In recent years, elopements and microweddings have gained immense popularity, offering couples an intimate and personalized way to celebrate their love. Embracing the trend, many couples are now choosing vacation rentals as the backdrop for their special day. From secluded cabins in the woods to charming beachfront cottages, the options are endless. If you’re considering this route for your own wedding, read on to discover how to plan the perfect elopement or microwedding at a vacation rental.

As an elopement and microwedding photographer, I’m about to share my top tips and why I absolutely love hosting a wedding day at a vacation rental. And if you’re here looking for a space for your own day, I can highly recommend Bretton Woods Vacations based on my experience! 


outdoor wedding


Why Choose a Vacation Rental?

The appeal of vacation rentals for elopements and microweddings lies in their flexibility, intimacy, and unique charm. Unlike some traditional wedding venues, vacation rentals offer exclusive use of the property, allowing you to create a personalized experience tailored to your preferences. It’s a way to feel like you are having a “backyard wedding”, especially if you or a loved one doesn’t have the home to have the celebration at.

Another wonderful part of having your wedding at a vacation rental is the location. You have more access to secluded areas, or even a destination location away from your own home. There are ways that you can make it more homey feeling than a hotel or venue.

How to Plan your Vacation Rental Elopement or Microwedding 


wedding venue


Step 1: Finding the Perfect Property

The key to a successful elopement or microwedding at a vacation rental is selecting the right property. Begin your search well in advance, considering factors such as location, size, amenities, and style. Websites like Airbnb, VRBO, and Wedding Spot offer filters specifically for event-friendly properties, making it easier to narrow down your options.

Don’t let that stop you though. If you do find the perfect place and they don’t say they allow events, just simply ask! It can’t hurt!

Bretton Woods Vacations in particular has a few properties that allow events. My favorite is the Moose Lodge and Cabins. Not only is the home spectacular, but they have the most beautiful property. A huge backyard, a woodsy ceremony space, and plenty of room for an outdoor reception. And during the downtime, you can enjoy the hot tubs, the beach, swimming in the river, a game of volleyball, or a walk along its gorgeous walking trails!

When evaluating potential venues, keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Capacity: Ensure that the property can accommodate your desired guest count comfortably. Remember, the beauty of an intimate wedding lies in its small size, so resist the temptation to invite too many guests.
  • Amenities: Look for properties that offer amenities suited to your needs, such as outdoor ceremony spaces, scenic backdrops, and ample parking.
  • Rules and Regulations: Before booking, carefully review the property’s rules regarding events and gatherings. Some vacation rentals may have restrictions or require additional fees for hosting weddings on their premises.

Step 2: Securing Vendors and Rentals

Once you’ve chosen your venue, it’s time to assemble your dream team of vendors. While elopements and microweddings typically involve fewer vendors than traditional weddings, there are still a few essential services you’ll likely need. 

  • Officiant: Whether you opt for a religious ceremony or a secular exchange of vows, hiring an officiant is a must. Consider asking a friend or family member to officiate for a personal touch.
  • Photographer/Videographer: Capture every moment of your special day with professional photography and videography services. Look for vendors experienced in shooting small weddings and elopements for the best results.
  • Caterer or private chef: While some vacation rentals come equipped with full kitchens, others may require you to bring in outside catering services. Work with a caterer or private chef to create a customized menu that reflects your tastes and dietary preferences.
  • Rentals: Depending on the property’s amenities, you may need to rent additional items such as chairs, tables, linens, and decor. Coordinate with rental companies well in advance to ensure availability.

Step 3: Planning the Ceremony and Reception

With your vendors secured, it’s time to plan the details of your ceremony and reception. Here are a few tips to help you create a memorable and meaningful experience:

  • Personalize Your Ceremony: Write your own vows, choose readings or songs that hold special meaning to you, and incorporate rituals or traditions that reflect your unique love story.
  • Select a Reception Venue: If your vacation rental doesn’t have space for a reception, consider renting a nearby venue or hosting a small gathering at a local restaurant. Alternatively, you could transform the rental property’s outdoor space into a charming reception area with string lights, floral arrangements, and cozy seating areas. A lot of people end up renting a tent to have the party under afterwards.
  • Create a Timeline: Outline a timeline for your wedding day, including key moments such as the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing. Keep it flexible to allow for spontaneity and unexpected surprises. Typically your photographer or planner can help you create this timeline.


bride and groom


Step 4: Preparing Your Guests

While elopements and microweddings typically involve a smaller guest list, it’s still important to ensure that your loved ones feel informed and included. Not everyone is used to the non traditional wedding celebrations, so you will need to consider this so they know what’s going on.

Here are a few ways to prepare your guests for the celebration:

    • Send Invitations: Even if your guest list is small, sending formal invitations adds a touch of elegance and sets the tone for your special day. Include all relevant details such as the date, time, location, and dress code.
    • Provide Accommodation Options: If your guests will be traveling from out of town, consider providing recommendations for nearby accommodations, such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, or other vacation rentals.
    • Communicate Logistics: Keep your guests informed about any transportation arrangements, parking instructions, and other logistical details to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience.
    • Give them the timeline: Make sure they know exactly where to be and when. You can give them a timeline beforehand in physical, or even digital format.

    Step 5: Making the Most of Your Special Day

    Your elopement or microwedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate your love and commitment in a way that feels authentic and meaningful to you. You don’t just have to have a traditional wedding day festivities. Never be afraid to be different, and incorporate the area you’re getting married in.

    Here are some suggestions for how to create unforgettable memories on your wedding day:

    • Embrace Adventure: Start your day with an adventure that reflects your shared passions and interests. Whether it’s a sunrise hike to a scenic overlook, a kayak excursion on a tranquil lake, or a hot air balloon ride above breathtaking landscapes, seize the opportunity to connect with nature and each other in a meaningful way.
    • Savor the Moment: Take time to slow down and savor the precious moments of your wedding day. Whether you’re getting ready with your loved ones or sharing a quiet moment together before the ceremony, cherish the little details and emotions that make this day so special.
    • Indulge in Pampering: Treat yourself to a morning of relaxation and pampering before the festivities begin. Whether it’s a couples massage, a refreshing yoga session, or a leisurely brunch with your closest friends and family, prioritize self-care and indulgence on your wedding day.
    • Plan a Romantic Dinner: After exchanging vows, celebrate your union with a romantic dinner under the stars. Set up a private dining experience on the property’s outdoor terrace or arrange for a gourmet picnic in a picturesque setting. Toast to your love with champagne and savor a delectable meal crafted with care.
    • Extend the Celebration: Consider extending your elopement or microwedding celebration beyond just one day. Plan a day-before or day-after adventure with just the two of you or your loved ones, whether it’s exploring a nearby national park, visiting a local winery, or simply relaxing on a secluded beach. This extra time together allows you to deepen your bond and create lasting memories before returning to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

    How to Know If a Vacation Rental Allows Events


    wedding day


    Before booking a vacation rental for your elopement or microwedding, it’s crucial to verify that the property allows events on their premises. Here are a few ways to determine if a vacation rental is event-friendly:

    • Read the Listing Description: Many vacation rental listings will explicitly state whether events or gatherings are permitted. Look for keywords like “event-friendly,” “wedding-friendly,” or “venue rental.”
    • Contact the Host: If you’re unsure about the property’s event policies, reach out to the host directly to inquire. Be transparent about your plans and ask any questions you may have regarding hosting a wedding or event at their property.
    • Check Reviews and FAQs: Reading reviews from past guests can provide insight into their experiences hosting events at the property. Additionally, check the property’s FAQ section for any information regarding events or gatherings.
    • Review the Rental Agreement: Before finalizing your booking, carefully review the property’s rental agreement or terms of service to ensure compliance with their event policies and any additional fees or requirements.

    By following these steps and guidelines, you can plan the perfect elopement or microwedding at a vacation rental. From finding the ideal property to coordinating vendors and preparing guests, every aspect of your special day will be infused with love, joy, and unforgettable memories. 


    About the guest writer:

    Kelsey Converse is a local White Mountain elopement and microwedding photographer in New Hampshire. She specializes in non traditional weddings, being a guide to her couples in co-creating a unique and custom wedding experience. When she’s not photographing weddings, she’s either on a plane to her next favorite country, outside hiking in the mountains, or spending time with her favorite people.



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