I am devastated for all the couples who have had to cancel or postpone their weddings over the past few months. A lot of newly engaged couples are now questioning whether to even plan a big event, since we don’t know when travel restrictions will ease and hotels will reopen. Even when they do, people may be hesitant to fly or stay in resorts for a while.
Because of this, many couples I know are planning elopements instead. Elopements aren’t what they used to be (which is why there is now a whole industry dedicated to helping you plan them). An “elopement” today basically just means a small wedding, with under fifteen guests.
The advantage of planning an elopement right now is that: 1) travel and hotel prices are at an all-time low, and 2) you don’t have to ask a lot of people to book flights for a wedding when they may be having a tough time financially, or when they’re hesitant to book any travel right now. Instead, you may want to plan something for just you and your fiancé, or include only immediate family who don’t mind booking a flight that might have to be moved back.
Here are five destination ideas:
- Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia (Skyline Drive) and North Carolina (Asheville) offer stunning views for your vows. While some popular areas might be closed right now, they’re more likely to reopen before actual wedding venues. A mountain wedding is also free (for the venue, at least). If you do invite a few guests, consider booking an Airbnb instead of a hotel and having a picnic reception outside.
- U.S. Virgin Islands. You may have better luck making it to these islands because they’re technically still in the U.S. Also, a U.S. marriage license is valid here. You’ll still have to fly to get there, but you can plan for winter when flights may have resumed. The major islands are St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island.
- Mt. Hood, Utah. Capitol Reef National Park has miles of caverns and canyons, making for incredible photos. You won’t need any decorations or extras – just an officiant and a photographer.
- Big Sur. Big Sur is a popular elopement spot because of its stunning natural backdrop – beaches, forests and fields. There are dozens of amazing spots to marry here, and it’s accessible by driving from San Francisco (2.5 hours) and Los Angeles (5.5 hours), making it a great choice for California couples who don’t want to fly.
- New England. You can’t beat New England for romantic, colorful fall elopements. Try the Hotel Vermont in Burlington (which has a full elopement package) or coastal Maine. East coasters should consider this drivable option.
Almost all hotels and inns now offer some kind of elopement package (averaging about $1000), so pick your general destination first and then narrow it down to a specific location. These packages can include things from refreshment and snacks for a few guests to a small cake, champagne, an officiant and a photographer.