The luxury elopement experience by Rochelle Cheever is a boutique design and photography studio based in San Diego, California and Rome, Italy.

How to Upscale Your Elopement Wedding (Even on a Budget)

Elopements and intimate weddings are on the rise especially after the Pandemic, and with current challenging worldwide issues like inflation. Small weddings have changed the landscape of the wedding market. In this post, I’ll give some ideas on how to upscale your elopement wedding even on a budget.

They are in demand and will continue to grow in popularity.  I believe they are the fastest-growing section in the wedding industry. 

Today, elopements entail having an intimate wedding as opposed to having a big, grandiose celebration.

Tiny weddings, intimate weddings, micro weddings, or just the two of you – Basically  I consider a small wedding with 25 guests or less. 

Still, just because it’s a toned-down event, doesn’t mean you can’t elope in style. 

In this post, I’ll show you 11 ways to make your day extra-special so you don’t downplay your elopement wedding.

Since you’re not going to be accommodating tons of guests (which will reduce the costs immensely), you can allocate your budget to details like your dream location and/or your dream dress.

I’ve spent more than 15 years helping couples plan elopements and intimate weddings.

My eloping couples love the good things in life—travel, adventure, good food, art, and culture. 

I’ve noticed throughout the years, that small weddings appeal to a wide range of couples from all races and religions.

They love being alone together, and, even pre-pandemic, they’re not up for a big wedding but they still want to have an unforgettable elopement experience.

I believe that an elopement should have the same quality as a full traditional wedding. 

An intimate wedding can and should be just as stylish, unique, and memorable if it’s done right.

You can incorporate as many details as you like to make sure your day looks dreamy and beautiful, such as a fantastic location, gorgeous dress,  lovely flowers, and so much more. 

To help you, I have rounded up 11 essential ways that will ensure that you elope in style.


 1. Find a place to elope

One of your first major decisions for your elopement is finding the “right”  location. If you want to upscale your elopement, this is probably your most important choice.

Everything else will flow from there.

Your location will reflect the feeling you’re going for and determine your theme.

Once you’re clear about the vibe you’d like for your elopement, look for a location that matches it. 

For traditional weddings, picking a location for their wedding is mainly based on accommodating the number of guests.

In planning an elopement wedding, you really have no limits as you can get married almost anywhere. 

My tip and the best advice here is to don’t fall prey to “Elopement Packages” proposed by many vendors and venues.  

You don’t want a cheap cookie-cutter elopement even if you are on a budget. 

For each of our couples, our team starts the elopement wedding process from scratch based entirely on the couple’s vision, personalities and preferences. 

We help them choose the location, to then design their elopement day – everything from concept to the day of.

For a once-in-a-lifetime Elopement experience, you want to avoid these “cheap venue/vendor” packages if you want something unique.

Don’t fall into the trap!

Make your day truly your own and do what you love to do most, and in a place that is special to both of you. 

I’m always in favor of choosing an exotic destination so that you can enjoy both your wedding and honeymoon spending time together as Mr & Mrs away from home, work and routined life.

But if a destination is not possible, your elopement can even be in your own backyard!

2. Decide on your style for your Elopement 

This goes hand in hand with choosing your location. 

Deciding on your style is one of the main things to think about before you start planning all other details of your elopement. 

Think about how you would like to style your wedding to your taste as this is going to be the foundation of your theme. 

Your style can be elegant, modern, rustic, boho, or even better yet, create a custom theme which is what we love to do for each of our couples.

You need to think of an overall mood that matches and fits you as a couple.

Whether you choose a classic elopement or a minimalist theme, you can plan to keep it simple or extravagant as you like based on your personal preferences while keeping it stylish and chic.

It’s essential to have a cohesive look where every detail is intentional so your wedding elements are not scattered all over the place.

3. Wedding attire for your Intimate wedding

Because eloping is an intimate affair, you will have lots of time to focus on yourself. 

Choose a dress that fits your theme – something that embraces your location and your style.

You can splurge on your dream dress by picking your favorite brand or opting for something off the rack for your dreamy elopement wedding.

It can be short or long, white or colorful.

If you’re looking for some inspiration on elopement wedding dresses you can read this Post.

4. Hairstyle and makeup for your Intimate Wedding

Whether you are planning to hire a stylist for hair and makeup or to do it yourself, you must book an appointment and organize the tools you will need, so that you’re sure you look your best!

I highly recommend finding a local hair & makeup artist and giving them your ideas beforehand and showing them the look you want along with your dress and theme colors.

Time and budget permitting, have a trial hair & makeup a day or two before your elopement.

5. Florals for your Elopement

Flowers are an easy way to take your elopement wedding to the next level, regardless of whether you prefer to go for real or fake blooms. 

Choose the flowers after considering the theme and style of the elopement.  

Stick to your color scheme to have everything tie together.

When possible try to choose local florals, greenery, and elements so that you blend in the natural environment. 

This will also keep the costs down.

For example, in Tuscany, you can use Olive branches, in Capri or the Amalfi Coast, lemons or ceramic, in Provence, Lavender.

6. Get ready together or separately

You can get ready separately, the traditional way, and save the first look at the altar (which is my favorite choice) or get ready together. 

If just the two of you are eloping, you’ll have plenty of time for photos together throughout the day being together.

You might want to be with your significant other as you get ready and possibly even walk down the aisle hand in hand.

In the morning when you are preparing for your big day, you can spend that time together sipping on champagne, exchanging gifts, and writing your vows.

If you want help writing your wedding vows and you can read it here.

7. Have a first look or Not for your Small Wedding

As mentioned in the previous section, I personally prefer to have the first look directly at the altar for elopement weddings especially if it is just the two of you.

Saving the first look at the altar is something to look forward too and is charged with emotion.

If you do decide on having an intimate wedding with some guests, then you can possibly consider a first look, if you won’t have much time alone together during the rest of the day. 

It depends on your itinerary.

Sometimes, having a first look adds an extra level of excitement and more time together.

The preference is really up to each couple.

8. Intimate dinner for two with cake & champagne

I highly suggest ending your day with a romantic dinner even if it is just the two of you.

Many “elopement packages” just offer the ceremony and maybe 1-2 hours of photography with the hair&make up, bouquet and officiant.

Personally, I don’t even offer anything less than 6 hours of photography coverage as you can’t tell a whole story with just a couple of hours.

Think of your elopement like a book, there is a beginning, a middle – the plot, and an ending.

You want to end your elopement day story with a nice romantic dinner.

Some ideas are to either hire a private chef at your Airbnb or go to a  local restaurant ideally somewhere where that is exclusive with a private area so you are alone.

For example, it can even be a simple dinner on a beach if you’re eloping in San Diego.

Design your table with nice florals, candles, and other elements to tie in with your theme. 

Again, you can go as simple or extravagant as you like.

Stick with the same colors you’ve used throughout your day to have a cohesive style.

Uplevel your elopement wedding by incorporating a lovely cake and champagne to celebrate your day. 

There’s nothing better than an intimate together to celebrate this most special of days. 

I have a whole video on how to create your elopement timeline and you can watch it here.

9. Upscale your elopement with FIREWORKS & FIRST DANCE

If your budget allows it, then why not have some fireworks and some dancing?

Include the first dance just like you would for a traditional wedding even if it is just the two of you.

 You can hire a local musician and have them play throughout the evening.

Choose your favorite songs for your first dance and then dance the night away!


It goes without saying, that it is important to hire a “Good” professional photographer for your elopement wedding.

Preferably someone local who also speaks your language and knows the area to help you with your newlywed photos in your chosen destination.

You need to book them in advance to avoid last-minute hassles if photography is important to you.

An elopement photographer is different from a wedding photographer as it’s more intimate so choose someone who is knowledgeable about elopements.

To help you choose a photographer you can watch this video.

11.  Make announcements – 

Let your family and friends know you are married! 

You can let them know before you elope or if you like when you return and have a get-together party with your family and friends. 

It can be a full-fledged party, a brunch, or choose a party theme derived from the destination you eloped.

You can include an album with photos of your elopement and other elements.

Again, please don’t downplay your elopement wedding; instead, elope in style and make it a memorable day – a celebration it deserves to be.

I’ve given you some ideas throughout this video to incorporate on your big day to make it extra special.

Everyone can have an ordinary elopement done in 1-3 hours, but I highly suggest going beyond the ordinary and making your day extraordinary.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to make your elopement a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

You can reach out to me directly if you are interested in knowing more about my services and helping you design your elopement.

 I style all my couple’s elopements and help them choose everything from the destination, venue, time of the year, attire, and a lot more.

If you want to DIY, you can take my online course STYLE YOUR ELOPEMENT where I walk you through step by step on designing your elopement.









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