One of the most exciting things about planning an elopement is that you can tie the knot virtually anywhere! You aren’t stuck scrolling through traditional venues to find one that can accommodate a big guest count, and you can choose a place that really reflects who the two of you are and how you want your marriage to begin. But because “where should we elope?” is such an open ended question, with potential answers all over the world, it can be hard to get out of analysis paralysis and start narrowing it down!
This guide will help you pick an elopement location and decide on the perfect spot to say your vows.
Decide on Your Priorities
The first step to figuring out where you should elope is to define what’s important to you, and what your priorities are when it comes to your adventurous wedding day. There are a lot of things that can factor into your decision, and some of them matter more to some couples! Sit down together and talk about what you want for your day, and make a list of the things that are most important for you to consider once you start looking at potential elopement locations.
Here are some things to think about! It can help to rank all of these things as must haves, wants, and things that aren’t important to you.
The Elopement Date
Your choices for elopement locations will depend a lot on seasons, as some places are inaccessible in the winter, some places are too hot in the summer, and there are some limitations to when you can realistically get outdoors when you’re out in nature. So before you start asking “where should we elope?” talk about whether the date is a priority!
Some couples have a specific day in mind - whether it’s an anniversary or other significant date, a fun calendar day (like 2/2/2022), or just a date that they’ve already decided on for their wedding. Other couples have a timeframe - they might want to elope in the winter to see some snow, or during a time of year when they’ll have less trouble getting time off from work, or they just want to tie the knot sooner rather than later.
Decide if the date or season is a priority for you, because this will affect your options for picking an elopement location! If you’re flexible with your date, it’s easier to find a location you love and then figure out the best time to elope at that spot. But if the date is important to you, that will help narrow down your location options!
Scenery or Location
For most couples, this is one of the bigger priorities - the landscape and the scenery of where you elope! If you don’t have a date in mind, you’ll have more freedom to pick your elopement location. Think about what you want to see as you’re saying your vows - do you picture yourself in the mountains, on the beach, in the desert, by a river…?
Talk to your partner about what you envision on your elopement day, and make a list of things that you’re looking for in an elopement location.
Distance From Home
Another thing that’s usually part of deciding where you should elope is how far from home you’re willing to go! Some couples want to stay in their state, some want to be driving distance away, some are willing to hop on a domestic flight, and others are down to fly to the other side of the globe! Decide how far you’ll look to find the perfect spot - some considerations for this one can be personal preference, time off work, whether you want to bring your pets, and whether you’re inviting guests.
If you want to bring your pet along for your elopement, finding a dog friendly location will be a priority! Decide ahead of time if you want to bring your furry best friend, so that you look for places that will allow dogs. In general, it’s best to avoid national parks if you’re looking for a dog friendly location!
Another consideration in deciding where to elope is to think about whether you or any guests have accessibility needs. There are gorgeous ADA accessible trails all over, especially in national parks, so keeping this in mind ahead of time will help you find the perfect spot!
One thing that couples often prioritize on their elopement day is privacy. It can be overwhelming to say your vows if it feels like you have an audience or if there are a ton of people around, and getting a secluded spot out in nature always feels pretty amazing! Decide how important this is to you, as it can help you rule out some of the really popular elopement locations.
The last thing to consider before you start coming up with answers to “where should we elope?” is how hard you want to work on the big day. Some couples want a challenging hike, others want a chill day, and others want something in between. This is totally up to you, but it’s important to talk about ahead of time as it will help filter your search when you pick an elopement location. Consider your outdoor experience and what you want to do when you get married.
Pick a General Elopement Location
After you’ve made a list of priorities, it’s time to pick an elopement location! I recommend choosing a general area first before you narrow down specific trails or overlooks, as this can make things less overwhelming and help narrow down your final options. This can be as broad as choosing a region (like the Pacific Northwest) or a state, or as narrow as deciding on a park that has the kind of scenery you’re after. Think about places that have the landscape you’re looking for and that check the boxes for your “must haves” on your elopement day.
Make a list - start with places that you already know of off the top of your head, then try searching social media for elopement photos that you like, scanning Google Maps for parks, and even Googling things like “mountain views in California” to get some ideas!
Narrowing Down Your Elopement Location
Once you have a general elopement location picked out, it’s time to get specific! While social media can be great for finding cool places, I recommend avoiding it when you’re looking for the exact spot where you want to say your vows. Those places you see are going to be popular, and likely crowded - so try to find spots that are more off the beaten path!
All Trails is a great resource, and you can filter hikes by length, difficulty, dog friendliness, and even the types of scenery! You can also explore virtually on Google Maps or Google Earth, or go adventure in person if you’re nearby.
Connect With an Elopement Photographer
The best piece of advice I can give you for picking an elopement location is to connect with an elopement photographer as soon as you start asking each other (or yourself), “where should we elope?”
Finding hidden gems and secluded spots can be easier said than done, but an elopement photographer can handle that for you! I talk to each couple to figure out what they’re looking for - you give me your priorities, your dreams, your open ended ideas, and I come back with a list of location recommendations that’s personalized to you and your day.
If you’re ready to find an elopement location that speaks to you, contact me!