Elopements are incredible for so many reasons – but one of the biggest reasons that couples choose to elope is the freedom and flexibility that an intimate day gives you. And that freedom includes the possibility of hopping on a flight and exploring somewhere across the country, or even across the globe to celebrate the day you get married. But when it comes to how to plan a destination elopement, there are a few more logistics and things to think about when you’re tying the knot far from home!
This guide is all about planning a destination elopement, with tips, elopement location recommendations, and everything you need to know!
Reasons to Plan a Destination Elopement
First things first, why should you plan a destination elopement? Here are a few reasons why it’s a great way to tie the knot!
An Amazing Elopement Location
Planning a destination elopement means that you get to choose an epic location – whether it’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, or a place you already love, there’s no limit to where you can tie the knot. While there are plenty of incredible places here in the US, from the mountains of Washington to the deserts of Utah, you can also think international – maybe the white sand beaches of Greece, or the tropical jungles of Costa Rica?
Combine Your Wedding and Honeymoon
A destination elopement allows you to fully immerse yourself in the experience – you can have your elopement and honeymoon all in one place, and experience your location to the fullest!
Because You Can!
Having a wedding day that’s just the two of you, or even one that includes a few guests, makes logistics so much easier – and the downsized guest list means that you can plan a destination elopement, without worrying about how you’ll get 200 people there or where they’ll stay. Eloping allows your wedding day to be an adventure, and it gives you so much freedom, so one of the best reasons to plan a destination elopement is simply because you can!
Choosing a Destination Elopement Location
One of the most exciting things about planning a destination elopement is choosing where you’ll go! Here are a few tips for choosing a destination elopement location.
Eloping allows you to prioritize your budget and spend money on the things that matter to you – and that might mean a destination elopement! But, budget can also be a factor in deciding where you go. This can also depend on the experience you want to have – are you dreaming of a relaxing resort, or a more rugged, adventurous experience? Talk with your partner about potential destination elopement locations, and think about travel costs and the costs of tying the knot there.
Typically, European countries are the most expensive for destination elopements, while it’s easier to travel on a budget in many places in South America and Southeast Asia.
When looking for the perfect destination elopement location, I recommend working backwards – think about what kind of scenery you’re drawn to and what kind of landscapes you want to be surrounded by on your elopement day, and then think of places that match that vision! Do you love the mountains, or are you drawn to the beach? Close your eyes and picture your perfect wedding day – then look for countries or places that have what you’re dreaming of.
Here are some ideas for destination elopement locations!
Destination Elopement Locations with Mountains:
- The Dolomites in Italy
- The Swiss Alps
- Banff National Park in Canada
- New Zealand
Destination Elopement Locations with Beaches:
- Costa Rica
Destination Elopement Locations with Deserts:
Destination Elopement Locations with Rainforests:
- Costa Rica
Tips for Planning a Destination Elopement
When you plan your destination elopement, here are some tips to keep in mind!
Send Invitations Early
If you do decide to invite friends or family members to your destination elopement, be sure to let them know about your plans pretty early. With a destination elopement, finding flights and lodging will be important for your guests, and it’s typically easier to do this early on. There will be more preparation on their part, so keep them in the loop! I recommend giving out invitations (whether they’re the formal paper kinds or just a verbal invite) at least 8 months before your wedding date.
Look Up Marriage Laws
One of the challenges of planning a destination elopement is that each place has different marriage laws! These vary by country, and in the US, even by state. So, to get legally married during your elopement, make sure to look up marriage laws ahead of time and give yourself plenty of time to get the proper paperwork together.
Another alternative, and one that many couples who plan a destination elopement opt for, is to do the legal stuff at home. If you sign the papers and get legally married before your elopement, then on the big day, you can just enjoy it without worrying about it! If you feel hesitant about this or worried that your ceremony won’t feel as special, you aren’t alone. But the truth is that papers aren’t what make your marriage real, and getting legally married isn’t what will make your elopement special. When you’re there, in your dream destination, saying your vows and marrying your best friend, you’ll realize that this is the part that really begins your marriage.
Have Your Photographer There for Multiple Days
The day you exchange vows and tie the knot is huge – and definitely a big deal! But when you plan a destination elopement, there’s so much more to the experience. Whether it’s lounging poolside with your family the day before the ceremony, going for an adventure together the day after, or anything else you’ve got planned, these memories are all part of your elopement experience. Having photos from some of these days will really help tell the story of your wedding – so have your destination elopement photographer document more of your stay!
Destination Elopement Packages
If you’re ready to plan a destination elopement, the first thing you should do is book your photographer! My job as a destination elopement photographer is to document your day, but it’s also to help you plan and create the wedding day of your dreams – so from location recommendations, to help navigating marriage laws, to tips for traveling with a wedding dress, and more, I’ll be there to make sure your day is absolutely perfect for you.
Contact me to learn more about destination elopement packages, and to start dreaming up your elopement!