How to Choose the Perfect Elopement Location

Choosing where you want to get married is one of the biggest decisions you will make when it comes to planning your wedding. There are a lot of different factors that come into play when making the decision for “where.” In this post I’ll go through some questions to help guide you along the way to finding the perfect place. After you go through these questions and have that picture in your mind I’ve taken some time to describe some common environments that couples often elope in and how accessible they are, what other activities there are to do, the best time of year to go there, and some location suggestions. So I hope that this post helps to get you inspired and planning your best day ever!


Questions to help you picture your perfect spot


I suggest sitting down with your partner and giving yourself some time to just dream about your day. What is it that you see? Are you on a trail with beautiful mountain views? Are you at a beach with your family around you? Are you at a chapel with all your friends and family? Is it just the two of you or are there others there?


These questions are a good starting point so that you can have a picture in your mind to always come back to. Then depending on what you are picturing there are some more logistical things that will help you to narrow it down and find the perfect location.


Environment

When you were picturing your perfect day did you have a vision of the scenery that would be surrounding you? Maybe a mountaintop, waterfall, a beautiful garden, a cozy cabin, the ocean, or a beach?


Weather & Time of Year

What type of weather are you comfortable in? The weather on your day can of course vary, but for example if you really don’t like cooler weather and are just miserable if it’s below 70 F degrees then it’s probably not the best idea to elope in Iceland where the average temp in summer is only 54 F degrees.


Think of the weather in the area you are thinking of and how it changes depending on the time of year. A lot of high alpine or glacial mountains are really only accessible from June/July-October. The desert is (no surprise) really friggin’ hot in the summer but pretty comfortable in the winter months. If you’re thinking of a beach or tropical location don’t forget to keep in mind hurricane season.


Accessibility

Do you or any of your guests have any mobility issues to take into consideration? Are you ok with hiking or do you prefer a location that you can just drive up to? Are you comfortable driving a 4x4 vehicle to get to an awesome backcountry location? Does anyone need to be able to sit during the ceremony? Do you need a wheelchair accessible location?


Activities & Plans

What else do you want to do on your wedding day or the days surrounding it? Are you super into mountain biking? Skiing? Kayaking? Big foodies? Love to brewery hop?


A lot of activities I listed are outdoor based, but if you’re more into checking out art galleries, restaurants, etc. thinking of a place that is closer to a city or a cool town might be a better fit for you.


So now that you have gone through all these questions you may be like, ok now what? How am I supposed to know where there is a magical mountain view that is wheelchair accessible with moderate weather?


This is a good time to reach out to a photographer or a planner. Once you have your general ideas of what you are looking for they will be able to help you lock in your location. Now every photographer/planner works a bit differently so I’ll share with you my process.


The only thing my couples need to know to officially book with me is the state they want to get married in and a date range for when they would like their elopement. That’s it. Once they book I send over a questionnaire that asks a lot of similar questions to the ones above. That allows me to do the research to find the perfect location(s) to make their dream day possible. Then I send over a location guide of different awesome spots that they can check out. Once they decide on their dream spot we will lock in the date and start planning all the other fun logistics :) If a couple doesn’t even know where to start with deciding on a state and wants some guidance I’m always happy to help. We can still chat and go over what they’re picturing and I can tell them of some awesome places that I know of that fit their vision.


So this isn’t a magazine quiz where you can circle mostly A’s and I’ll be able to tell you the perfect location for you. It’s a bit more personal of a decision. But I would love to get you started thinking about it a bit more so I’m going to describe some different environment options and I’ll walk you through the accessibility, activities & plans you can typically do in these types of areas, the weather & how the time of year can factor in, and also some awesome locations to consider for your elopement.


 

GETTING MARRIED IN THE MOUNTAINS


Accessibility: If you’re dreaming of epic mountain views you can find awesome backcountry views as well as beautiful easily accessible overlooks. Typically the more easily accessible the more traffic there will be. I always suggest opting for a weekday when you can to help avoid crowds. If you’re ok with a hike you will be able to find some more secluded locations.


There are also lots of venues and airbnbs that have gorgeous mountain views. Public land and National Parks are awesome places to elope, but they are always open to the public. So if you’re not down to hike to a more secluded spot but still want privacy consider looking into a small venue or airbnb.


So for mountain views accessibility can be as easy as you want. Just keeping in mind the more accessible the more likely it is to have more people.


Activities & Plans:

  • Stargazing

  • Hiking

  • Biking

  • Climbing

  • Relax around a campfire

Weather & Time of Year: This will vary by region but typically mountain access is much more limited in winter months. A lot of mountain roads do close seasonally, reducing accessibility. Even in winter months there may be areas that are still accessible but they will be much more limited and you will have to keep in mind your comfort. There will likely be snow and ice which will limit the amount of time you can spend comfortably outdoors. If your dream was to go snowshoeing to an awesome spot or skiing on your wedding day then snuggle up around a fire then eloping in the mountains during winter would be great for you. But if your dream is to spend the majority of the day outside exploring you would be better suited to get married in the summer months (most areas are accessible June-October give or take a month)


Some awesome places to consider:


North Cascades in WA


Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina


 

GETTING MARRIED AT A WATERFALL



Accessibility: Not all waterfalls require a hike to get to them. Many waterfalls do have overlooks that are easily accessible, so if you did have someone coming with you with mobility issues it would be possible to have them be there comfortably. From my own experience though, even with easily accessible waterfalls you are not usually able to get to the base of the falls without hiking down a trail or going down some stairs. I have seen couples have the ceremony and family photos at the overlook then head down just the two of them to the base of the falls for their own portraits. Usually this style of easy access waterfalls are very popular, so expect there to be other people around.


Waterfalls that involve a bit more of a hike can offer a gorgeous backdrop with a more secluded setting. I always think there’s something therapeutic about relaxing by a waterfall and just listening to the running water.


**other things to consider** depending how close you are getting the falls usually there is some spray, so you have to be ok with getting a little bit wet. Also the rocks will be wet and slippery, so it’s something to consider to make sure everyone in attendance will be able to navigate the terrain safely.


Activities & Plans:

  • Hiking

  • Biking

  • Picnic

  • Fishing

  • Kayaking or floating the river (depending on the river near the waterfall ;) )

Weather & Time of Year: It depends on the area, waterfalls are typically at lower elevations so they will be more easily accessible during the winter months in comparison to the mountains. Usually accessible year round. Because you can get wet it is usually more pleasant to plan for warmer summer or fall months.


Some awesome places to consider:


Oregon


Western North Carolina


 

GETTING MARRIED ON THE WATER



Accessibility: You may have noticed a theme here where it is really as accessible as you want to make it. Easier access areas that are capable of having more guests or wheelchair accessible are typically more popular and less secluded. One nice thing about choosing to get married on the water is that usually there is plenty of space to spread out to get a bit more privacy. There’s also so many awesome waterfront properties that you can rent and have your own private beach. Sand is not always the most comfortable thing to walk on for long periods and isn’t really wheelchair accessible. So if you have accessibility concerns, finding a waterfront location with a nice boardwalk or deck would be best.


Activities & Plans:

  • Kayaking

  • Paddle Boarding

  • Boating

  • Relaxing on the beach

  • Snorkeling

  • Fishing

Weather & Time of Year: Typically best in summer months or early fall. Depending on the location, be aware of when it is hurricane or rainy season.


Some awesome places to consider:

Oregon Coast


Lake Lure, NC


 

GETTING MARRIED IN THE DESERT




Accessibility: There are all sorts of awesome places you can get to with minimal to no hiking involved. If you have an off road capable vehicle you can get to some really awesome backcountry areas. The biggest thing is making sure to plan accordingly with your guests (if you are having any) to make sure everyone is able to get to the location safely. Depending on the time of day and the location you may have little to no shade. So plan accordingly and make sure your guests are aware.


Activities & Plans:

  • Stargazing

  • Hiking

  • Biking

  • Climbing

  • Relax around a campfire

  • UTV’s & ATV’s

  • Dirt Biking

Weather & Time of Year: Typically best in late fall and winter months. It is still accessible in the summer but will be much hotter. In the winter months it is a much more comfortable temperature to be outside.


Some awesome places to consider:


Moab, Utah


Sedona, Arizona


 

GETTING MARRIED IN THE FOREST



Accessibility: If you are planning to get married in a forest setting there will need to be some amount of hiking involved. There are lots of really gorgeous places you can get to with just a short walk, but most (not all, there are still a few) are not paved so they’re not wheelchair accessible. So keeping in mind that your guests should be able to comfortably navigate over roots and rocks to get to the location. If you’re in the forest there are likely not many durable surfaces that would be safe to set up chairs (keeping in mind to leave no trace). You may be able to go to a more developed trail or picnic area that has benches or seating for you or guests if that is something you need.


Activities & Plans:

  • Hiking

  • Biking

  • Camping

  • Relaxing in a hammock (not always allowed in national forests)

  • Picnic

Weather & Time of Year: You can usually find a nice forest setting year round. Depending on the area will obviously change a few factors. For example when you visit western North Carolina in winter you can still access many trails in the forest but most of the leaves are gone so the only greenery you see is from the rhododendrons so everything looks a bit more brown and dreary in comparison to how ridiculously green it is in the spring and summer months.


Some awesome places to consider:


Olympic National Park in Washington


Redwoods in California


 

I hope that this guide has helped you to start to plan your elopement and think of the best location that fits your dreams. As always if you have any questions I’m always happy to help :)


Cheers!

-Amy





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