You’ve chose to elope in the first place because you and your partner wanted to be true to your authentic selves and have a fun, stress-free day—so don’t pick a location that isn’t aligned with what you two know about yourselves and what you really enjoy doing together on an everyday basis. There are endless beautiful places in the world—so don’t feel any pressure to travel too far, hike too far, or do anything that isn’t you just to get to a certain backdrop. The most important thing is that you two enjoy your day—so make sure the spot you pick and what’s required to get there is aligned with that.
Can’t decide on a single spot for your elopement location? Then don’t! Going to more than one location is a really great way to get a ton of variety of scenery, activities, and experiences. If you two love touring around, sightseeing, and soaking in as much as possible—a multi-location elopement could be perfect for you! Also remember that you don’t have to fit your elopement experience into one single day—if there are several spots you want to visit and see together, don’t be afraid to spread your experience across more than one day.
While it’s important to consider all of the factors that will help you narrow down to the most ideal elopement location—it’s just as important to think about backup locations. When deciding on your first choice location, remember that sometimes conditions can be unpredictable (like road closures or bad weather)—especially if you want to elope outdoors. Having a flexible attitude toward where exactly you end up saying your vows can really help your wedding day be perfect, no matter what circumstances you run into. I recommend deciding on a few backup options in the early stages of the planning process so you’ll feel super prepared in case they are needed.
Many locations on public lands (like National Parks, State Parks, National Forest Land, BLM Land, etc) require permits in order to have a ceremony or have a photographer/videographer document it professionally. Before finalizing your location, make sure you contact the designated person or entity in charge of that location (like a ranger station or park staff in charge of special events, special use, or commercial use permits) and get first-hand information on what’s required for your specific event. Some locations don’t require a permit for smaller events, but it’s important to always check ahead of time. Ask about how much time would be needed to secure the permit, possible restrictions of the permits, how many guests that permit would allow for, whether or not the photographer would need to apply for a separate commercial use permit, and what the costs of the permits are. It’s best to get permit information in writing in case you are asked to show proof.
Leave No Trace is a set of ethics that everyone who recreationally uses the outdoors should strive to practice in order to do their part in protecting the environment. It is made up of 7 principles that guide decisions to leave the least amount of impact possible on outside spaces:
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of other Visitors
© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
To best follow Leave No Trace, you should do research beforehand so that you can make a plan to stick to trails and other durable surfaces, be ready to leave everything you find and pack out everything that you bring in, and be prepared in case you encounter any local wildlife.
Following the Leave No Trace ethics helps preserve outdoor spaces and our access to them by making sure that we use them sustainability and responsibly–so that you can return to whatever location you choose to have a vow renewal or anniversary session and still have it be as pristine as the day that you got married.