In recent years, elopements and intimate weddings have become increasingly popular, partly due to the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. As an elopement and Colorado wedding photographer myself, I truly believe this is a trend that will only continue to gain popularity. I’m a huge supporter of adventure elopements and intimate, micro weddings that are original and authentic to each couple. These options allow couples to tailor their special day to their desires and vision, free from the pressures and constraints of traditional wedding norms.
If the thought of exchanging vows in a cozy mountain cabin rather than a formal hotel event hall brings a smile to your face and a sense of relief, then keep reading – this blog is for you.
There’s an abundance of stunning Airbnb and VRBO vacation homes where you can host your wedding with your partner and loved ones. And there are just as many reasons why having your intimate wedding at an Airbnb is a fantastic choice.
One of my personal favorite reasons is that you can find a space that represents you authentically and matches your wedding aesthetic perfectly.
Additionally, while weddings often come with stress, eloping at an Airbnb provides a sense of hominess and comfort. Getting ready in a house surrounded by loved ones can ease some of the tension and add an extra touch of comfort to your wedding day plans.
Also, if you have the rental for a few days, there’s no rush to leave. You can savor every moment and enjoy a leisurely getaway with your loved ones. Be sure to consider all of the extra opportunities you have as a result of your leisurely timeline! Whether it’s getting ready photos, night time portraits, dedicated time to write a love letter to your partner, or a private vow exchange, you have so many opportunities to create unique (and photo worthy) memories.
With so many options available, how do you make the right choice? I recommend starting with the general area where you want to get married. Is there a town that holds significance for you? A natural landscape that you’ve always dreamed of incorporating? Once you’ve decided on the general location, it’s time to narrow it down.
If you plan on engaging in activities outside of the Airbnb or capturing epic wedding photos in a specific spot, ensure that the vacation rental is nearby. One of the advantages of having your elopement at an Airbnb is the convenience of avoiding multiple location changes throughout the day. If your ceremony takes place at the Airbnb and you plan to travel for photos, it’s crucial that the distance is manageable. You don’t want to lose precious time that could be spent creating cherished memories.
Now that you’ve chosen the location and maybe even identified a few potential vacation homes for your elopement, it’s time to find the perfect one. Consider what you want your wedding day to encompass. Do you want a large deck, a hot tub, or a spacious outdoor area?
Airbnb even offers a “unique stays” filter that can help you find a house as distinctive as you are. Aim to choose a home that aligns with your wedding aesthetic, minimizing the need for extensive additions. However, for those extra touches, I recommend renting items from a local event rental company – I’ll touch more on that in a moment.
It’s also crucial to have a backup plan for inclement weather, considering weddings and elopements may be planned months or even a year in advance, and you never know how the weather will go. Ensure that your chosen Airbnb or VRBO has provisions for a rain plan. Can you set up a tent or move the event indoors if it starts raining or if the weather turns unfavorable?
Lighting is another essential factor to consider. While photographers may work magic, some spaces may be too dark for those seeking “bright + airy” photography. If you’re not a fan of flash photography, ensure there is ample natural light available from the windows. These are essential considerations when planning your elopement and choosing a vacation home “venue”.
Once you’ve identified a few Airbnb or VRBO options that meet your criteria, it’s time to reach out to the hosts and establish a connection. Keep in mind that most Airbnb homes have a guest limit of 16 people. If you need more flexibility, you can book the property outside of Airbnb. When you do this, you are subject to the host’s rules, rather than those of Airbnb. VRBO makes the process even easier by allowing you to filter your search to properties where events are allowed.
In general, however, it’s best to communicate directly with the host – explaining your plans and the number of guests. Although some hosts may not approve, many will, especially if your event is small or you are willing to provide a security deposit for any damage.
Other important inquiries to make include whether the space is photography-friendly and if there are any relevant city ordinances. Some hosts may charge a fee to have their space featured in photos, while others might welcome the opportunity. Your photos preserve every beautiful moment and candid emotion, so you want to make sure you can secure that for your intimate wedding.
Regarding city ordinances, consult with the host to understand regulations concerning parking and noise. If all noise needs to be stopped by 9 pm, it’s best to know ahead of time. And if you’re planning to include your furry friends in your celebration, make sure to inquire about the pet policy as well. It’s crucial to clarify all these details beforehand to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted experience on your wedding day.
One helpful way to gather additional insights is to read reviews of the Airbnb property. Past guests can provide valuable information about their experiences, highlighting any unexpected issues, pleasant surprises, or areas that exceeded expectations. Just as you would read restaurant reviews before dining out, taking note of Airbnb reviews can help inform your decision-making process. Don’t forget that as your wedding day cheerleader and professional third-wheel, I am also here to help you along the way. So let’s bounce some ideas around!
Since you typically can’t visit an Airbnb or VRBO property beforehand, it’s essential to gather as much information as possible from the provided photos. Nevertheless, I highly recommend arriving at the location a day or two early, if possible. This will give you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the rental property, take your time setting up, and scout your favorite locations. Having extra time also allows you to shed the stress so that you can fully immerse yourself in the experience of marrying your partner and capturing the moments that will last a lifetime.
Remember when I mentioned event rentals earlier? Now is the perfect time to circle back to that topic. If you’ve chosen an Airbnb or VRBO that already aligns with your wedding aesthetic, you may have some budget flexibility to enhance the details. Renting items from a local event rental company is a great way to make those unique and personalized touches shine. From rugs and ceremony chairs to antique furniture and dinnerware, rentals can elevate your wedding day and make it truly one-of-a-kind.
For a gourmet experience, consider hiring a private chef, arranging a food truck (if allowed), or catering the food to your Airbnb. This eliminates concerns about finding a venue that accommodates your group’s preferences, reserving additional private restaurant spaces, and organizing transportation. If you opt for a private chef, be sure to communicate your specific requirements and inform them about any supplies you already have at the location.
Plan ahead by making a list of items you’ll need to pack, such as extension cords or a speaker. Small things like extra hangers, outfits, or snacks can easily be forgotten in the excitement leading up to your wedding day. Make sure to also include any special details or mementos you want in your photographs.
When getting every loose end tied up, don’t forget about the logistics of the guests. If parking is limited at the property, consult with the host to determine suggested parking areas or inquire about shuttle or transportation services for guests.
If you’re seeking an authentic, mindful, and unique wedding experience that honestly reflects you and your partner, an Airbnb or VRBO wedding might be a perfect choice. Trade in the stress of rushed timelines for a cozy, intimate wedding day that’s as authentic and exceptional as you are. As your photographer, I would be thrilled at the opportunity to support you in breaking tradition to authentically celebrate your love story.
Head to my Contact Page with any questions that you might have, and let’s start planning your Airbnb or VRBO elopement. As an experienced elopement and intimate wedding photographer across Colorado and the Southwest, I capture cinematic, editorial photography for free-spirited couples who are ready to break free from convention and embrace meaningful experiences. Together, we’ll create a wedding day that reflects your unique love story and celebrates your adventurous spirit.