| October 8, 2020

Epic Elopement Ideas and Inspiration

Table of Contents

If you’re thinking about eloping, or already in the planning stage and looking for inspiration to turn your day into an epic adventure – you’ve come to the right place! Below, we go into detail about unique elopement ceremonies, ideas for including your family (four-legged furry friends included), activities to do on your wedding day, and seasonal elopement ideas to inspire adventurous elopements any time of year. 

Bride and groom sitting on a black motorcycle, both wearing black leather jackets and sunglasses, with snow-capped mountains behind them.

Why You Should Plan an Epic Elopement

  1. This is your wedding day – if there’s ever a time to do something you’ve always wanted to do, or go somewhere on your bucket list, it is NOW!
  2. There are few things in life more rewarding than sharing a dream experience with your partner – planning a day you can look back & say “remember when” will always bring a smile when inevitably the less-fun parts of life occur.
  3. Psychologically, the memories we hold onto with most detail are from moments where life was specifically extraordinary – by turning your wedding into an adventure bigger than “normal life,” you create a memory to last a lifetime!
  4. It’s a lot of fun to relive an epic experience every time you tell the story of your wedding – plus, you’ll get beautiful photos to accompany the tale

Before we take a deep dive into some real elopement stories and kickass adventures you can embark on for your elopement, we want to take a moment to stress something vital.

Your elopement is all about who you are as people—it’s the truest reflection of your relationship all tied up into a day that’s entirely about the two of you.

Don’t let someone else’s perfect day define yours. Jump into these elopement ideas with both feet—be moved, let your brain wander free, and forget logistics. Let these ideas help you create your most authentic elopement day.

Bride and groom walking barefoot on beach, with forest and fog in the background.

Elopement Ideas for Including Family 

Including Your Family in Your Elopement

  • About half the elopements we photograph include guests – eloping doesn’t mean it’s only the two of you, and there are plenty of ways to hold onto the spirit of eloping while bringing family along.
  • Split it up – one way to involve family but still have a “just us “ experience is to step aside for a totally private ceremony, then rejoin guests to celebrate. Compartmentalizing aspects of your day can ensure you have alone with your partner & also enjoy the presence of your loved ones.
  • Invite them to speak – ask your family to read letters, or speak after the ceremony to share how much they support you both. If you perform a unity ritual, it can be really special to have your families join in for that as well.

Bride and groom hold hands and look at each other during their ceremony in a forest.

Including Your Kids in Your Elopement

  • If you’ve got little ones, it can be extremely meaningful to include them in your big day – growing your family by marriage can be a time to really show kids how essential they are to your family unit.
  • Give them a task – whether it’s part of planning the day, helping choose the location, or adding their voice to the ceremony, it’s super sweet to give your kids a chance to feel involved in the wedding itself.
  • Commit to them – when you’re writing vows to your partner, write vows to your kids as well! Tell them what it’s going to mean to be joined together as a family, and show them that your commitment to your partner means committing to the whole family unit.

Bride and groom hold up their child, with lake, forest, and mountains in the background.
Groom kisses bride on the forehead while she holds their child between them in a forest.

Including Your Dog in Your Elopement

  • Include your dog in your ceremony – they’re your best friend every other day, why would you leave them home on one of the best days of your life?
  • Have them sign your marriage certificate – a muddy paw print makes the perfect final addition to your wedding paperwork. If you elope with a self-solemnizing ceremony, your dog can actually sign as a witness (we aren’t kidding)!
  • Choose a location that is dog-friendly – if you want to bring your dog along for your ceremony, you’ll need to choose a place they will be comfortable and allowed on the trails. To take some pressure off both of you, we also advise bringing along a “dog-wrangler” to be in charge of holding the lead when your hands are full.

Bride and groom with their three dogs. There is an alpine lake and forest in the background.
Bride and groom hiking through snow with their dog.
Bride and groom with their dog in an aspen grove.

Epic Elopement Ideas & Activities

Adventurous Elopement Ideas

  • A sunrise or sunset hike – elope at the best times of day for gorgeous lighting, even though it means an early rise or a hike back to the trailhead by the light of a headlamp.
  • Take a jeep tour – hiking isn’t everyone’s definition of wedding fun, but taking a jeep on some epic 4×4 backroads will still get you out into the wildest corners of this world!
  • Take a helicopter ride – whether you’re wanting to get dropped off an Alaska glacier to say your vows, or somewhere else not accessible by road or foot, a helicopter ride will get you into the MOST untouched natural environments.
  • Go sky diving! Sure, committing your lives together is a breathtaking, exhilarating experience—but imagine doing that while jumping out of a plane.  Did we mention that Amber (one of our photographers) is a certified skydiver?
  • Why not hop into a wicker basket and soar over forests, meadows, mountains, lakes—anything you want—as you promise forever? It’s epic, it’s beautiful, and it’s entirely adventurous.

Bride and groom at night looking up at the stars.
Two grooms driving an ATV with aspen trees behind them.
Bride and groom driving a red 4-wheeler on a road.

National Park Elopement Ideas

  1. Getting married in a national park means you can elope backdropped by some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world – national park weddings are the ultimate adventure elopement, and also make a great place to return to year after year.
  2. Go to a bucket list location – is there a national park you’ve always wanted to see for yourself? Take this opportunity to turn your elopement into a multi-day adventure and spend time before or after your wedding day exploring the park.
  3. Camping, or glamping – a national park wedding doesn’t have to mean staying in a tent at a  campsite (though that can be a lot of fun), national parks also have cabin rentals, or  there are often the best AirBnb options just outside the park.
Bride and groom read their vows in an aspen grove.

Elopement Vacation Ideas

  1. Go somewhere new – your elopement is the perfect opportunity to explore a new part of the world, and you can rent an epic cabin, treehouse, or beach-side bungalow to home-base from!
  2. Stay as long as you want –  your elopement might only be one day (though, it can be a multi-day adventure), but that doesn’t mean you have to leave afterward. Stick around at your destination to turn your celebration into an extended honeymoon vacation!
  3. Enjoy the journey – the act of reaching your elopement destination can be a journey of its own. If you’re eloping far away and want to make stops between here and there, turn it into a road trip, take a cruise, or even hop on a train.

Bride and groom toast their drinks while sitting at a decorated table outside, with mountains in the background.
Bride and groom embrace and share a kiss while swimming.

Seasonal Elopement Ideas & Inspiration

Winter Elopement Ideas & Location Inspiration

  1. Elope in the desert – one of the best places to elope in the winter is somewhere with a bit of desert. Maybe it’s an area uncomfortably hot in the summer, but perfect during the colder months – or, it’s at least much more accessible than the snow-covered mountain ranges.
  2. Ski or snowshoe to your ceremony spot – a lot of the most epic mountain viewpoints and alpine lakes are still accessible in the winter, just not by foot or passenger vehicle. If you don’t mind the cold and want a winter wonderland vibe, you’re sure to have the place to yourself if you make the trek!  We have infinite ideas and recommendations for must-ski-or-board spots all over the globe.
  3. You don’t have to go to Alaska to take a dog sled ride – though, that would be amazing! Montana, or even Wyoming are great destinations for seasonal dog sled rides, but you can also go by horse-drawn sleigh, or skip the animals & take a snowmobile out into the snow-covered landscape.

Bride and groom snowshoeing, with snow-covered mountains behind them.
Bride snowboarding with her bouquet tucked into her backpack.
Bride and groom skiing, with forest behind them.

Spring Elopement Ideas & Location Inspiration

  1. Look for water – rivers, waterfalls, and other bodies of water are at their highest flow because of the winter. This is the best time of year to elope in front of a dramatic waterfall, & Oregon is the perfect place for that!
  2. Wildflower blooms throughout the southwest –  this region becomes colorful in the spring  as the wildflowers bloom in landscapes more commonly known for being dry & dusty. Our favorite places to witness this phenomenon are in southern California and Utah.
  3. Bright green new growth – after a long winter, the Pacific Northwest becomes a bright spring green that enlivens everyone after long months of overcast skies. It might not be dry yet, but hiking out into the old growth forests of the Olympic Peninsula in the spring time are so refreshing & full of life!
Bride and groom stand on a log in front of a waterfall.

Summer Elopement Ideas & Location Inspiration

  1. If you can, take a hike – alpine meadows and mountain hikes throughout Washington are bursting with wildflowers in the summer! The highest elevations are without snow for sometimes only a few weeks in the Rocky Mountains.
  2. Beaches are easily accessible elopement destinations – and summer is the best time to explore the rocky beaches of the Pacific Northwest. Beaches are also amazing places to elope with guests because there is room to spread out and have a ceremony without worrying about going “off trail.”
  3. Go star gazing – summer is the best time to stay out after sunset because in many places it doesn’t get too cold. Take advantage of this and elope somewhere with dark skies so you can lay out long after the sun has gone down and try to catch a shooting  star!
Bride on a paddleboat.
Bride and groom walking on a beach together and laughing.

Fall Elopement Ideas & Location Inspiration

  1. Come to Colorado – the golden leaves of the aspen groves make autumn one of our favorite times of year to elope in this gorgeous state!
  2. This is your last chance to reach higher elevation – the high mountain passes begin closing in the fall because of snow storms. If you want to access some of the most epic drive-up elopement locations with the first dusting of snow visible on mountain peaks, this is your moment.
  3. Mushroom hunters & lovers of lush forests, this is for you – fall in the Pacific Northwest means amanitas and other unique fungus are popping up everywhere in this wet climate. Explore the old growth & enjoy witnessing some of the wildest plantlife!
Bride and groom hiking through an aspen grove.

You can do anything you could possibly want on your elopement day! The possibilities are endless.

Have an idea for an adventure that might last more than a few hours? That’s perfect, too! Your elopement day doesn’t have to—and shouldn’t have to—fit inside a 3-hour time crunch. Your elopement can last 6 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours, two days—whatever you want. Not sure how long to hire your elopement photographer for? Check out this post for a little extra info!

No matter what you decide, remember that your elopement day—your authentic, uniquely you day—is entirely about what makes you both come alive and feel connected. Choose a day that’s entirely about you, your love, and your new adventure together.

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Maddie Mae

Elopement Photographer

& Planning Consultant

Three photographers

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Adventure Instead

Your Elopement Photographers & Planning Consultants. We are Maddie Mae, Amber, and Tori. We're your photographers, your elopement consultants, your cheerleaders, and your go-to adventure buddy on the day you say your vows.

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