Many years ago, to elope meant to run away with just your significant other to seal the deal and to keep things simple. These days, eloping can mean many different things. The main focus of an elopement is that it is an intimate affair that focuses on you both as a couple without the pomp and circumstance of a large celebration filled with seating charts, centerpieces and family photo lists.
Does this mean that an elopement is simple and easy to plan? Not necessarily! I tell my couples that elopements can get as complicated as you want them to be, or as simple as you need them to be. It will be easier than planning who will be invited, who will be seated next to whom and who to ask to be a part of your wedding party. However, if you're planning on an escape or adventure elopement, then logistics become the bigger concern of your day.
So what does an elopement mean? What should you look for when searching for elopement packages and elopement wedding photography coverage? What is the typical cost of an elopement in New England?
There are so many places for elopement weddings and it can be as creative as your imagination allows. Do you love beaches and the ocean at the Cape or North Shore? Are you more into sweeping vistas in the mountains of New England? Do you love the fall foliage you see when driving out to The Berkshires? Intimate weddings can take place anywhere and you don't have to lay down a hefty deposit to secure a wedding venue. The most important thing is to visualize where you plan to hold your ceremony and exchange vows with the one you love. If you need help, I'm here for you!
The typical elopement includes just you and your fiance(e) alongside an officiant (and of course, the photographer). In modern times, this list has evolved to also include parents, and best friends. It's up to you who is crucial to you and your significant other. You are accountable to no one in elopements and that's one of the most freeing aspects about it.
Here's a checklist of items to consider when planning your intimate elopement in New England:
- All weddings require a marriage license. This needs to be obtained from the county that the wedding will take place. You can find more information about the MA waiting period (3 days) and # of witnesses required for your New England state below (fact: MA does not require a witness, Maine requires two witnesses). If you prefer to get married first at City Hall, that's always an option so that you don't have to worry about paperwork on the day of. We got married in City Hall and then had our friend perform the wedding ceremony on the day of our actual wedding which made it easy and so much more personalized.
- Check your state's website to determine the most updated information regarding getting married
- You also need an offiiciant and a witness (depending on the state). Many times, I've photographed elopements and intimate weddings with friends that have performed the ceremony after they were ordained for the day online. You can find out more about becoming a minister to officiate a wedding on the American Marriage Ministries website. On this website, there are resources to help you prepare to ordain your friends during their intimate elopement.
- If you need a professional to help with logistics, a photographer can help guide you through considerations that are necessary for a realistic timeline and help you find great locations for your elopement that will fit your needs. Photographers are also a great resource when planning the best time of day for photos. If you're looking for a specific look to your elopement, such as a snowy winter ceremony, then check out this resource on planning:
- Elopement planners can also be of service. They can help plan your timeline, ensure your guests have the correct address and help them with transportation if your location is out of town. They can also get your floral bouquet if there's a time crunch and you want to arrive at your location the day before the wedding. Elopement planners will also have contacts on hair and makeup artists that service your area.
- The actual elopement location is a key piece in the whole puzzle. The main thing is to be realistic with your expectations. If you want mountain views, but you're not willing to travel 3+ hours outside of Boston, then your views won't be the same as what you see on Instagram. If you have some specific ideas in mind, head out and explore! Take some photos to make sure it looks how you envision. Feel free to be in constant contact with me with your scouting and I can give you immediate feedback. I often have clients wanting waterfalls, but they want them in Boston – unfortunately such a waterfall does not exist. If you book a full day elopement, we can get creative and do multiple locations for your photos. These may include a waterfall and then mountain vistas for the actual elopement ceremony.
-Determine the time of year you want to get married. To me, I love the greens of Spring, the fall foliage in the mountains, or the cool breeze of the oceans when the beaches are not filled with sand toys and people in their swim trunks. Even a snowy hilltop or tree grove in a forest would be breathtaking. Here is a link to a snow engagement session I did recently so you can see how magical snow can look.
- Figure out if you want to exchange vows, or rings or any other symbol of your love.
- Do you want any musicians on site during the ceremony?
- Do you want a florist to create an arbour or huppah?
- Consider a Plan B. With the unpredictable New England weather, a snow storm or torrential rains could close certain mountain passes and make roads inaccessible and unsafe for your intimate wedding ceremony. I always like to be overprepared and have a backup plan just in case your top choice becomes impossible.
Elopements can be confusing and hard to navigate, but as a wedding professional for over 8 years and hundreds of happy clients, I'm here to help you figure it out. It's important to hire a professional to guide you through the process. Whether your elopement is just the two of you, or includes up to 25 guests, the scope is up to you and there are no additional fees for the additional guests. A full list of my elopement packages is listed below.
- Plan your outfits! Believe it or not there are wedding dress rental companies out there now. You can rent a dress for a few days for a fraction of what it would cost to buy a dress you would only wear once. Reach out to me for resources! Click HERE for the team that made the beautiful traditional red qipao / cheong sam Chinese gown above. They have made numerous gowns for my brides and all of my brides have raved about their customer service.
The Berkshires are incredible during the fall foliage season and it was the perfect time of year to elope in nature surrounded by the best that New England has to offer. The day started with getting ready and ended with a peaceful boat ride at a lake.
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- Anna and ron
Honestly, Bella Wang is a UNICORN!! The photos are just so creative and beautiful! Some of our favourite photos are of an ordinary background but Bella just frames it into something magical. We loved how she played with light and shade and just made us look so extra amazing (like a Wong Kar Wai movie, and we are not photogenic!). I also appreciated that she helps ‘edit’ our poses (reminding us to stand a little straighter, roll our shoulders back, chins up, etc). I can really see a difference in the output of the photos when I compare this to our wedding photos overseas and that really matters when you spend so much energy and your wedding budget that something little like this really enhances how the photos look. In saying that, the candid photos are also really beautiful too! On top of that, we were just so incredibly lucky that Bella and Ed are also the nicest people to work with, they are flexible and spontaneous (our wedding was in the winter, we wanted ‘urban’ photos in Chinatown which is usually crowded and chaotic but you can’t tell by looking at the photos!!). They were super patient as we took welcome photos with all our 200+ guests! Bella is also super prompt with her delivery dates and very responsive to emails. This was our second wedding with much less formalities (no ceremony, no wedding party) since we already had our first wedding overseas but the photos just gave our second wedding so much of its own unique character. We were going for a 1920s Shanghai vibe with a modern twist and she just really nailed the brief! Bella is one of a kind photographer and we honestly can’t say enough about how amazing she is! We’re so happy with our photos!!
- Holly and frankie
I highly recommend Bella! I had met her about 7 years ago at a first birthday party and liked her work but words can't express how amazing she is now. 7 years later she did my wedding and her photos left me speechless. We have so many amazing photos that we can relive for years to come. Bella captured every detail of our special day. Her pictures are absolutely stunning and I've had a few people ask if some are magazine covers because they look too good to be true. I couldn't have asked for anything more and I'm so grateful for Bella and making our day so wonderful. Thank you!
- patrick and kerri
Bella photographed both our engagement and wedding. We would recommend her for any type of project without hesitation. Her photos are incredible - she has a natural talent for finding unique angles and really knows how to use light to create the right atmosphere for a given photo. She suggested most of the locations and poses we used in our photos, and our favorites are ones we never could have thought up on our own. She also seems like she could work with a wide range of personalities, from more traditional (or boring) customers like ourselves to people who like wackier or more theatrical photos
- liz + Devin
When we got engaged in early 2017, we did not waste a minute before contacting Bella! Planning a wedding from NJ was difficult but Bella made it so easy. We knew immediately upon meeting her that we wanted to hire her for our wedding day. On your wedding day you definitely want a team of photographers that you feel totally comfortable around as you spend basically the whole day with them! Bella and her husband were amazing. Not only were our photos stunning but they made us feel comfortable being ourselves, which allows for the most natural photos. I would gladly work with Bella again when we start a family someday!
- amanda + Charlie
Bella helped make our wedding perfect and memorable, and also helped us have the most beautiful engagement photos. They are photos we’re going to have for the rest of our life, and we could not have asked for someone to do a better job. She was affordable, extremely professional, and went above and beyond what we expected. I highly recommend Bella, and we will be going back to her for any baby/family photos we get taken in the future!
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