McKenzi Taylor is an elopement expert based in Las Vegas. She started her photography business in 2008, but ventured into her elopement coordination business -- Cactus Collective Weddings in 2017. In that time she’s helped well over 500 couples elope in Las Vegas and knows a good match for an elopement when she sees it.
An elopement, to McKenzi, is not what it used to be. It’s not all about running away and getting married in secret. An elopement can still be planned in advance and it can still have sweet touches, but it’s really an experience for you and your partner. If you have a few guests, that’s a great bonus, but it’s truly about an intimate setting, a beautiful ceremony, gorgeous scenery and professional photography (in Cactus Collective’s case). They are typically way less stressful than a traditional wedding. Much less in terms of design and decor as well. For Cactus Collective, elopement would be anything under 50 guests.
A lot of types of couples are the “eloping type.” Couples that have been together a long time, they may be fed up with the stress of planning something more traditional, they may have no financial support in wedding expenses, they love travel, they want to spend their money on a home or an experience, they tend not to be religious, they are often maturer in age, and they might want it done fast!
Vegas is uniquely suited to this service. Their marriage bureau is open nearly 24/7 and it takes about 15-20 minutes to get a license. International airport is in the city. It’s easy to get there. There is a plethora of entertainment options to do a wedding and honeymoon weekend in one fell swoop. If you do have guests, you don’t have to worry about entertaining them. There is no shortage of gorgeous views. Nevada has over 3 million acres of public lands and Vegas has some of the most scenic locations in the world within 30 minutes of the strip.
McKenzi’s List - How To Know If Elopement Is Right For You!
1. You love the big outdoors
A lot of what's trending for elopements or intimate wedding these days means being outdoors. Part of the appeal of eloping it being able to capture a scenic location with those close to you. So, while it's not the case for every elopement, I do think a majority of people should really consider whether they love the outdoors or not.
Can’t worry about raindrops, hair blowing... heels. Expect lighthearted and open minded approach. Flexible and understanding on the day “rain or shine”
*2. You live for the here and now *
Mobile signal, schmobile signal. You’re in a scenic location! With the person you love! Who cares if the cell signal is sketchy? You’re the kinda couple that thrives on the here and now. Live streaming or posting your wedding to Insta a second after it’s happened, hasn’t crossed your mind.
Providing your photographers with a bunch of different photo in a bunch of different locations is not what an elopement is all about. You get one sunset ...
3. You trust your wedding company and their vendors
Destination weddings are an adventure. A chance to experience the unexpected. Coming from out of town means you’ll see your wedding venue and all the parts of your special day once you get here. But that’s part of the thrill. When hiring your vendors, you trust them to make decisions on your behalf, knowing they’re experienced, are familiar with the area, and have your best interests at heart.
Example: an orange flag for us is if a couple has a list of a million photo ops that they want. Elopement isn’t a place for customization... no cake samples, no flower samples.
4. You realize planning a whole wedding day requires organization
The ceremony is just one part of your special day. So, unless you’re hiring a personal wedding planner for a total hands-off experience, you understand there’s some wedding planning you need to handle. Your marriage license, transport, hair and makeup services, and booking a reception event (if you’re having one) are good examples.
A lot of times couples plan their elopement ceremony but then forget to consider booking a restaurant for dinner etc.
5. You really don't want to invite many people (really).
I often get folks that say "we are having a small wedding and have about 100 guests". This is not an elopement. It's not a micro wedding. Really consider if you want to cut your guest count down before you commit tot he idea of a destination wedding or elopement.
This is a huge one. This is your special day. If you can’t get over the fact that an elopement is very few people, then you should not do one. If your 100 person guest list, can’t be paired down then an elopement isn’t for you.
6. You realize you still gotta have a budget.
While the word "eloping" sounds like "budget" to some... you still have to have a budget if you want to have a party. Micro wedding doesn't mean cheap, it means having a super unique experience for a handful of guests.
Traveling for an elopement and splurging for your day is still very important.
7. You want to throw a big party at "home" later.
By now you have realized that you don't want to invite everyone, and you can't. My experience is that people are often more willing to come to a destination wedding than most people think. Decide to throw a great party at home a few months later
“They’re just ready to get married.” - McKenzi
“Keep in mind that a lot of these remote places don’t have services. They might have special animals or creatures... Our locations, a lot of them, don’t have bathrooms.” - McKenzi
“Always trust the folks that you are hiring. And the people they work with as well.” - McKenzi
“If you do really want that special, intimate, personal, small getaway wedding, I think that it’s perfect for some people.” - McKenzi
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