photography by terri ATtridge

If a BIG wedding isn’t for you, but you’re not sure how to plan an elopement – start here.


Your elopement day is not ‘JUST’ anything. Your elopement is a genuine commemoration and celebration of two people who really love each other, in the same way as a traditional wedding just without all the goofy matching outfits. It’s not ‘JUST running off to the courthouse or Vegas. It doesn't have to be less, its more.


Still Deciding to Elope?

First, think a little bit, or a lotta bit, this is your wedding day. Do a little powwow,  to keep track of your thought, grab a notebook. 

What was the last wedding you remember being a part of or in attendance to. How did it make you feel? What your relationships with traditional weddings, what do you love? What do you hate? what can you pull from to an inspire into a non-traditional elopement wedding?

How do you feel about expenses, family cohesion, public speaking, being the center of attention, planning, lots of details, making lots of decisions organization, hiring many professionals, meeting with officiants, DJs, wedding planners, venues, florists, tips, thank you cards, registries and more - is this what you want? 

Don't stop there, you can have it all with your elopement, if you want to. You can have the intimate connection, you can have florals, music, and a celebration after. You can combine all of the things you like about small weddings AND the ideas and inspirations you have  to elope.

You can elope with a small group of family members, or friends or you can have your elopement in private. Or you can do both, elopement first and party with a bonfire underneath the stars after! In that celebration, you can share with your closest people the intimate marriage that you celebrated just the two of you. If you decide not to party right after, you can still share that experience with everyone because you will have the photography that shares that narrative.

So once you’ve decided to elope, it’s time to discuss this with to your partner and make sure that it's right. Take some time and space, bring it up when you have the time and space to think through everything, and then just talk about it!

Choose your adventure

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An elopement doesn't have to be an adventure elopement. You don't need to hike, climb or snuggle up together in a canoe (bucketlist for this photog),  have an intimate campout, share cake in a kayak, dance in the stars, dip into a hot spring, enjoy steamy coffee at sunrise, ski into the backcountry, explore a slot canyon, stand in the saguaros.....
but I wish that you would :)

In fact, some of my bucket list ideas for elopements aren't really that adventurous. There might be a trend in hiking elopements but I'm also interested in your off-beat, strange, unique or bizarre requests. I'm dying to photograph a circus wedding or acrobatic yoga couple in love, I love performance art and theatre, If you want to elope in a little alleyway on your stilts or on your stilts and unicycle, bring it on.  Maybe a carnival elopement on the ferris wheel or the carousel?

Ok these might be sounding strange to you, but the thing is- your elopement can be ANYWHERE, with anyone and include anything that you have ever loved. Now you just need to decided the order of the events and what you might like to include on your wedding day. 

Here are some questions to get you started;
1. Family and friends, just a few close people or only the two of you?
2. Adventure day with camping and a private chef?
3. Adventure day with rad airbnb and hot springs to celebrate and relax?
4. urban or outdoor? Nature or sculpture garden/art venue candlelit?
5. USA or Iceland? Nice? Morocco? Sailboat? Houseboat? 
6. Activities? horseback riding, climbing, hiking, skiing, scuba, art installation, abandoned carnival, neon light graveyard, airplane, scenic  historic train ride,  top of a skyscraper?

What is your dream elopement? Dream big big big, and then decide if you need to scale back.  The sky is absolutely the limit. But before you tell anyone else, decide for yourself what kind of day feels like a big enough adventure to mark to commitment of a lifetime.

Choose your photographer &  officiant

This is one of the most important decisions you can make for your elopement – especially if you are deciding to elope solo.  The photographer that you choose will be responsible for holding on to all of your memories. They will be the one to capture the story of your wedding day so that you can share it with the people who will not be attending. 

It has to be a good fit! I know that I am not the right photographer for everyone, and I don't want to be. I want to feel connected and invested in the people that I offer my services to. I'm doing less photography to make money and more photography to have these experiences for myself.  I want to be come your friend, afterall I might just be the one person who zips you into your dress on your elopement day. 

I really want to get along with you firstly. We should be a good match for each other in terms of what and how you want to adventure and if my style is right for you. 

Here are some questions you can ask your potential photographer:

1. What do you know about ___ location that I am considering for my elopement?

2. How much "taking photos" will we be doing while we hike together? 

3. What provisions do you carry with you in case of an emergency in the wilderness?

4. How can I work on my fitness for ___ activity on my elopement day

5. We are interested in camping for our elopement but we've never cooked on a camping stove and don't understand all the gear. We don't want this to prevent us from having this experience, can you help us?

6. What kinds of permits do we need?

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Choose your Location, Date & book travel

Maybe it doesn't really matter where you wedding takes place or maybe it does. Do you want a snowy mountain scape or a rugged ocean shoreline or is it a specific place or country that you have in mind. 

What are the rules associated with your location? Do you need a permit, to pay a fee, or a reservation request? 

I can help you in planning choosing an adventurous intimate, legal location to get married – one that meets your ideas and budget.

A lot of national parks are more crowded these days, but there are still opportunities to bypass the crowds and have a quiet elopement. Have you considered the off-season or getting married on a weekday? This kind if date flexibility can help keep the tourists away from invading your day. 

If you can stay flexible it will make the planning much easier and you won't have to sacrifice anything that you want.  What if there are no permits  for Mount blankety-blank for  your dream date? F

But what if you have no idea where to start? Pick the kind of weather you might like to have on your day. Is it cold and snowing or mild with leaves changing, is it hot on the beach and you plan to stand in the waters edge?

I like Southwest's low fare calendar and I am often scheduling trips based on cheap flights and places that I've never been, but Southwest will only serve you well if you are planning on getting married in the states. For all else, I use google flights and priceline,

Lodging or camping? I love airbnb for unique little stays and experiences, I once stayed in a house made entirely of glass bottles, so amazing. 
Ask your photographer - traveling photographers are experts at traveling!

Rental car? or campervan? There are so many options. I usually use priceline if I am looking for an ordinary car. 


book your travel - flight, car rental,sleeping

Now, you just need to plan out the day itself. 

What do you like to do together? You don't have to hike but it's a great way to get in a little adventure on your wedding day. What details about the two of you can you incorporate into your event?

I helped plan this itinerary for a couple that originally only said that they wanted to elope in the mountains of southern Arizona with the bride's grandmother in attendance. 

Getting ready photos at a campsite in the cochise mountains. The couple seeing each other before the wedding would be photographed helping each other get ready, amidst coffee on the campfire and taking little break to enjoy the gorgeous campsite and each other. 

Arrive at location in the amazing mountain wilderness. Grandma is transported separately with a couple of friends in attendance. the walk into the mountains is not much of a hike and designed to accommodate the brides grandmother but is a trail in the dirt with amazing views none the less.  

Carole and Josh live in the Tucson area and wanted to get married closer to home. They both shoot old style guns for fun and are very much a part of a group that does this in historic fashion, in fact its what they do all of their weekends together. I asked carol if maybe they might want to celebrate with a shoot out and campfire. She said she never would have thought of i on her own and loved the idea. She also was enamoured by my creativity and ability to turn her simple idea of eloping into a day of celebration and love. 

planning your day

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Her compositions were on point, and she lightly employs editing to enhance the images without looking overdone.

-Ryan M.

The final product she captured was priceless! The shots are phenomenal and the quality is impeccable.