For those who want to go the adventurous route for their elopement, why not make kayaking part of your big day? While there are a ton of unique ways to incorporate water into your elopement, kayaking is great because you can make the experience as relaxing or adrenaline-spiking as you want it to be!

Paddling in a canoe or kayak for your wedding day is a completely unique experience, so if you’re looking for some inspiration and guidance, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to eloping on the water.

What is a Canoe / Kayak Elopement?

Whether you just stumbled on the idea by exploring Pinterest or Instagram, or you’ve always dreamed of spending part of your wedding day with oars or paddles in hand, you might not yet be sure how this works.

A canoe or kayak elopement is a one-of-a-kind wedding day experience that allows you to either bring your own canoe/kayak or rent one, and wade out into the water for part of your elopement day. You can either do this in the morning before changing into your wedding attire, or get some beautiful romantic images in your wedding day clothes!

This type of experience allows you to spend some time relaxing and soaking up the moment on the water, either to calm your nerves or spend some alone time with your new spouse. You can even bring some snacks, drinks, or a picnic out onto the water with you for some nourishment and tasty treats!

Best Places for Canoe + Kayak Elopements

There’s nothing quite like paddling out on the water for your elopement day! Here are some of our favorite places to make your elopement unforgettable.

Tampa Bay, Florida

If you’re excited about the possibility of seeing dolphins and manatees on your kayaking trip, Tampa Bay may be the best elopement destination for you. Celebrate your partner and your relationship by immersing yourself in warm, crystal blue waters and enchanting mangrove forests.

Some of the best places to kayak in Tampa Bay:

Lake Powell, Arizona

When you think kayaking, desert views probably aren’t the first thing to come to your mind, but if you choose to elope at Lake Powell, you can get the best of both worlds. Dramatic rock formations and blue waters make this location the perfect blend of the elements.

It’s worth noting that Lake Powell is actually a human-made lake that hasn’t been around for very long — and may not be accessible by water forever. The good news is even if you don’t get a chance to kayak here, in the future it may be possible to visit the beautiful Glen Canyon in its original state.

Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Some would say Lake Tahoe is the quintessential alpine lake. Towering boulders, pine trees, and beautiful mountain views make it an excellent choice for a kayaking elopement. This crystalline lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains has a ton of accessible beaches and fantastic viewpoints.

For more stunning lake inspiration, check out this list we put together of the best lakeside elopement locations in the US.

Here are some of the best places to launch your kayak in Lake Tahoe:

Seattle, Washington

If you and your partner aren’t bothered by cooler temperatures, kayaking in Seattle could be an excellent addition to your elopement itinerary. There’s something for everyone: hidden coves, beach parks, views of the Seattle skyline, and maybe even close-up encounters with orcas or sea lions.

Top locations for kayaking near Seattle:

Seward, Alaska

Seward, Alaska makes for a perfect elopement destination if an arctic kayaking adventure is calling your name. You won’t find icebergs, glaciers, and the unique wilderness that makes Alaska so special.

Here are some amazing places to kayak in Seward:

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

For scenic floats through old mining areas or easy whitewater routes between tree-lined banks, Coeur d’Alene delivers. Couples who want to incorporate kayaking into their elopement day (or weekend) shouldn’t pass up this gem in northern Idaho.

Two great Coeur d’Alene kayaking locations:

San Juan Mountains, Colorado

If you and your partner are looking for a heart-racing, blood-pumping excursion, there are plenty of kayaking locations in the San Juan Mountains that fit the bill. Don’t worry though, there are other options if you prefer to relax instead of tackle some rapids post-elopement.

Hidden gems and must-see kayak destinations in the San Juan Mountains:

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is about as remote as you can get. If you and your partner truly want to get away from it all, you should definitely consider the Boundary Waters for your kayaking elopement. With more than 1,000 lakes, it’s impossible to choose just a few spots, but here is a great list of some suggested routes.

The Ozarks, Missouri / Arkansas

Kayaking in the Ozarks means relaxing floats down winding rivers with steep bluffs, caves, and springs. It’s the ideal elopement spot if you and your partner want to unwind and move at a slower pace.

Best kayaking in the Ozarks:

How to Elope in a Canoe / Kayak Step-by-Step

  1. One of the first things we recommend when considering this type of adventure elopement is to think about the types of scenery you most want to see and explore. Are you wanting to wade among puffins or pieces of fallen glacier? Alaska is great for this! Dreaming of a tropical place with seagulls and palm trees? Florida is perfect for that! Hover over turquoise waters and coral reefs? Spots like Hawaii or the Caribbean are both wonderful options.
  2. Narrow down your list by also considering what else you’re wanting to experience while you’re in the area, think: food/drinks, other excursions you’ve always wanted to do together (snorkeling, helicopter tours, sailing on a catamaran at sunset, etc), and the type of climate you want (a sunny beach, a vast mountain range, glaciers).
  3. Next, you’ll want to start reaching out to elopement photography/videography teams who can help you plan your epic elopement experience. And the best part? Most of us travel anywhere, so you don’t have to feel restricted to vendors already living in the area you want to visit.

    At Skyewater Photo + Film, unlimited planning assistance is something every one of our couples have access to after booking with us, so we are here to help you find the best location and potential canoe/kayak rental companies to work with!
  4. After chatting with your photography/videography and planning team, you’ll select a date. And when you work with us, we make sure to have plenty of time either the day before your elopement or after, in case the weather prevents us from being on the water (ex: hurricanes or lightning storms) and we need to reschedule.
  5. Then, all the other details can fall into place. You’ll want to secure lodging, as well as any other vendors (like florists, hair and makeup, officiants, etc.) as soon as you can. We can even find some overnight stays right on the water or ones with canoe/kayak rentals on site!

Canoe / Kayak Elopement FAQs

Can we bring our dog(s)?

If you’re bringing your own canoe / kayak from home, definitely! However, the rules for other rental companies will vary, so this will depend on where we go and who you rent from. Either way, we definitely recommend taking a peek at our dog-friendly elopement guide for more information, and if your dog will be out on the water, make sure they have their own life jacket!

How much photo/video coverage time should we book with you for a canoe / kayak elopement?

This really depends on where we go, who else you’re inviting, how easy the water is to access, and what other activities you might want to do during your elopement day. Most of our couples who want to include a fun activity like canoeing or kayaking during the day start with 8-10 hours to make sure we have plenty of time to enjoy the moment and feel less rushed/stressed on the day of. Or book a two-day experience with us to paddle out onto the water one day, and celebrate with family the following day.

What about motion sickness?

If you feel motion sickness often, we recommend choosing a destination with calm waters (like glacial or alpine lakes) instead of an open-ocean location. This helps reduce the chances of motion sickness while out on the water. However, if you’re extra sensitive to motion on the water, feel free to take some non-drowsy motion sickness medicine at least 20-30 minutes before getting on the water.

What should we wear?

Be sure to think about the typical weather in the location you’re eloping to. If it’s a colder climate, you’ll definitely want layers, like warm coats and gloves. In warmer, drier climates, you may still want to bring a light layer to wear depending on the time of year, or sunscreen and sunglasses for really warm weather. No matter where you choose to go, wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet! Or do what we do when kayaking: go barefoot. 🙂

Need a Photo + Video Team for Your Kayaking Elopement?

Skyewater Photo + Film is a photography and videography team that specializes in destination weddings and adventure elopements all over the US. We especially love when water is involved!

Whether you’re looking for a meaningful wedding video or an adventurous elopement photographer, contact Skyewater Photo + Film for your big day!

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