How to decide where to elope
One of the best things about eloping is that you can literally do whatever you want! There are absolutely no rules when it comes to how you'll choose to celebrate, and there’s no idea that’s too crazy. You can elope right in your backyard, or halfway across the world. You can elope in your favorite place, or explore somewhere new. With so many options for places to elope, narrowing it down can be a little overwhelming! To help you out, here are my top tips to help you decide the best place for your elopement.
Narrow down your favorite landscapes
In the early stages of planning your elopement and trying to determine places to elope, I recommend working backward. Start by thinking about what kind of scenery you’d like to experience and be surrounded by on your elopement day. Do you see yourself eloping in the mountains? Saying your vows by the ocean? Tying the knot in the forest?
Another thing to consider when deciding what kind of landscape you’d like to elope in is what you actually want to do on your elopement day. If you love skiing and want to hit the slopes on the big day, eloping in the desert wouldn’t be the best option. But, if you have your heart set on rock climbing, the desert would be perfect! Think about what you want to do on your elopement day, and what kind of landscape would be the best to make that happen.
After you’ve figured out what you want to see and what you want to do when you elope, start brainstorming locations that match your vision! Hop on Google and see where the most picturesque mountains are, or where you can go white water rafting. The first thing to focus on is deciding on what type of environment or scenery you see yourself getting married in and going from there!
Is it Somewhere New, or Somewhere Meaningful?
If you have a favorite trail or a national park that you and your partner love to visit, it can be really meaningful to elope there. A spot that holds a special significance to you can be a great place to elope, but there is also something incredibly exciting about finding a place that you’ve never visited before. Eloping somewhere new gives you the opportunity to explore and make new memories on your elopement day. And, if you take a few days or even weeks off of work, you can turn your elopement into a trip and spend some time getting to know the area.
Consider the Weather
Weather will have a big influence on choosing your elopement location, because many places that are perfect for hiking in the summer will be snow-covered and hard to access in the winter. If you already have an elopement date in mind, and you want to tie the knot on a specific day, you may need to plan your location around that date and research the weather conditions.
But, if you aren’t set on a particular date, I recommend that you pick an elopement location first, and find a day that works well for that spot! While the best time to visit a spot tends to correspond with the location’s busy season, a good way to avoid crowds on your elopement day is to elope during the off-season. For the best weather, plan your elopement for right before or right after the location’s peak season. That way, you’re still likely to get favorable weather conditions, but the crowds will be much thinner. For example, Yosemite is incredibly busy in the summer, but September and October are less crowded, but still warm enough to enjoy the scenery!
Avoiding Crowds during your elopement
Most people prefer more privacy when they visit the great outdoors, and that’s especially true on your elopement day. While the popular, Instagrammable spots may be tempting, remember that they often are very crowded. When you pick an elopement location, you may want to do some research to find a spot that’s less traveled, but just as gorgeous as the popular places. You can always say your vows in a secluded location, then head to the more popular areas for photos! Deciding where to have an elopement doesn't have to be difficult. A good elopement photographer will be able to recommend some great spots that are lesser-known. If you're thinking of an elopement location that's in a national park, be sure to read this blog I wrote on how to plan your elopement in a national park.
Consider your accessibility needs
When you pick an elopement location, it’s important to consider how easy or difficult it is to get to. Are you okay with hiking for the best views? Or would you rather not sweat so much on the big day?
If you have guests with you, you will also need to consider their needs when it comes to accessibility. Will your guests need to fly to your elopement location? Do you have older relatives who may not be able to handle an all-day hike? All of these things are important to consider as you brainstorm your elopement location.
Are you eloping with pets?
If you have a furry friend who you just can’t imagine the day without, take that into consideration when you pick an elopement location. Flying with your fur baby can be a hassle, so you might choose to elope a little closer to home, or make a road trip out of it! Most national parks don’t allow pets on trails, and dogs are limited to parking lots and overlooks.
If you want to bring Fido along for your elopement day, national forests are usually a great option. They are usually right outside of national parks and offer similar scenery with way fewer restrictions. Make sure to do your research and ensure that your elopement location is dog friendly!
Useful Resources I've put together for couples on elopements & locations
The best locations to elope in Oregon
The best locations to elope in Washington
How to elope in Olympic National Park [A Complete Guide]
Elopement Checklist: How to get epic photos from your day
Need Help Picking an Elopement Location?
As a photographer who specializes in elopements, I help couples out with every part of the planning process - and that includes finding the perfect location to elope! Whether you’re looking for an easily accessible spot or something more off the beaten path, I’m ready with all of my favorite spots. If you’re ready to start planning your elopement and need help finding the perfect location, reach out! I’m ready when you are!
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