Choosing the most

A step by step guide to help you

choose the most “perfectly you” location for your elopement

With the world as your playground, how in the world are you supposed to pick the best place to elope, the most “Perfectly YOU” location to say your vows to this human you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with? 

For traditional weddings you can plug in a quick search for “wedding venues near me” and go through Google’s list of places it thinks you want to see, giving you a solid starting point.  When you choose to go the non-traditional route, it is not unusual to feel overwhelmed with the sheer number of options when choosing the best place to elope for YOU!

Top 7 Key Factors to Consider while you are

Choosing the Best Place to Elope

As you go through through each section keep the following in mind:

  • Remember why you are choosing to elope or have a non-traditional wedding in the first place. 
  • Multi-location elopements are a thing!  You CAN split your day into more than one location, or into multiple days to create the experience that fits you.  Ex: have an easily accessible ceremony location to share with a small group of loved ones, then have a more adventurous couple’s adventure later in the day, or even the next day (my absolute favorite set up- and one of the best ways to alleviate stress if you have guests!)
  • Having backup locations in place in case of weather, fires, or other closures is a major part of planning any outdoor wedding, but are especially important the further into nature you venture.
  • Remember, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers to these questions! Elopements come in all forms, and what is right for someone else or trending on Instagram does NOT mean it is right for you!

1. The View

You will need to decide what sort of backdrop you want to be surrounded by when you look back on the day you say your vows.  

What sort of view do you imagine for your ceremony and wedding portraits?  One of the questions to ask as you choose the best place to elope.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want somewhere familiar?  Or would you prefer somewhere you have never been?
  • Are you more of a mountain lover?
  • Are you drawn to the openness or rock formations of the desert? 
  • Does the ocean tug on your heartstrings? 
  • Are you at home amongst the hustle and bustle of city life?  

Wherever makes you feel the most free to be yourself is the only gauge for what is right for the two of you.  

2. The Guest List

One of the most pressing factors that goes into choosing an elopement ceremony location is going to be who you want to be there.  

Do you want family and friends in attendance?  One of the questions to ask as you choose the best place to elope

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you looking for a “just us” ceremony and experience?  
  • Will you have family and friends involved?  
  • Will there be young kiddos or older guests with limited mobility to navigate?
  • Maybe you want your pups, horse, or other animals to be a part of your day?

Your guest list may set some limits on the next few considerations, so having an idea about who you want with you is important.

3. The Activities

Next, imagine you could design your perfect day (or days) together, what would that look like?  What would you be doing?  Now imagine THAT day could be your wedding!  Are you dreaming of…

Mountain elopement with a jeep off road trail ride for epic couple's portraits

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Strolling through the woods and having an intimate picnic?
  • Watching the sun rise/ set over a beautiful desert?
  • Hiking up a mountain?  
  • Snorkeling off the coast of an island?  
  • Driving a jeep through red rock canyons?  
  • Relaxing in a hammock in the woods?  
  • Snowboarding down a mountain?
  • Sailing in the ocean, the salty air brushing your face?
  • Touring the pyramids in Egypt or South America?  

4. The Season

After you have a good idea of location and activity, then sometimes the season will be obvious (hello snow activities in the high mountains!) But that is not always the case, especially if you aren’t intimately aware of the area you’re dreaming of saying your vows.  Things like monsoon storms, the muddy season at higher altitude, and blistering 110F heat in the desert are all factors to consider.  Many wilderness areas are seasonal, with roads and access points closed off for months out of the year.  All of these questions need to be answered when you are deciding where to elope.

Do you want winter, summer, spring, or fall?  Seasons vary by location, so it is an important question to ask while you are choosing your best place to elope

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is there a specific “season” for the activities you would like to do?
  • Do you prefer warm, cold, or mild temperatures?
  • Do you want a snowy backdrop, or bright blue icebergs?
  • Do the fiery fall colors give you a cozy feeling you want to incorporate into your day?
  • Do you imagine being surrounded by green leaves and summer wildflowers?
  • Is having the *most* predictable weather important to you? (nature can always surprise!)
  • Do you need to take school schedules/ vacations into account?

5. The Accessibility – Privacy Equation

I think every couple dreams of a gorgeous location, completely private, easily accessible, with the perfect weather just for your day.  The reality is that you will most likely need to set priorities while choosing the best place to elope.  

Gorgeous places that are super easy to get to are generally busy during the most beautiful seasons.  To have a gorgeous place all to yourself, then odds are high that you will need to travel further to get there, or go during the off season.  

What types of transportation or length of hike are you and any guests willing to take to get to your location?

First dance during elopement in a more remote area of the Grand Canyon

Questions to ask yourself:

  •  A long car ride?  Is the location close to any airports?  Or is it off the beaten path?
  • A long drive on a rough 4×4 road?
  • A longer hike- possibly beginning before sunrise or ending after sunset?  Are there physical limitations that would make this difficult?
  • A horseback ride into the brush?
  • A plane or helicopter ride?
  • A boat or ferry? A kayak or raft?

It is immensely important that you prioritize your experience while answering these questions.  The most epic view will be soured if you or any guests are miserable, while a location you may have originally overlooked will be made the most beautiful place on earth if everyone is having a wonderful time enjoying it together.

6. Sentimental Meaning

Where you decide to get married will be something you remember forever, so it makes sense that considering places that already hold special significance to you may be YOUR best place to elope.  

Wedding couple walking hand in hand during Colorado elopement

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want someplace new, that you can experience for the first time together?
  • Is there a place that already holds meaning for the two of you that you imagine saying your vows?
  • Do you want to be able to travel to this location to celebrate anniversaries, or potentially a vow renewal later?
  • Is there a family home, farm, ranch, or property that brings you joy? 
  • Is there a vacation spot that has impacted either of your lives along the way you wish to share with your partner?

7. The Legalities- Location Limitations

The last thing, but also one of the most important considerations in how to choose the best place to elope for you, is researching the guest count limits, decor rules, and other impact issues that you may fall into. This is one of the key services I offer my couples looking for a ceremony surrounded by nature!

For elopements with guests, renting a house or venue for all or part of your day may be the best option, especially if you intend on having a reception with dinner, music, and dancing.

Boho wedding setup at a rustic wedding venue in Arizona

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How many guests did you decide you want to be there when you made your list? Is the answer the same for your ceremony and your reception? Or can they be split?
  • Does the area have places available that allow your guest count?
  • Is your heart set on chair and or table setups? An arch, or other free standing decor?
  • Do you want music and dancing?
  • Is having bathroom facilities and parking nearby important for your guest list?

The great news is that there are options. There are designated outdoor spaces available for larger groups that allow setups, as well as a long list of venues that specialize in bringing the outdoors into their space. From vacation rental properties, rustic venues, or local farms, there are gorgeous options that can incorporate both your love for the wild, and the amenities of electricity and running water. And if you ALSO want an epic adventure for your couple’s session? I offer hybrid weddings with a day after Adventure Session to meet all your needs!

Ready to begin planning your Elopement adventure?

Let me help you create a “perfectly you” wedding experience! Whether you know the how and where, or if you need help in choosing the best place to elope, I would LOVE to hear what you are dreaming up!

Get In Touch

Sunset fairytale kiss during an Arizona elopement
Shannon Durazo- Arizona Elopement Photographer

Hello! I’m

Shannon Durazo

and I want to be your Elopement or Wedding Photographer!

I love helping couples visualize and craft an experience that feels true to you. The way your marriage begins matters, and I would love to help you tell your story. Set your marriage up for success by allowing yourself to get married your way!

Looking for Inspiration?

Check out these articles of elopements to help you choose the best place to elope:

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12 Comments

  1. There’s so much to consider when picking an elopement location, and you’ve covered it all here! Great post.

  2. Kate Hampson says:

    Oooh now this is a fabulous post. I see many posts about WHERE, but none about WHY. I’m a little bummed we’re already married, because my mind is whirring with all the places we could elope!! These images are delightful, too. I especially love the couple in the tree ❤️

  3. Definitely a lot to consider when planning an elopement and picking a location is top of the list!

  4. Such stunning images along with a well thought-out and uber-helpful guide. Love it!

  5. I love how this is put together! This is such a great guide to finding the perfect location for your elopement. The first step is always asking yourself and the questions on this guide are really helpful to get you started.

    1. Shannon Durazo says:

      Thank you! Glad you found it helpful!

  6. This is so helpful for starting to plan an elopement! You’ve thought of everything! And your work is GORGEOUS!!! Oh my goodness!

    1. Shannon Durazo says:

      You are so sweet! Glad you found it helpful 🙂

  7. Really loving the thought provoking questions you’ve included for each concept to consider! Thanks so much for such a well rounded article on how couples can choose their elopement spot.

    1. Shannon Durazo says:

      Thank you Sienna!

  8. Brandi Vanderwolf says:

    So thought provoking and so easy to use! There are so many factors to consider, and you’ve made it super easy to help narrow choices! Will be saving this for later!

    1. Shannon Durazo says:

      Glad to be of help!

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