Many brides-to-be are having to postpone their nuptials due to the global pandemic that’s sweeping our nation right now. Instead of pushing back your wedding plans, may we suggest eloping? No longer for sudden and secret vows relegated to the courthouse or Las Vegas, elopement is becoming a popular alternative to traditional weddings, which are incredibly expensive and time-consuming to plan.
Intimate “micro-wedding” ceremonies can be planned quickly at a fraction of the cost. Plus, you can honeymoon at your elopement destination, which is like a two-for-one deal. It doesn’t have to be just the two of you—immediate family members and your closest friends can still be included. Don’t worry about offending people by not inviting them, if they really love you, they’ll support your decision to elope.
Of course, you’ll need someone to officiate and to document the big day. That’s where elopement packages come in with reliable, experienced vendors who can help with logistics. Every state has different laws concerning marriage licenses/paperwork, officiants, and witnesses. Make sure to obtain your marriage license, book all accommodation and travel arrangements, and discuss venue fees and permits beforehand, so there aren’t any unwanted surprises day of. It may be best to officially get married and obtain your license at your local city hall and then have a symbolic elopement ceremony.
Sure, you could go to the courthouse and call it a day, but it’s much more romantic and adventurous to profess your love for each other in a beautiful place, whether its a place that holds meaning to the two of you or somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. From the mountains to the beach, there are plenty of secluded spots to tie the knot that won’t break the bank.
Ultimately, your wedding day is all about you and your partner’s love for each other and your future together. Eloping means you get to celebrate however you want! Here are the best places to run away together without crossing the border.
Maroon Bells, Colorado
Exchange vows surrounded by fields of wildflowers at the majestic Maroon Lake, which reflects the most photographed mountains in North America, the Maroon Bells. Located just 10 miles west of Aspen and 16 miles from Snowmass, Maroon Valley and the White River National Forest are part of the Rocky Mountains. Two 14,000-foot snow-striped peaks, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, gaze over the glacial valley. Peep this panoramic paradise during peak foliage season in late September through early October and you’ll see why its the most photographed place in Colorado.
Six scenic hiking trails, various camping sites, and biking paths make this the perfect destination for active, outdoorsy types. The road up to Maroon Bells is closed during winter, and there is limited car access the rest of the year, but shuttle service is available. Remember that Colorado weather is notoriously unpredictable, so you may want to factor some layers into your nuptial attire. There’s no need for an officiant or witnesses since you can marry yourselves in Colorado!
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Nestled in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, Eureka Springs is known as the “Wedding Capital of the South”. The charming town’s Historic District is full of preserved Victorian buildings and historic hotels, including the Basin Park Hotel and Crescent Hotel. You can say “I do” at one of the city’s natural springs, in the garden of a Victorian B&B or inn, in a cave, on horseback, or even at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a big cat and bear sanctuary.
Nearby Thorncrown Chapel is an unforgettable setting for your ceremony. The 48-foot tall glass structure is surrounded by a stunning backdrop of rock formations and a canopy of trees. There are 425 windows, which makes it feel like you’re at an air-conditioned outdoor wedding. Just wait until you hear the wedding march reverberating through the chapel’s unique acoustics. A one-hour reservation to do the deed will only cost the two of you $500. Thorncrown Chapel’s Elopement Special includes the facility (changing area, sound system/person to run it, and piano), and a minister. Stringed quartets or other musicians, wedding planners, officiants, florists, photographers, videographers are all available in Eureka Springs. Arkansas law does not require blood tests for a license and there’s no required waiting period after you get one.
Big Sur, California
Between Carmel and San Simeon, just south of Monterey in California’s Central Coast region, Big Sur has been called the longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States. Bordered to the east by the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean to the west, Big Sur’s dramatic scenery boasts forests as well as steeply cliffed shoreline.
Get married overlooking the ocean, surrounded by redwoods in one of the state parks, next to the river, or at a privately owned venue. While Big Sur’s numerous state parks are perfect for hiking, camping, and beachcombing, it’s kind of a hassle to get hitched at one. Each park has different rules and regulations regarding elopements, and all of them require a permit except for Limekiln State Park.
Because the coastline is exceptionally steep, there are only a few publically accessible beaches. However, several turnoffs from the Pacific Coast Highway offer incredible, sweeping vista points. Known for its beaches, coastal trails, and coastal views, Garrapata State Park offers such vistas, but you will have to apply for a permit. Carmel River State Beach also offers a breathtaking matrimonial backdrop. Or, you can always get married amongst the greenery at Glen Oaks Big Sur then have more photos taken by the beach.
Central Park, New York
Central Park is one of the most popular spots for wedding photography in New York City, so why not just get married there? There are bridges, gazebos, and fountains galore, just waiting to be an idyllic backdrop for your vows. If you have fewer than 20 guests, you’re not even required to get a permit. The only exception is the beautiful Conservatory Garden, which requires a $400 permit. Although you may want to apply for one for popular locations like the Ladies Pavilion, Cop Cot, Wagner Cove, and Shakespeare’s Garden just so your ceremony doesn’t conflict with someone else’s.
For skyline views, get hitched by the pond at Gapstow Bridge. Hide from tourists in The North Woods, which offers a couple of waterfalls, the Glen Span Arch, and photogenic paths and meadows. The Ramble is another secluded spot that boasts beautiful views. A short walk from Belvedere Castle and Turtle Pond, Shakespeare Garden gives off English countryside vibes in the heart of NYC with its cobbled stone paths and beautiful blooms. Wagner Cove is one of the only sites that offer shelter. Head down the staircase by Cherry Hill Fountain to find the lakeside pavilion.
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Located about 10 miles north of Moab in southeastern Utah, Canyonlands National Park‘s dramatic desert landscape is an awe-inspiring place. The vast, flat-topped mesa called Island in the Sky offers a few panoramic overlooks where you can tie the knot: Grand View Point, Green River Overlook, and Mesa Arch. There is a $185 permit fee as well as the standard park entrance fee and there’s a rule against standing under or adjacent to any arch for more than 10 minutes. Wedding activities are restricted to slick rock, dry washes, or maintained areas of the park.
Athletic couples can spend their honeymoon whitewater rafting Colorado River rapids in Cataract Canyon. While you’re in the Canyonlands, check out the Native American rock paintings in Horseshoe Canyon and the towering rock pinnacles known as the Needles. Then, head over to Moab to explore even more natural beauty at Arches National Park.