How To Find the Perfect Elopement Location
How To Find the Perfect Elopement Location
We often get asked by couples, what is the biggest thing that will affect their whole elopement experience and their resulting photos—the answer? Location Location LOCATION!
It’s no secret that where you get married matters—and one of the biggest draws to eloping in the first place is that while you may be very limited with venues if you have a big wedding… you can elope (almost) ANYWHERE you want.
Seriously, the sky's the limit when it comes to elopement locations—a secluded beach you can only access by kayak, a mountaintop you can only get to by helicopter, a rugged peak that takes 10 miles of hiking to get to, a canyon up an epic 4x4 road, or a waterfall you need to wade through a narrow gorge to get to? While it may be logistically impossible to have a big wedding at these spots—you can certainly elope there.
So if you can elope almost anywhere in the world you want, the question is, how do you find the perfect elopement location? You want to say your vows in a place that inspires you, elevates your day to new heights—a spot that takes your breath away. How do you find that dreamy secluded spot that’s uniquely yours—somewhere off the beaten path that you two get to leave your mark on forever by saying your vows there?
As elopement photographers & guides—this is the absolute biggest challenge that we help our couples tackle--because yes, it is a very daunting process. So let’s dive in!
First off, there are 2 types of “perfect” when it comes to choosing a spot to elope.
2 Types of “Perfect” elopement locations
1. New & Exciting
Most of the couples that we work with define themselves as adventurous—they love to explore new places and have new experiences together—so when it comes to getting married, going on a “new adventure” is incredibly fitting. Is there a spot in the world you two have always dreamed of going? Is there somewhere you’ve always said you would go someday? If you two could dream up the most incredible day together, from start to finish, what would that look like? The excitement of going to a place that neither of you two have ever been and having a new amazing adventure together—is an absolutely awesome way to get married.
2. Old & Cherished
Another great place to say your vows—is somewhere super meaningful and special to you two. We have had couples elope at the top of the first hike they did together, or in the National Park that they fell in love in, or at the spot they got engaged. When you think about saying your vows, is there a spot in the world that just automatically seems like “your spot”... that it just wouldn’t feel the same being anywhere else when you get married? That’s a good indication that it would be super meaningful and special to elope there, and you should definitely consider it.
Most couples we help find amazing locations for, are looking for a “new & exciting” spot, and haven’t settled on anything in particular when they book us, so that’s what the rest of the tips in this post are aimed at.
So, when trying to figure out where in the world would be the best place for you two to elope—these are the three biggest factors to consider.
3 Factors to Consider when finding the best place to elope
Obviously one of the major benefits of eloping is being able to be surrounded by the most incredible, jaw-dropping scenery in the world. So what’s your favorite type of scenery? Do you like the feeling of being on top of a mountain? What about a super old and magical forest with trees towering above you? You could also elope at the base of a powerful waterfall, the edge of a canyon, or cliff going straight into the sea. Think about the places that you two love and have enjoyed being the most—the places that inspire you, humble you, and make you feel happy and at peace.
Depending on the location, it’s also entirely possible to get multiple types of your favorite scenery in one day. Check out this helicopter elopement on Vancouver Island, B.C. that included a snowy mountaintop, a magical forest, and a private shell island, and a secluded rocky beach all in one day.
Once you’ve thought about what type of scenery you want to be surrounded by when you say your vows, another important consideration is how far you want to travel to get to that dream spot. Certain types of scenery can only be found in specific parts of the world, that may required a lot of travel. Do you want to go to the Faroe Islands to get married next to a waterfall that goes straight into the sea? What about milford sound in New Zealand? Or do you want to have the impossibly jagged peaks of the Patagonian mountains be witnesses to your vows? Or a massive glacier in Alaska? In addition to being willing to take international flights, some locations may require driving 4-8 hours from the nearest airport, or taking a ferry, bush plane, a helicopter or a 10-mile hike to get to. Knowing how far you’re willing to travel, and what adventure you want to undertake to get to your destination will help narrow down your options.
Another extremely important consideration when picking a location to elope is seclusion. In this new age of Instagram, where previously unknown beautiful spots are being geo-tagged, and subsequently flocked by tourists from around the world—this is becoming tougher and tougher to find. Really the ideal combination of factors in the perfect elopement spot is stunning scenery, easily accessible, and secluded—but these days, you usually have to pick two of those three.
We have found that there is usually a direct trade-off between accessibility & seclusion. The farther you are willing to travel to an amazing spot (especially if you’re willing to hike), the better the chances are that you can have it to yourself. For example, everything else equal, a location up a 5-mile hike at sunrise in Yosemite National Park, is going to be WAY more secluded than going to a popular overlook that you can drive to. There are of course exceptions to this rule, and this definitely doesn’t mean that you have to hike somewhere in order to get seclusion for your elopement. You can also find seclusion up 4x4 roads, by taking a helicopter somewhere, or simply going at a non-popular time of day (like sunrise on a weekday), and avoiding peak season.
Pro Tip: A good trick to see how busy a place might be is to search the location on Instagram—if you find thousands of photos tagged to that spot, you’ll want to think about finding somewhere more secluded (or going at a very non-peak time of day/year). Essentially you want to avoid trying to elope in a spot like this—as wouldn’t that be a bummer?
Finding an incredibly beautiful secluded spot is probably the biggest challenge that we help couples overcome—and often requires deep digging and intense research to find those lesser-known, still hidden gems (which there still are plenty in the world!). You likely won’t find a secluded spot on easily google-able, or pinterest-able lists like “10 must-see places in Iceland”.
Okay! So now that you’ve thought through the general traits of the elopement spot you’re looking for, how do you actually go about finding it?
Well luckily for the couples that hire us, we do this hard part for them. Location scouting & research is one of the most time-consuming but also fun parts of our job. We are literally constantly finding new spots and adding them to our ever-growing master location lists. 95% of all the images you see on our site or instagram feed are at locations that the couple had no idea existed until they hired us. You could say that we’re location scouting experts.
The tools that we use to find stunning, secluded, off-the-beaten path spots depend on the country and type of location, but these are some very useful tools that we use a lot:
Tools for finding the perfect elopement location:
• Google - Always a good place to start any search, just know the top several pages of search results of your first few searches will likely not be secluded spots (i.e. if it’s easy to find, it means a lot of people have found it already).
• Social Media (Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook) - A good place to start to find cool general areas, not usually a good way to find secluded areas
• Google Maps & Google Street View
• Google Earth Pro (download the software free here)
• Hiking & Trail websites (All Trails, etc)
• Hiking forums (14ers.com, etc)
•Travel & Hiking groups on Facebook
•Travel Guides (Lonely Planet, etc)
• 4x4 road maps & online lists of high alpine roads
• Local guides and guiding companies
Lastly, while the following aren’t as “exciting” of tips, these 4 factors are very important to look at before you 100% settle on your ideal elopement location.
Final logistics to consider before 100% settling on your dream spot
Make sure to check that it’s legal and ethical to have a wedding ceremony on the spot you’re choosing. There are some places in the world that having a wedding ceremony wouldn’t be appropriate, or that there are laws or rules against having any type of ceremony.
Many locations on federal, state, or city land (including almost all national parks) require a permit in order to have a ceremony (and to have professional photos taken), so make sure to call the local jurisdiction and obtain all proper permits and follow any rules or regulations.
Leave No Trace Principles
Make sure that where you plan to go to have your ceremony isn’t damaging the environment. For example, don’t trample fragile tundra plants, cryptobiotic soil, or delicate meadows to get to your ceremony location.
Seasonality & Logistics:
It’s important to triple check that there aren’t any unforeseen seasonal closures, construction, or restoration closures that would keep you from having your ceremony. It’s worth a call to a local jurisdiction to ask about normal open & closure dates and other factors that might affect the accessibility of your spot. Having a backup location in mind if something goes wrong is always a good idea with an outdoor location on public land.
Okay! We hope that this post has helped you get closer to finding your dream elopement location.
If you have questions or need help, we would absolutely love to chat with you about your dream elopement day. Contact Us and let’s get the process started!
We’ll wrap this up by sharing some of our favorite spots we’ve helped couples find—to give you some elopement location inspiration!
There are so many incredible places to elope and we would love to help you find that unique corner of the world to say your vows.
If you’d like us to help you find your own perfect elopement location just get in touch!
We're Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori. We are adventurous elopement photographers & guides based in Colorado that travel worldwide to help fearless couples like you create your unforgettable, wildly different wedding experience—that is completely yours.
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