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Want to know one of the main reasons that I will preach eloping until the day I die (and maybe even from the grave)? You have full, absolute permission to do whatever the hell you want – and that includes doing whatever the hell you want with your elopement FOOD!
Yes, you heard me right: I’ve put together an entire blog post dedicated solely to food. Because who wouldn’t want their elopement day to not only be filled with adventure, love, and celebration, but also delicious, mouth-watering meals? Crossing my fingers that all my foodie couples have found themselves here 😉
Because you’re eloping and choosing to have a day focused around the two of you and what you want, likely with just a small group of guests, you’re not limited to the traditional, high-volume wedding meal options: hiring a caterer, or ordering a bunch of pizzas from Costco. The sky is the limit when you’re able to focus on quality > quantity instead of the other way around, as you would with a larger wedding – so why not think outside of the box and have a little fun with it?
In this blog post, I’ve compiled a list of 10 creative (and delish) elopement food and meal ideas to make sure every bite & every sip you take on your big day garners no fewer than 5 stars. We’re covering every craving and every time of day, from mountaintop picnics, to vibrant charcuterie boards, to greasy late-night snacks.
You know what they say: never go to the grocery store when you’re hungry, so beware – if you’ve come to this blog post feeling a bit peckish, you’ll be calling 8 different food vendors with your wallet out by the time we’re done here!
How to Choose Your Elopement Meals
Before I get into the ideas I’ve got for you, I wanted to give you a few overall tips about planning your elopement meals. The food you eat on your elopement day will depend on 4 main things:
- Budget: Obviously, what you choose to eat at your elopement will hugely depend on your budget. If food isn’t a big priority, you may stick to smaller, easier meals such as picnics, whereas if food is a super important part of the experience to you, you might decide to go all out with a 3-course meal cooked by a private chef! There’s no right or wrong here, every couple’s priorities are different.
- Time & energy: This is a big one! Definitely think through how much time and energy you want to put into your food, if any – are you down to prep food yourselves? Do you want to set up a pretty tablescape and DIY it (and will you realistically have the time to do so)? Or would you rather hand it all off to a professional so you don’t have to worry about it? Picture what you want your elopement to look like, and if it sounds stressful to have to worry about meals, then outsource it to the experts, baby!
- Atmosphere: Atmosphere & environment play a huge role in the way you experience meals, so think about what sort of setting you want to be eating in! If you think that food just tastes better after a hike, in the middle of nature, then a mountaintop picnic at the top of your hike might be perfect. If your perfect meal involves a beautiful setup with twinkle lights above you, fancy glassware, and music in the background, then consider having dinner in the backyard of your Airbnb. Set the mood to whatever you want it to be!
- Timeline: Finally, consider how you want your meals to fit into your elopement timeline. Will you be having three different meals throughout the day that you want your photographer to capture? Maybe you don’t care about having a big breakfast, so you want to put your time & money into a fabulous dinner, and want to make sure your photographer is there to capture it. How long do you want to spend eating? How long will the setup take, and will you be setting it up or will somebody else? These are all great questions to ask while you create your timeline and plan out your meals for the day to make sure it flows as smoothly as possible, and that you have plenty of time to relax & enjoy your dining experience!
10 Creative Elopement Food & Meal Ideas
Low-Budget Elopement Meal Ideas
We’ll start off with some low-budget meal ideas for those of you who aren’t looking to spend a ton on your food. Keep in mind that any of these options can totally be made higher or lower cost to fit your budget, so there’s no hard rule that each idea has to stay in a certain category or anything!
First up is a classic picnic, of course! This one works pretty much everywhere, whether you’re eloping in the desert, on a mountaintop, in the jungle, or in your backyard. I’ve seen couples pack anywhere from a couple of Ziplocs with pre-made sandwiches to a full-on picnic basket with all the goods: snacks, sandwiches, fruits, veggies, drinks, sweets, you name it! It’s totally up to you how much you want to carry, especially if you want to have a picnic after your ceremony, say, at the top of your hike. It’ll all have to fit in your backpacks, so pack light! You could also have a light picnic at the trailhead before you hike instead, if you’d rather eat a little before you go & not have to carry everything with you.
And even if you’re not hiking for your elopement, you can totally still incorporate a picnic into your day. Bring one along to your local park for a break between your ceremony and your reception when you need a breather, or have a picnic on the front deck of your Airbnb. There are no rules!
Here’s a quick list of potential items to bring, if you need help getting your picnic basket started:
- Snacks (trail mix, granola bars, dried fruit, etc.)
Want to grab a quick bite without having to be responsible for any sort of cooking or coordinating? Head to the drive-thru at your favorite burger joint, the taco spot you’re always seeing on Instagram, or that place you love with the really yummy milkshakes, and grab an easy bite.
This is the perfect option if you don’t want to spend a ton of time on one of your meals for the day (could be lunch or dinner), and if you don’t want to have to be in charge yourselves. I’ll hop in the car with you and snap some photos while you order and we can hang out in the parking lot while you eat, or head to the next stop on your itinerary to eat there. Bonus points if you stop inside for a cute impromptu photoshoot, whether it’s a classic American diner from the 50’s with checkered walls or a Taco Bell!
Okay, technically this isn’t a “meal” idea, but I had to include a section about snacks on your elopement day. If you have lots of driving on your elopement day or you’re spending a lot of the day out in nature without any long breaks, you might just have to eat protein bars and sandwiches in the car. Sure, it’s less cute than a mountaintop picnic or a fancy-schmancy charcuterie board, but it’s easy for when you need a bite on the go! Even if you are having a bigger meal later in the day, it’s very important to have snacks like this with you anyway to keep your energy up, and in case of emergencies (such as getting lost while you’re hiking).
Here are a few snacks that’ll help you refuel during your elopement & that make for great, lightweight grab & go bites:
- Trail mix (duh!)
- Dried fruit
- Protein bars
- Pretzels & hummus
- Fruit leathers
- String cheese
- Fruit cups
And of course, any celebration must have dessert of some kind! This can be as low-budget or as expensive as you’d like it to be – if you’d like to keep it on the lower end, you could simply grab one of those huge, yummy cakes from Costco and serve it to your guests on the big day, or grab a few boxes of cupcakes & pastries at the nearest grocery store. Hell, you could even hit up your local Crumbl cookie and grab an assorted box of cookies for everyone! Humans are truly easy to please when it comes to sweets, I promise.
If you want to outsource your dessert, you can hire somebody to make you a simple cake, or go as fancy as you want if you’ve got more money to spend and dessert is a bigger priority! Whatever calls to your sweet tooth, my friends. Fresh fruits covered in yogurt and/or chocolate, an elegant multi-tier cake, a charcuterie board covered in pastries, a selection of pies, a s’mores station, or an ice cream buffet with a wide array of toppings – the sky’s the limit!
Mid-Budget Elopement Meal Ideas
If food isn’t the highest priority on your list but you’re still down to spend some money on it & you want to create a unique, delicious experience, here are some fabulous elopement meal ideas that I’d say are more in the medium-budget range!
Let’s go back to that picnic idea – but make it a liiiittle bougie this time. If you love the thought of enjoying a beautiful picnic out in nature but like to keep things a bit classier, take it up a notch by setting up some plates, glassware, silverware, pillows, and even a table if you’d like! You can do this yourselves if you want to go the DIY route and rent the items you need, or you can hire a professional to set it up for you – yes, professional picnic designers are a thing! They’ll take your vision and create a beautiful tablescape, and may even be able to provide the glassware, seating, and other decor for you. And if you’d like to elevate it even further, you can hire your florist to create small floral arrangements either for the tablescape, or to set up as decor around you.
Here are a few items to help you put together a fabulous picnic with a touch of luxury:
- Charcuterie board – fruits, veggies, crackers, cheeses, meats, dips, or even sweets (who doesn’t love a good chocolate-covered strawberry?)
- Champagne/sparkling cider
- Small table
Hiring a caterer is one of the most popular choices for meals at traditional weddings, so why not do it for your elopement? Having a catered lunch is a fantastic, relatively inexpensive option if you’ll have a few guests to feed, and don’t want the responsibility of cooking or finding food to fall on you. If you go with this option, you’ll need to find somewhere to host your lunch – typically this works best if you have an Airbnb, especially if it has some sort of back or front yard where you can enjoy eating outside (if it’s nice out!). Alternatively, you could rent a small venue or event site for a few hours and host your lunch there.
Who says you can’t have a reception at an elopement? Nobody! I’ve seen so many couples lately decide to have a little post-ceremony celebration back at their Airbnb with their guests, which is such a great way to spend more quality time with the people you love. Or just by yourselves, if you’d rather a private night with a romantic dinner just the two of you! You can hire a caterer to cook up the dishes for you, and hire a planner/designer to set up a beautiful tablescape & reception space back at your Airbnb for a lovely evening. Most popular elopement spots, especially ones that are further out in nature, don’t always have great restaurants nearby, so having an Airbnb with enough space for a dinner setup is a perfect option.
Late night snacks
If you and your guests are planning on staying up late at your Airbnb, maybe sitting around a campfire or lounging on the patio, why not bring some late night snacks into the equation?! You have a few options for this: you could hire a caterer to cook some delicious bites to fill your cravings, you could hire a food truck to come to your place (I’ve seen food trucks that serve corn dogs, burgers, fries, pizza, grilled cheese, you name it!), or you could just pick up some to-go orders from a nearby restaurant to bring back. The party doesn’t have to end at dinner!
High-Budget Elopement Meal Ideas
Lastly, I wanted to throw in a couple of higher-budget meal ideas if you’ve got a little more money to spend, and you want a more high-end experience.
If you’ll be eating just the two of you, or with just a few guests (not quite enough to make a caterer worth it), one option is to hire a private chef to come to your Airbnb & cook for you! This is an amazing choice if you’d like a bougie, multiple-course meal – without having to lay a finger on anything. Just sit back, sip on your fave drinks, and enjoy freshly-cooked dishes brought to you straight from the kitchen at your Airbnb!
If you’ll be eating with a larger group and there’s a restaurant or winery nearby, call ahead of time and see if you can rent out a room! This allows you to enjoy a totally private dining experience without strangers around, and ensures that there’s enough space for your entire group without having a wait time.
BONUS: Morning-after brunch
I wanted to throw in one last idea that could fit with ANY budget: a morning-after brunch! If you love breakfast food, coffee, and mimosas, then what better way to celebrate your newlywed status than with a delicious brunch spread the morning after the big day? Whether you do this by yourselves or use it as a last way to spend quality time with your loved ones & send them off, brunch can be as simple or intricate as you want it to be. Cook up a few pancakes and make some instant coffee, or hire a caterer/private chef to provide a huge spread & a decorator to create a gorgeous setup for you. There’s truly no wrong way to do brunch!
I don’t know about you, but I am STARVING now after thinking about all of these mouth-watering elopement food & meal ideas – I want to elope all over again just so I can have a wildly luxurious post-elopement brunch. Anyone else? And if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all the options, that’s totally okay. I’ll be more than happy to help you brainstorm and create the perfect meal experiences for your unique celebration – reach out to me here!
If you loved these elopement tips and are dying for more advice when it comes to planning your dream day, check out a few of my favorite resources below!