How to Decide on Where to Elope | How to Pick the Perfect Elopement Location

August 3, 2023

As a photographer, I know extremely well that moments of love and intimacy are meant to be captured in their purest form, unburdened by the constraints of tradition and expectations. Enter elopements—the art of breaking free from the norm and embarking on an intimate adventure to exchange vows amidst breathtaking landscapes or hidden gems. But with a world of possibilities before you, how do you begin to decide where to elope and the perfect location to get married?

Fear not, friend! I am here to break it all down for you into easy, manageable, and realistic steps towards choosing the elopement destination that will make your hearts skip a beat and your photographs come alive with the magic of your love story. Crank up the wanderlust as I dive into the secrets of selecting an elopement location that will be etched in your memories and forever immortalized through my lens.

Smith Rock State Park is quite the underrated gem located in the High Desert of Central Oregon.

Daydream and Brainstorm

Choosing to elope is an exciting adventure, and I preach that it’s important to keep that excitement going! The first step I encourage couples to do is to spend a little time daydreaming and brainstorming how you want your day to feel and how you want it to look like.

While you dive into dreaming up the best elopement day ever, I encourage you to close your eyes and imagine that moment where you are exchanging vows with your partner on your wedding day. Create that exact moment in your head. What does it look like? What does the scenery around you look like? Are you on a beach, in the middle of a forest, or on top of a mountain? What do you smell? Is it the ocean breeze or the scent of the alpine trees? Who is around you? Are you two by yourselves or do you have guests present?

It may sound cheesy at first, but to those who are undecided on where to elope, I feel this practice is super super helpful.

Beyond that moment where you are reading your vows to your partner, this is also a great jumping off point to begin to think about how the rest of the day looks and feels to you as well. Maybe you want to say those vows privately and meet up with your guests later in the day for a private dinner. Everything I’ve mentioned up to this point so far are just examples and nowhere near the end of the list of possibilities. If you could dream up the most *perfect* day together, with absolutely no boundaries, rules, or limits what would that look like to you?

Visiting Glacier National Park in Montana is an amazing experience in itself; Just imagine eloping there!

Considering Guests

When deciding on where to elope, I find that the most important factor to consider is whether or not you will be inviting guests. It is crucial to be realistic about the logistics of a specific location as well as the physical abilities of your guests.

You may discover a beautiful location through a photo of a couple seen somewhere online, but that doesn’t provide enough context in the location whatsoever. Some locations have group size limits due to resource availability such as parking and spacing, especially when considering eloping in public lands which can not be reserved or blocked off for a wedding of any size. Other locations may be more of a hike to reach and therefore may be a bit problematic (and frankly, out of the question) for those who are anything less than seasoned hikers.

If this sounds like an issue you may come across, a great idea to mull over could be an elopement experience that is split between time just for the two of you as a couple and time spent with your guests. The best way to achieve this is through a Full Day Elopement Experience or Two-Day Elopement Experience, which provides the opportunity to experience the best of both worlds without feeling rushed through one or the other.

Where to Elope: The famous Tetons provide a photogenic backdrop for any elopement. Seen here are the majestic mountains behind a field of yellowing grass and trees turning into gorgeous fall colors.
Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is another beautiful location to consider for your elopement.

When you start narrowing in on certain locations, it’s best to always do a search online to figure out the legalities and rules of getting married there. Most public lands have a dedicated web page for marriage information to provide you with everything you need to know about certain ceremony locations, any restrictions or limitations specific to that area, and how to apply for a wedding permit (if necessary).

In my opinion, pets are always welcome on your big day. My two cats are my literal babies and so I know how much a part of our family pets are. It’s totally always cool with me if you want to incorporate yours. It will be necessary to look into any restrictions regarding animals for whichever location you decide. There are some trails and areas that prohibit pets due to wildlife activity, which is completely understandable as that is such an important safety measure. Other trails have a strict leash policy for the safety of all visitors. If your pets can’t be included in the ceremony specifically, rest assured there are other ways to incorporate them into your elopement, either before or after your ceremony.

Meaningful Locations

Consider discussing any locations that might be meaningful to the two of you when contemplating ideas on where to elope. Maybe it’s the location you first met, the place you two got engaged at, or perhaps you just love to visit.

Exploring Unchartered Territory

Why not think outside the box and toss around the idea of eloping in a location you have never been to yet! Going back to daydreaming and brainstorming about your wedding day, you may see yourself in a location you haven’t traveled to before, and that’s okay! Even more so, that’s super exciting! Again, the possibilities for where to elope and what to do on your elopement day are only limited to your imagination. And with lots of other things, with that I say, “Go big or go home!”

Where to Elope: A bride and groom scale a giant rock in front of a towering waterfall in the Pacific Northwest.


Think about what activities you might want to incorporate in your elopement. Activities can mean a wide range of ideas, big and small. Will you be hiking on your elopement day? Do you two love water and want to paddleboard or kayak somewhere? Think about what you two love and how you could weave those things into your unique wedding day.

It is important not to forget the simple things like feeding yourself or staying hydrated on your elopement day. Even food and drinks could possibly be an activity that determines a location for your elopement, whether that be for your ceremony, your celebrations afterward, or something else. Locations have different rules about food and alcohol, so it’s important to research tidbits like that when deciding on where to elope if you are considering ideas such as a picnic service and even a celebratory champagne pop.

Where to Elope: A female hikes along a narrow cliffside trail in the Mount Hood region of Oregon.
Backpacking in the incredible Mount Hood region of Oregon

Contact an Elopement Expert

If you ever find yourself in doubt when deciding where to elope, rest assured that you’re not in it alone! Having an expert to bounce ideas off can drastically help by providing professional insight, narrowing down locations, and double checking that all logistics that need to be considered are considered. I am constantly entrenched in location research, whether that be for current couples of mine or for future excursions. I am a travel buff and literal elopement location junkie, so much so that my friends have joked that I am essentially “a travel guide.” There are countless couples I have helped over the years find the perfect location that suits their needs, and I’d love to do the very same just for you! Don’t hesitate to reach out to me today to start discussing your elopement plans!

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I’m a firm believer that you deserve the best, most unforgettable wedding that focuses on your love and this amazing commitment that you two are about to make to one another.

I’m not only your photographer, but I’m also your guide to your wildly different photography experience that’s adventurous, intimate, and completely yours.

You deserve unique and beautiful memories to carry with you forever. And I’d love to help bring your dreams to reality.