Where should I elope? Do I need a venue, or…?

Where should I elope? Do I need a venue, or…?

It’s your wedding day, and you’re holding hands with your partner, looking deep into each others’ loving gaze. You’re about to share your vows, but first, you smile at your partner and take a deep breath to revel in the moment. Steeped in emotion and warmth as you stand on the threshold of life’s greatest adventure, the officiant nods, encouraging you to take your time, and you take a look around.

 

Can you picture it? Do you know where you are? Have you chosen where you want to be when you marry your best friend?

Elopements give you the freedom to choose how you spend the first day of your life as a married couple, including where you celebrate and continue your love story. Breakaway from the idea that elopements are always in the wild or a courtroom, and dare yourself to imagine all the beautiful possibilities. You have the ability to set up in any space you like, change locations in the middle of the day, or simply wander until you find the spot where the sun hits the leaves juuust right. You won’t have to worry about what anyone else wants or needs – it’s all about you and where you want to take the next step in your relationship.

From the mountains to the coast, North Carolina is abundant with breathtaking landscapes. If you’re looking for dramatic views to set the backdrop on your perfect day, you could throw a dart at the map or choose your favorite terrain. Western NC has dozens of mountain towns to explore, the Coast & Outer Banks are renowned for their beauty, and the state as a whole boasts 41 state and 10 national parks!

Rose Trail Images – Downtown Raleigh

Every part of an elopement is chosen intentionally, so since the options are beautifully limitless, here are 10 quick questions to consider before picking your elopement location:

  • Do you want to feel comfortable and familiar, or do you want to experience something new?
  • Is there a location that’s special to your relationship, or somewhere you’ve always wanted to go?
  • Do you want a classic wedding vibe, or do you want to keep things casual?
  • Do you want an outdoor option with a rain plan, or are you cool with mother nature doing its thing?
  • Do you want your location to be easily accessible, or are you up for a trek?
  • Will you say your vows and then head elsewhere, or will you pick a spot and enjoy the day there?
  • Do you want to be in a private space, or are you comfortable with potential onlookers?
  • Do you want to stay close to home, or are you willing to travel?
  • Do you want photos to document the day, or photos to take your breath away?
  • Do you want to keep costs minimal, or do you want to splurge on your dream elopement?

Outdoor adventure location

Perhaps your dream is to say your vows at the top of a mountain peak or the base of a waterfall, to enjoy a picnic in a rolling field or set up a table beside a river, to take a romantic walk on the beach or a ferry ride to the Banks.

True to its name, saying your vows in a fully outdoor space is an adventure, giving you the space to be fully surrounded by nature, with no distractions from your love. This might be perfect for you if you love to explore new places, you think getting caught in the rain is romantic, and you want to celebrate your love through all life throws at you.

When you’re considering a fully outdoor location, there are a few important things to remember. You’ll need to carry everything in and out, you likely won’t have facilities or electricity, and you can’t predict the weather in NC. Being in a public place, you might run across folks you don’t know, and while some may wish you well and move along, you won’t be able to guarantee a specific spot or privacy.

No place like home

There is a special magic that happens when you get married at your own home. It’s the calm of being surrounded by familiar things, in an intimate and comfortable space, and bringing such a full expression of your love into the home.

Couples might choose to say their vows at home – or on family property – for a variety of reasons, but they boil down to the convenience of removing most major stressors. You or a relative may have a difficult time leaving home, you might want to include your pets or children, or maybe you just want to get married right away!

Imagine using your wedding budget as a downpayment on your first home, and then saying your vows in your new backyard. Picture having a potluck with all your favorite people around your kitchen table. Think about decorating your home with beautiful keepsakes as a beautiful and lasting reminder of the promises you make to each other.

Rent a non-traditional space

Saying “I do” in one of your favorite places is a super cool way to include your love story in your elopement. If the spot you have in mind doesn’t typically rent out, it never hurts to ask – and many business owners would be tickled that you want to use their space!

Nontraditional venues in the hospitality industry provide an easy opportunity to host an elopement with food and drink. Consider chilling at your favorite bar or restaurant, lounging at your weekend coffee shop or brewery, or having guests pick their favorite at a food hall!

If you want your elopement to center around an activity you enjoy, rent the space for a private event. Dance like no one’s watching at the dance club you love to frequent; rent a music venue for a show by your fav local band; play unlimited rounds of bowling or golf.

Maybe you’re the sentimental type, and you want to say your vows where you first met, had your first date, or shared a special memory. Art galleries, book shops, and boutiques can be beautiful settings for your day – and you don’t have to choose just one!

Park, preserve, and pavilion rentals

With such a wide variety of parks across the state, there are plenty of beautiful places to say your vows in nature, without the worry of an outdoor adventure. Many parks, natural preserves, and pavilions allow folks to rent the space, allowing access to facilities, restrooms, and electricity.

Renting a natural space means you’ll be able to park near your ceremony site, giving you the opportunity to set up decor and bring larger items with you. You’ll also reduce your chance of party crashers, and having a structure with a roof is a great option if the weather doesn’t cooperate on your special day.

This might be the right direction for you if you love nature and having a good backup plan, want to decorate your ceremony, or if you want to have a catered meal delivered.

Rent a wedding venue

Traditional wedding venues of any size can make for wonderful elopement sites. If there’s a venue that’s always caught your eye but was out of budget, off-season and weekday dates can be cheaper. A short rental time can also be a great way to get the most bang for your buck since you might only want to do your ceremony there.

Having a small guest list at a venue gives you an opportunity to get creative with how you use the space – and for how long. If you’re choosing an elopement because of gathering concerns, a large space allows you to easily spread out and keep pods separate. You can also use a single room for multiple purposes and use the venue in surprising and unexpected ways.

One of the perks of eloping at a wedding venue is how well they’re already prepared for you! Many venues have indoor and outdoor options, which is perfect for our inconsistent weather, and those that offer elopement packages may have an awesome list of vendors ready to make things super easy. You might have the option to bring in other vendors, or you could have the option to simply show up and enjoy the space as you say your vows and celebrate your love.

Beyond the Vows: Reveling in the Freedom of Eloping

Beyond the Vows: Reveling in the Freedom of Eloping

Tea In Wonderland Styled Shoot – Photo Credit: Ariel Kaitlin Photography

When you look for elopement inspiration, you’ll typically find gorgeous photos of mountaintop or beachside ceremonies, saying their vows with stars in their eyes. You want those stunning, intimate photos as well, and you may spend a few hours with just your partner and photographer, but what about the rest of the day?

 

Without rules, traditions or expectations, your elopement day can be anything you want!

 

 

Design your perfect morning

 

You already know a great day starts with a great morning, and your best day ever is no different! We know you’ll have some exciting jitters, so plan to get a good nights’ sleep and wake up at a time that allows you to enjoy every part of your day. Plan for a healthy and delicious breakfast to give you a boost of energy.

 

If you and your partner are waking up together, give yourselves time to ease into the day. Cuddle, enjoy your morning coffee together and revel in the fact that it’s your wedding day. If you aren’t staying together the night before, think about if you want to spend your morning on your own, or if you want some close friends or family to hang out while you get ready.

 

Think about how you can start your day in a way that makes you feel happy, relaxed and totally like yourself. Maybe that means taking a bath or long hot shower, giving yourself a spa morning. If you love to stay active, go for your morning run or yoga practice. Spend the morning reading, listening to your favorite music, painting, writing a letter to your soon-to-be spouse – whatever brings joy.

 

And of course, make sure you have plenty of time to get all dolled up before making your way to the ceremony!

 

Shakori Hills Styled Shoot – Photo Credit: Arika Jordan Photography

Before the ceremony

Just because the ceremony is traditionally the first activity on a wedding day, doesn’t mean that’s the case here. If you’ll have a few guests at your ceremony, you might meet up beforehand for lunch or pre-ceremony drinks. Do a group activity that brings everyone together or enjoy a few private moments with your partner.

If you’re including a meal or activity beforehand, think about if you want your photographer to capture those moments – even if that means a super cute, in-home session while getting ready with your fur-babies.

Are there any places that are special to your relationship near your ceremony site? Consider taking a walk down memory lane with your partner, having a meal at the first restaurant you ate at together, visiting a park you went to on an early date. Think about anything you might want to do that highlights how incredible your love story is, and make it happen!

After the ceremony

Once you’ve had your first kiss as life-partners, it’s time to celebrate! Whether or not you had guests for your ceremony, you can continue to celebrate on your own or with others.

If you’ve booked a venue or ceremony site, you may have the opportunity to stay on location. Perhaps you want to follow up the ceremony with one of your favorite activites, like going on a hike to a higher peak. If you have different hobbies, you may want to take some quiet reflection time, while you each paint, read, or do any other activities that bring you peace and enjoyment.

For the wedding traditions that resonate with you, find ways to include them! Having a cake cutting and first dance can still be sweet and special, and a bottle of champagne is always encouraged. You’ll want to have a meal after your ceremony, which can be anything from a picnic meal for two to a catered meal with table and place settings for your intimate guest list.

You can always celebrate your marriage with a meal or activity at another location, as well. Whether they were at the ceremony or not, you can have an intimate group meet you at your favorite bar, a fancy restaurant, or even a bowling alley.

Want to go the excitement-and-adventure route instead? Take a trip white water rafting, jump out of a plane, or hit up a tattoo shop. Do a brewery tour or bar crawl, try something new together, explore your surroundings.

 

Whatever you choose to do on your wedding day, be true to your relationship as you dive into life’s greatest adventure together.

Amanda & Aaron’s Beer Garden Wedding – Photo Credit: Krista Moll Photography