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Find your perfect elopement location

February 20, 2020

Finding the perfect elopement location can be daunting to couples who know what they want to have a more authentic day, and elope. Having the complete freedom to elope wherever you’d like is incredible, but also comes with a lot of freedom.

As an elopement photographer, I understand how daunting finding the perfect location may be.

In this article, I’m going to tell you how you can help narrow down what may be the perfect elopement location for you.

NOTE: if you know your country already, skip to step 3 which goes into how you can nail down the location a bit more.

Why eloping gives you the freedom to get married anywhere

Unlike traditional weddings, which may be restricted in terms of locations, elopements allow you to have a ceremony wherever you would like.

The principle is that you’d first get the paperwork and marriage certificate done separately, and have a ceremony. Now a ceremony doesn’t have to be done by an officiant unless you’d like it to. It can be represented by the reading of vows and exchange of rings. Simply put, it can be a bespoke experience created by you.

This gives you a lot more flexibility and freedom in how you handle and do your marriage. It can also reduce a tonne of stress on your wedding day!

Step 1: What sort of climate are you drawn to? Or what adventure would you enjoy most?

As with any big adventure in life, the first port of call is to understand what sort of experience you’d like to do.

The inspiration for this could come from a book, movie, or just simply browsing through a blog post.

This is precisely the same steps as what you’d like to do when it comes to working out where you want to elope, and what you want to do when do you elope.

A few ideas that couples I’ve worked with have done before includes:

  • Staying in an Ice Hotel in Northern Sweden, and then skiing for two weeks in Europe;
  • Mountain climbing in the Swiss Alps and exploring a tonne of sleepy Eurasian towns;
  • Hiring a camper van and exploring every bit of New Zealand.

The world is your oyster, and you can explore it however you want.

However, you’ll also want to work out which climate you’d probably enjoy eloping in most. Simply put, there are a lot of people out there who have a preference for one environment over the other.

Maybe you absolutely hate the cold, in which case going somewhere hotter will make you feel more comfortable.

For some great inspiration, I recommend checking out the following blogs:

Decide on which climate you think you’re drawn to, or have a think about what adventure you’d love.

Step 2: What country do you like the sound of most?

Now that you’ve worked out what sort of adventure you like the sound of, and what climate you’re into, it’s now time to nail down some country ideas.

I’m going to use the example of sailing as an example of what you could potentially do as part of your elopement adventure.

Now with something like sailing, there is a pretty broad spectrum of places you can go. Well, basically anywhere. So let’s go through the process of working out which countries may suit you best.

  1. We know that you love the idea of a warmer climate and that you want to go sailing.
  2. Google ‘best warm-weather sailing locations’, which will bring up a heap of different places and location ideas.
  3. Looking at what has come up, write down a list of (up to) 10 different locations that have come up.

When it comes to choosing your favourite country, there will be a few factors which can determine which may work best for you:

  • What is the landscape like there?
  • What languages are spoken there?
  • What is the political climate like there?
  • How expensive is it there?
  • Have you travelled there before?
  • How big is the country?

Understanding how much you value each of these different principles can help determine what you’re looking for in a perfect elopement location.

Chances are a big part of your choice in a country will be chosen based on aesthetic reasons as well. For example, a lot of couples love the idea of getting married in Iceland because of the deep black sands and huge waterfalls there.

The best way to determine how a country will look is to simply plug the name of your country into Google and have a rummage. For extra points, insert ‘elopement’ after it.

Make a list of 3 countries you’d love to elope in.

Step 3: Which season do you love the most?

You’ve found your ideal country, and perhaps this question will be easy to answer considering you’ve talked about what kind of climate you love the idea.

Thinking about which season you love the idea of next can make a big difference. Now while the seasons may seem to be hot vs cold, it isn’t always like that.

For example, in Madagascar, they have a ‘wet’ and a ‘dry’ season. It doesn’t really get massively different in terms of temperature. This can also be the case in many other countries.

When you start going to places such as Sweden as well, a few more factors come into play. The average amount of sunlight that Northern Sweden (where you can see the Northern lights) gets is roughly 4 hours, with 20 hours darkness. When you look at summer though, the sun never sets, meaning you have endless daylight for 24 hours. If you feel this would drive you insane, it’s an essential factor to consider.

Another factor which may be the most obvious is the colour in the foliage. For example, couples who love the idea of eloping in Japan are heavily influenced to visit during the March-April time to catch Sakura Season, when the Sakura trees are blossoming.

In summary, the changes in seasons will bring:

  • Different temperatures
  • Different colours in the foliage
  • Different daylight hours

Work out which season in the country you’re drawn to is your favourite.

Step 4: What sort of environment do you enjoy the most?

Now that you have a great idea of your country, you’ll then want to start to hone in a bit more on the different potential locations you can go to.

Each country will usually have a few different biomes and environments. 

For example, in Ibiza, just off of Spain, you have stunning coastal zones with lush blue waters and golden sands. Still, you also have deep Mediterranean scrubland and trees up the mountains.

When it comes to thinking about which environment you’d like the most, here are some example environments which are usually the most common globally:

  • Snow plains – e.g. Northern Sweden
  • Deep forests – e.g. Queensland, Australia
  • Vast mountains – e.g. Switzerland
  • Mangrove swamps – e.g. Queensland, Australia
  • Sandy moody landscapes – e.g. Iceland
  • Vast red deserts – e.g. The Sahara

Choose from one or two of these areas.

Step 5: Do you prefer sunrise or sunset?

A significant factor in determining what may make the best location for your elopement may also depend upon the time of day. When it comes to climbing a mountain or finding a scenic spot, the sun rising or setting will play a big part in where you’d want to be.

The most basic example of this loves the idea of a sunset ceremony on a beach. The sun rises in the East, and sets in the West, so if you’re hoping for a striking image of the sun setting over the water in somewhere like Sydney, it won’t work sadly.

However, if you went to somewhere like Perth, on the West Coast of Australia, then you’ll get your sunset over the water easy peasy.

A more complex example of this would be using Cradle Mountain in New Zealand. As you can see from the below images from Google Earth, the sun rising and setting can have completely different looks on this popular spot. The sunset is the first image, and sunrise is the second.

Sunset
Sunrise

For the above location, sunrise (2nd image) would get far more light onto the East Facing mountain, which looks over Lake Rodway. This would also mean that the lake would have more light.

However at Sunset (1st image), you’d be getting more light on the West Facing mountain, meaning the lake will be very dark, and it may not look as cinematic if you love the look of the lake.

Sit down and have a think about if you’re morning people or not; this will make a big difference!

Step 6: Nailing down the final location.

So you’ve worked out:

  • What sort of adventure/climate you like;
  • Which country you’re drawn to;
  • Which season you love the look of;
  • Which environment you love;
  • Whether you prefer sunset or sunrise.

When it comes to approaching the area with a list of these ideas, the next step is to find specific locations that you’re drawn to.

There are a whole host of tools to do this, with one of the most prominent being using something like Google Earth. Google Earth is an incredibly powerful platform which helps you find terrific locations out of the ordinary. It even lets you emulate how to sun can rise and set. Another tool would be to Google, which is the most popular walking tracks around the area.

However, it does take a lot of searching to find that one specific location, and you will have to commit a few hours at the very least to find these areas.

Part of what I do for couples is to understand what sort of area you love and provide a curated list of recommended areas considering all of the above. This means I do the hard work for couples, and you can sit back and relax.

Important note: Understanding VISAs and travel restrictions

An essential part of travelling somewhere for your elopement is to understand the specific VISA requirements. While you can elope where you would like theoretically, you have to be sure that you get all of your VISAs sorted and understand what that entails before your elopement.

For each couple I work with, I provide a detailed VISA process for the country that they are looking to elope in, meaning that your back is covered. However, while I give this info, it is ultimately up to you as a couple to make sure you get it all sorted!

Summary

To find the perfect elopement location, you want to do the following:

  1. Think about what sort of adventure you’d love to go on, or which climate you’re most drawn to;
  2. Think about which country you’re most drawn to that would have the perfect climate for you;
  3. Work out which season you’d be most drawn to in that country;
  4. Think about what sort of environment you’d love to explore together, whether that is a mountain, forest, grassland or snow;
  5. Work out if you’d prefer a sunset or sunrise elopement. This may depend on if you are ‘morning people’;
  6. Try to nail down finding that perfect location, using Google Maps and finding out popular hiking trails nearby.

If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to find a location that may be perfect for you both to say your vows, and start the next part of your most exciting adventure together.

Why hiring an elopement photographer may make the whole process a lot easier

You can do all of the above and take your time to find the perfect elopement spot. However, when you hire an elopement photographer, you’re getting all of this done for you and a whole lot more.

I’ve written before about what you can expect from an elopement photographer, and curated location scouting is something which I love to do for the couples I work with.

This means that you can spend more time getting pumped for your elopement and less time worrying and stressing about where you may want to go.

Let’s chat about designing your dream elopement!

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