How to choose your elopement ceremony location









Firstly, Congratulations! Secondly, hope you aren’t stressing too much on planning your ceremony. If you are, let’s work this out together. I love it when couples ask “How do we choose ceremony locations for our vow exchange?”

As an elopement photographer, I am obsessed of scouting new places and learning what spots are the right fit for each couple. What I have learned from my adventures? These tips are just as important vs. the actual location or backdrop.

Here is how I break it down and work my way into finding the perfect location (and time) for a wedding or elopement ceremony.

  1. Time of day is probably the most important part. The bright sun of summer can not only tamper with your ceremony photos, but also how comfortable your wedding guests (and you) are. Typically couples who opt in for an outside ceremony pick the brightest part of the day to be outside. This is problematic – from the squinting, sweating and over exposed photos (I can only do so much in post edit), to the possibilities of your guests just being uncomfortable.

What I recommend? Check out when sunset is, and when golden hour is. This may not be always possible to line up the day’s schedule with ideal lighting. That’s totally ok! Think about exchanging vows in the shade or have guests be able to get out of the sun. This will also help with your photos, keeping them in the estetic that you originally signed up for.

2. Picking a location with a view or backdrop that offers symmetry or a back drop that allows all eyes on you as a couple.

  • I am a huge fan of less is more/ use nature as a backdrop. What is most important is that the backdrop isn’t distracting (think moving cars, people in the distance playing sports, decorations moving because of wind, or things that are technology based, loud noises, etc.).
  • Some of my favorite places are in the forest, a gazebo, on a trail head overlooking a waterfall and a deck of an amazing Air bnb that overlooks the green mountains. You can exchange vows anywhere, so why not pick a place that is peaceful, secluded and allows for you both to be in the moment.

3. Know how long it will take you (and guests) to get at the site.

  • Typically for elopement vow echanges, couples will pick areas of adventure or spots that may not have total accommodation for guests. It’s your day, so off roading is totally normal! However, if you do have a small amount of guests joining you both for parts or the whole day, consider how long it will take for everyone to get to the sites or activities. This also will be a huge indicator of how long you need to hire vendors for.
  • Picking areas for a ceremony that works for a small amount of guests: such as a mountain top view with road access for guests who are unable or unwilling to hike.
  • Guests can always join after private vows are exchanged – think of meeting everyone at the bottom of a mountain where you have a luxury picnic spread waiting.
  • Boats are also a great way to keep things running on time – set a location and time of “lift off” or when you set sail. Boats typically have enough seating or places for guests to rest if needed. If it’s just a sailboat for you and your officiant, you can always meet up with everyone back on the dock (have them welcome you back with a celebration.

3. Understand how long you want your ceremony to be

  • 99% of couples who are eloping will opt out of an hour long religious ceremony. Think “30 mins tops” kinda vibe. Usually custom vows are exchanged and maybe a specific cultural ceremony will be performed (hand tying ceremony and other creative wedding rituals) are a great way to round out and personalize your moment together.

Always have a “Plan B”

  • weather, closed roads or trail heads, transportation breakdowns, pandemics (I only half kid on this) are great reasons to have a backup game plan. During the consultation process, I always let me couples know that we will have a back up for each part of their day, incase we need to quickly and calmly pivot. I will photograph rain or shine, but it comes down to safety, great photos and having a totally kick butt time together.
  • Plan B shouldn’t feel like you are missing out on anything – this is why scouting locations is so important. I personally plan out location schedules for my clients, typically because they are coming in from out of state/ not from the area. What this looks like? I arrive at location a few days before hand to make sure everything is ready to go.


  • Pick times of the day where sun isn’t blasting (golden hour either AM or PM) for ceremony times
  • Find a quiet spot with a nature inspired or simple back drop that will not take away from your ceremony (no loud noises, no technology, etc.)
  • Know how long it will take you to get to your spot of choice, and how long it will take for guests to arrive as well.
  • Know if you want to have guests or if you want it just to be a three-some (you, your partner and your JP).
  • Know what kind of ceremony you want to have, and how long it will take to perform.
  • Have a back up plan for ceremony site as well as the rest of the day adventures.

Read the next blog “How to Hike in a wedding dress”

Need more ideas on how to create the best elopement experience for you? Check out my photography details here.


All the love,


Deco Reverie Studios