80 UNIQUE ELOPEMENT IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR DAY SPECIAL
By Chad and Vanessa, ‘The Outlovers’: your elopement and small wedding photography and planning assistance team.
UPDATED OCTOBER 2022
So many couples come to us knowing that they like the general IDEA of eloping but are unsure about what it all means.
What should you do on your elopement day?
How do you make an elopement special?
What are some unique elopement ideas?
We understand it can be HARD to think outside the confines of a traditional wedding and really open your minds to the infinite possibilities of eloping.
But here’s the really cool thing: your elopement day is a completely blank slate and you have the opportunity to make it even MORE special than a typical wedding day.
With fewer people to organize and fewer moving parts to coordinate you have the time (and the funds!) to really do something amazing and unique on your wedding day!
In fact, you can do absolutely ANYTHING you flipping choose on your elopement day.
That’s exciting, but also kind of overwhelming, right?
We’ve put together this list of 80 elopement wedding ideas to serve as a starting point and to get your imagination running wild.
We hope that something on this list of unique elopement ideas jumps out at you and you’re like ‘YES, THAT’S IT! That’s what I want to do on my elopement day.”
Elopement Ideas: Food and Drink
Food and drink plays a massive role in our sense of celebration. If you want your elopement to feel special, definitely incorporate some yummy elements into your day. Check out these ideas for some elopement inspiration!
Cook breakfast together
What’s your total dream, decadent, I-don’t-give-a-f**k breakfast?
A mountain of pancakes? Waffles? Bacon and eggs with endless buttered toast?
Whatever it might be, cooking it together in your PJs is a really sweet way to start the day.
AND it will fuel you up ready for the adventure ahead!
Enjoy a hot toddy or ‘coffee with a kick’
Whether you’re up before the sun, or staying out for the stars, a warming drink with a ‘little something extra’ is a fun way to spice up your elopement day.
It feels like a special little luxury we don’t tend to treat ourselves to on a ‘normal’ day.
Pack a charcuterie board picnic
We love elopement day picnics: they’re so cozy and romantic.
Load up a charcuterie board with all your favorites – meats, cheeses, olives, crusty bread – and find somewhere beautiful to lay out your picnic blanket.
Enjoy a wedding cake/pie/cupcakes
Damn right you can elope and still have a wedding cake.
In fact, with fewer guests you can have a bigger slice!
Grab a pizza and beers (best elopement idea EVER!)
The great thing about eloping is that you can do whatever the heck you want.
If pizza and beer is your favorite thing ever and that’s what you want for your wedding day meal… Then go right on ahead and do it!
Treat yourself to a fancy restaurant
If fine dining is more your vibe, well, there’s never been a better time to treat yourself.
That special restaurant you’ve aaaaaalways wanted to go to but haven’t coz it’s kinda pricey? BOOK IT.
Hire a private chef
Romantic three-course dinner for two on the wooden deck of your secluded AirBnB?
Ummm, yes please.
Hiring a private chef is a great way to up the ante and really make your elopement feel special.
Enjoy an al fresco dinner beneath the stars
We’re picturing a beautiful old wooden table in the garden of your mountain chalet, laden with delicious foods and flowers and candles and…. Ohhhhh, STOP! Too romantic for words.
Make s’mores around the campfire
Cuddling up around the fire is a perfect way to end your elopement day and what’s more fun than melting marshmallows together? Who can get the gooeyest?!
Sample the local cuisine
If you’ve traveled somewhere new for your elopement, it’s a fun idea to check out anything that is unique or special in the area. Our best advice is ask a local!
Check out this cool article for a list of distinctive foods in each of the US states!
Elopement Ideas: Cool Activities
One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind when they’re planning an elopement is what do we actually DO on our elopement day?! With all the structure and traditional activities of a ‘normal’ wedding, how do we fill the time? Here’s a few unique elopement ideas to serve as inspiration.
Check out the local area
If you’ve traveled for your elopement, spend some time exploring.
Maybe there’s a cool national park nearby?
Or a cultural tour you’d like to join?
A wine-tasting session is NEVER a bad idea…
Any of these unique ideas could be incorporated into your elopement day to make it super-special and memorable.
Take a class together
Learning something new together is always a great bonding experience and makes for a really unique elopement experience.
You could start your day with a private yoga class, or could try rock-climbing, a cooking class… Anything that feels interesting to you.
Oooooh, how cool would it be to do a jewelry making class and make your own wedding rings?!
Catch the sunrise or sunset
In our humble opinion, sunrise and sunset are just the most magical times of day.
We HIGHLY recommend getting yourselves somewhere beautiful with killer views for one, if not both, of them on your elopement day.
You might enjoy reading: How To Plan A Sunrise Ceremony
Plan for an epic first look
We think getting ready separately – whether that be in separate rooms in your cabin or on opposite sides of a tree on top of a mountain – really builds up a sense of anticipation.
Allowing time for a first look somewhere beautiful helps time to really stand still for just a moment on your elopement day.
Return to a spot that holds special memories to you
Really want to make your elopement day special?
Return to a place that holds deep meaning to you.
Maybe where you went on your first date, where you shared your first kiss, or where you talked about this being forever for the very first time…
Take a hike (one of our favorite elopement ideas!)
For the outdoors-loving couple, getting out into the heart of nature is a no-brainer on your elopement day.
It’s where you come alive and where you feel most connected to each other.
Whether it’s one mile or ten, a hike is an exhilarating way to make your elopement day memorable.
You might enjoy reading: How To Plan A Hiking Wedding
Lounge around in a natural hot spring
If you can combine this with the aforementioned hike, then you’re REALLY winning.
The Ouray region of Colorado is a STUNNING location for a mountain elopement and has some great hot springs.
Have a campfire on the beach
Lapping waves, sparks jumping from the fire, the moon rising above the ocean.
Need we say more?!
If you’re lucky enough to be in a sufficiently dark area AND have a clear night sky, then take advantage of that good fortune: lay outside, snuggle up in a blanket and gaze at the stars together.
There’s something very special and heartachingly romantic about contemplating your place in the universe on your first evening as a married couple.
This isn’t an elopement idea in its own right, obviously, but it’s such an important concept that we thought it deserved a place of its own on this list.
There’s a bazillion and one cool activities you could enjoy on your elopement day to help make it feel special and unique.
Every couple will be different in what feels like fun to them.
The important thing is that you DO allow yourselves to indulge in things that you wouldn’t normally and spend the whole day really making memories that will last a lifetime.
Elopement Ideas: Go Exploring Within The US
The US is so diverse and so beautiful and we think it’s a great idea to get out exploring for your elopement. As part of our planning process, we’ll take the time to get to know you and create a personalized list of location suggestions. For now, here’s just a handful of our personal favorite spots for elopement inspiration:
Enjoy the desert in Moab, Utah
This is one of our very favorite places of all time for elopements. That red desert is irresistible.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Your Moab Elopement if the desert is calling you.
Check out the majestic San Juan mountains, Colorado
When people think of a Colorado elopement, they automatically think of Rocky Mountain National Park.
But there is SO much more to this beautiful state.
The San Juan mountains to the west are remote and rugged and SPECTACULARLY beautiful.
We’ve written a whole guide on How To Elope In Colorado if that sounds like fun to you!
Enjoy varied landscapes in Washington state
Check out the Olympic Peninsula’s dramatic beaches and dense rainforest, then head to the North Cascades for incomparable mountain views.
Drive the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park
And while you’re there, hike the Highline Trail.
Keep your eyes open for bears, bighorn sheep and mountain goats!
Elope in some of the wildest mountains you’ve ever seen.
Go deep into the forests of North Carolina
The green, lush forests of North Carolina make for a beautiful elopement location.
And nearby Asheville would make for a great place to celebrate afterwards!
Appreciate the quirkiness of Joshua Tree National Park, California
Can you picture yourself sharing your vows amongst those wacky cacti?
We think some of the best elopement ideas begin with a place and then develop from there.
Enjoy the ocean on the California coast
Dramatic coastlines, gorgeous beaches. And good wine country nearby!
I think we’re on to something….
Venture all the way to Alaska
Imagine visiting Denali National Park, home of North America’s largest peak, for your elopement. Mountains, glaciers and insane wildlife viewing.
How special would that be?!
Visit Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson is super-cool, buzzing little town with lots of great places to eat and cool activities to get involved in.
Plus nearby Grand Tetons National Park is home to some of the most majestic mountains we’ve ever seen, which we think would make for a really special elopement experience.
Elopement Ideas: Go Exploring Overseas
What better time than your elopement adventure to grab your passport, pack your bags and head to the ends of the earth together?
If you’re not an experienced traveler, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. We’ve spent a lot of our adult lives living and working overseas and will be right beside you through the planning process.
Check out our destination elopement packages here.
Road trip around Scotland
Scotland is such a small country, you can see so much in just a few days.
Can you imagine sharing your vows in the Scottish Highlands or on the Isle of Skye?
You might like: our Ultimate Guide to Your Scotland Elopement
Rent a campervan in New Zealand (we’ve tested out this elopement idea ourselves, so fun!)
Drive around the North and South island, checking out the glaciers, mountains and fjord-like ‘sounds’.
There’s also a bunch of fun adventure activities to make your elopement special and unique!
These rental vans from Quirky Campers have been done up SO beautifully.
We are currently offering a $500 ‘bucket list’ discount to one adventurous couple who wants to elope in New Zealand! GET IN TOUCH if you and your love want to wed in this wild, rugged landscape.
Patagonia is every outdoor enthusiasts bucket list DREAM.
Imagine eloping in Torres del Paine National Park! EPIC!!!
Check out Iceland’s black sand beaches
Iceland is one of the top destination elopement locations for good reason.
It is other-worldly: wild and dramatic and too beautiful for words.
You’ve got to see it to believe it.
Go on safari in South Africa (we chose this elopement idea for our own wedding!)
South Africa is one of our favorite countries and would certainly make for a special elopement.
You could hang out in Cape Town, enjoy the winelands then head to Kruger to go on safari.
You might also enjoy reading: Planning Tips From Our Own Elopement Experience
Immerse yourselves in culture in Europe
Check out Prague, Paris, Vienna, Rome….
Or get into the mountains in the Italian Dolomites or the Austrian Alps.
Feel tiny in the Norweigan fjords
What an epic landscape for a super unique elopement.
If you get lucky, you might even see the northern lights!
Check out the ruins of Machu Pichu in Peru
Nothing like pondering an ancient civilisation to bring a bit of wonder and magic to your elopement day.
Trek the Himalayas in Nepal
Find yourselves literally on top of the world with this special elopement idea!
You’ll work hard to share those vows somewhere unique but, ohhh, it will be worth the effort.
Elopement Ideas: Make Your Ceremony Special
Your ceremony is the absolute focus of your elopement day: you’re finally going to share vows and commit yourselves to each other forevermore. If you’re worried it isn’t going to feel special enough without the big crowd of a traditional wedding, don’t be! We’ve got lots of unique ideas to bring some magic to the moment.
With ancient traditions, this beautifully symbolic act binds lovers’ hands together with a cord and unites them forevermore.
We think it’s a really special element to include in a modern day elopement.
Plant a tree together
We’ve seen couples choose to plant a tree together after they’ve shared vows and we think it’s a super unique and beautiful idea. Not only are you helping the environment, but you’re creating something that will grow and flourish alongside your marriage.
Blend your own wine (we feel pretty excited about this elopement idea!)
We love this unusual unity ceremony!
Blend and bottle your own wine then save it for your first anniversary. After you’ve taste tested it a few times, of course!
Read letters from your friends and family
If you’re not bringing guests to your elopement you can still include them by asking them in advance to write you letters to read on your special day.
Have family bless your rings (an elopement idea we included in our own ceremony)
If you’ve chosen to have loved ones at your ceremony, you can pass around your rings and ask everyone to bless them before you go on to exchange them with each other.
You could even do this in advance if you’re not bringing guests along.
Imagine all that good energy locked into your rings forever!
Get your dog involved (No.1 elopement idea award!)
Yes, you can bring your dog to your elopement ceremony!
Maybe a little floral collar or ‘My Humans Eloped’ sign could be fun?
And did you know your dog can even ‘sign’ your marriage license in Colorado?!
Have a live musician for your ceremony
A singer, a violinist, a harpist, a guitarist…
Or, if you’re musically inclined yourself, you could play something for your partner as part of your ceremony.
What a way to add some romance to your elopement.
Include a reading from a favorite book/movie/poem
We think any little detail that brings your unique personalities to your elopement ceremony is a great special touch.
If there’s a line or passage from your favorite move that you always quote to each other, add it to your ceremony.
TAKE IT SLOW.
This is a very general elopement idea that applies to your whole day but especially to your ceremony.
Often with big, traditional weddings, the couple feels obliged to keep the ceremony short and sweet so the 100+ guests can get right to the celebration.
With an elopement, there is no such hurry.
Take your time, go slow and soak in every little moment.
Elopement Ideas: Maximize The Celebrations
YOU’RE MARRIED. Let’s celebrate the heck out of that! Remember, your elopement day is just as special and just as important as anybody else’s wedding day.
Have a first dance
So many couples don’t realize that it’s TOTALLY OK to include tradition in your elopement day.
Of course you can!
The only difference is that your dance floor might be a clifftop overlooking never-ending canyons or a snowy mountaintop with the surrounding peaks as your only audience.
Make a toast to each other with your favorite drink
Whether it be whisky, wine, champagne or a Diet Coke, be sure to mark this special moment in time.
Ohhh we LOVE a good champagne pop. It’s fun, decadent and makes for EPIC photos!
Shout WE’RE MARRIED at the top of your lungs!
Ok, this one’s only a good idea if you’ve chosen a super remote location.
But, if so, it’s so LIBERATING to be able to shout and celebrate as loud as you want on your wedding day!
Order custom ‘Just Married’ or ‘We Eloped’ signs
These look super cute if you’re donning backpacks for a hiking elopement. And they can be repurposed as a sweet souvenir in your home afterwards.
Jump in an alpine lake (in summer!)
If you’re finding all the emotion a bit overwhelming and hard to take in a refreshing plunge can bring you right back to the present moment!
There are some BEAUTIFUL blue lakes in the Colorado mountains. One of the best parts of our jobs is scouting out new places and finding the perfect location for YOU.
It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, but a thoughtful gift is a great way to make your elopement day special.
It could be something you made yourself, something your partner’s had their eye on forever or a handwritten love note.
Start your honeymoon
If you’re traveling for your elopement, why not stay a few days longer and turn the trip into a combined honeymoon?
Not only is it exciting, adventurous and romantic… It also saves on travel costs so, really, it’s just the smart, practical thing to do!
Plan a post-elopement reception
Just because you’ve chosen to elope and limit the number of people at your ceremony, it doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the heck out of your union back home with your loved ones! People WANT to recognize your marriage, they WANT to be involved.
You could have a full-blown wedding reception if that’s your thing, or simply book a table at your favorite restaurant and keep it casual and easygoing.
Get the epic photos
We’re pretty minimalist people. Our elopement photos are our single most treasured possession.
Even though our day was small and relaxed, we were so caught up in the emotion of it all that it STILL whizzed by in a blur.
Those photos bring back everything: we laugh and cry every time we look at them.
Elopement Ideas: Unique Transportation
We’ve got some super fun ideas for your wedding day transport, whether it’s getting you to and from your ceremony or just as a fun activity to jazz up your elopement day.
Rent a Jeep and go off-roading
Get off the beaten track, away from the crowds, and find a truly secluded spot for your elopement ceremony.
Get a Jeep/Hummer/ATV guide
If you don’t have advanced driving skills, it’s a WAY better idea to hire a professional to get you to that crazy spot you’ve been eyeing on the map.
Sit back, enjoy the ride and soak it all in.
Charter a small boat
How about an elopement day sailing adventure around the San Juan islands off the Washington coast? Get out on the water, look out for whales and stop off at one of the small islands to share your vows.
Take a private helicopter or plane to your ceremony
What a way to arrive in style!
Not only is chartering a helicopter super unique and special, but the views are insane AND it allows you to get to locations that can’t be reached by other modes of transport.
Get out on the water: go kayaking, rafting or stand-up-paddleboarding
If you and your partner are water babies then incorporate that into your elopement day.
Go horse-riding at sunset
Enjoying a private horse ride as the sun disappears behind the mountains, sounds like a dreamy way to close out your elopement day to us.
Jump on a dog sled
This Alaskan helicopter ride combined with dog-sledding on a freaking GLACIER sounds totally epic!
And you were worried your elopement wouldn’t be special enough!
Go snowshoeing or skiing
The best way you can make your elopement special is by including elements of YOU in it. So if you and your partner love to get out and play in the snow then incorporate that into your elopement adventure.
Rent a vintage sports car
Can you picture yourself road tripping down the Pacific Coast Highway, the sun shining and the wind in your hair?
Stop to share your vows in a romantic cliffside ceremony, and then drive off into the sunset.
Elopement Ideas: Unique Accommodation
We love finding unusual, quirky places to stay and we think your elopement is a time in your lives when you should indulge in somewhere special if it’s important to you. You only get one wedding night, y’know?
Camp in the backcountry
If total wilderness is more your thing, get your backpack on and head out into the backcountry.
We’ll happily design a multi-day elopement adventure for you and help you find a remote location to share your vows.
Star-gaze in a glass cabin
Check out these glass cabins in Iceland for the ultimate romance on your wedding night.
Imagine lying in bed as newly weds, staring at the infinite night sky.
You might even catch the northern lights!
Stay in a homey Bed and Breakfast
We personally love the coziness of a B&B over a fancy hotel. We think it makes for a much more intimate, special elopement experience.
Travel back in time with an historic castle stay
While you CAN stay in something resembling a castle in the US, we’re a little biased with Vanessa originating from Scotland, and we’re really going to have to recommend a Scottish elopement if you want the real deal.
Check out our Ultimate Scotland Elopement Guide for all the details.
Rent a camper van
We’re all about road tripping for your elopement so you can see and do as much as possible. There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the landscape.
These vans from Moterra come with everything you need for an epic elopement adventure.
Rent a houseboat
Imagine cruising around Lake Powell on the border of Arizona and Utah with 12 of your nearest and dearest for a super special elopement experience. You can hire a captain and even a private chef so no experience necessary.
We hope this epic list of elopement ideas gives you some inspiration and reassures you that you’ll have no problem at all making your elopement day special.
We truly believe you can make it MORE special than any other wedding as you have so much freedom and flexibility in the planning of it.
So DREAM BIG! Make your elopement the experience of a lifetime.
We would love to create an epic elopement experience for you! We provide planning assistance, photography and officiation for adventure-seeking couples across the US and worldwide. Get in touch to start brainstorming with us!
Chad & Vanessa, ‘The Outlovers’