Two people holding hands and walking through a desert landscape, dressed in wedding attire.

10 Reasons to Have an Outdoor Elopement Wedding

Your wedding day is usually a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s no secret that planning a traditional wedding can be overwhelming and stressful. Fortunately, there’s a unique trend in the wedding industry that’s quickly gaining popularity: adventure elopements, or outdoor elopement weddings. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of outdoor elopement weddings and provide tips for planning the ultimate adventure elopement.

What is an Adventure Elopement?

First, let’s define adventure elopement. An adventure elopement is a non-traditional outdoor elopement wedding experience that takes place in a stunning location with just you and your partner, and perhaps a small number of guests. Adventure elopements are often associated with outdoor and adventurous activities, such as hiking, rock climbing, or off-roading. It’s a fun alternative to traditional weddings and provides more freedom and flexibility to couples who want to celebrate their love in a unique and personalized way.

I love adventure elopements so much that I did so myself! My husband and I planned our dream outdoor elopement wedding in the mountains of the UNESCO World Heritage site- the Italian Dolomites. It was perfect in every way and exactly how we envisioned our wedding day. Most importantly, it was completely curated for our experience to reflect our own unique story.

Two people holding hands and walking through a desert landscape, dressed in wedding attire.

10 Reasons to Consider an Outdoor Adventure Elopement

There are several reasons why you should consider an adventure elopement. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons.

1. Flexibility and Freedom

One of the main advantages of adventure elopements is the freedom to have a unique and personalized wedding experience. Couples can choose the location that suits their personality and interests, whether it’s a mountaintop, a beach, or a forest. They can also choose the date and time that works best for them, without having to worry about venue availability. This flexibility allows couples to create a truly customized wedding experience that reflects their unique style and preferences.

Another advantage of adventure elopements is the freedom to break away from traditional wedding expectations. Couples can skip the formalities, such as the bridal party, the wedding cake, and the first dance, and focus on what matters: their love for each other. This also means that couples can save money by not having to spend on expensive venues, catering, and other wedding expenses.

2. Intimate and Meaningful Experience

One of the biggest advantages of adventure elopements is the opportunity to have an intimate and private ceremony with just you and your partner. This allows couples to focus on each other and the love and commitment they share, without the distractions and pressures of a large guest list.

Elopements provide the ultimate romantic experience, as couples can express their love and commitment in a more meaningful way, without having to worry about pleasing everyone else. Outdoorsy weddings also provide an opportunity to incorporate activities and adventures into the wedding day, making the experience even more meaningful and memorable.

Couples can go on a hike, go off-roaing, or go kayaking, and incorporate these activities into their wedding day. This allows couples to create a unique and unforgettable wedding experience that reflects their personalities and interests

Big Sur hills and coastline in the sunrise light.

3. Stunning and Memorable Locations

One of the biggest draws of outdoor elopement weddings is the ability to choose a location that is truly stunning and memorable. Unlike traditional weddings, which often take place in a church, banquet hall, or hotel ballroom, adventure elopements can be held in a variety of breathtaking outdoor settings.

Couples can exchange their vows on a mountaintop, on a secluded beach, or in a forest glade. Scenic and remote locations provide an unforgettable experience for couples and their guests. These locations offer a sense of intimacy and seclusion that is difficult to find in traditional wedding venues. Adventure elopements often take place in national parks, on private ranches, or in other unique locations that offer privacy and stunning scenery.

4. Affordable

Elopements can be significantly cheaper than traditional weddings, which is another reason why they are becoming increasingly popular. With a smaller guest list and fewer formalities, there is less need to spend on the venue, catering, and other wedding expenses. This provides a fantastic opportunity to use the saved funds towards a memorable honeymoon or create your dream wedding.

According to a survey conducted by The Knot in 2022, the average cost of a wedding in the United States was $30,000, with some couples spending much more than that. In contrast, elopements can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on the location and services are chosen. The cost savings of an elopement can be significant. For example, if you decide to elope in a national park, the only expenses may be the permit fee and travel costs.

You can even choose to have a picnic or a simple meal, rather than a formal reception with catering and alcohol, which can save thousands of dollars. You can also choose to DIY some aspects of your elopement, such as your makeup, hair, and floral arrangements, to save even more money.

5. Less Stress and Planning

Planning a wedding can be a stressful and time-consuming process, especially if you have a large guest list and want to conform to traditional wedding expectations. Elopements, on the other hand, are generally less stressful and time-consuming to plan. With a smaller guest list, there’s less time spent coordinating logistics, allowing you to focus on the moment and enjoy your special day.

My elopement packages are built to take the stress of planning away from you. I support you by finding your ideal California elopement location; I can officiate; I research permit information; Handle all logistics; and so much more. This eliminates the need for you to coordinate multiple vendors and services, which can be time-consuming and stressful.

In addition, elopements provide an opportunity to be more flexible and spontaneous in your planning. You can choose to elope at any time of the year, on any day of the week, and in any location that suits you. You can also choose to incorporate meaningful and personal details into your ceremony, such as writing your vows or wearing a non-traditional wedding dress.

6. Creative Photography

One of the most exciting aspects of an outdoor elopement is the opportunity for creative and stunning wedding photography. Scenic locations, natural lighting, and personalized details make for beautiful and memorable photos and videos that you’ll cherish for years to come.

As your elopement photographer, I capture intimate moments and emotions in a way that is as natural and authentic as the landscape you exchange vows on. I work with you to create a vision for your elopement photos and ensure that your memories are captured in a way that reflects your personalities and love for each other. I also love to include fun GIFS, double exposures, or creative blends into your wedding gallery.

7. More Quality Time Together

Traditional weddings can be overwhelming with the number of guests, family, and friends, which can limit the time you get to spend with your partner. We had a separate reception post-elopement and I’ll just say we were so happy to have eloped. Adventure elopements offer an intimate and private experience that allows you to focus on each other. By choosing an elopement, you can create more quality time with your partner to enjoy each other’s company and strengthen your relationship.

A close-up of two people in wedding attire, foreheads touching and eyes closed, sharing an intimate moment.

Activities You Can Do Together During an Adventure Elopement

Your elopement wedding offers a unique opportunity to incorporate fun activities that you and your partner enjoy. You can go bike riding, practice bow and arrow, or stand-up paddle board, depending on your interests and the location of your elopement. Your wedding allows you to plan an entire day that is centered on spending time together and making memories.

8. Flexibility with Timing

Your average wedding often requires at least a year of planning, which can be stressful and overwhelming. However, outdoorsy elopements offer a greater degree of flexibility, which makes the planning process more manageable and enjoyable. It’s pretty common for eloping couples to plan their wedding day in just a few months!

9. Eco-friendliness and Sustainability

Eco-friendliness and sustainability have become important considerations for many couples when planning their outdoor wedding. Firstly, elopements typically have a smaller guest list, resulting in a smaller environmental footprint. With fewer guests, there’s less energy consumed, resources used, and waste generated, making it a more sustainable option. In a standard wedding, there’s a ton of waste from single-use florals, cutlery, decorations, wedding favors, and more.

As a Leave No Trace photographer, I follow the seven principles to ensure we protect the lands we explore on. It’s extremely important to me that we preserve and care for the environments we visit. By choosing an eco-friendly and sustainable elopement, you’re making a statement about your values and commitment to the environment. Your wedding day can serve as an inspiration for others to consider sustainable options for their own events.

Close-up of a wedding ceremony showing hands exchanging rings over a lace pillow, with a focus on the couple's hands and the officiant's book.

10. Flexibility to Incorporate Traditions and Culture

Elopements offer a unique opportunity to incorporate your own traditions and cultural elements into a wedding ceremony. I was able to include all of our 15 guests in a cultural coin ceremony passed down through generations in my family. With a larger guest list, such as the one for my reception, we weren’t able to include everyone. With a small or no guest list, couples can incorporate cultural rituals or traditions that are important to them, such as a tea ceremony or a handfasting ritual.


So there you have it- my top 10 Reasons to Have an Outdoor Elopement Wedding. Eloping in nature offers a wide range of benefits and are becoming an increasingly popular choice for couples who want to break away from traditional wedding expectations. With the flexibility and freedom to design a unique and personalized wedding experience, an intimate and meaningful ceremony, stunning and memorable locations, and lower cost, adventure elopements are a great alternative to traditional weddings.

Elopements are also less stressful and time-consuming to plan, offer unique opportunities for creative and stunning wedding photography, are eco-friendly and sustainable, and provide flexibility to incorporate meaningful traditions and cultural practices.

While adventure elopements may not be for everyone, they are certainly worth considering if you’re looking for a wedding experience that is truly special and reflective of your relationship. Whether you choose to hike to a mountaintop, exchange vows on a secluded beach, or say “I do” under the Northern Lights, an adventure elopement is a celebration of love, connection, and nature.

Here's to co-creating an unforgettable elopement experience.

Here's to co-creating an unforgettable elopement experience.

I’m Karen, a Southern California Elopement Photographer who empowers couples to create memories that will last a lifetime. I am dedicated to providing the tools you need to create an unforgettable experience. 

I help couples by providing personalized location lists, planning resources, vendor recommendations, permits, timeline-curation, and much more to curate elopement days that will be cherished forever.

Your Southern California Elopement Photographer, planning expert, and adventure pal.

I'm here to empower you to create memories that will last a lifetime.

About Karen

Follow me on Instagram!


Follow me on Instagram!