Finding, narrowing down, & picking your perfect elopement vendors can be incredibly overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you choose out of the thousands of options?! Whether you’re looking for wedding vendors or vendors for an intimate elopement, it’s easy to crack under the stress of it all.
That’s why I wanted to give you all of my best tips & advice on how to curate your dream team of elopement vendors! As an Alaska elopement photographer who’s been in the biz for 7 years, I know how to narrow down options & help my couples find the perfect people for them. So let’s get into how you can do that same thing for your own big day!
I’ll be going through 3 things:
- Why your elopement vendors are so important to the day
- A list of vendors you’ll want to make sure you hire
- How to find & pick your perfect vendors
Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Why your elopement vendors are so dang important
I wanted to first start off with a section on why exactly your vendors are so important. Because if you’re not a part of the elopement industry like I am, and aren’t constantly attending weddings & elopements, you might not really know why it’s such a big deal to hire amazing wedding vendors.
When it comes to vendors, it’s not just a money game. You don’t want to just do a Google search real quick, find somebody near you who’s cheap & looks decent, and hire them right off the bat. Even though that’s what might be easiest!
Here’s why it’s so incredibly important to find vendors that match your vibe, personality, and can share a vision for your big day:
1. Your vendors are the ones who will bring the day together
While you likely have TONS of ideas, visions, and dreams for your elopement day, you’ll need to enlist people to help make that happen! You’re the one who’s getting married, so you don’t want to have to plan it all out yourself, right?
Hiring vendors who are experienced at what they do is how you’ll be able to best bring your vision to life. You want to carefully select people who understand the vision & vibe you’re going for, and who truly care about what’s important to you.
What do you value most? What would make your day THE most special? Find vendors who will ask these questions and who will bring something awesome to the table to help you make your dreams come to life.
If all your visions stay on a Pinterest board forever because you didn’t hire the right people to help you execute them, then what’s the point?!
2. You’ll be around some of your vendors for quite a while
When it comes to personality, you def want to hire vendors who match yours! Especially when it comes to your photographer, videographer, officiant, & planner and/or coordinator, you’re gonna be around these people for a WHILE. Whether that’s through planning over Facetime or coffee shop meetings before your elopement, or being present with them literally your whole elopement day – you’re going to be spending some quality time with these people.
That’s why it’s important to hire people whose work you not only love but whose personalities vibe the right way with yours. Do you really want to be around a photographer who has totally different values, communication styles, and overall personality traits than you on the best day of your life?!
3. Being able to fully trust your vendors is key
As a vendor, it is SO incredibly rewarding to work with couples that love my work and enjoy my company. And that happens because they’re able to trust me fully to take care of them.
Along with finding wedding vendors you vibe with on a personal level, make sure you are able to have a certain level of trust with them. They should want to make sure you have an amazing time and that you can trust them to create an AMAZING experience for you!!
Make sure you love their past work, the way they communicate, how the process of working with them looks like, and the ideas they have. Don’t be afraid to interview them a little if you get on an introductory call with them – they should be happy to answer any & all questions you have! They WANT you to trust them just as much as you want to be able to trust them – that’s how they’ll be able to give you the best experience possible!
4. They’re the pros
And finally, they’re the pros – obviously. You probably haven’t planned 40 elopements in your lifetime or photographed multiple adventure elopements on top of glaciers. Simply put, you don’t know how it all works – and that is TOTALLY okay & normal! You’re not supposed to – that’s our job.
We’re here to guide you through the process since we’re experienced & have plenty of knowledge in the elopement arena. Long story shore: hire people who know their stuff!
A list of elopement vendors you’ll want to consider hiring & why
Now let’s get into a list of important vendors you’ll want to consider hiring for your elopement. I’ll also briefly talk about why they’ll be so incredibly beneficial to your elopement experience!
I might be biased here, but I believe your elopement photographer is one of THE most important vendors you’ll hire.
Your photographer will be working with you for quite a long time: from the moment you inquire (sometimes up to a year in advance) to giving you location advice to planning your timeline to photographing the day. . . you get the idea. It’s a lot of time they’ll spend communicating with & creating your elopement experience with you.
It’s especially important to find a photographer who you vibe with because they’ll be the one taking photos of you all day. If you think you’re awkward, or feel weird in front of the camera, it’s not going to be great if you don’t trust your photographer or aren’t comfortable with them.
In order to tell the most genuine story of your elopement, you need to be comfortable with your photog & trust them to capture it the best way they know how. So don’t skimp on your photographer! You might end up with somebody telling you to do a weird prom pose, or making you feel weird with their camera lens in your face while you try to say your vows.
The reasons to find a great videographer line up pretty well with what I mentioned above about your photographer. They’ll also have a camera or two on your elopement day, so you’ll want to find somebody you’re comfortable with.
You also want to find a videographer who not only captures the day as it happens but uses video to tell the story of the day in a creative, unique way. Find somebody who pays attention to the little details – the leaves blowing next to you as you say your vows, the way the waves crash from the wind during your portraits, the dirt on the trail you’re hiking up. It all plays a part in telling the story of your day authentically for you to look back on forever!
Planner and/or Coordinator
Simply put, a planner and/or coordinator will help you hold everything together. They’re the ones who will know exactly what to do and when, where to go, what time activities are at, etc. That way, you don’t have to keep track of it all, and you can simply be present during your elopement!
I actually have a whole dang blog post where I go through 7 Intentional Ways to Be Present During Your Wedding – give it a read!
And a great bonus: your planner can also help you find other perfect vendors for you! You don’t have to do all the searching for yourself – they should be able to find wedding vendors they know & trust that will match great with you.
To get an inside look into what it looks like working with an elopement planner, check out my article – An Interview with an Alaska Wedding Planner!
An obvious one – it’s crazy important to find the right location/venue for your elopement!
The location of your elopement is what creates the mood of the day, and can add special meaning if chosen right.
Do you have a favorite place to visit together? A park you’ve dreamed of exploring? An epic place where you got engaged? Pick somewhere that’ll be meaningful and special to you both, maybe somewhere you can visit on your anniversaries, or bring your future kids to!
If you’re a big fan of setting the tone with good music, hire an awesome musician, band, or DJ! Even if it’s just you and a few guests, bringing some sort of live musician along can create an amazing environment for you to celebrate. This way, nobody has to create & manage a Spotify playlist throughout the day, either – everybody can focus on being present!
Catering is important because duh – you want to eat yummy food & drink good drinks on your elopement day!
Whether you book a food truck to provide your favorite dinner & snacks, hire a private chef to cook at your Airbnb, or pack a charcuterie board picnic in your car, find a way to eat what makes you the happiestttt.
Do you love grilled cheese? Hire a food truck to bring you salty, yummy late-night snacks. Love eating finger foods & drinking nice wine? Pay somebody to make you a beautiful charcuterie board to bring to your ceremony spot. Love chilling out with a good beer or two? Pack a cooler with your faves!
Hairstylist + Makeup Artist
Trust me: the last thing you want to be doing on your elopement day is stressing out about how you look! You want to feel your VERY best, so that you can truly enjoy the day and be fully present, with zero worries.
That’s why it’s important to hire talented makeup artists & hairstylists to make you look & feel AMAZING!
Hire beauty gurus who know how to work with your skin tone & hair type, and who are open to your ideas but also guide you with their expertise.
Doing your own makeup and hair can be tricky, simply because it’ll add a task to your day, and you may not know how to best do makeup for the weather, or for being in front of a camera!
How to find & pick your perfect vendors
Finally, let’s go through a few ways to search for your wedding vendors, and then how to narrow down your selection! There are HUNDREDS of thousands of vendors out there, so weeding through the internet to find your faves can be a tricky & overwhelming task.
Step 1: Search for vendors
Instagram is a gold mine when it comes to searching for vendors!
Simply search in the search bar with your elopement location & the type of vendor: e.g. “Alaska makeup artist” or “Alaska elopement photographer.”
Once you find a few vendors, you can also look through their photos & go down a rabbit hole of other vendors they’ve tagged!
Check out their work, read their captions, look through their stories, head to their website. Stalk away!
You can also simply do a Google search for what you’re looking for! You’ll find tons of websites and Google listings to comb through.
Ask your friends/fam
A really great way to find awesome vendors is to ask your friends & family who may have gotten married recently! Who did they hire that they LOVED? Why did they love them? Maybe they have some tips as far as the hunt for vendors goes, too!
You can also search through a wedding website such as Wandering Weddings! They’ve got tons of resources you can check out as well as vendor directories for different locations.
Finally, look for local publications & magazines in the region you’ll be eloping in! For example, Rocky Mountain Bride is a great resource for couples eloping in the Colorado/Wyoming area.
Step 2: Pick & hire your vendors
Now that you’ve narrowed down your search, it’s time to actually select wedding vendors to reach out to!
Choose based on their work
Make sure you choose someone based on how much you love their work. If you’re basing things solely on price/budget and settling for vendors you aren’t obsessed with, you will likely be disappointed you didn’t follow your heart!
Definitely keep your budget in mind but also prioritize what is the most important to you. Want some bomb dinner? Live band? Kickass photographer? List everyone out and prioritize!
Make sure your vibes match
Make sure you vibe with your wedding vendors like we talked about above! I highly recommend meeting up in person or hopping on a phone call to get a feel for their personalities. Their social media is going to be a great place to see how they interact with their couples, too!
Read reviews, reviews, & more reviews
Find reviews of your potential vendors on their social media & websites! Reading websites is a great start, but hearing about real-life experiences from real couples is a totally different story. It’s a super helpful way to know what you can expect!
Be on the same page with your S/O
Lastly, make sure you’re on the same page with your significant other. You‘ll likely have different wedding vendor priorities, so talk it over and make sure you know what your joint priorities are!
PHEW that was a lot of info! But I hope it’s all helpful to you as you search for your perfect wedding vendors. Be sure to check out more of my recent elopement resources below!