How to Decide When and Where to Elope

Filed in Ceremony, elopements, Intimate weddings — September 21, 2021

There are a lot of decisions to be made when you start digging into elopement planning – and deciding when and where to elope are some of the first ones! 


This guide will help you figure out the best elopement location, and how to find the right season and date for your ceremony.


Deciding Where to Elope

One of many amazing things about elopements is that you get to choose a location that’s scenic, and reflects the two of you! Instead of deciding between different wedding venues that don’t mean anything to you, you can choose an epic spot – with a landscape and scenery that makes your heart beat faster. But with so many beautiful places around, how do you decide where to elope?


Here are a few tips for choosing your elopement location!

How Close to Home Do You Want to Elope?

One of the first things you should decide when you’re thinking about where to elope is how close to home you’d like to be. Now, it’s totally okay to keep your options open – so if you and your partner find that you’re willing to go anywhere and everywhere, that just means you can pick any place in the world!


But, if you talk about it and decide that you want to stay in the United States, or even narrow it down to a few hours from home, that can help you cross some potential locations off the list. Think about whether you’re okay with hopping on a flight, if you’d rather stay in the same time zone, if you want to be a car ride away from home, or maybe there’s even a local park you love!


Are You Bringing the Dog?

One big consideration when deciding where to elope is whether it needs to be dog friendly. Decide if you want to bring the pup before you start searching for an elopement location, as this can narrow down your options some more. For example, national parks are notoriously unwelcoming to dogs, so you’ll want to avoid those! 


Your furry friend can also have an impact on how far you can travel. Hopping on a plane probably won’t be ideal, so your location will need to be road trip distance away.

Think About Scenery

Scenery is one of the biggest factors in choosing an elopement location, as an adventurous wedding day is all about the adventures you’ll have! So once you’ve figured out how far you’re willing to travel, it’s time to start thinking about what you actually want to see on your elopement day. Sit down with your partner and talk about what you want your day to look like, and what you want to do. 


If kayaking is on your list of elopement day activities, you likely won’t want to elope in the desert. But if you want to go rock climbing, you probably won’t be having a ceremony on the beach! So think about what kind of landscapes you’re drawn to, and then work backwards, thinking of places that could fit your vision. Find some general locations – like states or parks that have what you’re looking for!


Difficulty & Accessibility

After you have your general location picked out, it’s time to get specific. As you look for trails or overlooks, you can use All Trails to browse and filter by length, elevation gain, dog friendliness, scenery, and more.


For this part of deciding where to elope, it’s important to consider the accessibility of your location, and how difficult it is! Not everyone is up for a 10 mile hike, so decide ahead of time how easy your elopement location will be to reach, and be sure to consider the accessibility needs of you and your guests, your outdoor experience, and how hard you want to work for the views!

Deciding When to Elope

I think it’s best to decide on an elopement location (at least a general one) before figuring out when to elope – because the seasons and the weather will likely be the biggest factor in this decision! 


Here are some tips for deciding on an elopement location.


Seasons and Weather

The first step in deciding where to elope is to do a little bit of research on the weather at your location. After you decide where to elope, decide what kind of season you’d like to experience. If you want to go hiking, summer is going to be the best season in most places (except in the desert, as it’s often very hot!), and for winter sports and snow, winter is ideal!


Research the best times to visit your elopement location, but keep in mind that good weather means more crowds – so while the best time to elope depends on weather, you might also want to consider eloping in the off season to avoid the most popular times. 


Shoulder season, which refers to the time right before and right after the peak, is usually a great time to elope, as you’ll get favorable weather, but way less crowds!


Which Day to Elope

After you’ve decided on a season, it’s time to narrow it down to the day! I always recommend that couples avoid weekends, because they’re inevitably more busy, no matter where you go to elope. Schedule your elopement for a weekday (especially Monday through Thursday) to avoid some of the crowds. But, be careful to avoid holidays and three day weekends, as these are especially busy!


Sentimental Dates

I think keeping your options open for your elopement day has a lot of benefits – you have more flexibility when it comes to choosing your elopement vendors, and you can plan based on the weather. But, some couples have a meaningful date that they want to tie the knot on! If you have an anniversary that you want to be your wedding anniversary, or a fun calendar day (like 2/22/22), consider these for your elopement date.

Privacy on Your Elopement Day

When you decide when and where to elope, one of the most important things is going to be privacy. You don’t want an audience as you say your vows, and there are a few things you can do to ensure you get your ceremony location to yourselves on the big day.


First is of course, eloping on a weekday and eloping during shoulder season helps a ton. But, the best thing you can do is to choose an elopement location that is lesser known, less traveled, and not too popular! This can be easier said than done, which is why I think the best thing you can do when you’re deciding when and where to elope is to talk to an elopement photographer. 


I provide a list of location recommendations customized to each of my couples, and after years of exploring and traveling, I know how to find all the best secret gems! A lot of couples come to me having no idea where they want to go, or when they want to elope – and being flexible means we can work together to figure out the perfect plan. So whether you’ve got some ideas or you’ve got nothing at all, contact me! Let’s start planning your incredible elopement day.