Your Guide on Figuring Out Where to Elope

February 27, 2020

Bride & groom enjoying picnic on elopement day. Couple sitting on cliff side at Point Reyes in California. Bride wearing blue skirt wedding dress. Where to elope for an epic outdoor wedding.

How Do You Pick Where to Elope?

First things first

If you’ve already decided on (or are considering) eloping, that’s totally awesome. It’s going to be absolutely EPIC! No matter where or how you go about selecting the location you elope in.

Deciding to go against the grain and choose such an intentional way to marry the love of your life, is daring & just so completely awesome of you. So no matter what or where that ends up being, it’s basically guaranteed to be awesome 😉

Picking a location might feel a bit stressful if you’re worried about everything being perfect. The beauty of eloping is you get to break free from the pressures and just be yourself.

If you hold on to knowing that in the end you get to marry your best friend, be together somewhere out in nature, and be totally connected & present with each other… that’s perfect enough if you ask me.

There are a few “technical” things to consider when it comes to deciding where to elope. So we’ll cover those first. After that, I’ve outlined a super easy 3-step process that will help you & your partner narrow down the options so that you can finally select your perfect elopement location!

Bride & groom portraits. Southwest boho theme wedding with hats.

If the world were your oyster…

Figuring out where to elope can be a daunting (although super exciting) task. Especially if you’re planning to go outside of your home state, or country… yikes, that’s a lot of options! But also, how awesome is that, if your options are basically limitless!

I bet you’re struggling with, a huge question. How on Earth, can you pick just ONE spot in the beautiful world we get to live in?

What if you didn’t have to? The amazing thing about eloping is that you can do whatever you want. In case you haven’t figured this out by now, I love elopements, and that’s just one of the many reasons why 😉

The flexibility.

If you want to go on a several day road-trip for your elopement, do it! If seeing mountains, desert, & the beach is your dream, lucky for you, this planet is so diverse and there are many locations that host multiple different ecosystems in one location! Another option to see more variety, would be to do something epic like take a helicopter or jeep tour.

Lucky for you, I’ve got some tips that’ll get that logical part of you to relax a bit, as you gain more insight to some considerations you might not have thought about. Some helpful ideas to help you narrow your options down to something that truly fits you and your partner’s dream day. And finally, an easy 3 step process at the end to tie it all together!

So let’s start the brainstorming process together!

Couple having sand dune wedding in Monahans sandhill state park in Texas. Bright colored florals and unique wedding gown.

Where to elope: consider weather & seasons

When deciding where to elope, it’s important (and useful) to consider when, so that you can manage your expectations about weather & seasons. Maybe you’re open and flexible with your elopement date, and that’s great! You have more flexibility when it comes to choosing a location.

If you have a timeline or a specific date that’s important to you. Consider the seasons that different states & countries have at that time as well as your preference of temperature/setting.

If you’re dreaming of a mountainy, winter-wonderland backdrop for your elopement day, it’s probably not idea to decide on Grand Teton National Park in July.

Another thing to consider if you have a specific date in mind, remember that the seasons are reversed depending on which hemisphere you’re on.

So, if you live in the U.S. and you’re date is in our winter, but you hate the cold, you can always go closer to the equator for year round warmth, or see what options there are in the southern hemisphere!

Speaking of the equator, a tropical location may be one of your first thoughts if you like consistent warmth, but there are other things to be mindful of… You’re going to want to pay attention to their rainy vs. dry seasons. I’ve always heard you want to avoid rainy season, because, well, it’ll rain the whole time.

But that’s just not true.

Yes, it rains a lot more than the dry season, but that doesn’t mean it’s a torrential downpour the entire time. There are many advantages to visiting during rainy season– including more privacy and less cost, sounds like the perfect combo for an intimate elopement if you ask me!

Check out this blog post I ran across by travel blogger, Alexandra Saper, I’m now fully convinced that rainy season is the best season!!

Questions to consider regarding weather/seasons:

  • Do you have a date? Is it set or could you consider moving it?
  • What climate do you most enjoy?
  • What type of scenery/weather are you envisioning for your day? (winter-wonderland, fields of wildflowers, etc.)
  • Are you looking on the northern hemisphere or the southern?
  • Do you love snow and cold weather or do you prefer warmer & more tropical locations?

Couple embracing in field with mountain background at RMNP in Colorado

Where to elope: views & scenery preferences

What type of views just takes your breath away?

My first thought, gut reaction, to that questions is “the mountains!” It doesn’t matter where, whether they’re snow capped, filed with wild flowers, or rugged and rocky, I absolutely love mountains. Basically any type of elevation. I think being born & raised in Houston (the land of concrete & flat as a pancake, for those that haven’t been), has contributed to that factor!!

Another landscape that puts me in awe are waterfalls. They’re so peaceful and soothing! It might be a little difficult to hear each other, when saying your vows, depending on the size of the waterfall though, haha! But going swimming near one or standing beneath a smaller one sound like a dream.

The world is full of so many breathtaking locations. There are also a lot of locations that are very diverse in the types of terrain they hold within a few miles of each other. For instance, Alaska and Oregon (really anywhere in the PNW) have a wide variety of ecosystems.

Alaska, has some of the most dramatic seasons and lighting differences, which make for an interesting combination that creates some of the most beautiful landscapes. Denali National Park has been on my list for some years now. Check out this blog post for the 15 most beautiful spots in Alaska.

Another cool thing about Alaska is their set-up for helicopter tours! Talk about a bucket list item. Some of you may think this is crazy but I’d be willing to be a lot of you think this is an amazing adventure to consider for your elopement!!

Taking a helicopter tour is so fun, you get to fly over and see views for dayyyyssssss on your way to areas that are either difficult or impossible to reach by any other means. Glaciers, remote wildlife, dog sledding kennels, glacier lakes, waterfalls, and beautiful mountain-top fields of wildflowers!

Oregon is another amazing state. I think it’s not as famous of a state for whatever reason, but it’s absolutely stunning. Oregon forests are green like you’ve never seen. Waterfalls with mossy rocks and lush greenery all around make you feel like you’re in a tropical rainforest, but without the intense humidity! There’s also snow-capped mountains, rocky-coastal scenes, hot springs, grasslands, lakes & rivers, sand dunes, canyons, and even a dessert with a snow-capped mountain backdrop! Woah. Talk about diversity!

If you’re dream elopement day includes more than one type of scenery, don’t dismay! Chances are, with the world as your oyster, there’s somewhere that has both within a feasible amount of travel. I love researching and helping couples find their perfect dream location, even if it means a little extra digging!

If we look hard enough, I know we can find the perfect spot that has all the qualities you care about so that you don’t have to compromise on your wedding day. Contact me if you want some help with your elopement day location!!

Questions to consider regarding landscape

  • What landscapes have you found, either in real life or in pictures/videos that you had to just stare at for a while?
  • What type of scenery are you envisioning for your day? (waterfalls, beachy cliffs, mountains, etc.)
  • Do you remember visiting a place that took your breath away?
  • Are there any locations you’ve been dying to go, but haven’t yet (for whatever reason).

Bride & groom enjoying picnic on elopement day. Couple sitting on cliff side at Point Reyes in California. Bride wearing blue skirt wedding dress. Where to elope for an epic outdoor wedding.

Where to elope: why you should factor in seclusion

One of the top reasons people choose to elope is because they’re wanting a more us-experience. Having the freedom to express yourself (and your emotions) freely is super important and valuable on the day you say your vows!

It can be difficult to have the freedom to shed some tears, be open, honest, & intimate, to have a more us-centered elopement experience at some of the parks most iconic viewing spot (looking at you Taft Point).

To be clear, this doesn’t mean you can’t go to those places! I’d just recommend considering a spot off-the-beaten-trail for your intimate vows! Then we can always go to Taft Point for some EPIC portraits 😉

To some people, being around crowds doesn’t intimidate them, while others have a hard time or shy away from attention (that you undoubtedly get wearing a wedding dress/suit anywhere in public). So consider these things when thinking about both location and the time of year your plan on going!

Like I said before, some places are busier at various times of the year. Consider off-peak locations if seclusion is important to you (and if it’s not, that’s a-ok too).

There are ways to find less popular locations that are equally (sometimes even more) beautiful, and many photographers can certainly help you with that!

It’s important to be comfortable and feel safe on your elopement day. So whatever that looks like, find a way to make it happen!

Questions to consider with seclusion

  • Are you a more private/introverted person?
  • Does having public attention bother you (to what extent)?
  • Does going to “popular-X” location at peak season matter to you?

Colorado fall foliage elopement near river bed- Samantha Schaub, Texas elopement Photographer

The step-by-step process!

Alright! So you made it through all the considerations. Thanks for hanging in! Let’s keep going, because this is the fun part.

Now, I know I gave you a lot to think about, but the first two steps to this process are about freeing yourself to dream. This is important because if you don’t dream and write down everything that comes to mind, un-filtered, you might be limiting yourself and your elopement day experience!

Just because you don’t like cold, but you love snow-capped mountains, doesn’t mean you can’t write that down because they’re seemingly conflicting. Or you really love tropical spaces but y’all just can’t afford a trip to the other side of the world.

Remember when I said this world we get to live in is so diverse, and chances are there are locations that hold everything you’re dreaming of? I meant it! So don’t let logical thinking get in the way & limit you in the first two steps.

I’m so excited for you and I hope this is a fun process for y’all. I’d love to hear stories about how you found your dream location! Or what dreamy locations you have in your mind! Let me know in the comment section!!

Deciding Where To Elope Blog | Wedding at Big Bend National Park | Couple embracing on mountain top overlooking Big Bend National Park in Texas at sunset after hiking the Lost Mines Trail.

Step 1

Plan a date night. Put your phone in the other room, turn the TV off, and really connect with one another. Sit down with your boo-thang, opening a bottle of wine, snuggling up on the couch and just brainstorm.

Make a list. What were some of your most favorite trips, and most importantly, keep asking WHY– did you like the scenery, did you do something special, what were your favorite parts (and why)?

Then, think about the places you’ve always wanted to go but haven’t (for whatever reason). Can you knock some things off your bucket list? WHY is it important that you go there, what do you like about that place? Is it the scenery, the food, the culture, lay it all out.

If you get stuck, refer back to the questions listed under each section above. These may help stir up some memories!

It’s important to note during this step that you’re not trying to figure out how you’re going to make these ideas happen. Just brainstorm, give yourself permission to dream. Write down all the places you come up with, and jot down notes about what you liked about each location.

Wedding portraits in Monahans sandhill state park in Texas. Bright colored, pink, coral, and cream florals and unique wedding gown.

Step 2

Now that you have your list of favorite past & dream locations in front of you, go over them and see if there are any common threads.

Do you both really enjoy desert locations? Do mountains make your heart sing (I know this is true for me!)? Was there a certain activity you did that made that trip special? Have you always wanted to explore a certain National Park? Is trying something new important?

You can use these questions to help refine your list. Take a break if need be. This process is meant to be fun and from the heart. Don’t let your head take over and start thinking it to death!

Not yet anyway, save that for step 3.

If there are certain places or activities that speak to you, even if you’re not sure why or can’t put it into words… be sure and add it to your refined list. Chances are, there’s a reason your heart is pulling you in that direction. Listen!

Again, don’t think about logistics yet, this is still the dreaming stage!

Guide for Deciding Where to Elope | Alternative outdoor wedding ideas | Forest Wedding in Georgia. Couple sharing their first dance after eloping. Bride wearing blush lace dress and groom wearing grey shirt.

Step 3

Now you get to be logical & enter into the planning stage. I know all too well that dreaming without that logical part coming in and taking over can be difficult for some–with my husband the realist. Ha!

After you have a few, or maybe you’ve figured out the one dream scenario, take into consideration all the tips I shared in the first portion of this post: weather & seasons, your preferred date, and seclusion.

Let’s say you sat down and discovered you both love mountains and warmer climates, are needing to stay in the U.S., but really have your heart set on a New Year’s wedding date. That might seem like a difficult combination at first thought.

Mountains, warmth, and the middle of winter. Hmm…

This is where having someone on your side helping you plan, dream, and brainstorm can be highly useful. Someone that’s traveled a lot or has resources to help you do some digging to find these things out, maybe a worldy friend or family member comes to mind. You can also look into travel blogs or a travel agency.

Hiring an elopement photographer that offers help with this stage (and all stages) of finding your perfect elopement location is a time saving & economical choice! If you’re going to spend money on photography already, might as well get the most bang for your buck & make sure your photographer offers planning & location scouting as part of their services!!

Finding a photographer who will not only help you accomplish all the “must haves” on your location list, but also think of fun & unique ideas for your elopement day experience, AND help you make those dreams a reality… that’s a no brainer, right?

So, that scenario I laid out earlier, about wanting warmer climate with mountains in the U.S. during January, some might thing, “well that’s impossible”. Right? Definitely not! Did you know that Texas has gorgeous mountain ranges? Yes folks, Texas!

Big Bend National Park is absolutely perfect for elopements. There aren’t any permit fees for having an elopement and it’s about as secluded as they come. You could totally elope in Big Bend in January and stay pretty warm (I went in December and the weather was absolutely perfect, check this out)!

Deciding Where to Elope Blog | Couple saying vows on seaside cliffs at Point Reyes National Seashore in California

Step 3 cont– planning logistics food for thought

As you start planning & researching the way you like to, consider which items are important to you when it comes to travel. If you’re like me, finding a cute & unique place to stay is going to be top on your list of things to explore! I love finding unique Airbnbs or vintage trailers to stay in, or even a refurbished vintage Volkswagen Van!?! Yes, please!

Then air fare. If you’re really wanting to go to someplace foreign, but have a limited budget, don’t dismay! Doing your full “research due diligence” you need to consider the cost of not only getting to where you want to go, but staying and eating where you’re wanting to go.

For example: Round trip flights to Thailand (from Houston- IAH) cost about $700 while flights to Hawaii cost about $500. So you might be more inclined to go to Hawaii. However, lodging & food in Hawaii is MUCH more expensive than Thailand.

An ocean view room at a 5-star Hilton hotel in Hawaii will cost you about $330/night, or more… While an ocean view suite in a similar 5-star Hilton hotel in Thailand, will cost you $150/night. So, if you stay more than 2 nights, you’ve already saved money by going to Thailand. This doesn’t even factor in food costs, I’ll let you guess which place is the most economical 😉

Deciding Where to Elope Blog | Bride smiling at camera while groom kisses her temple while both are under her veil.


So, Where Would You Elope?

Where in the world would you elope?? My first answer is…. can anyone guess it? Colorado, obviously 😉 #iamwhoiam BUT, I’d also love to scratch off a bucket list place, like Greece, New Zealand, Iceland, or after all this talk about Thailand, it’s officially on my bucket list as a TOP contender.

How about you?? Let me know in the comments!!

xo -sam


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Deciding Where to Elope Blog- Pinterest Graphic: "Your guide to deciding where to elope" With couple embracing and looking out at the ocean side cliffs in California