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Tips for Eloping with Your Horses

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When you hear the word “elopement,” what do you think?

A cheesy, rhinestone-studded chapel in Vegas?

A secret marriage that your parents don’t approve of?

A rushed, last minute ceremony that takes all of five minutes?

Well, you wouldn’t be alone! There are a lot of misconceptions out there about elopements, and a lot of outdated ideas. But elopements have changed a lot over the past few years, and they’re no longer something that happens, or stays, in Vegas.

Eloping is all about reclaiming your wedding day! Somewhere along the line, weddings turned into a performance. It became about throwing the best party for everyone else to enjoy, and couples would spend all that time (and money!) planning, for the day to go by in a blur while they’re busy running around making sure everyone is happy. The best day of your life shouldn’t be about pleasing everyone else – it should be about you! Which can mean anything you want it to – there’s no idea that’s too crazy, and nothing that you can’t do on your day. And that includes bringing your horses along for the ride. Pun totally intended.

For a lot of people, their wedding day just wouldn’t be complete without their horse – they’re part of the family, after all! The good news is that it’s totally possible to bring your four-legged best friend along, but there are a few things you’ll need to consider. Here are my tips for eloping with your horses!

Choosing a Location

One of the first steps to planning any elopement is to choose a location! But, if you’re eloping with horses, this might take a little bit of extra planning. 

Distance

The first thing to think about is how far you’ll be able to travel with your horse. If you have a horse trailer, or you’re able to rent one, you’ll definitely have a lot more options. But, it’s important to know how your horse will react! Of course, horses have all kinds of personalities, so some are happy to take a roadtrip, while others bolt at the sight of the trailer. If you haven’t transported your horse before, take them for a test run! See how they react and get them used to the trailer before your elopement day, to ensure there aren’t any surprises the day of. You know your horse best – so you’ll know if anything is too far outside their comfort zone.

Accessibility

Many parks and outdoor areas have rules and regulations when it comes to allowing horses on the trails. And of course, some trails are just too difficult for horses to maneuver. When looking for the perfect spot to say your vows, make sure to do some research before you commit! Look up whether horses are allowed, and then do some research to figure out if the trail works for your horse. Again, you’ll know best what your equine friend is comfortable with, so make sure your horse is ready for the terrain, and able to handle the length of the trail!

As an elopement photographer, one of my favorite parts of my job is helping couples plan their perfect wedding day! From beginning to end, I’ll be your guide and cheerleader the whole way. I love exploring (for work and for fun), so I’m always ready with location recommendations that would be perfect for eloping with your horses. Don’t hesitate to ask if you need advice!

Permits

A lot of parks require permits to have a wedding ceremony (even for tiny elopements), so this is something you’ll be looking into regardless, but you may also need a permit to bring your horses! This varies from location to location, so make sure you do some research. You definitely don’t want to be stopped by a ranger on your elopement day!

What to Wear

When it comes to eloping with your horses, you’ll need to plan ahead when it comes to choosing your dress! When you walk into the bridal shop, you’ll likely be greeted with hundreds (if not thousands) of white dresses in different lengths, cuts, and styles. But not all of them will work for your elopement!

Elopements in general involve a lot more adventure, and a lot more movement, than a traditional wedding, so wearing a dress that’s comfortable and easy to maneuver around in is key, but especially if you’ll be spending some of the time on horseback! Mermaid style dresses are gorgeous, but they’re notoriously difficult to sit down in – a nightmare for horseback riding! If you’re comfortable riding side saddle you may be able to get away with a tighter skirt, but otherwise, stick to lightweight fabrics and dress styles with loose skirts, like A line, empire, or princess gowns.

Fabrics like tulle, chiffon, and lace are ideal for eloping with your horses – they’re lightweight (which will make saddling up much easier), and flow beautifully (just make careful of too much flow to avoid spooking your horse). I also recommend wearing shorts or spandex under your dress to avoid chafing!

Have a Dedicated Horse Wrangler

There will be times when you two are taking photos, or popping champagne, or even having your ceremony (the main event!) where you won’t be able to attend to the horses. That’s why it’s amazing to bring someone along who can take care of your horses, maybe give them some treats, and make sure they’re happy and safe while you’re busy.

Most states require witnesses to sign your marriage license, so if you’re bringing a few guests along for your elopement, ask someone you trust to handle the horses! That way, you can spend your elopement day being present and enjoying every moment without worrying.

Ready to Plan Your Elopement?

If eloping with your horses and having a peaceful, intimate ceremony in a beautiful location sounds like a dream come true, let’s make that dream… actually come true! I’m ready to help you plan a unique, adventurous day that reflects who you are as a couple, and I’ve got your back every step of the way. From location recommendations, to getting the right permits, to building a timeline, I’ll be your guide to planning the perfect elopement. 

Ready to get started? Contact me!

Check out Jess + Jon’s elopement video!

Photographer: Makayla McGarvey Photography | Dress: Bliss Gown | His shirt: Wrangler | Boots: Boot Barn | Hat: Charlie 1 Horse | Bourbon: Adventurous Stills

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Specializing in Elopement & destination wedding photography

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