Featuring Sydney from WILDLY IN LOVE a Destination Elopement Planner
I interviewed Sydney Herring, owner and lead planner of WILDLY IN LOVE, a Destination Elopement Planner to talk about the importance and benefits of hiring a planner for your Colorado elopement. We covered everything from what to do on your elopement day, planning a 2 hour to full day elopement, Colorado mountain hiking adventure elopement to planning a Denver city elopement. So many helpful tips for planning an incredible Colorado elopement experience.
A little background on who Sydney is and how she got into elopement planning
Hi, I’m Sydney, owner and lead planner of WILDLY IN LOVE. I’m so excited to chat with you today about planning a dream elopement in Colorado!
A little bit about me – I’m a super outdoorsy, adventurous person and absolutely love to travel. Most of my weekends are spent exploring a new place with my fiance or checking another National Park off our list. I truly thrive off of traveling, being outdoors and all things adventurous!
A little backstory how I got into the wedding industry and how WILDLY IN LOVE got started. I always knew that I wanted to be a wedding planner since I was about 14 years old and that dream continued on long after high school. I was set on making this happen, quite literally from my teeny bopper years. From a young age, I always reached out to planners and looked for opportunities to work for them. In high school I interned with a wedding planner in Atlanta, and then throughout college I worked at an events production company. We did put on concerts, festivals, bigger arena events, sporting events. While doing that, I also continued to work for a few different wedding and event planners. I wanted to become well rounded, and get all the experience I could get in the events industry.
Then after graduating college at 21, I started to work for a country club as their banquet manager. There were a lot of very important members in the political circle from the DC area. It was a high pressure, high stakes environment, and everything was top notch luxury. We did about 5 to 16 events every single day, depending on the season. It was a huge undertaking – I worked about 14 to 16 hour days, 6 days a week, every weekend, and every holiday. I gained a lot of my knowledge and real life experience from these events. I’m so grateful for that, because it really shaped who I am today. All of the things that I learned to build on a solid foundation and work ethic, I still carry with me to this day!
Eventually, after that, I started to work for a luxury planner in DC, as a second planner for her company. My heart was not in it creatively but was an incredible learning and growing experience. I hit a point where I felt like I was truly ready to do this on my own. At 22, I started my own company that is who I am to a core – wild and adventurous, in hopes of attracting couples who are similar lifestyles and vibes as me!
All of this experience, working and coordinating weddings and large scale events for 3,000 – 25,000 people, has helped me be a more rounded wedding planner. From learning in depth knowledge of the back of house stuff with the food and beverage industry, timing with other vendors, working at a venue, knowing all the ins and outs of events, has been incredibly helpful in planning weddings for my own brides.
How did WILDLY IN LOVE get started?
The name for my company, WILDLY IN LOVE, started because I really wanted to work with couples who were literally wildly in love with one another and were completely over the moon to plan the best day of their lives together.
I’m such an adventurer and I wanted people that like to be able to express that on their elopement day and not worry about traditions and what they have to do or what was expected of them. I realized that couples could get married and literally do anything they wanted to do! Whether you want to go hiking or not, I want to help you plan your dream elopement day in the most adventurous way possible!
3 weeks after starting my company, COVID happened. It was one of the hardest starts but I was determined to overcome all the obstacles, no matter what it took!
Defining what an elopement planner is + benefits of hiring one
Do you need a planner for a destination elopement? What are the benefits of hiring an elopement planner for a destination elopement?
Elopement planners are so crucial to the day. The biggest thing I always tell all of my couples, even if they don’t end up hiring me, someone will end up stepping into the role of your elopement or wedding planner. Whether that’s your sister, the photographer, your best friend, your mom or even sometimes the couple themselves end up having to plan and coordinate their own day. I want everyone to be able to enjoy the day and if you are planning and coordinating your elopement day it makes it harder to be present and for you to be able to relax and enjoy it fully.
Specifically for elopements, the photographer is there to take photos, of course they help with location scouting, they help direct the photos for the day. They help plan your day for amazing photos but they aren’t elopement or wedding planners. You really need someone that is the person that’s there to do anything and everything, from holding the extra bags while you are hiking up a mountain or in between shots, adjusting the dress, or holding the bouquet or making sure the timing of the day is happening as scheduled, coordinating the caterer, setting the tablescape, etc.
As a planner, my job is to be your unofficial, official best friend that you need to do anything. I can help you get you in your dress behind a tree, hold your water bottle on a hot summer day if we’re hiking, holding your dress up, decorating and putting together your design elements, etc. it really makes the day run so much smoother and without adding additional stress and to help make my couples’ day the most fun adventure ever!
There are so many logistics to coordinate and plan for during an elopement day. Timelines, people if you are having any guests, multiple locations, lighting, hiking logistics, permits, setting up the tablescape and decor, coordinating and communicating with other vendors, etc. it really is endless the amount of things we do on a wedding or elopement day.
I believe in educating my couples on elopements and having them see the benefit of why having a planner can help create a more stress free, enjoyable elopement day. There are so many things that I do throughout the day. You really need someone there in between shots, helping prep the rest of the day, setting up a tablescape, coordinating other vendors, etc. I’m always one step ahead to make sure everything’s ready to go and the day runs smoothly.
Even an elopement that is just the couple, there is so much that goes into planning prior to the day, timing logistics, coordinating vendors and many times it the responsibility lands on the photographer who is there for photos, not coordinating and planning the day.
‘I always tell people, not having a wedding or elopement planner is basically like getting in a plane without a pilot.’
Why should a couple elope in Colorado?
There are so many incredible, beautiful, picturesque spots in Colorado. It’s not just the National Parks that you can elope. I love National Parks but there are so many other locations Colorado has to offer that have less restrictions and that are easily accessible just in the vicinity of Denver. There are so many options within an hour or two of the Denver area but you can also drive four or five hours and be in a completely remote location. If you’re looking for an adventurous elopement or easily accessible stunning mountain scape, Colorado is the ultimate location to elope!
How do you go about helping your couples choose a location to elope in Colorado, if they don’t already have a location picked out?
When couples don’t have a specific location in mind on exactly where they want to elope, I’ll first ask them what kind of view they want? Do they want to be in the woods? Do they want mountain views? Do they want to be at a venue? Do they want to hike? From there, we’ll start narrowing down the locations.
I do a lot of research on my end. Once I have an idea of the area that a couple is interested in eloping in Colorado, I’ll start researching and gathering information on all of the location options. I already know a lot of locations and depending if the photographer is working directly with them on a location, I’ll make recommendations based on their location preferences.
I’m very much a collaborative person in the sense that I want everyone to feel like their voice is being heard. I’m not the kind of elopement planner that is intrusive or micro managing your day. I would never just put a couple’s photos in the middle of the day or not be mindful of sunset photos. I’m very big on working collaboratively with all of the vendors and their specialties so that everyone can thrive! Elopements and wedding days are very much a collaborative effort by everyone involved – I love that!
Once a couple has a location and date secured, all the planning starts from there!
Elopement Planning Process
What should you do on your elopement day, besides getting married?
There’s so many things to consider, depending what the vibe or vision the couple has for their elopement day, and what you love as a couple.
I recommend including an experience or activity. Something that you like to do together. Whether you love to hike, like actually hiking to a summit on your elopement day, doing sunrise or sunset vows. Or if hiking isn’t your thing and you love the city, you could rent a cool vintage car, drive around the city, incorporating a couple’s favorite food or drink, grab some coffee, ice cream, adventuring around Denver, getting eloped in a super cool spot in the city, walk to their favorite coffee shop or bar or cool breakfast place. You can do something super creative or as simple as you’d like!
I love incorporating things that you actually like to do, let’s go to a place that you actually like, or that means something to you. If you hate coffee, why would we go to a coffee shop? Whatever you like to do together, let’s plan it!
My biggest piece of advice would be making sure to include something for your elopement day that you love doing together. It can be as big or as small as you’d like!
Should couples have an elopement day timeline?
100% yes! Timelines are there to keep you on track and make sure you get everything that you want. A lot of times couples don’t want to structure or be strapped to a timeline and think that not having a timeline is more relaxing. In fact it’s the exact opposite.
Just because there is a timeline, doesn’t mean it needs to be restrictive. Having a timeline for your day helps in delivering good lighting for photos, if you’re having a meal catered, making sure the caterer has your food ready on time, if you’re getting hair and makeup done they’ll need to know what time to start and have you ready for photos. It’s very possible to be flexible on your elopement day but still have a timeline. I always build in buffer time in case things run behind or if you want extra time at a location.
2 hours or full day coverage, a schedule can ensure a smooth, relaxing and flexible day! It’s okay to deviate off the timeline and it doesn’t need to really be as detailed as a big wedding day.
What are your thoughts on an all day elopement vs. 2 to 4 hour elopement day?
I love an all day elopement adventure but if you want something shorter, I recommend at least a half a day. There are benefits to both depending on what you want to do.
Some couples might be a little bit more adventurous and want to include a hiking element or want to have photos taken at multiple locations in a National Park or the nature area and still be able to have plenty of time for a first look, ceremony at another location. A full elopement allows couples to spread out their elopement adventure and make it an all day elopement experience. I’m always a big proponent of multiple locations to maximize your photos!
For a half day, I normally recommend for couples that truly do want something a little bit more simple, maybe a city elopement, a backyard elopement or planning the day in just one location to maximize their vendors and photography coverage.
Some couples prefer to do a sunrise or sunset ceremony, share their vows and get photos taken all at the same location, followed by a small celebration either at that same location or close by.
I always recommend at least a half day which is about 4 hours. Time moves quickly and the last thing you want to feel rushed on your elopement day.
How do you go about planning the decor, details, if any?
I definitely recommend always having a bouquet or some sort of floral element. Mainly because it’s a mobile element on the day. If you are hiking or hopping around to multiple locations, you can always bring that and it adds a little something extra to your photos.
I’m not a big fan of wedding arches or big installations when there is an incredible view. I feel like it can be distracting for photos and why would you want to cover a beautiful view. Do the wedding arch or ceremony installation in a piney woodsy forest, at a venue or your Airbnb. When you’re hiking or at a super epic location, I recommend not covering the beautiful view! Plus, that can save you upwards of $1000 that you can allocate to a different part of your day.
Another great option might be to get married on a vintage rug or in between some sort of natural pillar, small floral installation framing you two on a ground level. Something smaller that doesn’t obstruct the view behind you. Also, if you are doing a hiking elopement you want to consider the mobility of your decor. It may not be feasible to lug decor for an 8 mile hike.
There are other great ways to incorporate detail where you can. If you are backpacking and hiking for your elopement, you can put on some ‘just married’ signs hanging from your backpack or including your elopement date and names in a super cool way or unique vow books. Little details can really add to the day and keep them transportable/ mobile for elopements that might be at multiple locations or a longer hike.
Depending on your style, you can accessorize it differently. Maybe including a cool hat that you use for a second location or put on like a funky fringe leather jacket or something unique to give you some variety with your photos.
I love creating and styling really fun tablescapes or a little table with a small cake/desert. I love pulling natural elements from your day. I’m all about working with what you have. Also, when a couple has a venue or Airbnb that’s when you can really play on nature for natural decor take advantage of the location, especially here in Colorado.
As a planner I help decorate and style tablescapes and really bring the couples’ vision to life. If a couple plans to elope in the mountains and has an Airbnb for their getting ready and celebration after they get married, there are so many ways to decorate the space and make it feel special and unique to them. I’m all about being smart about the decor and staying realistic when it comes to coordinating the decor for elopements.
I have so many cool, unique, innovative ideas to incorporate on your elopement day and where my expertise shines when helping you plan your elopement!
How would you style a remote location [hiking elopement]? Are you willing to hike with your couples?
I am always down for a hike! Let’s do this! I’ll even carry stuff in the backpack, I’m there! I’ll help you get in your dress, touch up your makeup, carry your water, fix your hair, I’m there for you and my emergency kit is always ready to save the day!
Especially if there are any mobile decor elements, that we are able to get up to the location the couple is hiking to, it can be helpful to have someone set it up and prepare it while other photos are happening.
Colorado is such an amazing location to elope because there are endless locations that you are able to drive to more remote, higher elevations that we don’t necessarily need to hike to but can then bring more decor elements to the locations that are accessible by car.
How do you find other vendors if you’re not from the area?
Denver has a huge market filled with amazing rental companies, florists, photographers, videographers, caterers, hair and makeup artists, there are so many incredible vendors that you don’t have to pay to ship in. Which I think is a huge advantage to planning an elopement in Colorado. There are a lot of benefits to getting married in this beautiful state!
For my full elopement day planning package, I recommend and find all the vendors for my couples. I help source all the vendors and propose them to my couples.
When planning an elopement or an intimate wedding we start with brainstorming the vision for your elopement day to ensure we are on the same page and I can envision your day with you. I have a comprehensive design questionnaire that I give to all of my couples and from there, I create the mood board for your elopement day. I then move forward to help pre-select your vendors to make sure they align with my couples vision and style for their elopement day. You will of course have the final say on your vendors as well.
When it comes to booking your vendors, you’ll want to make sure that your elopement day dream team aligns with your vision of the day. I’ll create a vendor design proposal, which is basically your day in picture and word form that we walk through. We go step by step going over all of the different options that each vendor has, their pricing options and different styles so we can find what is best for you! If you already have some of your vendors booked or in mind that you’d like to work with, you can let me know at the beginning of the planning process so we can work off that!
To get the planning process started here are 4 vendors a couple should book first:
- Lock in your date and location [or venue]
- Elopement Planner – Hire an expert [like me!] to help you through the planning process
Anything else you’d like to share about planning a destination elopement in Colorado? Tips, advice, planner wisdom?
Don’t feel like you have to do things a certain way. It’s okay to break ‘tradition’ and not listen to outside opinions. If you are getting some sort of pushback from vendors or people you’re talking with in the industry, they’re not your people. Find vendors who feel like your friends, so you can create an intimate, memorable elopement experience. It will amplify and make the experience better not only for yourselves as a couple but also have a team of vendors that work well together. Why would you not want people that are so invested in your day? Especially since it is just the two of you and maybe a small guest list, you want to make sure you have the best team by your side on your elopement day.
What services does WILDLY IN LOVE provide?
Colorado Elopement Planning Packages
Destination elopements and intimate weddings are my specialty! I have 4 main planning packages for my couples:
- Elopements: full planning services with 10 people or less [excluding vendors]
- Intimate Weddings: full planning services with 11 – 50 people [excluding vendors]
- Month of Coordination + Design: this is my version of “partial planning”. I help with finding/booking your design related vendors – rentals, florals, day of paper/signage, to help bring your vision to life through my design expertise. You book all the rest of the vendors but a month before the wedding, I start to take over communication so that I can pull together all the logistics! Then I am there day of to make sure everything runs smoothly. This package is typically booked by coupes with more large scale weddings [50+ people]
- Weddings: full planning services for 50+ people.This is what traditionally people think of when they think of a wedding planner!
** All full planning packages include design [mood board, design proposal, etc.], assistance in finding and booking all vendors, and day of coordination.**
Another package I offer to couples that is a little bit lesser known is vow renewals. There is a huge stigma about vow renewals but I believe that there doesn’t need to be a tragic event or fall out to plan a celebration for your vow renewals. I am a huge believer that you can celebrate your love however and whenever you want. Whether that’s 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, all of the years. Maybe you just want to do something like you didn’t get to do your wedding the way you wanted to and you wanted to have that freedom and go to a mountain top and get these epic shots. It doesn’t have to just be a redeclaration of your love, you can share things you’ve learned about each other and grown to love about each other that you didn’t know when you got married. A vow renewal is a sweet way to get incredible photos you want but like make it a special and meaningful day!
What is something we don’t know about Sydney that is something different than what we see on social media and your website?
I’m obviously very organized and a huge planner, even in my daily life. Something you may not know is I’m extremely frugal! I am all about saving money, figuring out how to do things for the lowest price point possible. Which I think obviously helps when planning other people’s weddings and elopement days. Nobody wants to throw money at a wall and have it be thoughtless. People come to me and tell me they’re on a budget. I’m like, honey, everyone’s on a budget, we’re going to make it work!!!
I travel a lot, which people associate as a luxury lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be. My budget is set up so that I can save money in all areas of life so that I can use that to travel the world. For example, I’m currently living in a house with five people and in a basement so I can save money on rent. Another way is by getting super creative with my groceries, I spend about $50 a week. Which means I eat the same meal every day for the whole week ha! It can get very tiring and it’s ideal but that’s what you have to do sometimes so you can live a traveling lifestyle if you aren’t making $100k+ a year.
All that to say is, I promise we can make your budget work in your favor! You may still have to say “no” to things you want to say “yes” to, but that doesn’t mean your day won’t be an absolute dream!
Contact WILDLY IN LOVE to plan your dream Colorado Elopement
We know Sydney loves National Park, hiking, traveling but the thing that stood out to me the most throughout this interview is that she is beyond passionate about her couples, planning and will do anything to help them create a beautiful, memorable elopement day that is true to them.
If you are planning to elope in Colorado, Sydney is the perfect gal to help you plan your day. Not to mention she is so knowledgeable about the wedding and elopement industry and is a beam of inspiration that will be such a positive energy on your day. You’d be lucky to have her by your side on your wedding or elopement day!
Also be sure to check out the top 25+ Best Places to Elope in Colorado for more elopement ideas: