples from real elopements—along with some ideas that I’ve never seen done before, but would love to photograph!
When you first start planning what activities to include in your elopement, I want you to think about how you regularly spend time together. If you have a weekend off together, do you get up early for a morning hike, or do you start the day with an oat milk latte from your favorite coffee shop before swinging by the farmers market? Do you love trying new restaurants for dinner, or do you prefer cooking together at home? Do you pour a glass of wine at the end of the work day, or do you love trying new whiskeys?
My husband and I love starting our weekends with a waffle breakfast and good coffee, taking our time to enjoy the morning before changing out of pajamas and starting the day. If we were eloping again, I would love to start the day in the same way. Finding one or two ways to connect your elopement day to your “normal” life together will help you remember the day every time you do that activity again for the rest of your lives!
Simple elopement activities
- Make breakfast together at your vacation rental
- Visit a farmers market to pick up snacks for a picnic
- Walk your dog together before getting ready for the day
- Sit around a campfire with a hot beverage
- Eat your favorite sweet treats—and no, it does not have to be a cake
- Spend some time journaling or meditating
- Play a game together: either a card game, board game, or video game
- Read out loud to each other from a favorite book
- Make a playlist with your favorite music and listen to it when driving
- Visit a brewery, and pick up some to-go beers to enjoy later in the day
- Smoke a joint together
- Share a first dance to your favorite song
- Soak in a hot tub at the end of the day
For all of these simple elopement activities, the key to incorporating them into your elopement day is giving yourselves the time to fully enjoy the activity from start to finish without interruption. Put your experience first, rather than thinking of the activities as quick photo opportunities!
Next, I want you to think about activities you love doing together that feel a bit more special than your daily routine. Do you spend every weekend during winter at the ski resorts? Do you pack the car full of camping gear and dogs and head to the mountains every chance you get? Do you love hiking, or do you prefer off-roading to get all the views with none of the effort? Do you plan your summer around concerts? These activities will have a big influence on the locations you choose for your elopement, and I think they can make your elopement so much more special than just picking a place for the view alone.
Adventurous elopement activities
- Ski or snowboard at a resort
- Car camp the night before your elopement
- Go boating, kayaking, or paddleboarding on an alpine lake
- Rent ATVs or a Jeep to explore a mountain pass
- Soak in natural hot springs, or take a dip in a freezing cold alpine lake
- Take a scenic train ride through the mountains
- Stay in a backcountry hut
- Visit a museum
- Go ice skating together
- Take a snowmobile tour into the mountains
- See your favorite musician in concert
- Visit a winery or distillery for a tasting
- End the day with star gazing
Because these adventurous elopement activities often take up a good amount of time, it’s best to decide on just one or two activities, and plan your elopement locations around those. If incorporating one of these activities is important to you, make sure to let your photographer know right away so that we can help you plan locations that fit your vision.
Finally, it’s time to brainstorm some bucket list activities that you both would love to experience, but have never justified spending the time and money on before now. What better time to try something new and exciting than on your elopement day? This is a great time to ask your photographer for ideas! We all have our own bucket list of activities that we would love to photograph, and I’m always happy to come up with new ideas for my couples that they might not have known were possible!
Bucket list elopement activities
- Go on a hot air balloon ride at sunrise
- Take a scenic helicopter ride
- Get matching tattoos
- Go on a sleigh ride through the snow-covered forest
- Book a private snowcat tour to take you up to views no one else can reach in winter
- Go dog sledding
- Explore a ghost town
- Visit a new National Park
- Go horseback riding
- Splurge on a really nice dinner at a restaurant you would never justify for a date night
If you know exactly what kind of activity would take your elopement day from incredible to unforgettable, it makes sense to plan the whole day around that. Other times, couples start planning the day around a specific location, then decide to add a unique activity that’s available in that area to kick things up a notch.
While I’ve tried to give a variety of elopement activity ideas in this post, the best ideas are always the ones you come up with together that feel right to who you are, both individually and as a couple. Think back on your relationship, your favorite dates, your travels, and your dreams for the future. What kind of activities can you include in your elopement day to make it feel even more special than “just” exchanging vows in a beautiful location?
If you’re looking for help, I am a professional brain-stormer and would love to help plan and capture your elopement. Reach out and let’s chat!
About Nina Larsen Reed
Nina is an elopement photographer based in Boulder, Colorado. She plans and captures adventure elopements and micro-weddings across the Rocky Mountains, and loves getting to share the mountains she calls home with couples who want a different wedding experience.