The Best Places to Elope with Family | Your Ultimate How To Guide


Best Places to Elope with Family |

The top 10 worldwide locations & how to plan it

Can you elope with family?

That’s a beep yeah!  If you’re the type of folks landing on this page… then eloping with family may just be for you.  It’s true there are many ways that including family & friends in your elopement can potentially complicate things, and you’re not doubt choosing to elope because it’s proven to be a less stressful way to get married!  SO can you elope with family, have the quality time with your boo you want, and still showcase one of the best places to elope with family?  YES!


Hiya!  We’re Des & Dan, Montana elopement photographers, who specialize in helping couples just like you feel supported throughout the planning process especially when eloping with family.  We wanted to put together this list of the best places to elope with family and include some of the best tips and tricks we’ve found after 5 years of leading couples through this process.


Here’s what we’ll cover in addition to the best places to elope with family: reasons to elope with family, choosing an elopement vs. destination wedding, how to choose your location, etiquette faq’s, what to communicate with guests, & so much more!  Let’s get started!


Reasons to elope with family

We’ve heard many reasons our couples want to elope with their family, but the real question is, “What’s your reason?”  We can help you uncover that so you never lose sight of that vision, but in the meantime:

Related: Pros and Cons of Eloping | What No One is Telling You

Top 5 reasons to elope with family

  • You want to avoid the stress of a big wedding.
  • You want to get some quality time with your family during your wedding experience.
  • You want to showcase a destination to your loved ones when they otherwise may never see it.
  • You want to be different and customize your wedding entirely to you.
  • You want to avoid feeling like the star of the show during your ceremony.

Related:  Livingston, Montana wedding & Just Us Adventure Day in Glacier National Park (August/mix of sun & rain/40 guests/destination wedding feel)

Here’s a peek

into how eloping can inspire you.


Elopement with family vs. destination wedding

When you choose to elope at one of these best places to elope with family, you’re already choosing an alternative wedding experience so you’re already doing it big.  However, you’ll want to zero in on the vibe you’re wanting.  An elopement experience for your family will feel more relationship focused.  Less formality, more intimacy.


A destination wedding alternatively feels much more formal and focuses more on details from a traditional wedding such as hanging at a venue, tablescapes, you name it.


You can easily lean either direction when choosing one of the best places to elope with family.


Should you choose a wilderness location or a private venue?

When eloping with family choosing the best location is the biggest piece!  Whether you’re wanting a wilderness location or a private venue you’ll want to be careful to check for any necessary permitting, legal requirements for the union, and be mindful of accessibility needs of your guests.


Rest assured you can elope with family, see larger than life views, and get the quality time you need with your boo.

Related: West Glacier Montana Elopement & Going to the Sun Road Adventure Day (September/overcast & rainy/8 guests)

wedding couple overlooking Avalanche Gorge Glacier National Park

The conclusive list of the best places to elope with family in the states


Why Montana is one of the best places to elope with family in the states

Montana is one of the best places to elope with family due to its accessibility to rugged wilderness!  So many of the infamous views folks see in their minds when thinking Montana is a quick step out of the car.  With hundreds of miles of scenic drives, Montana makes for a great family elopement experience.

Related: Elope in Montana | The Ultimate How-to & Location Guide


Why Arizona is one of the best places to elope with family in the states

Arizona is one of the best places to elope with family because of its year round weather!  When organizing travel for a teensy multitide of folks you’ll find it difficult to manage everyone’s work & school schedules.  Arizona offers so many different times of year so you can elope with family when they’re most available.


Why Washington is one of the best places to elope with family in the states

Washington is one of the best places to elope with family due to its gorgeous juxtaposition of scenic wilderness and vibrant night life.  Spokane, Tacoma, and other cities are what feels like a quick drive to rainforests, coastal adventure, and mountains that feel like the top of the world.


Why California is one of the best places to elope with family in the states

California is one of the best places to elope with family due to the abundance of luxurious private venues!  These venues make you and your family feel as if you’ve been dropped in your private golden hour fairytale.


Why Utah is one of the best places to elope with family in the states

Utah is one of the best places to elope with family for thrill seeking families!  With countless outdoor adventures from 4X4 drives, canyoneering tours, and epic stargazing, this state brings you the perfect desert landscape to get married & have a wild time doing it.

wedding couple overlooking Avalanche Gorge Glacier National Park

The conclusive list of the best places to elope with family internationally


Why Scotland is one of the best places to elope with family internationally

CASTLES!  Scotland is one of the best places to elope with family due to its lush environments surrounding centuries old castles.  You and your guests will feel transported in time as you exchange vows amidst these storied ruins.


Why Germany is one of the best places to elope with family internationally

Germany is one of the best places to elope with family if you’re a big lover of beer & cheese… because who isn’t?  You can fashion your elopement experience like a culinary piece of art in Germany.  Not to mention those German alps don’t look too shabby!

Related: See How to Elope in Germany to learn the ins & out of eloping here with family from some a wickedly talented photo/video team


Why Italy is one of the best places to elope with family internationally

Italy is one of the best places to elope with family due to its iconic landmarks, romantic atmosphere, and luxurious venues.  When you truly want an elevated elopement experience for you two and your family, Italy is a great place to start.


Why Vietnam is one of the best places to elope with family internationally

Vietnam is one of the best places to elope with family because of the WOW factor!  It’s an incredibly unique elopement destination that will leave everyone floored by the natural beauty and rich culture.


Why Thailand is one of the best places to elope with family internationally

Thailand is one of the best places to elope with family because of its warm and inviting outlook towards westerners!  Thailand is well known for its tropical adventures and guest friendly experiences and lodging so your guests can feel entertained and comfortable during their stay!

Related: St. Mary Amphitheater wedding (October/vibrant fall colors & snow/2 guests)

What to communicate to your family elopement guests

When choosing one of the best places to elope with your family, there can feel like so many moving pieces and so much to communicate.


Here’s our quick list of what to consider communicating with your family for your elopement:

  • Right up top, who’s paying for what?
  • How much of your trip do you expect them to be around?
  • What should they pack to wear considering weather & how formal you want the celebration to be?
  • Do you have their lodging picked out or can they stay anywhere nearby?
  • What’s the day of itinerary for your elopement?  


Speaking of what tips on what to communicate, here are the top 7 considerations when you choose to elope with family.

(PSSSSST–Are you actually planning a “just us” elopement experience? Check out how to include family on your just us elopement day for more tips!)

Eloping with family in 2024?


Contact us to see which 2024 dates elopement locations are eligible for $1675 off!

Inquire during the month of April for a full day package and get $1675 off. <3

The top 9 steps to planning your elopement with family

1 | Communication

Once you decide to elope, be sure and communicate your fun decision to forego the traditional wedding.  Chat openly with your family throughout the planning process, but  be sure it doesn’t become a source of stress to constantly communicate.  Protip!!  Do not tell more than immediate family until you have your final guest list in place!

2 | Location + vendors

Begin checking out location options keeping in mind the views you want to see, the things you want to do, and the accessibility your guests will need due to their mobility.  Your photographer will be a great help in finalizing locations and other vendors that specialize in the type of day you’re having.

3 | Guest List 

Decide which family members will be invited to attend the elopement and communicate this clearly with them. Keep track of RSVPs and any special needs they’ll have.

4 | Lodging

Consider lodging for yourself, your partner, and any family members who will be attending. Ensure there are enough rooms available and that they fit within everyone’s budget and preferences if they are covering the cost of lodging.

5 | Transportation 

Coordinate onsite transportation to and from the elopement location for both yourselves and your family members. This could include arranging car rentals, booking flights, or organizing group transportation if necessary.  Particularly if you choose an international destination guests will need extra help understanding how to get from point A to point B.

6 | Ceremony Details + Attire

Collaborate with your family on planning the ceremony, including the format, location, and any special rituals or traditions you want to incorporate. Ensure everyone knows what to expect and their roles during the ceremony.  Don’t forget to choose attire that looks like you two & keeps you comfy in your environment.

Check out how to plan a DIY elopement ceremony if the idea of finding an officiant for your ceremony seems overwhelming too!

7 | Legal Requirements 

Research and fulfill any legal requirements for getting married in your chosen location, including obtaining marriage licenses and completing any necessary paperwork. Ensure that all necessary documents are in order for both yourselves and your attending family members.  Another protip?  Handle the legalities in the state you’re from to avoid the red tape and make the trip less about logistics and more about the fun of eloping with family.

8 | Timeline

Work with your vendors to create a detailed timeline for the elopement day, showing the schedule of events from start to finish. Include time for getting ready, transportation, the ceremony itself, and any post-elopement activities or celebrations.  Your photographer, again, will be your biggest advocate in crafting your family elopement timeline!

9 | Show up h*ckin stoked!

You’ve done all of the heavy lifting so now it’s time to show up to your family elopement location to exchange vows and finally wed your boo amidst those glorious mountains, crystal clear beaches, ancient ruins, you name it. <3

wedding couple overlooking Avalanche Gorge Glacier National Park

Earlier we mentioned vendors, but which vendors are essential for your elopement with family?


1 | Photographer

The truth is–no matter which location you choose, how many guests you bring along, or how tearful your meaningful ceremony is–your memories from your elopement with family will fade.  This is where hiring the photographer comes into play.  Finding a photographer who has experience with elopements with families is critical.  Be sure you interview a few so they can not only help you dream & brainstorm but pass the vibe check. 🙂 

2 | Planner

Your photographer can help with so much right up top like helping you finalize location, help with the guest list, moral support, etc.  Honestly though–if your elopement with family involves several moving pieces like multiple locations, several vendors, etc. a planner will quickly become the best tool in your belt!  

3 | Floral designer

A floral designer will quickly elevate your elopement with family as they take your creative vision and make it tangible with floral design.

4 | Caterer or private chef

If your elopement with family will involve food… definitely nail down food early!  Whether you want something relaxed like a private chef or formal like a caterer, definitely choose someone local to your destination so they’ll have no issue sourcing local ingredients and know how best to customize the food to yours and your guests’ preferences.

Exchange your vows

knowing you knocked it outta the park for yourselves and your guests.


Final tips for choosing the best places to elope with family

  • Get the quality time you want: To ensure you get enough quality time with your boo, plan a multi day elopement experience with your photographer and/or videographer to keep exploring!
  • Make your elopement more than a ceremony: Plan a few experiences for your family elopement other than the ceremony.  You could take your guests on a yacht, provide a seaside picnic, schedule a scenic tour, etc.  The world is your oyster!
  • Set clear boundaries: While you want to include your family, it’s important to establish boundaries that ensure your elopement remains intimate and meaningful to you and your partner. Discuss your vision for the ceremony and reception, and make sure everyone is on the same page regarding guest lists, involvement in planning, and any financial contributions.
  • Delegate any task that doesn’t excite you: Involve your family members in the planning process by assigning them specific tasks or roles. This not only lightens your workload but also makes them feel valued and included. From researching venues to organizing transportation, there are plenty of ways for your loved ones to contribute their time and expertise.


How do we help you with your elopement with family?

Helping couples plan their elopement with family is truly what we’re passionate about.  We know there are so many questions–big & small–when planning something so momentous & customized to you.


Here’s how we ensure you not only have gorgeous photos to continue telling the story of this epic family adventure, but you also have a seamless experience for all parties involved.

Check this cool shiz out.

Here’s what eloping folks are saying about hiring us:

couple photos at big bend glacier national park

We cannot say enough good things about Des and Dan. To put it as simply as we can – if we were to do our elopement with family all over again, they would be the absolute first call we made. If you read nothing else, I cannot think of a better endorsement than that. Now, if you want details…

Where do we start? When you hire Des, you get so much more than a photographer. She was incredibly thoughtful in how she approached our elopement and made it the perfect expression of us and our relationship. Within the first couple conversations, she was able to get a solid grasp on who we are as a couple and as people and what was important to us. From there, she laid out our options to help us select the best sites for our ceremony and photos (along with all of the permitting that goes with it), and then was able to work with us to create OUR perfect day. Des laid out the initial timeline for us, and then worked with us over the course of several months to make tweaks to it, making sure it was exactly what we wanted.


-Margaret & Mike

You have a lingering q:

How can this experience be yours?


Hey, it’s us!

We’re Des & Dan! Husband & wife elopement photographers, planners, and officiants! We help couples like you create elopement days full of meaningful details, authentic moments, and creative experiences because we believe you deserve a wedding day where you are truly heard—a wedding day you can truly remember.

We’d love to help in any way you can, so check out our other free planning resources or send us an email by hitting contact! We’d love to hop on the phone and see what you’re envisioning for your elopement day.

You deserve this.

Des & Dan


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This