Admit it, when someone says the word elopement, visions of a glittering Elvis impersonator ushering you through a flashy drive-through chapel immediately come to mind. But there also exist several elopement destinations that can feel just as spontaneous and even more far-removed. For a spur of the moment "I do" that veers away from the local courthouse steps, we’re highlighting six jaw-dropping elopement destinations that are 100 percent worthy of an intimate ceremony for two.
If a scenic desert elopement feels very you, there’s arguably no better place to venture than Sedona, Arizona. This tiny Southwest town, located about an hour north of Phoenix, is rich with twisting juniper trees and rugged red rocks that stretch dramatically into the sky almost as if nature were creating its own chapels. In fact, one of Sedona’s most famous rocks is called Cathedral, which might just be too perfect a place to make it official.
The city caters specifically to elopers via petite wedding or elopement packages provided by numerous planners throughout the area. Of course, you can always plan a small exchange of vows on your own—it’s an elopement after all. A photographer, an officiant, and each other is really all you need. Marriage licenses are received the same day you apply, and you can get married the same day although the license is good for up to one year.
With a nickname like the Eternal City, Rome is the ideal place to exchange your forever vows. It’s not just the name, however. It’s the ambiance, the breathtaking architecture, the modernity-meets-antiquity, and the undeniable romance of it all. This elopement destination is just right for couples who thrive in the electric buzz of a bustling city and who have a deep appreciation for art, history, and culture.
A bilingual wedding planner can help arrange a civil wedding at one of Rome's three City Halls (Villa Lais, Caracalla, and Campidoglio), or a religious wedding at one of the city's thousands of stunning historic churches. You’ll need to abide by Italian law in order to obtain an official license. Alternatively, opt for a symbolic wedding at a private villa or public park, and then return to the States for your real marriage license.
Savannah, Georgia, is brimming with architecture, winding cobblestone streets, dancing water fountains, and beautiful oak trees dripping with soft Spanish moss. It’s important to acknowledge there is history of colonialism and the enslavement of Black people in the area.
Savannah is currently all about Southern charm, but beyond the beauty, there are a few reasons why this scenic city in Georgia is a great place to elope. For starters, the weather is practically perfect year-round. Second, Georgia has some of the most relaxed marriage laws in the country. There's no waiting period required, the license never expires, and you don't need any witnesses for the ceremony. Also, because it’s such a hub for elopements, countless planners are at the ready to make your quickie wedding a memorable experience.
The quaint city of Lisbon may not be as well-known or traditionally romantic as Paris or Santorini, but that’s exactly the point. If you’re seeking a location that looks and feels different from all the rest, Portugal’s capital—which sits along the country’s eastern edge overlooking the Tagus river—might be just the right place for your upcoming elopement.
Lisbon boasts beautiful countryside vineyards, dazzling panoramic terraces, seaside vistas, and a mixture of Roman, Gothic, and Baroque architecture. If you’re not a resident of Portugal, having a civil or religious wedding isn’t feasible, but if you’ve held residence for at least 30 days and speak Portuguese, then the process is straightforward. Everyone else can easily have a symbolic wedding, and there are many local planners who will help you plan from afar.
The Palm Beaches, Florida
Why travel across the world seeking beautiful white-sand beaches when the Palm Beaches, located at the southern tip of Florida, offer an impressive array right here in the U.S.? There’s no shortage of glittering shorelines boasting nightly, wow-worthy sunsets in Boca Raton, Jupiter, Delray Beach, and Royal Palm Beach.
You could also opt for an artsy, beach-town backdrop via West Palm Beach, which allocates a large portion of its budget to fund incredible public art installations throughout the city. Once you've obtained a marriage license—which takes about three days to process—you can have a ceremony anywhere in the state.
Picture it: Lush, windswept fields full of the greenest grass your eyes have ever seen, dramatic waves pressing against handsome cliffs, and towering castles peeking through country pastures. The Emerald Isle feels like a utopia no matter which direction you look, and the country offers countless destinations for a magnificent elopement.
You don’t have to be an Irish citizen in order to be married in Ireland, but you will have to do a bit of hoop-jumping to get everything in order for a civil or religious ceremony. The perks of doing this mean you can be married in one of the country’s stunning churches for a religious wedding or in a castle or manor house for a civil ceremony. You can also look into spiritual, humanist, or secular ceremonies, which are also legally binding. Alternatively, opt for a symbolic wedding held outdoors at the Cliffs of Moher, Barna Woods, Portumna Forest Park, or elsewhere.