Eloping is all about being intentional with every decision you make – and that includes where you get married! Your elopement location should be a reflection of your relationship, whether it’s a place you already love or a new adventure you take on your wedding day. But deciding where to elope is easier said than done – with so many options, so many mountains, rivers, cute cabins, waterfalls, lakes, deserts, and beaches, how do you choose?!
This guide is all about picking an elopement location that’s perfect for you, with tips to help you figure out where to elope!
Step 1: Decide on a Date or Time Frame for Your Elopement
Before you start looking at potential elopement locations, I recommend asking yourself (and your partner) some questions! These will help narrow down your options for where to elope. The first step is to think about a date, time frame, or season for your elopement – and it’s totally okay if after you think about it, you decide that you don’t have a preference!
Staying flexible will give you more options for your elopement location, but for now, it’s all about deciding what your priorities are. Think about if you have a date that you want to get married on – for some couples it’s an anniversary or a fun date (like 2/2/2022), for others it’s about wanting a summer elopement because of good weather or because it may be easier to get time off from work then, and for some couples it’s “we can’t wait – we want to get married in the next three months!”
Decide if you have any preferences when it comes to when you elope, and this can help you narrow down where to elope. For example, if you want to get married in the winter but aren’t a fan of snow, you’ll know to look at elopement locations that are warmer (like southern California or maybe even the southern hemisphere). If you want to get married in the summer, this can eliminate some locations (like deserts) that are uncomfortably hot that time of year.
Step 2: Start Dreaming Up Your Elopement Experience
After you’ve thought about potential elopement dates, it’s time for the fun stuff – dreaming up what you want to see, do, and experience when you get married. I recommend taking an evening to yourselves – no work, phones, or other distractions. Go somewhere where you feel relaxed – maybe a local trail, or just hang out in your backyard with a cider and your favorite picnic blanket. Take some time to unwind, then imagine your happy place – it can be a place you’ve been to or a place that lives in your imagination. What do you see? What kind of scenery are you surrounded by? What are you doing?
It’s often easiest to start by thinking about the scenery and landscape – are you drawn to mountains, forests, beaches, deserts…?
Then, think about what you want to do on your elopement day! Remember, there are no rules – so you can go hiking, have a picnic, spend time with your cats, kayak, scuba dive, or do absolutely anything you can think of. Imagine the best day ever, and what you would do on that day! It can be something you love doing together, or something you’ve always wanted to try, an epic adrenaline-pumping adventure, or a laid back day spent relaxing together. For some inspiration, check out this guide for ideas of what to do on your elopement day!
Step 3: Think About Elopement Logistics
Now that you have an idea of what kind of landscape you’re looking for and what you want to do, you can start getting more specific – thinking about where in the world you can go that has what you’re looking for. But, before you do that, here are a few things to think about, and questions to answer.
Are you inviting guests to your elopement?
First, think about who (if anyone), you want to be there when you elope. This is important for two reasons.
If your friends or family members have accessibility needs, or aren’t able to travel too far, this can help narrow down your potential elopement locations. When you invite guests, their needs will be a consideration along with yours!
Another reason this step is important is because depending on how many people are attending, you might be limited in the elopement locations you can choose. Many parks and outdoor recreation areas have a limit on the number of people you can have – the rules definitely vary, but usually anything over 10 people is when you start running into restrictions. Don’t worry – if your elopement is a little bigger, or you decide that an intimate wedding is the way to go, there are still plenty of gorgeous locations!
Do you want to hike to your elopement location?
Another really important question to ask yourselves is whether you want to hike on your elopement day, and how far you’re willing to hike. A lot of people see all those Instagram photos of couples standing on mountain tops and think that an elopement has to be in an epic location or that you have to hike for miles to have an adventure – but that’s not the case at all!
You can definitely hike if that’s your jam, but adventure doesn’t have to mean the longest trail or the steepest trek. There are so many beautiful trails that are less challenging, and so many places to elope that don’t require hiking at all!
Take into account your hiking experience, as well as your personal preference and what you have in mind for your wedding day.
How far from home do you want to go?
Another important factor in deciding where to elope is how far you want to travel! Do you want to stay in your state, or is hopping on a plane a possibility? Would you consider eloping abroad, and adventuring in a different country?
Some things to think about with this one are whether you’ll need a pet or house sitter, how long you can take off of work, whether you’re inviting guests, and your elopement budget!
Step 4: Contact an Elopement Photographer
Now you’ve got a general idea of what you want Now you’ve got a general idea of what you want your elopement day to look like – but instead of frantically Googling and spending hours on AllTrails, I’ve got something to make the next steps of the search easy peasy.
Contact an elopement photographer! The first thing I do after a couple books with me is send a location questionnaire. It asks you questions about your elopement, what kind of scenery you love, how much (if any) hiking you want to do, and more – and all of this helps me create a list of location recommendations that’s completely personalized to you and your day! I’ll send you a list of places that are a good fit, including spots that are lesser known and off the beaten path to ensure you get some privacy on your elopement day. So all you have to do is look at the list and choose a spot that speaks to you!
My goal is to make your elopement experience stress free, comfortable, and all about you – which means I’ll do the heavy lifting, and you handle the fun parts! Contact me if you’re ready to plan your unique elopement day, and let’s find the perfect spot.