Beach elopement

A beach elopement is a perfect choice if you love the coastline, waves crashing, and sandy coves. There are a lot of different type of beach settings, some may be tropical with nearby jungles or green cliff sides, and others might be rocky, filled with natural arches and surrounded by jagged peaks. This guide is going to go over exactly how to have a beach elopement, and the most stunning beach elopement locations.

When to Have a Beach Elopement

The best time to have a beach elopement is in early fall (September.) I say this because a lot of coastal regions start to get less tourism in the early fall. This means that rates drop for things like flights and accommodations, and large crowds really start to die down. It’s still warm in a lot of places too. However, it’s important to look into each season and decide which will be best for you and your partner. Here is what the seasons bring to beaches:


Spring can be a beautiful time for an elopement. If you’re considering places like Portugal, The Amalfi Coast, or Hawaii, this time of year is warm and has less crowds. Avoiding Easter is a good choice, as it’s the most popular time to travel to these locations in the spring. For coastline along the Pacific Northwest, it can very much still be very cold, and still getting rain. The Southern west coast can be a lot warmer, with less crowds. Places like the Redwoods National Park start blooming, but it might still be muddy!


Summer is going to be the busiest time of year for a beach elopement. Wether you’re traveling internationally, on the east coast, west coast, Hawaii, any of it. This is when people take of the most time from work, and school is out. So naturally, things are crowded, flights are more expensive, and rates for everything in general are a bit more expensive. If you want a beach elopement in the summer, you can look into more remote locations, or have a sunrise ceremony! This is only if crowds bother you.


Fall, once again, is my favorite time for a beach elopement. Crowds are dying down, and there are really no holidays in September or October where people are traveling. In fact, kids go back to school, and most people are “getting back into the swing of things.” September can still be seriously warm in places like the east coast, such as Acadia National Park. The west coast will also still have its fair share of warmth. The water is much colder year round, so swimming gets a bit harder, especially after September. Rain will also start to come shortly after September. Places like Hawaii, Islands, Southern regions of Europe, stay super pleasant within the mid to high 70’s.


Winter can be an amazing time for a beach elopement. This is by far when there are the least crowds, except for December and January. Christmas and New Years brings a lot of travel, so I advise avoiding those months. February and March however, are quiet and wonderful. Islands are at their slowest. Hawaii is still beautifully warm, and southern European countries are still pleasant in the 50’s and 60’s. The west coast and east coast will be much cooler, and you have much higher chances of rain. Northern Washington surprisingly, can stay somewhat temperate. Around the mid 40’s. This makes places like Olympic National Park a great choice, but bring umbrellas!

Beach Wedding Permit

You will likely need a special use permit to have a beach elopement. For National Parks, you will need to get one through the National Parks website. National Parks will have the most restrictions on location selection, and how many people you can have. State Parks almost always require a special use permit as well. Their conditions can be a bit more lenient, however.

You also have the option of having your beach elopement on BLM land. You always need to check about permits (this is something I do for my eloping couples) however, you often don’t need a permit unless you’re having over 75 people.

Beach elopement

How to Get a Marriage License for a Beach Elopement

Getting a marriage license is actually super easy! You don’t have to be a resident of the state you’re eloping in to get a marriage license there. So, once you have decided on your beach elopement location, you just need to find the closest county clerks office to that location. From there, you’ll go to their online site and apply for your marriage license online.

Following that, you will both need to appear in person with valid ID’s to finish the application, and pick up your marriage license. You will pay the fee, and then be able to get legally married. However, some states have a three day waiting period to use your marriage license. Make sure to ask when you apply online about this. If they do have a three day waiting period, you can either pay a fee to waive it, or you can plan your ceremony three days after you pick it up.

How to Have a Beach Elopement

You plan a beach elopement in similar ways as you’d plan any adventure elopement. There are a few major steps, and you can read about those here on my thorough guide on how to elope. For this beach elopement guide, I’m going over the major things you’ll need to consider!


This is an imperative part of the planning process for elopements. This is because some guests won’t have hiking ability, and some locations will have a cap on how many guests you can have, especially in a National Park. Choosing a location will be much easier once you’ve determine who you’re inviting, and how many guests total you’ll have.


This might feel early in the planning process, but bear with me. Elopements don’t have wedding planners. Most elopement photographers have taken it upon themselves to help couples with some of the planning. Many actually help you find your location! And they will think of things you might not have considered, such as: lighting, elevation, difficulty in hiking in a dress, permits, and so much more.

Each elopement photographer offers something different. Personally, I send my couples a customized list of locations based on their preferences, hiking ability, who they want to invite, and what they want to see. I also help them determine lodging options, get permits, get their marriage license, recommend vendors, and create a comprehensive day of timeline, and offer unlimited guidance calls for any questions along the way.

The being said, hiring your beach elopement photographer early is going to take a massive amount of planning stress off of your shoulders. Wanna chat? Contact me here!


This is going to help you choose a date and location. Some areas are more mild year round, while some get very hot or very cold. Determine what type of weather you want to be in, and research what each season brings, and this will greatly help you determine a time of year for your elopement, as well as a general region. 


Once you’ve decided on how much you’d like to hike, how many guests are coming, your ideal weather, and the landscapes you want, you’re ready to deep dive into researching beach elopement locations. Finding the perfect spot will be a lot simpler after considering all of your needs and logistics.

This is information I collect from my couples through a questionnaire, and then use to make a customized list of beach elopement location options for them.


Once you have your location, it’s time to consider if there’s anything you need vendors for. Do you need any event rentals? Do you want a friend or family to officiate, or do you want to hire an officiant? Will you go out to eat, or do you want something catered, like a meal at an Airbnb from a private chef?

Figure out what extra services you may want, and hire your vendors in advance!


You will need to get the correct permits for your elopement. These are usually “special use” permits that you apply for on the National Parks website, or National Forest/BLM website.

Personally, I get all permit information for my eloping couples that hire me. With that, all you need to do is fill out the application when it’s sent to you and pay the fee. Fee’s vary, but are usually around $150 or less.


Activities are such a fun part of an elopement. When you choose to elope, you’re opening yourself up to having a wedding day celebration that feels unique and resonates with you. Incorporate things that will elevate your elopement day experience. Here’s just a few ideas to get you brainstorming:

  • Going on a hike
  • Having a bonfire
  • Having a picnic on the coast
  • Star-gazing or astrophotography
  • Swimming
  • Cliff jumping
  • Visiting waterfalls
  • Camping
  • Glamping
  • Hiring a private chef
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Sightseeing
  • Scenic driving with time to stop for pictures
  • Exchanging gifts
  • Reading letters from friends or family


Making a timeline is an important part of any elopement. It strings together all of your locations, activities, and lets guests know where to be and when. Creating a well thought out timeline will help you feel relaxed during the day, instead of stressed or rush. Make sure to include drive times as well as buffer times between each “event.”

Here are the things I include in the timelines I make for my couples:

  • All addresses
  • Sunrise time
  • Sunset time
  • Drive times
  • A linke to Accuweather
  • A list of all names for group shots
  • Vendor info
  • Emergency contact info
  • A packing list
Beach elopement

Lodging For a Beach Elopement

Lodging is important when it comes to elopements. A lot of couples incorporate their lodging into aspects of their wedding day. For example, getting ready + getting ready photos, a first look, an intimate reception with friends, a dinner made by a private chef, etc. Once you’ve decided what you’ll incorporate in your day, pick a location that will allow everything you want to include.

If you want to host an intimate reception, I highly recommend a vacation rental such as a cabin or an Airbnb. You can also stay at hotels, resorts, villas, campgrounds, etc. I absolutely love when couples choose a Airbnb that encapsulates their location, such as a stunning home right on the water where you can take in the sea breeze.

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Beach Elopement

To have a beach elopement, you’ll need your marriage license $50-$150 as well as a special use permit $50-$250. So, a beach elopement costs around $100-$350. That being said, most couples spend an average of $5000-$20,000 on their elopement. This includes flights, lodging, permits, vendors, wedding attire, meals, and anything extra a couple might want.

Beach Elopement Locations

There are so many stunning beach elopement locations all across the United States and internationally. You have a plethora of options. Remember to pick something that speaks to you and your partner as a couple. As an elopement photographer, I make a customized list of specific elopement locations for my clients. The list is tailored to their unique needs such as: scenery, how much they want to hike, if they want to avoid intense forest roads, elevation, and weather. For now, here’s a list of stunning beach elopement locations:


Hawaii is an amazing beach location year round. With jungles, green cliffs, waterfalls, and turquoise water. There’s a plethora of ways to spend your time here, having an experience that perfectly matches your vision for a beach elopement. You can read my full guide on eloping in Hawaii here, and my Oahu guide here.


Beach elopement

Maui is one of the islands of Hawaii. It is less populated that Oahu and Big Islands. It has less in the way of amenities and accommodations, making it the perfect beach elopement location for couples who really want to take in nature. You can read my full guide on eloping in Maui here.

Ruby Beach

Ruby beach is located on the Washington Coast, within Olympic National park. This rocky shoreline speaks to the “moody vibe” of the Pacific Northwest. It can get quite rainy in summer, and I highly recommend early fall for this beach elopement location! You can read my full guide on eloping in Olympic National Park here


Portugal has a ton of different beach elopement locations. Wether you want to experience the Island of Madeira, or the Azores Islands, or explore the Portugal coastline. This is an amazing location if you love island hopping, and want to try incredible seafood while being around vibrant colorful towns. You can read my full guide on eloping in Portugal here.

The Amalfi Coast

Beach elopement

The Amalfi Coast is one of the most visited coastline in the world. And for good reason, rolling cliffs with spotted pastel home, stunning blue water, and gorgeous flowers. It’s best to elope here in Spring or Fall. But you can read my full guide on eloping at the Amalfi Coast here!

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park located in Maine is one of the most beautiful locations on the east coast, in my humble opinion. Stunning shoreline, plenty of hikes to explore, and beautiful forest. This is an amazing beach elopement location if you’re wanting to be on the east coast!

Big Sur

Big Sur is a well known and stunning coastline that stretches through miles of California. It’s endlessly gorgeous. However, it has some of the strictest rules on eloping that I’ve encountered. Eloping here is a good choice for couples who want less than 8 guests, or are okay with using a venue. You can read my full Big Sur elopement guide here, and check out my list of Big Sur elopement venues here.

Samuel H. Boardman

Beach elopement

Samuel H. Boardman is a stunning park located in Southern Oregon. This park is filled with hiking trails, and incredible views of natural arches coming out of the ocean. There are beautiful beaches close by, and you’re also wildly close to The Redwoods! 9 minutes, to be exact. You can read my guide on eloping in the redwoods here!


Beach elopement

Bali is located in Indonesia. The flight to get there might be pricey, but once you’re there, everything is wildly cheap. This beach elopement location is perfect for couples who want to have a luxurious experience while saving a ton of money. It’s also great for couples who want to island hop, and explore jungles and waterfall, all while being immersed in the culture. You can read my full guide on eloping in Bali here.

Packing for a Beach Elopement

You’ll need different things depending on where you go, and what time of year it is. In some places, the beaches are very close to the woods, where there are a lot of bugs. If you want a winter beach elopement, you’ll need to consider things to keep you warm! Here’s a packing list of things you might want to consider for your beach elopement:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Warm layers
  • Clear umbrellas
  • Lanterns for sunset photos
  • Headlamps for exploring
  • Hiking shoes (if hiking)
  • Backpacks to carry essentials
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Downloaded maps (for when you lose service)
  • Rain jacket
  • Light weight wedding attire for tropical climates

Beach Elopement Packages

Elopement photography by Emilee Setting Photo, and everything included in my packages:

  • Explore anywhere within your destination, all travel fees included in the price!
  • Packages from half day elopements to multi-day elopements
  • Receive a customized location list
  • Help finding lodging that suits your needs if you’re having an intimate reception
  • Included comprehensive timeline design
  • Help obtaining your permits
  • Help obtaining your marriage license
  • A planning checklist
  • Unlimited planning and guidance calls 
  • All of your stunning photos delivered under three months
  • Day of polaroid sneak peeks

Beach elopement packages starting at $5800. Want more information on my pricing and what’s included? Click here

Ready to Have a Beach Elopement?

This beach elopement guide is a way to get you excited about all the possibilities of what your day could look like. Although, this amount of information can be overwhelming. I’m here to help. I can answer any and all questions you have on a complimentary low pressure consultation call. If you then choose you’d like to work together, I’ll do all of this planning right by your said to alleviate any stress, and bring your beach elopement vision to life. We can chat here!

Don't forget your free elopement planning checklist


You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

I'm Emilee

I'm an elopement photographer who specializes in planning, crafting, and documenting untraditional weddings. I believe a wedding day should be filled with traditions that resonate with you. I'm here from start to finish to make that happen. Want to chat about your plans? Click below to set up a free consultation! 

You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

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