Where you choose to elope is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the planning process. It sets the stage for that day and can influence how you feel in the moment and how you remember the day for years to come through pictures, videos, and memories.
Couples who elope usually choose to do so for a reason — they want a day that feels authentic to them as a couple, and they often have a sense of adventure. It can be overwhelming when trying to pick the perfect elopement spot, but we’ve put these tips together to help guide you through the process.
Coming Up with Ideas for Elopement Locations
We recommend thinking big to start your elopement location brainstorm and then narrowing it down after you have some options on your mind. When generating ideas, here are some things to consider:
Think about the scenery and colors.
One of the first things you’ll probably think about is how you want your elopement location to look. Have you dreamed of a mountain elopement or exchanging vows with waves crashing on a beach? Or maybe waterfalls, lakes, or forests are more your style? Think of the specific vista you want for your day and start listing places that will give you those spectacular views.
Showcase your personalities.
Your elopement gives you the opportunity to make it all about you as a couple, and you can choose a location that truly reflects you and your interests. There’s something out there for everyone:
- Where to Elope Based on Your Zodiac Sign
- Unique Elopement Locations for Geology Lovers
- Elopement Ideas for Animal Lovers
Consider special or sentimental spots.
Do the two of you have a favorite trip you took together? Maybe there are places or countries that are sentimental to one or both of your families? Your elopement could be an excuse to visit or revisit these significant places for your ceremony.
Cross a place off your bucket list.
If you and your partner love to travel and already have a vacation bucket list a mile long, choose one of those places to use as your elopement location! Exploring a new place for the first time together will amplify all of those positive emotions you’ll be feeling on the day of.
Factor “when” into the equation.
There’s something wonderful about every season, but the weather and temperatures may impact where you can go and what you can see during your elopement. Think about whether you see yourselves saying “I do” in a white winter wonderland, under golden aspen trees in autumn, or among a rainbow of summer wildflowers when picking your ideal destination. Also, consider your comfort with extreme heat or cold — this may help you add (or remove) specific spots that are known for their seasonal beauty.
We’ve put together some resources on some of the best places to elope in the spring and summer, as well as some great elopement spots for autumn.
Brainstorm potential activities and adventures.
If you’re wanting to lay low and relax by the beach before or after your elopement, it might not make the most sense to choose a mountain or forest elopement location with lots of hiking involved. And if you want to hit the slopes for some skiing, you’ll need a spot with some altitude (and to elope in the winter!). Figuring out how you want to spend your time in the days leading up to and following your elopement may give you some more ideas to work with.
Narrowing Down Your List of Elopement Locations
Now that you have a pretty strong list going, it’s time to narrow it down… But how do you go about that exactly? We’ve come up with some questions to discuss with your partner that will help you cross off some locations and allow others to rise to the top of the pack.
What is your elopement budget?
It’s easy to get swept away into the excitement of planning your elopement, but this is an important discussion to have as a couple earlier rather than later in the process. Depending on how much you’re both willing to spend, as well as the costs of permits, travel (such as flights + hotels), and other wedding vendors you’re including on your day, some options may be more feasible than others.
Are you including guests?
Will it be just you two and your officiant? Will your families or close friends be joining you? It can be amazing to have others witness your elopement, but it does come with special considerations. Consider your guests’ physical fitness and limitations when choosing an elopement location that involves walking or hiking, for example. Always check with parks or local authorities to determine limitations and restrictions around how many guests can be present with you.
For couples who want to involve their pets, you’ll have to make sure your chosen spot allows animals. Check out our dog-friendly elopement guide for help with planning it all out.
How far from home are you willing to travel?
Whether you want to elope close to home or on a completely different continent, this is something you’ll want to be on the same page with your partner about, and it can definitely help you narrow down your list.
How important is total privacy?
Unfortunately, some of the most beautiful spots are also the most popular (and for good reason). Still, you may want to take in the views alone and have some privacy for your ceremony. In some places, it’s almost impossible to avoid potential onlookers, but there are some things you can do to avoid crowds as much as possible on your elopement day.
Other Helpful Tips for Choosing an Elopement Location
Use Google, AllTrails, and social media to your advantage.
Reading blogs, exploring websites, looking at trail information on AllTrails, and going over reviews from past couples can be super helpful when looking for a place to elope. It can give you an idea of how easy or difficult it is to access a spot and other things to keep in mind that you may not have thought of from afar.
Visit your top pick, if possible.
If you have the time and ability, it’s always a good idea to scout out your elopement destination ahead of time (preferably during the same season, though we know not everyone plans their elopements a year in advance). It can help you feel more prepared and comfortable when the day comes.
Stick to your decision.
The internet gives us access to so much information that it’s both a blessing and a curse. There are so many options that you may feel like you didn’t pick the right choice. Do yourself a favor and avoid seeking out other elopement locations once you’ve chosen one. Remind yourself that you chose it for a reason, not just to have the same cool pictures someone else is posting. In fact, there are some pretty cool underrated options for elopement locations out there.
And this is just the beginning — you can always choose one of your runner-ups as a honeymoon spot or destination to add to your bucket list as a couple.
Don’t plan every moment.
Since you don’t have some of the constraints of a traditional wedding, now’s the time to be a little spontaneous! Of course, some things need to be planned in advance, but take time to really enjoy the moment, and feel like you can do an impromptu hike or explore a different viewpoint if you want to.
Remember not everything will go according to plan, and that’s okay too. Make sure to have a Plan B location in case of wildfires, road closures, weather, or any other things you can’t control. We’re actually pros when it comes to handling inclement weather on your elopement day.
Ask your photo/video team for help.
Your photo/video team has likely been all over the country (or even the world) and has seen some incredible sights. It’s worth asking them for location ideas or even assistance with planning after you’ve chosen a spot. We love taking this stress off of couples and helping out in whatever way we can!
When choosing an elopement location, put it all into perspective every once in a while and take some of the pressure off. Your elopement is an important day, but ultimately it’s one day of the many years you and your partner will share together. It’s all about your unique love story, and no matter where you choose, that alone will make it magical!
Need Help Picking an Elopement Location?
We’d love to help! Skyewater Photo + Film is a photo and video team specializing in adventure elopements across the US and around the world. Whether you need help with location scouting to find those hidden gems, securing permits for your dream destination, or capturing the gorgeous setting on film, you’ve come to the right place.
Contact us today so that we can help bring your dream elopement to life!