Eloping in Arkansas: How to Get Started
So you’re considering eloping in Arkansas! Congratulations!! Eloping affords TONS of benefits and perks and can be a great alternative to a traditional wedding! Read on to discover the benefits of eloping and how to get started planning your Arkansas elopement!
Arkansas is such a beautiful state for eloping. Contrary to popular belief, we’re not just a flat rural state– we have beautiful mountains, countless lakes, rivers and overlooks! Arkansas’ landscapes are very diverse, colorful and vibrant, and there are TONS of things to do and explore! Arkansas is located in the south but also has a Midwest vibe. It’s a super convenient location if you’re coming from Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana or Missouri but don’t want to drive across the country!
Four Benefits of Eloping In Arkansas
- Benefit One- Save Money by Eloping
Eloping is MUCH cheaper than a traditional wedding! When you plan a large scale wedding, you have to pay for the following: wedding venue, catering/food for your guests, your officiant, extensive floral displays/designs, your cake/desserts/drinks for the guests, wedding party suit rentals/dresses/gifts, DJ/Entertainment, Wedding Planner/Coordinator fees and SO MUCH MORE!
Even if you DIY, weddings usually tend to be more expensive than you may initially anticipate and trying to DIY certain parts of the wedding day may lead to more stress and frustration than hiring a professional.
It’s no wonder the average wedding investment is $22,500 (The Knot, 2021)! For over $22k, you could have a downpayment on a house and an amazing honeymoon/vacation! That’s not to say there’s anything necessarily wrong with throwing a big wedding if you can afford it and you want all your people there, but the expense is huge! Elopements allow you to have a BIG experience but at a fraction of the cost of a large wedding.
When you plan to elope in Arkansas, the only vendors/costs you’re working with are typically your photographer/videographer, wedding gown/suit, hair and makeup, location rental or permit fee (which may not cost anything at all!), your lodging/Airbnb/VRBO, and your bouquet! It’s no wonder more and more couples are eloping!
2. Benefit Two- Eloping is more comfortable for Introverts
Big weddings can be nerve-wracking! Not everyone wants to be around 150+ people all day long. It can be very awkward to walk down the aisle to your partner and say personal, emotional vows while so many people are watching, and the entire thing can be stressful to plan and execute. Relationships strain when certain people aren’t invited or included in your wedding day and family drama can compound. This can make the day super stressful for you when you should be enjoying yourself. There can be power dynamics in the wedding party that can cause stress and even end friendships. Basically, there are a lot of people and feelings involved in a big wedding day!
More People = More Stress
People can bring their opinions into things and cause more stress as you plan. When eloping, you don’t have to worry about your future mother-in-law’s opinion or whether your college roommate will be upset that you didn’t include her in your wedding party.
Although it can be tough navigating elopement conversations with family members who wish to be at your wedding, at the end of the day it is your wedding and your marriage, and you tend to have more control and feel more empowered when choosing an elopement experience that revolves around you and your partner and your shared values.
3. Benefit Three- You can Make Your Day Whatever You Want
Do you want to start your day at 5am with an epic hike to Hawksbill Crag to catch the sunrise before saying your vows? Are you dreaming of floating down the Buffalo after your first kiss? Are you wanting to free climb Sugarloaf Mountain with your beloved by your side or explore caves at Devil’s Den State Park? When you elope, you get to decide exactly how you spend your day!! It’s seriously that easy!
Eloping isn’t restricted to just outdoor/adventure locations either! Maybe you want to get married at the courthouse, then take some epic urban elopement photos before heading to dinner to meet up with your friends and family before heading out to a cabin on the lake to spend your first night together with your partner as a married couple. When you elope, this is all possible!
An Urban Elopement in Little Rock
4. Benefit Four- It’s Kinder to the Earth.
Eloping tends to be much more eco-friendly and less wasteful than a typical wedding. Consider the single use plastic and wasted food discarded on a wedding day. Think of all the fake flowers, party favors and plastic tablecloths that one could use on a wedding day.
While you can still make your wedding totally carbon neutral and eco friendly, eloping is overall kinder to the earth. This is because it usually consists of you and your beloved and maybe a handful of friends and family in a natural place. You can use naturally-sourced flowers or scavenged elements in your bouquet that breaks down naturally as opposed to fake flowers or greenery.
Focusing on Sustainability When Eloping
Sustainability is important. The truth is, when you plan a big wedding on a budget, flowers and greenery tend to be the first things that are swapped out for fake/artificial alternatives. And when you elope, you have more money to put towards more expensive but ecologically responsible items. Items include rose petals over sparklers or fake petals, real, locally-sourced flowers and greenery over fake flowers from Hobby Lobby or online, etc.
You don’t need electricity when declaring your vows on a mountaintop or by the Buffalo River. Guests don’t have to use countless styrofoam cups for your guests to drink out of. And you don’t have to account for the amount of energy spent for all your guests to get to your venue, as well as your vendors.
The two of you can even make dinner in your Airbnb for your guests and serve it on vintage china– that’s what my sister did at her wedding! Overall, eloping favors a more minimalist and intentional approach. And that’s something you can feel good about.
Getting Started: How to Plan Your Elopement in Arkansas
So where to start? Don’t worry, it’s easy! I recommend writing down your dream elopement day and what that looks like. Next, compare what you wrote with one another and find similarities. Then, they can select their date, look into location options and find their photographer if they want one! It’s seriously that easy.
Your elopement photographer can usually help you with locations, finding local vendors, elopement permits, planning tips and other resources. Not all wedding photographers are elopement photographers, and vice versa. I specialize in Arkansas elopements. Furthermore, I have visited virtually all of the State Parks and Recreation Areas that are most popular for elopements in Arkansas. As someone who was born in Arkansas and who has lived here most of their life, I’m extremely familiar with all corners of the state. This includes specific regions such as the Ouachita National Forest, the Boston Mountain Range (hence my name!), Crowley’s Ridge, The Buffalo River region, The River Valley, and others.
Places to Stay for Your Arkansas Elopement
I can also suggest Airbnbs/VRBOS and other places to stay, as well as recreation activities to do in the area and places to eat and visit. There are so many options!
Once you’ve found that dream location, you can decide if you want to involve or invite guests or not. Some couples opt for a private elopement ceremony followed by a small reception or dinner with friends nearby. You’ll want to consider your elopement location in regards to where you live. Are you located in Conway, and planning to elope at Petit Jean State Park? If so, Petit Jean is only 35 minutes from Conway so you could easily have a small dinner afterwards or even have dinner at the lodge on the mountain and have your people meet you out there!
Other Options for Eloping in Arkansas
If you’re coming from out of town, you may want to plan your elopement around where you want to visit and stay for the majority of your visit. Several of my out of town couples ADORE the Buffalo River. They love the natural beauty, floating opportunities in the spring and summer, climbing/bouldering and mountain bike scene. With that in mind, they select their specific location on the Buffalo, and then their lodging, and then together we decide which day works best for the elopement.
Trying to find the perfect spot for your Arkansas Elopement? Check out my Favorite Elopement Spots in Arkansas!
Here are some more resources as you plan your Arkansas Elopement:
Download the Arkansas Elopement Guide Here!
Best Fall Elopement Locations in Arkansas