Your elopement can literally be ANYTHING you want it to be, so there are truly endless possibilities and a billion ways to make it the best freaking day of your lives. Whether you want to have a private adventure elopement out in the middle of the mountains, a luxury elopement at a bougie beachfront resort with 10 of your favorite people, or something in-between, the sky’s the limit – which can definitely feel a little overwhelming at first! That’s why I’ve put together this list of 25 unique elopement ideas to help you start thinking outside of the box, and realizing all the opportunities you have available to you. I’ve included ideas for food and meals, adventurous activities, ways to make your time getting ready more special, and so much more. Trust me, you’ll be more than ready to get to planning your dream day by the time you’re done with this list!

25 Unique Elopement Ideas: Food, Activities, Adventures & More!

1. Cook breakfast together

One of my favorite parts about elopements is that they give you total freedom to plan your dream day, from start to finish – and you don’t have to wait until your ceremony to be with each other like you would for a traditional wedding! Your special day can start before your ceremony, as early as you want it to. So why not start the festivities as soon as you wake up by making breakfast & coffee together in your Airbnb/home/hotel? Whether you’re going to get ready separately or together, you can use this quiet time in the morning to be present together, enjoy the slowness, & get excited for the rest of the day (especially if you’ll be meeting up with guests later, this private time will be sooo nice). 

If you want to make the most of your day and have a chance to cook in the morning + celebrate late into the night, I highly recommend booking a spacious Airbnb to stay in. This way, you don’t need to worry about quiet hours in a hotel, or arriving to/leaving a venue at a certain time, and you have total privacy + way more room to do your thing alllll day! Here’s a guide I created about How to Plan an Epic Airbnb Wedding or Elopement in California that I think you’ll love.

2. Write your vows in the morning

Who says your vows need to be written weeks before the big day arrives? Nobody! If you want to write your vows when you have the chance to really bask in the feelings of the day, with all the love and anticipation and maybe some nerves, then you can totally write your vows the day-of. Take a few minutes while you and your partner are getting ready (either in separate rooms, or together) and sit down to write your individual vows while you’re super present in the moment. Sometimes it can be hard to get into the mood of the day if you try to write your vows way in advance, plus this can be a special little moment the two of you have together before the day really starts!

3. Exchange private vows before your ceremony

If you really don’t want to say your mushy, lovey-dovey vows in front of an audience, or you just know you’re going to be super nervous, you can totally say your vows in private before your actual ceremony. Yes, that’s right – you don’t have to do it in front of everyone! Some couples just want the moment to themselves, without the pressure of a bunch of eyes on them or a need to feel like they’re doing it “right,” and would rather exchange the quick, traditional set of vows during their ceremony. You can have a private vow exchange while you get ready, during your first look, or whenever you want, really! This is also a great time to exchange any gifts you may want to give each other, and to just soak up all the feels of the day 🙂

4. Facetime your loved ones

If you’re not inviting any guests but you still want to feel the presence of your fam & friends, or if you have any guests who aren’t able to attend, find a moment to Facetime them during the day! This became suuuper popular during COVID, when couples were having to swap their big wedding for a private ceremony or small microwedding, but they still wanted the support & love of their guests from afar. You can live stream your whole ceremony if you want, or you can just take a few minutes to Facetime them while you get ready, after your ceremony, or during your reception – totally up to you! Another way to feel their presence at your elopement is to have them write you letters in advance, that you open & read during the day. This is a super sweet option and usually leads to some tears.

5. Dress your dogs up

If you follow me on Instagram then you probably know I’m obsessed with my dog – and your dogs, too. I freaking love when couples bring their dogs to their elopement and involve them in the celebration somehow, because let’s be honest: they’re basically your children! If you have four-legged BFFs that you want to be a part of your celebration, it would be so fun to dress them up in little accessories or outfits to match your elopement attire. You could also incorporate a few biscuits/treats into your dessert table, have a cutout of your whole fam (doggos included) as your cake topper, or just bring them along with you to your ceremony to stand at the front of the aisle with you. There are so many special ways to include them in your day just like you would your kids or family members!

6. Take a trek to your ceremony spot

If you want to get married out in the middle of nature (in the mountains, forest, along a river, etc.) and you and your guests are down + physically able to make a bit of a trek, why not incorporate a hike or even a kayaking adventure into your ceremony?! You could find an epic spot on top of a mountain that requires a multi-mile hike, or a gorgeous location along a river that you can only access by kayak or white-water raft, and make getting to your ceremony an adventure of its own. How fun would it be to take a white-water rafting tour and then tie the knot at the end?! Just make sure all of your guests (if you have any) will be comfortable with what you’re doing, and that you can all make the trek safely.

7. Have a meaningful unity ceremony

If you love the idea of having some sort of special, symbolic activity along with your vows & ring exchange during your ceremony, then you can plan some kind of unity ceremony. A unity ceremony is pretty much what it sounds like: a ceremony or ritual of sorts that symbolizes your commitment & love for each other in a unique way. Some common unity ceremonies include hand-fasting to symbolize the binding of your individual lives, braiding ropes to represent the strength of your relationship, pouring multi-colored sand into a vase (great for blended families), lighting a unity candle, and even planning a tree together! It can look however you want it to, as long as it means something to you & your partner, and the new journey you’re embarking on together. 

8. Grab pizza & beers from a local pub

Not really into the idea of planning an expensive, fancy dinner on your elopement day? Maybe that doesn’t feel true to the two of you, or maybe you just want to keep it more casual: why not make it simple and grab pizza & beers from a local pub, bar, or pizzeria? Whether you’re eloping in your hometown and want to cheers with your favorite locally-brewed beers, or you’re eloping somewhere totally new and you want to taste-test the local favorites, this is an awesome way to minimize costs & planning time for your elopement dinner. And if you’ll be eating with guests, who doesn’t love a pizza party?! 

9. Have a welcome dinner and/or a morning-after brunch

Welcome dinners have become increasingly popular lately with destination elopements and microweddings, as a way to spend quality time with your guests once they arrive in the area. Maybe you’re eloping at a glamping resort out in the desert where you’re all staying together, or maybe everybody’s staying at individual cabins in the woods. Either way, having a welcome dinner the night your guests arrive is a perfect way to kick off the celebration and say hello to everybody! In the same regard, you could have a brunch sendoff the day after your wedding (or whatever day your guests will be leaving) as a way to squeeze in a little more time together before you say your goodbyes. 

10. Hire a private chef

If you’ve got a little more room in your budget for food and are looking for a bit more bougie experience than pizza & beers, how about hiring a private chef to come cook for you at your Airbnb? You could have them serve up a delicious, multi-course meal for just the two of you, or you and a few guests, while you don’t have to do a thing besides toasting, celebrating, and enjoying every bite. If you wanna take it a step further, you could hire a stylist to design a beautiful tablescape on the lawn of your Airbnb, where you can enjoy your mouth watering dinner under some twinkle lights!

11. Hire a late-night food truck

NOTHING is better than a bunch of snacks to fill all your late-night cravings, am I right? Sooo why not hire a food truck to bring late-night snacks right to you and your guests at your Airbnb?! I’ve seen food trucks for everything: grilled cheese, burgers and fries, hot dogs, sandwiches, tacos, desserts, pizza, you name it and it probably exists somewhere out there. It would be so much fun to lounge around with your guests in the evening, maybe sipping on some drinks and playing some games, with a food truck right there for you when you inevitably get hungry again after dinner!

12. Rent out part of a restaurant

If you want to go a little more fancy but not quite as fancy as a private chef at your Airbnb, renting out a part of a restaurant for you & your guests is a great option. You could find a local winery or dinner restaurant with a delicious menu, and pay to rent a section to use in private for your elopement dinner. This way you don’t have to deal with other guests around you, and you and your guests get fully catered to the whole time! Bonus points if you add a fun wine tasting to the menu or have them bring out some charcuterie boards as yummy appetizers.

13. Have a bougie picnic dinner

Combine the best of both bougie & casual worlds with a classy backyard picnic on the beach, in the backyard of your Airbnb, or in the forest! Whether you want to hire a private chef, munch on snacky foods & appetizers, or hire a restaurant to cater your meal, an elated picnic is always a good idea. You can either DIY it yourself or hire a planner/designer to put together a tablescape for you, complete with florals, candles, pretty glassware, and any other decor you want to add! 

14. Do yoga together

I know it can be easy to get overwhelmed on the morning of your elopement day, EVEN if you’ve planned the most stress-free, effortless day possible. There’s a lot going on and a lot of people involved, especially if you have guests, so it’s natural to feel some nerves the day-of! If you have spare time in the morning before you need to start getting ready, I really recommend spending it getting yourselves relaxed and practicing being present in the moment. You could do this through simply spending some alone time together on the patio of your Airbnb drinking coffee, reading your favorite books on the couch next to each other, or one of my personal favorites – doing yoga! Bonus points if you have a beautiful location to practice at, such as in the middle of a quiet rainforest or a peaceful spot in the mountains. This is a great way to slow down your mind, bask in the feelings of the day, and take it allll in! 

15. Go stargazing

Honestly, there is nothing more magical than looking up at the stars at the end of a wonderful day, realizing just how freaking small you are and just how beautiful this universe is. That’s why stargazing can be an amazing activity to add into your elopement timeline, whether you’ll be staying out in the middle of the Utah desert or under the trees of the PNW! Have your photographer stay until the end of the night with you so they can take epic photos of you under the stars, and then you can lay out a blanket, put on some music, and snuggle up while you look up at the sky & reflect on the day you just had. What an incredible way to end your elopement day, right?!

16. Watch the sunrise

On the opposite end of things, you could get up and watch the sunrise together on the morning of your elopement! Seeing the world transition from night to day is just as magical as looking up at the night time starry sky, especially when you’re watching the light dawn on one of the most special days of your lives. Find a viewpoint that you can easily drive to, or even do a sunrise hike in the mountains if you’re feeling up for more of an adventure!

Check out this gorgeous Alabama Hills Elopement for some sunrise elopement inspo – this beautiful bride and groom got up while it was still dark out, and we took incredible photos from blue hour to golden hour, all the way till daylight!

17. Ride a motorcycle

Want to look and feel like total badasses in your elopement attire? Rent a motorcycle to ride around and snap some photos on – or bring your own if you have one. It is literally impossible not to look like a smokin’ power couple if you’re snuggling up on a motorcycle, no matter if you’re on a road in the forest or riding along the California coastline.

18. Go offroading

If you want the thrill of cruising on a motorcycle through an epic landscape but don’t want to drive yourself, you should go offroading! Offroading is one of the best ways to experience a gorgeous landscape (especially in the desert), and it’s crazy fun, too. I definitely recommend booking an offroading tour where you’ll have professional guides taking care of you & driving the vehicle so that you can just enjoy the ride & take in the views!

19. Lounge in a hammock

This one’s for all you couples whose dream is to elope in the middle of a rainforest, be it in the PNW or the tropics of Hawaii: what better way to breathe in the atmosphere around you and truly embrace its beauty than by lounging around in hammocks? Grab your partner and a two-person hammock (or one each), and head outside of your Airbnb in the forest to find the perfect hammocking trees. Bring a book, listen to music, or just snuggle up together if you’re in the same hammock & enjoy listening to the peaceful sounds of the forest.

20. Eat dessert around a campfire

I’m always down for some s’mores and drinks around a campfire, and to be honest, who isn’t? If you’re eloping with your friends and fam, gather everyone up once it’s dark out and head to your Airbnb for a campfire. Bring your favorite card games, some cold (or hot!) drinks to sip on, s’mores ingredients, and some other late-night snacks for a great night with your favorite people. This is one of the reasons I love when couples rent Airbnbs versus using a venue space – you can spend the entire night doing whatever you want without worrying about leaving in time, and you have the space to set up activities & move around way more freely!

21. Relax in a hot spring

If you’re eloping somewhere in the mountains or in the forest, I highly recommend seeing if there are any natural hot springs in the area that you can access by foot. Hiking to a gorgeous natural pool in the middle of nature, where you can strip down and relax in the warm water, is such a magical experience! Be sure to have your photographer tag along for this one, because the photos will be SO cute 😉

22. Pitch a tent for the night

Prefer sleeping under the stars than spending the night in an Airbnb or a big hotel? Freaking do it! There are no rules that say you must have a formal bed to sleep in the night of your elopement, unless you want to. Find a campground in the area with space for you and your guests, pitch your tents, and enjoy a beautiful night out in nature under the stars. It’ll be a super relaxing way to end your elopement day, and to reflect on all the best moments that you experienced together.

P.S. If you’re planning to elope in California and want to incorporate camping into your celebration, be sure to check out my guide to my 5 Favorite California Camping Spots!

23. Have a private first dance

Your elopement might incorporate all the traditions you’d find at a big wedding, or it might have absolutely zero – there’s no right or wrong. If you do want to include one small tradition that you usually see at a wedding, but in a different setting, have a private first dance! Maybe after your ceremony in the mountains, you find a little spot in the forest where you can respectfully play a quiet song on your phone & dance to it together (as long as it doesn’t intrude on other hikers/visitors’ experience). Or maybe you head back to your Airbnb for the night to have dinner, and once you wrap up your last bite, you head out onto the patio for a slow dance under the stars. Make it feel more true to you, and less like the awkward first dance at weddings where everybody is staring at you and you’re just waiting for the song to be over!

24. Get creative in the dark

The fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down – let’s take some fun photos in the dark! Keep your elopement attire on and you can grab some lanterns, pose in front of your car headlights, dance under the moonlight, snuggle under the stars, or cozy up around a campfire. Don’t be afraid of the dark when it comes to photos, because nighttime can seriously be one of the most amazing times to create some magic together.

25. Have a pool party

Last but not least, if you’re staying at an Airbnb, hotel, resort, or glamping site with a pool, take advantage and have a freaking pool party with your guests! How fun would it be to rent out the space for yourselves and bring all your fam & friends together to relax in the sun, take a dip in the pool, play some music, and munch on some savory snacks on the poolside? It would be extra fun to have a nighttime pool party under the stars, and to have your photographer bring out their flash for some epic photos of everyone having the time of your lives in the dark!

Tips for Planning Your Elopement Timeline

Phew! I know that was a heck of a lot of elopement ideas I just threw at you, and now you need to actually plan your timeline accordingly – which is a whole other beast of its own. Lucky for you, I recently published a blog all about How to Plan a Stress-Free Elopement Day Timeline, where I take you through exactly how to plan your timeline and give you all of my top tips. I promise it’ll help you feel way, way less overwhelmed and give you a really great place to start with all of these unique elopement ideas & activities – you got this!

Looking for more elopement ideas & micro wedding resources like this one? Check out two of my recent favorite California guides below, and keep your eye on the blog for more resources coming in the near future!

How to plan an Epic Micro Wedding in Northern California

How to Elope at California’s Stunning Timber Cove Resort

25 Unique Elopement Ideas for an Unforgettable Day

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