Why Intimate Elopements/Weddings?

1) To focus on the experience

Weddings (usually) involve a lot of logistics: hiring all of your vendors, decorations and pinterest galore, doing extensive family formals, talking with all of your guests, and being the center of attention. Which a lot of people enjoy those things!

But we cater to those who prefer a more intimate experience with fewer things to plan and take care of. Instead, intimate elopements + weddings put the focus more on the experience (or so we believe). Usually, it means spending more time with close family & friends, planning fewer & more unique things that the two of you enjoy—and with us…usually a hike! We feel like most couples walk away with a richer experience and more stories to share. Although we’re heavily biased.

2) Avoid extra stress/wedding planning

We’re originally from Kansas—where elopements are very, very rare. Some brides would get overwhelmed with the stress of planning, the cost of everything—or family issues. A lot of them wanted to elope and do something more simplistic—but were often too financially committed to change plans.

We truly believe that big weddings are great—if that’s the kind of wedding you want. This is supposed to be about you two and what you want. So if wedding planning or family issues are already stressful—then there’s a good chance eloping could be a better experience.

Wedding planning can be a lot of fun. Picking out all of the details and spending hours on Pinterest. We just personally prefer planning hikes and epic trips around the US/World as a couple, and so that’s how we work as a business, too. We’d rather spend $150 on a ski lift in Switzerland to go dog sledding than on table decor.

We travel a lot with our van, so our whole livelihood has been about choosing experience over material belongings. Which led us more towards intimate ceremonies.

3) Have more freedom

Your friends & family will most likely not wake up at 4am to drive up to Glacier Point in Yosemite for your sunrise ceremony. Or fly off to Nicaragua to hike up a volcano. Your ceremony can take place literally anywhere in the world. Be adventurous! Choose a ceremony place worth telling for years to come.

Freedom of choice also makes ceremonies more personal. You’re not catering to 75-300 people and what makes them happy or comfortable. Just a small group of family & friends, or even just the two of you. We’ve seen time & time again that couples’ personalities come out a lot more for intimate ceremonies where they can plan/do things that wouldn’t be feasible or comfortable for a bigger guest list.

You also have the freedom to choose somewhere more sentimental. We had our fist kiss in Glacier National Park, so it’s a very special place to us. Intimate ceremonies allow you the freedom of visiting somewhere sentimental, or just traveling to your favorite vacation getaway.

4) Save money, or at least spend it the way you want

We put all of our money into our van and drove out West to start our business. We treasure experience over everything. The investment we made in traveling has been worth it tenfold. The same applies to intimate elopements + weddings. You can save a considerable amount of money, even elope halfway around the world—all within or well under a typical wedding budget. National Park Permits are $150 (for the most part), and that’s far cheaper than a lot of venues. We think it’s important to spend your budget on what you really want—and sometimes that means having awesome decor. It’s totally up to you!

5) You can still celebrate with friends & family

A lot of our clients still host receptions in their home city and invite everyone they care about. Some of our clients from Australia took a month long US road trip, eloped in Yosemite, and threw a surprise elopement celebration party weeks after—with our photos to share on the projector when they walked out in their bridal + groomal attire.

Eloping/getting married in epic places doesn’t mean that you have to leave anyone out. Often times it’s easier to know that you already eloped somewhere beautiful—had the whole day to yourselves to celebrate—and then have a whole evening to celebrate together with friends & family.

National Park Info

It’s not our first walk in the park.

Fun fact: We used to live inside Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming before we started More Van Anything. So National Parks are like home for us.

Important Permit Knowledge:

  • The fee is approximately $150.

  • Apply as soon as possible! Sometimes it can take a while.

  • International applications are frequent. So don’t let that deter you if you’re an international client coming to the US!

  • You’ll have to decide on a ceremony location within the Park—apply for it—and wait to hear if the ceremony location is available for your date. We’d be happy to give our recommendations if you’re not certain of a good location.

Our Advice:

  • Avoid weekends and major holidays—unless you’re planning during the off-season.

  • Look into several parks! We have several personal favorites—and hope that you look into a few different places before deciding.

  • Plan for less predictable weather! Some days have gorgeous sunsets. Other days it might be foggy & rainy. And while you can plan during the most temperate season, things in nature can go awry.

FAQ:

  • When do I need a permit?

    • Anytime you’re wearing a wedding dress/suit & tie. Even if you don’t intend on having a ceremony. Park Rangers can kick us out without a permit—and we take permits seriously! Plus, the money supports the Parks. The only time a permit isn’t necessary (to our best knowledge), is for adventure sessions where we stick to trails and you two are wearing normal/semi formal dress.

  • How do I get those epic shots?

    • We have an article just for that!

  • How do we handle forest fires/changing weather conditions?

    • We keep up with forest fires that are in areas we have booked clients. If we (or you) foresee an issue with your elopement/wedding plans, we should establish a back up plan for your date. For example, Lake Tahoe or Sequoia are great back ups for Yosemite. If we cannot work out a back up for your given date, or you prefer to hold off until the fires clear, we will accommodate as best as we can in our travel schedule.

Yosemite:

Yosemite definitely takes 1st place for elopement popularity within the US. It’s a gorgeous, vast landscape with iconic views for days. That being said, it’s often more competitive for permits and usually has to be planned more in advance.

We recommend Glacier Point ceremony at sunrise. Glacier Point is a short walk from a parking lot, and therefore an easy, epic viewpoint for tourists to visit for sunset. Most people won’t wake up at 4am to drive to the top for sunrise—so you can better avoid the crowds. At most, we’ve had 15 other (regular tourists) up there during a sunrise ceremony. Which should tell you how busy sunset would be.

Cathedral Beach or Tenaya Lake are our favorite alternative location choices if Glacier Point is taken.

Moab:

Moab is where we shot our first adventure session! Previously being based in Utah, we visited Moab a ton. There’s a lot more to Moab than Arches or Canyonlands. Our personal favorite is Dead Horse State Park. As well as a few more remote hikes to escape the crowds. National Park Permit is required for the two National Parks. A permit is required for Dead Horse State Park. And to our best knowledge, some of our remote hikes don’t currently require a permit.

Most tourists are in Moab to visit Arches National Park. The peak season in Moab is Spring & Fall.

Other National Parks to Consider:

How to Get Those Epic Shots

We’ll most likely have to hike.

Which we think is a great thing! It wouldn’t be an adventurous elopement without some form of a hike. There are some roadside pull offs and more accessible Park areas for those who prefer less hiking—but in order to really get the elopement views & experiences we strive for—we’ll have to hike.

Most hikes are 2-5 miles, and vary in altitude from sea level to 14,000 ft.

We might wake up early.

Depending on your location, and how busy it is, we might have to wake up early. For sunrise at Yosemite, we wake up at 3:30-4:00am in order to drive up to Glacier Point from the valley floor. Other, less busy National Parks + locations are less crowded, making sunset sessions more feasible. It just depends on where you’re ceremony takes place.

We might have steep drop offs.

A lot of hikes and epic views require some form of a steep drop off. If you don’t feel physically able, or have a fear of heights—please let us know! We don’t want our clients to feel unsafe or uncomfortable. This is supposed to be fun! We just point this out, as some clients have never visited these National Parks + locations before and don’t know what to expect. Otherwise, if you’re physically able and comfortable, those cliff edges make for magical shots.

Your elopement/wedding attire will get dirty.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid getting your clothes/shoes dirty. You’ll probably be hiking in your attire on the trail, and it’s bound to happen. Some clients even prefer that their dress/suit gets dirty with mud. It adds to the story!

While it’s difficult to frequently change on the trail, it’s a lot easier to at least change in/out of hiking shoes. If your location requires a longer hike, be sure to check that you’re bringing appropriate footwear, food, and water.