Couple enjoys the view from Tolmie Peak Fire Look in Mount Rainier National Park on their Washington Adventure Elopement

For couples seeking a unique and authentic marriage celebration, adventure elopements create a magical atmosphere to say “I do.”

From mountain-top summits and deep sea dives, to a love of travel and an appreciation for nature and all of its beauty, my guess is if you are reading this, you have been on some pretty awesome adventures. No matter the adventures that have defined the past, I can confidently say that embarking on a lifetime of love with your partner may just be your biggest adventure yet.

If you have ever been curious about what an adventure elopement looks like, or how this style of celebration can authentically represent your love story, then you are in the right place. I love adventure elopements not only because they take you off the beaten path or allow you to say “I do” in the unrelenting beauty of nature (though these definitely can be some of the perks!) I love adventure elopements because they allow couples to find authentic traditions and celebrations that align with their values in order to create a day that is truly meaningful.

Regardless of your definition of adventure, I am glad you are along for the ride! I can’t wait to show you how an adventure elopement can provide an authentic experience, no matter what that may look like.

Couple enjoys an adventure at the base of Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park

What is an Adventure Elopement?

Let’s get one thing straight: you don’t have to trek through waterfalls or brave the ocean waves to have an adventure elopement (though you sure can!). While many couples choose to have a celebration that includes exploring in nature, it is not a requirement. All that is required for an adventure elopement? Incorporating experiences that celebrate your love.

Couple brings their dog along on their adventure elopement in Washington

What Does it Mean to Elope, Anyway?

In past years, elopements were reserved for those who wanted to tie the knot without family approval or knowledge. These days, that definition has changed drastically. Today, elopements are defined as two individuals legally marrying with ten people or fewer present.

Here is something I like to add to this definition: an elopement celebration allows you to officially tie the knot without rules or expectations! If you don’t identify with the tradition of having the first dance, go ahead and make it a first hike under the stars. Don’t love the idea of a wedding party? Then get your furry friend involved. When it comes to elopements, the sky’s the limit and authentic decisions that reflect your love is the top priority.

Couple has their adventure elopement ceremony at Heather Meadows in the North Cascades with Table Mountain in the background

Elopements vs. Intimate Weddings: What’s the Difference?

Generally speaking, an intimate wedding is any celebration that has twenty or fewer people. While an intimate wedding has more guests than an elopement, they also more closely follow wedding traditions and structure, while elopements have more room for flexibility.

The truth of the matter is this: the more individuals that come to your celebration, the less creative you can be in your activities. (Because at the end of the day, most secluded and magical elopement locations are generally only accessible to a smaller group.) While there is no right or wrong answer on what kind of celebration you host, the pros and cons of each celebration are important to keep in mind while you make your final decision.

Couple snowshoes to the snowy winter wonderland at Gold Creek Pond on their adventure elopement

What Makes a Celebration an “Adventure Elopement”?

Whether it is a winter snowshoe journey, complete with apple cider, or board games in your favorite brewery, an adventure elopement is a shared experience that reflects your love.

While an adventure elopement isn’t required to occur in nature, many couples find nature is a profound expression of love, devotion, and celebration. However, you define adventure, capturing the special moments of your unique celebration is one of the ways to hold onto these memories for a lifetime.

Activities for Your Adventure Elopement

There may not be right or wrong answers when it comes to activities for your elopements, but there surely are some great ideas. Take a look at the elopement activities below, and see if any of the following resonate with you, your partner, and how you choose to celebrate your love.

(Adventure elopement pro tip: make sure your photographer and planner are familiar with the area you are eloping! They can help ensure you have all of the necessary items for your adventure elopement activity, as well as provide important information on what activities work best in the area you plan on celebrating.)

Land Activities

  • Have a picnic on the beach
  • Explore the moss, ferns, and mushrooms of a rainforest
  • Watch the sunrise or sunset together
  • Start your day with a meditative yoga practice on the beach
  • Hike to an alpine lake and wait for the stars to come out (don’t forget your headlamps!)
  • Journey through a slot canyon
  • Snowshoe, ski, or ride the chairlift up a mountain to an epic vantage point for photos

Water Activities

  • Fish along a scenic river in the early morning light
  • Have your first kiss (or dance!) in foaming ocean waves
  • Whale watch via kayak
  • Hike to a waterfall and swim at the base
  • Take a boat ride to explore monuments or other natural features
  • Surf, paddle, or row your way on a body of water you have always wanted to explore

Air Activities

  • Take a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier
  • Schedule a sunrise hot air balloon ride (complete with hot chocolate!)
  • Up for a really extreme adventure? Consider sky-diving with a professional guide
  • Paragliding lessons
  • Schedule an airplane tour over a national park
Couple plays card games on their adventure elopement day

Indoor Activities

  • Book a stay in a fun and funky AirBnB
  • Plan a private yoga class
  • Play your favorite board or dice game in a cozy atmosphere
  • Recreate moments that are important to you (costumes and props encouraged!)
  • Learn the history of an area you both are passionate about
  • Rent out a movie theater and screen a movie that is influential in your relationship

After you read the above lists, you may start to get the picture and realize: “Wow, really anything goes when you plan an adventure elopement!” You got that right! No matter who you are, or what your hobbies may be, any couple with a passion for authentic experiences is a good candidate for an adventure elopement celebration.

Frequently Asked Questions: Adventure Elopements

Whether you have been considering an adventure elopement for a long time, or this style of the ceremony is newly on your radar, chances are you have some questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions I receive about adventure elopements. (My hope is they help you better understand how you would like to celebrate your love story!)

“Can We Still Have Adventures if We Can’t Hike, or Prefer Not to Hike?”

Absolutely! Your adventure should be defined by you and your partner, meaning the activities should be authentic to your specific needs and desires. If hiking is off the list, but you would still like to explore the wonder that nature has to offer, many national parks provide accommodations that make nature’s beauty accessible. 

Keep in mind that your adventure elopement planner may have some additional ideas for activities in the area that can accommodate your specific requirements. Don’t be afraid to pick their brain for activities that are a good fit for you!

Family hikes with couple to mountain top for their adventure elopement at Mount Hood

“Can We Include Others in our Elopement Adventures?”

You sure can. Up to ten people can make for a fun, interactive way to get friends and family involved in your marriage celebration. Keep in mind that if you want your guests to be at the ceremony, your ceremony location must be:

  1. Accessible
  2. Big enough to accommodate the whole group!

Keep in mind, having a private ceremony, and then meeting up with friends and family for a dinner or dancing celebration later that day is always an option!

Couple enjoys their adventure elopement ceremony on the cliffs of the Washington Coast at Cape Flattery in Neah Bay

“Where Are the Best Places to Have an Adventure Elopement?”

I may be biased, but I am a firm believer that an epic adventure elopement consists of gorgeous outdoor views, plenty of opportunities for activities that allow you to connect with nature, and a diverse landscape. Because of this, adventure elopements in the Pacific Northwest will always be my favorite.

(And while anywhere in the beautiful PNW creates an incredible elopement atmosphere, the Oregon Coast and Olympic National Park create some of the most magic for eloping couples like nowhere else in the world.)

Couple adventures on their elopement at Snoqualmie Falls

“What Does the Adventure Elopement Planning Process Look Like?”

Just because your celebration may be smaller, doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan! (After all, this is a day you are going to remember for the rest of your life!) Once you have chosen the location to have your adventure elopement, I recommend starting the elopement planning process with three key steps:

  1. Choose an elopement planner and photographer to help you iron out all the details (pro tip: Get yourself an individual who can do both!)
  2. Create a timeline to ensure weather, traffic, travel time, and moments of stillness are accounted for, and
  3. Develop a packing list well in advance so you can make sure you have everything you need for photos (and memories!) that will last a lifetime

Taking the Next Steps to Create Your One of a Kind Adventure Elopement

For those who are seeking a ceremony that highlights the uniqueness of love and partnership, adventure elopements are an incredible way to officially tie the knot. Whether that means hiking boots and snowshoes or simply finding an experience that reminds you of how (and why!) you fell in love, there is something truly special about this authentic form of celebration.

Adventure Elopement Photographer hikes Knik Glacier in Alaska

Reserve your Adventure Elopement Photographer Today

If you have additional questions about what it means to have an adventure elopement, or how I can support you in creating a day you will never forget, let’s talk! From capturing intimate moments to navigating the journey ahead, it is an honor to help couples celebrate the adventure ahead.

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  1. Thanks for putting together this informative resource. I wouldn’t even have considered the accessibility when choosing a location, thanks for sharing your expertise!

  2. Such great information on adventure elopements! There’s a lot that goes into adventure elopements that many couples might not know, thank you for putting this guide together!

  3. This is a great guide for couples interested in potentially eloping! I love how this really showcases all the different things a couple could do for their elopement! I also love that photo of you in the glacier! So fun!

  4. I just love how there are so many things you can do on an elopement day, never thought boardgames can be part of the elopement experience, so cool!

    1. I also love that you can do whatever you want on your elopement day!
      I have had a few of my couples play board or card games. They love the laughs and memories it makes.