bride and groom laugh after tropical elopement

Romance and Adventure: 30 Incredible Elopement Ideas You'll Love

May 8, 2023
By Wedding Spot

Do you dream of a large, lavish wedding full of glitz and glamor, or does galloping off on an exciting nuptial adventure feel more your style? Flashy wedding ceremonies and decadent receptions aren’t for everyone. In addition to being expensive, planning a wedding takes months and can be an incredibly stressful experience. If heading down to city hall or flying to the tropics for a quick, painless wedding sounds more appealing, you’ll love the fun, unique elopement ideas below.

We’ll look at a wide variety of exciting elopement ideas to fit every couple’s style. From romance to adventure, we explore exotic locations, relaxing activities, venue ideas, and more. Whether you’re eloping last minute or planning an all-in-one elopement and honeymoon, this is the list for you!

Helpful elopement planning ideas

1. Daydream

Before you finalize travel plans, purchase plane tickets, or place a deposit on a venue, spend some time picturing your dream adventure. If you could get married anywhere, in any way, how would you do it? Plan a daydream date—a fun, casual evening with your future spouse. Go to dinner, enjoy a couple of cocktails, or split a super-sized ice cream sundae. Fantasize about the future without worrying about real-world limitations like bank account balances and booking windows.

2. Establish a budget

Lose yourself in the fantasy for a moment while you whittle down your list of elopement ideas, and then settle on a plan within the realm of reason. Once you have a general idea of what you’d like to do, work out your budget. Determine how much you can spend on travel, a venue, dining, entertainment, etc. Don’t forget to account for hidden wedding costs like licensing fees, taxes, and gratuities when accounting for the total cost. Once you set a budget, stick to it.

3. Determine your travel radius

A couple’s ability to travel for a wedding or elopement is typically determined by how much money they have set aside for the event. Time, comfort, and the enjoyability of your chosen mode of transportation are also factors to consider before deciding how far you can or should travel.

• Will you need to fly? Are the tickets expensive?
• Can you get there by train?
• Will you need a passport? Do you have one?

Consider travel time when choosing the perfect elopement destination. If it takes two days to get to your destination and two days to get back, you may need more than four or five days off work (if you’d like to relax at any point). If you intend to invite guests, keep their schedule and ability to travel in mind when choosing a destination.

4. Think about photos

Even if you’re getting hitched at City Hall, you might want a photographer to capture the moment. Contact your hotel, resort, or event venue for photographer recommendations, or ask a close friend or family member to snap photos.

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5.  Get your documents in order

Gather any documents, forms, and other information you need to bring, and place the items in a safe place ahead of time. Marriage requirements vary from state to state and country to country, so double-check what you’ll need. General conditions tend to include:

• Each party is at least 18 years old
• A valid photo ID (e.g., current driver’s license, passport, military ID)
• A witness to the ceremony
• A marriage license valid for the dates of your elopement

We recommend bringing more than one form of photo identification and a notarized copy of your birth certificate, just in case.

6. Find an officiant

In some locations, it is legally required for an officiant to lead a marriage or elopement ceremony, but this is not the case everywhere. Although elopement-focused venues may provide officiant services, some couples choose to wed without one. If you’re planning to elope somewhere specific, however, you will probably need to provide your own officiant.

Ordainment requirements vary state by state, sometimes county by county, so check with the local courthouse or town hall to confirm the specifics. In many locations, you can register online, enabling friends, family members, or cherished mentors to fill the role. If you plan to ask someone to officiate your elopement, give them plenty of notice ahead of time.

Unique elopement ideas for adventurous couples

7. Do what you love

Before, after, or during the ceremony itself, take part in all of your favorite activities. Plan a jam-packed day doing anything and everything the two of you love. Whether playing golf, solving escape room puzzles, hitting the water, or escaping to the mountains, do what makes you happy.

8. Go somewhere new

Travel to a destination neither of you has ever been to before. Say your vows in a brand-new place—sight unseen.

9. Hot air balloon ride

Get hitched high in the sky with a hot air balloon elopement. Balloon companies across the country offer wedding and elopement packages, like Hot Air Expeditions in Phoenix, Arizona. They offer multiple hot air balloon wedding packages ranging from $1,250 to $5,100. Each wedding package includes incredible perks, like a balloon pilot wedding officiant, a post-flight champagne toast, and round trip travel from your hotel or home.

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10. Cross-country adventure

Kick off married life by visiting all the places you’ve always wanted to see. Pack the car, grab a map, and head off on a cross-country road trip. Plan your stops ahead of time or fly by the seat of your pants, going wherever the road takes you.

11. Skydiving

Are you looking for extreme elopement ideas served with a side of adrenaline? If so, swap a walk down the aisle for a free-fall through the sky. Skydiving Carolina offers skydiving wedding and proposal packages for thrill-seeking couples who’d prefer to pop the question or say “I do” in the air.

Romantic and sentimental elopement ideas

12. Keep the “first look” moment

You are free to forgo all of the trappings and trimmings of a traditional wedding, but consider whether there are any ceremonial customs you’d like to keep. The “first look” is a beautiful, intimate moment shared between soon-to-be-newlyweds that you may regret not taking part in later. Plan a pre-ceremony photo-op with your photographer or a helpful staff member to capture the emotional moment in real-time.

13. Seek serenity

Surround yourself with breathtaking views at a mystical, magical mountain wedding destination. Resting above the clouds, the Cliffs at Glassy is a rustic wood and stone special event venue and winery in Landrum, South Carolina. With the ability to accommodate up to 216 guests, this intimate wedding venue is perfect for eloping couples. Pricing for the Blue Ridge Elopement Package starts at $1,500 and accommodates 20 guests for two hours or less.

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14. Personalized wedding vows

Including a few ceremonial wedding traditions in your elopement plan can help make the fast-paced proceeding feel more personalized and thoughtful. What better way to do that than by writing your own wedding vows? Take some time to form your thoughts in advance, so you don’t feel rushed. Cherish the opportunity to share your deepest feelings about love and commitment without a room full of guests intently watching.

15. Participate in a handfasting ceremony

If the thought of writing your own vows causes your palms to sweat, consider replacing that tradition with a handfasting ceremony instead. The handfasting ceremony is an ancient wedding custom in which a couple’s hands are placed on one another and bound together using a robe or ribbon. The rope is then tied into a knot, literally binding the individuals together, to symbolize the strength of their union and the unbreakable bond the newlyweds share. This is where the well-known wedding phrase “tie the knot” comes from.

16. Share a first dance

Wherever you go after the wedding, take a moment to have your first dance together as newlyweds. Are you planning to elope in the middle of the woods? That’s no problem; bring a Bluetooth speaker and smartphone queued up with the perfect first dance song.

17. Include the kids

If you have children, consider involving them in your elopement plans. Whether school-aged or all grown up, keeping the wedding a secret could cause your children to feel hurt or betrayed, but including them turns the celebratory occasion into a tight-knit family affair.

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Elopement ideas for duos who like to do it big

18. Choose a theme

Plan an over-the-top elopement by picking a theme and rolling with it. Plan a boho-beach wedding, a romantic Parisian escape, or a yachting adventure.

19. Elope in luxury

The average U.S. wedding costs around $28,000. For a fraction of the price, couples can travel to inviting, elopement-friendly destinations around the globe. Specialized travel companies like LuxElope work with couples to book a personalized, opulent, and luxurious elopement experience. Offering domestic and international packages, LuxElope allows partners to set their nuptial budget and helps distribute their funds into specific elopement categories, like travel, accommodations, attire, and photography. Their expense planning strategy enables engaged couples to experience the most luxurious elopement possible at a price that works for them.

20. Splurge on dinner

Food is one of the most significant expenses engaged couples encounter in wedding planning. On average, catering a wedding of 100 guests costs between $8,500 and $10,000. Instead of spending all that dough on dinner for dozens, have an elaborate dinner for two for a fraction of the cost.

For a few hundred dollars, you can try the entire tasting menu at a Michelin-rated restaurant instead. Savor eight to ten visually stunning courses at Eleven Madison Park, an all-vegan three-Michelin-star restaurant, for just $355. For a more intimate dining experience, host a small dinner at home prepared by a private chef, or reserve two spots at the chef’s table at a trendy restaurant you’ve been dying to try.

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21. Make it a multi-day affair

Eloping gives couples so much freedom: the freedom to do what they want, when they want, and how they want. If you’re struggling to narrow your dream list of elopement ideas, activities, and adventures down, stop trying. Instead of trying to squeeze everything you want to do into one day or one afternoon, plan a multi-day elopement. Get the deed done on day one, celebrate with friends on day two, and plan private adventures to fill the third day.

22. Throw an elopement after-party

Keep the ceremony small, but invite friends and family to celebrate afterward. Host a backyard barbeque with music and games, or book an upscale venue for a formal dinner service. Thank your loved ones for celebrating with you, and be prepared to show pictures of the ceremony itself!

Affordable elopement ideas for couples on a budget

23. Pop-up ceremony settings

You can add a dash of whimsy and romance to any sparse elopement location with a can-do attitude and a little creativity. Even in the middle of the woods, you can create a lovely setting for an intimate, elegant ceremony. Industrial string lights, simple wooden chairs, and flowers can turn an empty clearing into a romantic wedding destination.

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24. Stay close to home

Eliminate elopement travel expenses by taking the plunge in your hometown. Celebrate with a weekend getaway somewhere close by, or savor that “just married” sensation during a stress-free staycation.

25. Elope and honeymoon at the same destination

If you decide to elope away from home, honeymoon in the same location to cut costs. Look for venues with affordable elopement packages that include overnight accommodations, dining, and other expenses in the package price.

26. Marry in the park

Save money on a wedding venue by eloping in a national, state, or public park. State and national parks offer low-cost special event and shelter bookings, as well as access to some of the most stunning landscapes in the world, including:

• Yosemite
• Joshua Tree
• The Grand Canyon
• Sequoia National Park
• Yellowstone
• Big Bend
• Hawaii Volcanoes

Due to the popularity of many of these breathtaking locations, special event availability is often limited during peak travel periods and the tourist season. If you want to elope near any major landmarks, make reservations and book shelter space early.

Epic elopement destination ideas

27. Las Vegas

Nicknamed the “quickie wedding capital of the world,” Las Vegas, Nevada, is home to around 50 wedding chapels. Join the thousands of couples who have eloped in Las Vegas. Get married in a tiny chapel, by an Elvis impersonator, or at one of Vegas’s many famed casinos.

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28. Iceland

Few destinations hold as many impeccable landscapes and awe-inspiring landmarks as Iceland. Turn your elopement into the adventure of a lifetime when you travel to the land of ice and fire and behold some of the most incredible views in the world.  Visit the black sand beaches of Iceland’s southern coast or stand mesmerized under the glow of the northern lights.

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29. California

From rocky coastlines and beautiful beaches to desert sands and snowcapped mountains, California has an elopement landscape to fit every couple’s style. Say, “I do,” in the Sierra Nevada foothills or surrounded by towering redwoods in the valleys of Big Sur.

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30. A private island

If your ultimate wedding fantasy features pristine beaches, stunning sunsets, and endless privacy, let the tides take you on a luxurious and exclusive private island elopement adventure. On the coast of Belize, Thatch Caye Resort sits on 11 acres of secluded tropical paradise. Located on the Belize Barrier Reef, 14 villas, including eight bungalows that rest atop the water, make up the resort property. For complete and total privacy, rent out the entire island resort. Enjoy utter relaxation and splendor in your personal, private utopia.

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Turn your favorite elopement ideas into a dream wedding event!

Now you have a list of incredible elopement ideas at your fingertips and can start planning the big day. If eloping doesn’t feel like the right choice for you, a micro-wedding may be more your style!

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Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.