Choosing a backpacking elopement gives you and your partner an intimate and secluded space to be unapologetically you, allowing the stress and drama of a big wedding to completely melt away. There is nothing quite like the stillness of the backcountry, and more and more couples are choosing to get married in this incredible environment.
Planning a backpacking elopement is involved. But don’t let that scare you away! This is where hiring an adventure elopement photographer comes in! At Alpine Vows, we’re more than just a photographer and videographer. We’re here to help you plan your entire elopement journey from start to finish.
Step One: Pick Your Location, But Have a few Back-Ups
This is one of the most fun parts of having a backpacking elopement! Maybe this is a place you and your partner backpack to every year or maybe it is one that has been on your bucket list since the two of you met. Be sure to have a couple of backup plans in the area just in case! Weather, random road closures, or even fires could have you changing your plans. One of the things that we do for our couples is to provide a location guide. When a couple chooses their location, we also provide two or three backup locations.
Perhaps you love the idea of having a backcountry elopement, but backpacking up into the mountains sounds intimidating. That’s totally understandable! However, we truly believe that anyone can have a backpacking elopement, you just need proper planning. Not all gorgeous backcountry areas are at 14,000 feet elevation. There are plenty of incredible locations all around the US that are accessible for any skill level!
So whether you’re looking for a challenging hike into alpine territory or a leisurely hike through gorgeous desert landscapes, we promise there is a location out there that will fit your wants and needs perfectly. PS: We’ll even help you if your location requires a special permit for eloping. We provide completely customized location guides to help you pick the perfect spot for your elopement! Having trouble narrowing down a state? We wrote this blog just for you!
Step Two: Prepare Yourself
Once you’ve got your location picked out, it’s important to remember to properly prepare yourself for your upcoming adventure. Nothing can put a damper on a backcountry experience quite like altitude sickness!
Drink water. Once you do that, drink more water! The most important thing you can do before your trip is to keep your body well hydrated. While it’s crucial to drink plenty of water while you’re hiking, you should also make sure to drink lots of water in the days preceding your trip.
A good rule of thumb to follow to keep your body well hydrated is to drink half an ounce for every pound you weigh. For example:
- 100 lbs = 50 oz/day (about 1.5 quarts/Liters)
- 150 lbs = 75 oz/day (a little over 2 quarts/Liters)
- 200 lbs = 100 oz/day (a little over 3 quarts/Liters)
On your actual elopement day, you should be drinking even more than this, especially in hot climates like the Utah desert!
If your schedule can afford it, we recommend showing up to the area a day or two before your elopement. This is especially true if you are traveling from a lower elevation to a high elevation. This has two main benefits: It gives your body the chance to get used to the higher elevation, and it also gives you and your partner some extra time to relax and really enjoy the area so that you can be more present during your elopement!
Step Three: Make Sure You Have the Proper Gear for Where You are Going
There’s an old saying that goes, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” Your experience will definitely be enhanced by having the proper gear for your location. I photographed a backpacking elopement in Colorado in the middle of July and we literally had every type of weather! From sunshine to rain, to hail, and even snow! Luckily we were all well versed in Colorado weather and had plenty of layers and extra socks. Just be prepared for every type of weather, even in the summertime. If you’re not sure what proper gear entails, check out our list below for gear every eloper should have in their pack.
What to pack for your backpacking elopement:
- Backpack (you’ll definitely want to make sure your pack is properly fitted. You can go into an outdoor store like REI to have someone professionally fit you or this video is extremely helpful!)
- Lightweight sleeping bag (you’ll want a bag rated for the nighttime temperature for your location, be sure to check on the weather frequently and have an appropriately rated bag)
- Sleeping pad
- Hiking boots/shoes (with extra socks)
- Lightweight tent
- Navigation (topo map, compass, GPS device)
- Sun protection
- First aid kit
- Stove (fuel, matches, mess kit)Extra food
- Plenty of water (I usually pack a Camelbak bladder, a Nalgene, and a lightweight water filtration system)
- Extra clothes
- Small clothes repair kit
- Hygiene supplies
- Baggies for garbage (pack it in, pack it out!)
- Bear-proof food container
- Appropriate clothing for the weather (I recommend fleece-lined leggings, even in the summertime and layers)
Special items for your elopement:
- Dress(s) (you can pack or attach to your backpack)
- Groom outfit(s) (you can pack or attach to your backpack)
- Battery-powered curling iron
- Makeup (if you choose to wear it)
- Champagne (or sparkling water for spraying, save the champagne for drinking!)
- Signs for your backpacks
- Hiking poles (if you’d like!)
Keep in mind, this is just a base list. You may have/want to add items depending on your location and season. If you’re still not sure you have everything you need, that is totally okay! We will send you a packing list and gear suggestions so that you can make the absolute most of your elopement day!
Step Four: Have a Timeline, But be Flexible
We’ll work closely with you both to create a timeline that is exactly how you want to spend your wedding day so that you can enjoy it to the fullest! We can definitely plan your ceremony for the best lighting (sunrise or sunset) but I will absolutely photograph your entire backpacking elopement so that when you look back on your images, you remember exactly how you both felt and how adventurous your wedding was! Your elopement timeline will certainly be more relaxed and all about the two of you. Taking out the unnecessary wedding pageantries that do not resonate with you allows you to truly focus the day on activities that you both love! Eloping allows you to be flexible in your timeline. When you choose to make the day all about you and your love, you can take time to relax and not stress about your timeline.
Step Five: Be LNT (Leave No Trace) Aware
When you adventure into the great outdoors, we all have a personal responsibility to care for the land that we explore and practice the seven LNT principles as best we can (if you are not familiar with the seven LNT principles, check out their website!) Every environment has its own special ecosystems that make it absolutely beautiful and unique. Though the principles are the same no matter where you are, it is important that you do your due diligence and study up on the land that you are recreating. For instance, in the Moab desert, there is this absolutely incredible soil called Cryptobiotic Soil (the coolest dirt you’ve ever seen!) that gives life to the desert and holds it together. It is incredibly fragile and can take hundreds of years to grow but can be destroyed in an instant if accidentally stepped on. I recommend taking a moment to really research the environment that you choose for your backpacking elopement so you can be as respectful as possible to the landscape. Pssst…did you know that Bailee is a Leave No Trace Aware Photographer? If you have any questions about this, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Step Six: Hire a Photographer and Videographer who are Stoked to Document your Elopement!
As adventurous an elopement photographer and videographer, we have made it our priority to not only help plan and photograph badass elopements but to cheer you on throughout the entire process! We truly believe that traditional weddings are not for everyone, and if you are considering an adventurous elopement because it is more authentic to you as a couple just know that we are SO stoked for you! You are making the brave choice to be true to who you are and you should most definitely choose a photographer and videographer who specializes in adventurous elopement weddings.
Consider these questions when you hire a photographer and/or videographer for your backpacking elopement:
- Have you spent time in the backcountry before?
- What has been your favorite adventure?
- How did you handle a situation that didn’t go exactly to plan?
- What is your philosophy on LNT?
- Have you gone backpacking before?
Step Seven: Have the Time of Your Life!
There’s no better way to kick off this new chapter of your life than with an adventurous elopement! When you let go of what other people expect for your wedding and start planning a day explicitly for you, the possibilities become endless. Why not have a wedding day that you will look back on with fondness five, ten, even fifty years from now? You deserve to unapologetically have the elopement of your dreams and we are here to help you every step of the way! Not only will we document your two-day adventure elopement, but we also provide customized location guides, vendor referrals, timeline help, marriage license and permit assistance, and so much more. Does a two-day adventure-packed elopement sound right up your alley? Reach out to start planning!
-Bailee and Jake
PS: Did you know that this Colorado backpacking elopement was featured on Wandering Weddings?! Check it out!