Top three tips to finding an elopement location
When choosing an elopement location there are many factors that you need to consider. The three factors that top my list when researching a place to hold your elopement are:
Logistics to finding an Elopement Location
The season you decide to elope in plays a huge part in choosing an elopement location. During the summer some National Parks are extremely hot or as recently seen can have a monsoon season which causes flooding in areas and make for dangerous conditions. Winter comes with its own logistical concerns. You may find some National Parks or views may be inaccessible due to closed roads as can be seen in Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Choosing a location for your elopement ties directly to the time of year you plan on getting married and the season you are in. Summers are good for Northern National Parks and Winters for Coastal more temperate climates.
Permit planning is a big part of picking your location. Rocky Mountain National Park has a limit as to how many permits they approve each year vs Bridger-Teton National Forest, at this time of writing, does not require a permit for personal use such as elopements.
In higher altitudes, the winter season can be prolonged with chances of snow being seen from September into May even June. This means a smaller window available for a chosen Mountain location.
Higher altitudes can also make hiking more difficult. Altitude plays a huge part in how your body handles physical exertion and it can take weeks for your body to adjust to it. Luckily there are many locations that are super accessible by driving and/or a short hike with beautiful views.
Road Conditions change with the seasons. Red Pass in Colorado is a dangerous road at best, much more so in the winter. It would be best to hire someone experienced in winter driving if you are inexperienced with winter mountain driving. Even with an experienced driver road closures are a real possibility, so a backup location is a must.
Lake and mountain view accessible by driving.
Where to Elope
When looking for an elopement location you should consider if a particular location holds an emotional connection to you such as a place you visited often as a couple or an intimate backyard wedding at your new home. Popular locations are National Parks, State Parks, Beaches, and International locations. Though with that popularity also comes crowds. If you are anything like me, crowds are just not your thing. A lot of National Parks have been seeing record numbers of visitors post-pandemic. Many people are getting out more. Look at eloping during weekdays or off-season to avoid crowds. I recommend also looking at National Forests as an option. Many have easier permitting processes and/or lower visitor rates.
Filtering out other locations can be done by considering what features you are looking for. It is helpful to make a list of your must-haves and then match those to locations you have considered. Waterfalls, mountains, and lakes may be at the top of one couple’s must-haves, and tropical beaches and scuba diving another couple’s. The amount of privacy you can expect is also on many couples’ lists.
If you enjoy the outdoors but not the hiking, or if some family will join, accessibility to a location is important in the planning process. There are many beautiful locations that are accessible by driving, some can be quite popular, while other lesser-known locations can give you the privacy you desire.
When to Elope
Weekdays and Off-Season
Eloping during the week has the benefit of not only cheaper pricing than weekends, but more availability of lodging reduced crowds and in general a better experience. Flights and lodging are much more expensive on weekends than during the week and can save couples money in their budget. Weekends are also a popular time for people to visit National Parks, creating long lines to popular locations. Off-season shares many of the same benefits of eloping during the week but on a larger scale. Eloping in Late August can see a ton of savings versus eloping in. Early August.
Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter
As noted above the season you are eloping in is a consideration when considering the weather, but it is also a consideration when thinking about when you want to elope. If you want the colors of fall, wildflowers of the summer, Cherry blossom in the spring, or Snow in the winter, then this needs to be decided before a location is picked. When you have decided this you can then consider which location works best logistically with that location.
As an elopement photographer, I am happy to help my couples navigate through all the different logistics to planning their elopement, the biggest part is that of location. If you would like any ideas about some of my favorite locations check out the blog post THE 10 BEST PLACES TO ELOPE IN THE US