Where to Elope
You may be wondering where to elope! When you choose to elope, either just the 2 of you, with your dog, or with an intimate gathering of your Best Peeps: your location options tend to open up. One of my favorite things is to connect couples like you with a location that feels right for them. Start with these 4 themes of elopements – Deserts, Mountains, Road Trips and Tropical elopements. Each of these guides goes over the permit rules and requirements for each park, state or local hidden gem. I’ve visited all these areas and taken all the photos. Check out my helpful guides and maps below for inspiration and information on where, when and how to elope – anywhere!
How to decide where to elope?
This is a BIG question and one of my favorites to answer. With so many incredible places, how can you choose? As everyone’s starting location, budget, must-haves and must-not-haves are different, I’ll try to provide a top down view of this decision. Ask yourselves what you want most: a sentimental elopement in a place you already know and love? Or a new adventure somewhere you’ve always wanted to go? Are you willing to hike, take a long drive or offroad to get to your spot, or would you prefer to roll up by car and be there? What time of year works for your calendar? Schedule a free meeting with me to get a 1 on 2 consultation of location ideas.
What season can you elope?
Sometimes the elopement planning can rely as much on *when* you want to elope as where. If your vacation time is best taken in the northern hemisphere’s winter months, November to April, you should consider a desert elopement. Got summers off? You’ll get wildflowers, lakes and mountains if you plan to elope in July, August or September. Springtime can be gorgeous in places like Channel Islands, the Grand Canyon, the Redwoods and Hawaii. In the fall, mountain locations come alive with golden foliage and mild temperatures – pick Crested Butte, the Grand Tetons, or Ouray. Unlike a wedding, you don’t need to plan very far in advance when you’re eloping. 3 to 6 months time is plenty! The less time you spend planning, the more relaxed you will be.
What is on your bucket list?
When you throw out the whole wedding, the ballroom and 3 tier cake and attendants, not only do you have more room to play, but you can actually dust off your bucket list and START DREAMING. You’re no longer planning an EVENT, you are planning a TRIP! So compare your individual bucket lists and look for the overlap. Have you always wanted to go on African safari? I can’t think of a more romantic and unique elopement location! Have you never been to Hawaii, and you’re ready to take the plunge together? You can absolutely do this, for HALF of your “wedding budget.” Want to land on glaciers and explore ice caves in Alaska? What plan makes you the most excited? Start there!
Do we have to hike to have an outdoor elopement?
Do you have to hike to have an incredible outdoor elopement? Hell no. You can, but you do not have to. Another key to figuring out your elopement location is ease of access. The most beautiful places often require a long drive from an airport, a hike, a 4×4 jeep road or an early start if you want to avoid the crowds. This concept is outlined in my diagram below – you can only pick two.
- You can have Beautiful Scenery and Not too crowded, but it will not be easy to access.
- You can have Beautiful Scenery and Easy to access, but it will be busy with other people.
- Easy to access and not too busy is possible, but it won’t be knock your socks off stunning.
Where can I legally elope? Can I elope in another state or country?
In most cases, eloping in another US state when you are a US citizen is as easy as pie. You may have heard that Colorado is a Self Solemnizing state, meaning you don’t need an officiant, minister or clergy of any kind to get married. However, because I am ordained, you can benefit from my experience to fulfill the officiant’s signature in any state. In some states, an additional witness is required, but that is easily found on the course of your adventure elopement. To legally marry, you will need a marriage license from the state you wish to marry in. If you have chosen a national park, you must also acquire a Special Use Permit ( or “S.U.P.”) from the park’s management.
To elope in a foreign country, the options are endless and the requirements vary widely. Each country has its own rules. A popular choice is to have a symbolic ceremony overseas, and complete the paperwork in the USA when you return.
What are the most unique elopement locations?
I have witnessed over 200 wild and weird marriages and no two are the same, even if they are in the same park! However, If you’re looking for something that hasn’t been done before, look no further! These are my top five most unique elopement locations in the USA.
#1 Crowley Lake Stone Columns, California
This little known geological feature is absolutely bananas cool. On the shore of a sparkling clear lake that reminds me of Tahoe, natural stone columns reach towards a stone overhang. The Sierra mountains tower over the landscape to the west. Best of all, it’s usually absolutely deserted. It does require a high clearance 4WD vehicle to access, or a 1.5 mile hike.
#2 Helicopter Elopement in Alaska
Yes, you can charter a helicopter to land you on a glacier in Alaska for your elopement. Honestly, there’s no reason you shouldn’t do this, so what are you waiting for?
#3 Lower Blue Lake, Colorado
Lower Blue lake is one of 3 sparkling blue lakes in Ridgeway, Colorado in the southwest corner of the state. A steep 3 mile hike is required to access it, but the views are worth the huffing and puffing. The shady forest gives way to a cauldron with unbelievable color.
#4 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The chance to see lava and hear the volcano roar isn’t found anywhere else in the USA. The big Island of Hawaii is home to this fabulous National Park, which offers more than just volcanos! Tour the sea cliffs and experience the rainforest like nowhere else. And oh my gosh – the stars!
#5 Channel Islands National Park – Underwater Elopement
Visit this string of Islands off the coast of Southern California and you’ll be transported away from all the crowds and city life. For an even better adventure, get married underwater while scuba diving in the kelp forests offshore.
National Park Elopement Guide Directory
I’ve been to 31 of the USA’s top National Parks, and I’ve got the scoop on all the best places to elope within them! Each of these guides contains my color photos all of the ceremony sites, information on where to stay, what season to elope there, permit requirements and sample timelines. Here are my top 25 National Park Elopement Guides – alphabetical.
International Destination Elopement Locations
If you want to get married on your honeymoon, planning couldn’t be easier! Select an international elopement location that makes you excited and will check something off your bucket list. These destinations are by no means comprehensive. These are the locations I’ve already been to – but Alaska, Japan, Scotland, Greece and Kenya are at the top of my bucket list. What’s on yours?
Top six unique destination elopement places:
- Jeeping Safari in South Africa
- New Zealand’s fjords and waterfalls
- The Cenotes in Riviera Maya, Mexico
- A misty moody castle in Scotland
- A sunset rooftop elopement on an island in Greece
- Spring elopement in the cherry blossoms of Japan
Elopement Guides By State
Still don’t know where to elope?
If you don’t know where to elope, please reach out! I love connecting people with an ideal place. So, tell me about your wishes and hesitations, preferences and everything in between. I have a huge directory of custom built maps for every western state, National Park and local gem I’ve ever been to. Because I truly want to share these amazing places with more people! So, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
About these Guides
Each one of my elopement guides has buckets of information and color photos you need to begin planning your elopement. I’ve been to each one and I’ve researched all the permit rules, designated ceremony sites, and process for eloping there. Use these as a starting point to plan your elopement, and get in touch with me to go deeper.
A note about hiking elopements.
Eloping is for EVERYONE.
You don’t have to be an outdoorsy person, or an extreme backpacker to have an incredible elopement day in the great outdoors. Most of my adventure elopement photography takes place on elopements with hikes less than 4 miles in length, many even with a mile or less. I’ve also got some incredible locations for those with special accessibility needs such as wheelchairs.
You don’t have to hike to have an incredible elopement experience.
I love National Parks, so I Leave No Trace.
It’s so important to leave the earth better than we found it. I’m prepared and committed to being a steward of the outdoors. Responsibly bringing people into the magical places I’ve found is my favorite thing. I’ve created dozens of detailed maps to connect you with your perfect adventure. Steve Irwin is a personal hero of mine, and I live my life to make him proud.