Planning a Destination Wedding or Elopement

February 2, 2024

Thinking of planning a Destination Wedding or Elopement? This guide will cover a wide range of information from how to choose your location, planning tips, transporting decor, and more.

Blog links included in this guide:

When Planning a Destination Wedding or Elopement:

First things first, let’s discuss how to choose a location!

From there you can consider things like the time of year, date, and what planning a Destination Wedding or Elopement looks like to you!

destination wedding in the valley of fire
detail shots from a maine destination elopement
bride and groom having a destination elopement in maine

How to Choose a Destination Location:

You can bring all the florals, decor, etc but the location is the canvas and roots of how it will all come together.

When you picture your dream location ask yourself, do you see yourself on beautiful canyons or a beach? In the forest, or maybe a full service seaside resort?

Some locations will even offer multiple settings, but deciding what surrounding is most important to you is the first thing you should do when planning a Destination Wedding or Elopement.

Consider the weather that you want for your day and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you want warmer or colder temperatures?
  • Are you looking for fall colors or wildflowers?
  • What activities are you hoping to incorporate into your day?
  • Does my location offer a rain plan?

Answering these questions will give you an idea of a general date for your wedding.

Additional Questions to Ask Yourself:

couple eloping in hocking hills
  • Is the location easily accessible?
  • Will you need a plane, train, bus, or any other transportation services?
  • Are you going to a place where you don’t speak the language?
  • Do you understand what type of permits may be required?
  • Is there a time change?
  • Will you have cell service?
  • Do I have access to navigation (maps, GPS, etc)?
  • How many guests will be attending?
  • Are we bringing our children or pets?
  • What will best represent us as a couple and our vision?
  • How many days will our event be?
  • Do we have rehearsal plans?
  • If it’s a venue, are there room blocks for guests?
  • Have we been here before or is it new?
  • Is this a safe location?
  • Is there nearby lodging/food?

There will be a bit of research you will need to do when it comes to where you choose to hold your event and what factors you care about most. 

When Picking Dates For Your Destination:

When planning a Destination Wedding or Elopement, picking the perfect time of year can be crucial to a smooth experience. 

For example, a weekend is going to be the busiest part of the week.

On the other hand you could always do a week day to cut down on traffic, cost, and tourists.

From hurricane seasons, hottest months, snow or rainy season you will want to factor in your locations climate pattern when choosing what season you go.

In addition you will want to consider if there are any holidays or festivals planned around your preferred date!

Legal Documents:

Depending on where you are traveling you will want to make sure you have current identification including a passport and or visa if required.

There may also be additional permits and licensing needed to get married.

For instance, if you get married at a national park you will more than likely need a permit (and maybe a designated time slot) to hold your ceremony there.

Some states also allow self solemnization where you won’t need an officiant. A few states that allow this are:

  • Colorado
  • Pennsylvania
  • Illinois
  • District of Columbia

There are other states that also offer this but have certain requirements such as religious factors, witnesses, and different types of marriage documents.

When getting married in another country you will need to look into their marriage laws and how to obtain the necessary documentation for your event (and if it will be a legal document once you return home or if your country won’t recognize the marriage).

The US recognizes marriages that take place in other states or other countries as long as they are legal in the area it takes place!

More often than not, to avoid jumping through all of the legal hoops couples will get married at their hometown courthouse and then host their destination ceremony as a symbolic celebration so there are no legal stressors!

Every state/destination may require something different so this is important to consider when choosing your perfect location!

Honeymooning:

When planning a Destination Wedding or Elopement one exciting part is the honeymoon!

One pro of a destination wedding is that you can extend it into a honeymoon (the thought being “we are already here, why not see more?”).

However, keep in mind if you flew out decor that you may want to designate someone to help bring things back home if you choose to extend your trip for a honeymoon.

Lastly, if you are looking for the best honeymoon travel agent I highly recommend Cally from Bliss Honeymoons! She helped plan multiple international vacations for my husband and I and she goes above and beyond for the best experience!

Planning a Destination Wedding or Elopement – Tips For Packing Decor:

One thing to consider when you are deciding where is also how. How will you get all of the decor where it needs to go? What decor can you/can you not bring?

The most expensive route would be to ship decor to your destination and that can lead to other issues like it getting lost or your venue not accepting those deliveries.

Venues may also charge you a fee for bringing in your own decor.

Depending on your venue, they may supply decor which you can use if your vision aligns with what they offer.

Another option is if you have a planner local to the venue they may let you ship items directly to them!

The most common thing people do is check their own bags with decor (don’t forget about your attire too, not just props!).

Some family or friends may even agree to checking bags of decor for you if you cover the checked bag fees.

Always keep in mind if you bring it there you need to take it home! Consider things like: how you would plan to get all of your items home? Are guests bringing gifts we have to fly back?

For more information on checklists and packing decor, click here.

two men eloping in las vegas
destiation elopement in las vegas
two men eloping in nevada

To Summarize Planning a Destination Wedding or Elopement:

The day it entirely YOU! Make it what you and your partner want, take the time to make sure you do it right in regards to legal documentation, and remember to enjoy it every step of the way!

Not sure how to pick your destination photographer? Click here for a blog on “How to Choose a Destination Photographer”.

Interested in my services? Click here for my package information or inquire here.

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Website: daniellewilliamsphotography.com

Contact: dwp@daniellewilliamsphotography.com

Danielle Oney

more about danielle

Meet your photographer & adventure bestie, Danielle

Hey! I’m an adventurous, outdoorsy, and avid travel seeker who connects best with couples that aren’t afraid to go off-script, appreciate the candid moments, and who enjoy going with the flow. 

With travel experience both stateside and internationally, I am thrilled at the idea of capturing your special story in a breathtaking location personalized just for you.