There are several reasons why we at The Venue Report are big fans of elopements. For starters, you may have your ceremony anywhere, including in the air, which allows for stunningly unique and creative photographs that would be impossible to get at a more conventional wedding (read: 150 people cannot scale a mountain with you). The second advantage of an elopement is that it allows you to focus on the most important aspect of your wedding: strengthening your relationship with your partner through a personal and heartfelt ceremony. Finally, there’s no better way to kick off married life than with an unforgettable journey. Yes, we adore the metaphorical significance of your starting a new chapter in your life.
We scoured the web for the year’s most spectacular elopements to share with you here as ideas for your own romantic getaway. Whether it was a sudden downpour or a trek across a glacier, we talked to the photographers to find out what made each day unforgettable.
- New York
The City That Never Sleeps is home to countless world-famous landmarks, from the Brooklyn Bridge to Michelin-starred restaurants, making it the ideal location for a romantic elopement ceremony in City Hall. Host an intimate dinner or lunch at Bemelman’s at The Carlyle, which Princess Diana once described as her favorite place in NYC, or at your go-to spot in Soho or the West Village. Given the high quality of New York’s restaurants, it will be hard to choose between them.
- Maui Hawaii
The Kapalua Coast is one of the most beautiful places to get married if you want to make your vows in a secluded and unspoiled environment. Photographers and real estate event teams are experts at finding secluded spots on the island that are perfect for a romantic elopement. The Ritz-Carlton’s Banyan Tree is the perfect place to host your wedding reception dinner. You can watch the sun go down from the best seats in the house at Ka’anapali’s Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante or Waicoco. Full-service elopement packages can be found at hotels like the Four Seasons Wailea and the Westin Maui (the latter of which collaborates with local wedding planner White Orchid Weddings).
- Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is a popular elopement location in the United States because of its tranquility, dreamlike quality, and undeniable beauty. All of the venues and properties here seem like they were made for elopements, what with their proximity to the beach and the picturesque vineyards of Santa Ynez Valley and posh Montecito. The historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse, built in 1929, is a popular venue for weddings, as are the nearby San Ysidro Ranch and The Hotel Californian. And if they want even more seclusion, Big Sur, up in the north, is the place to go.
- .Lake Tahoe
Even though it is not a national park, the largest of the United States’ alpine lakes attracts more tourists than Yosemite each year. Tahoe is a popular destination for couples planning a mountain elopement due to its blue waters, quaint villages, and breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains. Once you’ve sent out your wedding announcements to family and friends, the only thing left for you to stress about is how stunning they are.
- US National Parks, USA
There is no shortage of stunning national parks in the United States, from Yosemite’s Half Dome to Acadia’s glittering Atlantic coastline. Each park has its own special attractions, making it an ideal location for outdoor weddings in the United States. Because of this, many American couples choose national parks for romantic ceremonies like elopements. We’re working on a comprehensive elopement guide to national parks that will include suggestions for honeymoon destinations in states like Colorado and Washington, as well as Utah and Alaska.
- New Orleans, Louisiana
Wedding ceremonies in New Orleans aren’t complete without beignets and lively jazz. If you and your partner are foodies, fans of Bayou culture, and looking for a unique venue for your elopement, this city should be on your short list.
In the northern Caribbean, not far from Venezuela, is the Dutch-speaking island of Aruba, which is home to the world’s largest annual vow renewal ceremony. According to TripAdvisor, Eagle Beach on the island is the best beach in the Caribbean, and it has held that title for two years running. If you’d prefer a more intimate ceremony, the Renaissance Aruba offers an elopement package on a private island where only flamingos can be found. Aruba Bell Tents can arrange for a private chef to cook a multi-course meal for you and your guests at a beachside ceremony. One of the best things to do on the island, if you’d rather be on the water, is to go on the Monforte Luxury Cruise.
This Caribbean nation is a popular destination for American elopements due to its abundance of exciting tourist activities, such as bobsledding, ziplining, snorkeling, and relaxing on the beach. Ochos Rios, Negril, and Montego Bay are teeming with oceanfront all-inclusive resorts, but Jamaica is also home to arguably the most famous property in the Caribbean: GoldenEye, where Ian Fleming penned the James Bond novels. If a couple wants to avoid the hassle of organizing an elopement, they should talk to the resort’s event planner. The iconic white chapel above the water at Sandals South Coast is also a great choice, as is Half Moon.
- St. Lucia
St. Lucia is one of the most romantic places in the Caribbean for a reason. With its clean beaches and huge twin peaks, you feel like you’re in an even more remote place. It’s lucky that it’s only a short flight from the US, and hotels offer packages for simply elopements and other special events. For a very romantic time, couples will want to stay at Jade Mountain or Sandals. Getting married on a catamaran in Soufriere is a great idea for people who don’t want a traditional elopement. If not, the Vigie Beach Blow Hole or the Cove Beach Blow Hole at Cap Maison are sure to have beautiful backgrounds. Some people might want to stand in front of the roaring Superman Waterfall or Sapphire Falls.
- Paris, France
The City of Lights is the perfect place for a romantic wedding. The city of love exudes romance from every corner, from its charming facade buildings and cobblestone streets to its world-famous museums and palaces, its historic windmills, and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. Elopements to Paris are like something out of a fairy tale, and that’s why you should hire an elopement photographer to document your big day.
- Rome Italy
Couples can be found in almost every corner of the city, among the city’s ancient ruins, classical fountains designed by the likes of Bernini, charming cobblestone alleys, and the rustic sun that cascades across Roman rooftops. The city of Rome was designed for a romantic evening of pasta and stargazing. There are a number of great options for a romantic elopement in Rome, from the Coliseum to opulent hotels.
- Reykjavik, Iceland
Those who visit Iceland often use the adjective “otherworldly” to describe it. Adventurous and outdoorsy couples from all over the world flock to Iceland for its dramatic waterfalls, natural hot springs, and pristine scenery. If you’re looking for a wedding with a breathtaking setting, look no further than an elopement in Iceland. For couples who want the full experience, the famous Blue Lagoon is the ideal location for a sunrise wedding. Those looking for a more rugged adventure can rent a Jeep and travel to Snaefellsnes National Park or any of the stunning black-sand beaches and waterfalls that dot the Golden Circle. Perhaps the Aurora Borealis will perform a jig in honor of your recent nuptials.
- London UK
London has a lot going for it as a romantic getaway for couples. The city is cosmopolitan and cutting-edge, and its hotels and properties stand out for their superior service, facilities, and aesthetics. In addition, there are many picturesque parks and well-known attractions available for use in your elopement photographs. Anyone can find a neighborhood that suits their taste.
- Bali Indonesia
Beautiful Bali is for couples from all over the world, as it has been ranked as the top elopement location in the world by numerous experts and destination wedding planners. The “Island of the Gods,” with its exotic flora and fauna, rich history, and breathtaking scenery, is a long way from the United States, but it’s actually quite cheap once you get there. In this area of the Indian Ocean, where you can find both expansive beaches and lush tropical gardens, even a five-star vacation won’t break the bank. Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay and Tanah Gaja Ubud, both five-star resorts in Bali’s spiritual heart, offer the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway.
Is a wedding even possible in Antarctica? Yes, but it’ll set you back a pretty penny to get there. An elopement in Antarctica, which is both inaccessible and completely devoid of inhabitants, provides a fantastic setting for a romantic comedy. Your relatives and coworkers may have to turn down your invitation to attend your wedding on an uninhabitable continent, but now, with the help of Atlas Ocean Voyages, you can bring back wedding photos and a marriage license. Antarctica is the most unusual and unique elopement destination on our list, with only 30,000 visitors per year.