In your search for that perfect elopement location – the one you’ll forever remember as the place where you exchanged vows with your best friend – you’ll realize that with a smaller ceremony, you have so much more freedom, so much more flexibility, and so many options! And those options can include jetting off to an entirely different continent to kick back in a French villa, or to hike up an Icelandic mountain, or to swim in the clear blue water of Greece. If you dream of an elopement day that’s truly magical, truly one of a kind, this guide will tell you all the best places to elope in Europe – along with some tips for planning a destination elopement!
How to Get Legally Married When You Elope in Europe
Before we dive into the best places to elope in Europe, let’s talk about something a little less glamorous – legal stuff and paperwork.
Figuring out the logistics of getting legally married in Europe can be tricky! Each country has its own marriage laws, some of which are hard to navigate. For example, in many European countries (like Iceland and Italy), a Certificate of No Impediment is required – this document states that there’s no reason, legally, why you can’t get married.
But here’s the thing – we don’t have this document in the US, so you won’t be able to get one! Some state courts offer a similar alternative, which some countries will accept. Some European countries also require you to be in the country for several weeks to apply for your marriage license in person, so this, along with government red tape and paperwork requirements can make tying the knot tricky.
But, don’t let this discourage you! It’s entirely possible to elope in Europe without getting a massive headache.
How to Figure Out Marriage Laws
After you’ve decided where you want to elope, you’ll look into the local marriage laws and requirements – a great place to start is the website for the US embassy. Here you can find each country, and most of them will have some information about marriage laws on this website, along with links to their own government sites where you can get more details!
Alternatives to Getting Legally Married in Europe
A lot of couples who plan a destination wedding actually decide to skip the hassle of figuring out marriage laws by doing the paperwork at home. If you’re looking at the best places to elope in Europe, it will almost always be easier to get the legal stuff out of the way at home.
This gives you the advantage of being able to focus on the fun part during your elopement! You can explore, adventure, and go absolutely anywhere without worrying about getting the right paperwork or dealing with government red tape.
You can sign the papers at a courthouse at home, have a friend get ordained and ask someone to be a witness, or, you can simply have your marriage license signed by a notary public instead of an officiant!
Some couples worry that getting legally married before (or after) their elopement ceremony will make it feel less special, or less meaningful. But your marriage is about when you commit your love to each other – it’s not about when you sign a legal document! Most couples who do the paperwork at home find that it’s really just one less thing to worry about on their elopement day, and rather than taking away from their ceremony, it allows them to enjoy the day without stressing about the government.
Hiring a Photographer When You Elope in Europe
Before we finish talking about laws and legal stuff, there’s another thing you need to know about deciding to elope in Europe! You’ll also need to make sure that your photographer is legally allowed to take your wedding photos.
That might sound a little scary, but don’t worry! Hiring an experienced, professional elopement photographer is key – not only for helping you plan your day and figure out the best places to elope in Europe, but also to make sure that they’re aware of how to legally work in your country of choice.
In many European countries, the process to get a work visa is long and difficult – but luckily, if both you and your photographer are from the United States, they won’t need one! Remember, different countries have different rules, so I’ll help you figure this out. But in most cases, as long as the two of you live in the US, and your photographer’s business is based in the US too, a visa won’t be required and they can legally photograph your elopement!
Make sure that when you hire an elopement photographer, they know the legal requirements, and will follow them – you definitely don’t want them running into trouble at the airport and missing your ceremony!
Where Can We Elope in Europe?
Another thing to consider when it comes to choosing the best places to elope in Europe is that some countries will allow you to get married pretty much anywhere (which means epic outdoor locations and rugged terrain – yay!), but others, like England, only allow ceremonies in government buildings or approved, licensed locations.
This can be another perk of doing the paperwork at home – if you have a symbolic ceremony and don’t need a celebrant or registrar (which is the equivalent of an officiant here in the US), you’ll have a lot more freedom when you choose your elopement location. You may still need a permit to take photos or have a ceremony, but you won’t be as limited, and you can find a spot that feels right for you and fits your unique vibe!
The Best Places to Elope on the Beach in Europe
Now, let’s talk about the magical, amazing spots where you can exchange vows in Europe! You’ll find different landscapes and scenery all over the continent, so let’s break it down. Here are some of the best places to elope in Europe if you want to get married on the beach.
Praia Ursa, Portugal
Portugal has some of the most stunning beaches! Praia Ursa makes for one of the best places to elope in Europe, with a secluded beach and a path that takes you down to the rocky formations. Sunsets are especially amazing, lighting up the rocks and the shoreline in a golden glow.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast of Italy is a stretch of coastline with gorgeous cliffs over the ocean, scenic beaches, and adorable pastel villages. The winding road along the coastline will take you past villas, vineyards, and absolutely jaw dropping cliffside views!
Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland
This is an entirely different sort of beach – instead of sunshine and clear waters, you’ll find the moody, dramatic scenery that makes Iceland one of the best places to elope in Europe! Reynisfjara is one of the most scenic black sand beaches in the country, with sea stacks, basalt columns, and of course, dark black sand.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Ireland is a stunning country, with rolling green hills, lush countrysides, old castle ruins, and incredible cliffs over the ocean! One of the most iconic spots to stand on a cliff over the ocean is the Cliffs of Moher. Here, you can exchange vows as the waves crash below you, for a truly magical ceremony!
The Best Places to Elope in the Mountains in Europe
Without a doubt, Europe has some incredible peaks! If you’re looking for those gorgeous mountain views, here are some of the best places to elope in Europe.
The Dolomite Mountains are an incredible range in northeastern Italy, with jagged peaks, alpine lakes tucked in the mountains, and an incredible destination year round! You can ski in the winter, hike in the summer, and explore these scenic mountains forever.
Snowdonia National Park, Wales
Northern Wales is one of the more remote, undeveloped areas of the United Kingdom, and here you’ll find the awe inspiring Snowdonia National Park, with glacier carved valleys and towering mountains. For a truly epic adventure, you can climb Mount Snowdon – the highest summit in Wales! Or, find a scenic view of the mountain that doesn’t require breaking a sweat.
This little mountain town has some big scenery. It’s remote and quiet, making it one of the best places to elope in Europe for a private, secluded location! Add to that the dramatic mountain views surrounding the town and the fact that it’s one of the best places to see the Northern Lights, and you’ve got a pretty epic place to tie the knot.
The Best Places to Elope By a Lake in Europe
Whether you want to exchange vows on the shore of a glistening alpine lake, take a canoe on the water, or even take a dip, here are the best places to elope in Europe for lakefront views!
Lake District, England
The Lake District is a region in England named for its gorgeous lakes! With scenic lakes surrounded by rolling hills, cute towns all around, and an incredible display of foliage in the fall, it’s a stunning place to elope.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
This national park is an absolute fairytale – with 16 lakes that connect through tumbling waterfalls, bright turquoise water, and wooden boardwalks over the lakes, it’s one of the best places to elope in Europe if you want to be by the water! You can’t swim in these, but the boardwalks and the shoreline offer plenty of scenery.
Lakes of Killarney, Ireland
There are three lakes that make up the Lakes of Killarney, located in Killarney National Park in Ireland. This is a great spot for hiking, and there are even a few waterfalls tucked in the forests surrounding the stunning lakes!
The Best Places to Elope in the Forest in Europe
If you dream of an elopement in the woods, surrounded by lush greenery and storybook worthy forest, here are some of the best places to elope in Europe for you!
Forêt de Lyon, France
This forest is small, but it’s so incredibly charming. The beech trees surround freshwater streams, creating a really peaceful, serene atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to elope if you want to be surrounded by calming nature – just imagine staying in a cottage in the French countryside, and wandering the forest trails after your ceremony!
Sequoia Forest Reservation, Romania
The Sequoia trees are the tallest in the world – and while the ones in Europe don’t climb quite as high as the ones here in the US, being surrounded by these giant trees is an incredible experience. You’ll find large groves on the Sequoia Forest Reservation in Romania, providing a secluded forest location for your elopement!
Black Forest, Germany
The Black Forest gets its name because it’s so dense, and there are many legends and stories about mythical creatures inhabiting the German forest. It’s a magical place for an elopement, and you can explore the evergreen forests and stay in an adorable village!
The Best Cities For Eloping in Europe
Along with epic landscapes and jaw dropping scenery, Europe has some of the most incredible cities – and if you’re looking for an elopement location that’s easy to reach, full of culture and history, and close to the hustle and bustle, here are the best cities for an elopement in Europe!
Of course, one of the best places to elope in Europe has to be the world’s most romantic city – Paris! Get married with a view of the Eiffel Tower, or at one of the many incredible landmarks of Gothic architecture. Then, you can spend your honeymoon exploring the city and enjoying delicious pastries, or retreat to the French countryside!
Venice is known for the canals, and the gorgeous buildings reminiscent of Renaissance and Gothic architecture. Italy also has some amazing vineyards, so if you want to head somewhere more quiet, stay in Tuscany, or head south to Sicily on the “toe” of the country!
London is incredibly charming, and one of the best places to elope in Europe if you want to see the history reflected in its landmarks and architecture. With gorgeous gardens and parks right in the city, it’s an amazing place to tie the knot!
Deciding When to Elope in Europe
Setting a date is one of the first things you’ll do when you elope – but, I recommend choosing a general location first. Europe is, of course, a pretty big place, encompassing lots of different regions and climates – so the best time to elope in Europe will depend a ton on your location, and what you want to do!
In general, most of Europe is pretty temperate, except for the regions in the mountains. These spots at high elevations will experience more extreme winters, with snow and cold temperatures! If you want to ski or to tie the knot in a snowy wonderland, winter in the mountains can be pretty magical.
Summers are an amazing time for hiking or hitting the beach, but this is also the most popular time to visit. Temperatures can get pretty hot! Especially in the south of Europe, in coastal regions that are typically warmer all year, it’s often humid – so be prepared with extra drinking water.
Fall is a great time to see displays of autumn foliage in the countrysides and forested landscapes of Europe – it’s an incredibly beautiful time to elope, and the weather won’t be as hot! High elevation areas in the mountains can start snowing pretty early, so be prepared if you elope somewhere like the Dolomites.
Spring is another great time to elope, with fewer crowds. But, rainier parts of the country, like Iceland and the United Kingdom will likely be very wet as the temperatures warm up!
Tips for a Destination Elopement in Europe
Planning an elopement is so different from planning a traditional wedding – which is one of the most exciting things about it! But, especially when you’re tying the knot abroad, there are some extra logistics to think about. To help you prepare, here are some tips for eloping in Europe!
Make a Guest List Early On (Or Don’t!)
If you elope abroad, your guests will need some extra time for travel plans and accommodations. If you decide to invite family or friends to your day, let them know pretty early on – usually couples send out save-the-dates (which you can totally do, or keep it simple with a text) at least 8 months in advance for a destination wedding.
An equally important part of the process can be simply deciding that you don’t want to invite anyone to your elopement! This can be nerve wracking for a lot of couples, for fear of hurting feelings or disappointing your loved ones. But – this is your wedding day! You should be able to relax, enjoy every moment, and be fully present knowing that the wedding day you planned is exactly right for the two of you. So talk with your partner, and be honest – is your elopement ceremony something you want to share with a few loved ones, or does a private, “just the two of us” day feel more like you?
It’s not about excluding anyone, it’s about beginning your marriage the way you want to – so make the guest list, or decide not to make one, and I’ll be there to hype you up, no matter what you choose.
Check Your Passports
Passports often go unused for years, and it can be easy to miss an expiration date! As soon as you decide on a destination elopement and start looking for the best places to elope in Europe, find your passports and make sure that it’s up to date. In many countries, your passport needs to be valid for another six months – so even if it isn’t expired when you plan to travel, make sure that the date is far enough away!
Make Bookings Early
Whether it’s your flight, hotel, Airbnb, or your elopement vendors, make those bookings early. This will save you some stress! Finding flights and a place to stay early on will ensure you can find the best deals, and that you can stay close to the elopement location you choose.
Elopement vendors often fill their calendars pretty early – so don’t hesitate to reach out to your faves!
Elopement Packages in Europe
If you’re ready to jet off and tie the knot, I’m ready to help you plan! You color outside the lines and pave your own path – and your elopement day should be a reflection of the two of you and your unique story.
My Europe elopement packages are custom tailored for you! I’ll give you personalized recommendations for the best places to elope in Europe (based on what kind of scenery you like, whether you want to hike, and more), help you navigate those pesky marriage laws and permit requirements, make a custom timeline for your day, and be by your side as you follow your heart and break all the rules!
Contact me if you’re ready to tie the knot, and to learn more about elopement packages in Europe.