Bride in white dress holds hands with groom in Shenandoah National Park where they legally eloped in Virginia.

Virginia is easily one of my favorite places in the world for elopements! From the charming cobblestone streets of Old Town Alexandria to the epic natural beauty in Shenandoah and Great Falls National Parks, it’s ideal for couples looking for adventure, natural beauty and romance.

If you’re planning your amazing wedding day in the state (Virginia is for lovers, after all!), here’s how to legally elope in Virginia along with some tips for planning your dream wedding that’s true to who you are and what you value as a couple. Oh, and bonus, elopement photography in Virginia is just pure perfection, especially in the spring and fall! 

Elopements, just FYI, can be any type of wedding that’s done on your terms! Whether it’s just the two of you or a group of friends and family, an elopement allows you to celebrate your love without the pressure, cost and stress of a traditional wedding. And from a legal perspective, can you elope in Virginia? You sure can! 

How To Elope In Virginia – The Details You Need To Know!

First things first, if you don’t want to get legally married in Virginia, your elopement can be purely symbolic— a completely valid choice! If you live in another state but want to travel to Virginia for your elopement, you can take care of the legal paperwork at home first and then enjoy your elopement day adventure in Virginia!

However, if you do want your ceremony to be legally binding, you first need to obtain a marriage license from one of the Clerk of the Circuit Court offices. There are many across the state, so just find the one closest to where you live or where you plan to get married. 

Good news — there are no residency requirements to elope here, so you don’t need to reside in Virginia to get married within the state. 

You’ll need to bring along a current and valid form of ID, which can include your passport, driver’s license or state ID card to prove your age, and you’ll also be asked for both of your parents’ full names, as per their birth certificates. An application fee of $30.00 is also required. 

Both of you will need to visit the Circuit Court offices together, but you can fill out the Virginia marriage license application form in advance to save time (search online for your closest Circuit Court office to find their marriage forms online). Then, that’s pretty much it! Once your application is approved, there’s no waiting period and the license is valid for 60 days. You’re now officially able to legally elope in Virginia anywhere you like — how amazing is that?

Bride and groom stand on cliff overlooking a river during their Virginia elopement.

Do You Need A Witness To Elope In Virginia?

No witnesses are required for a Virginia wedding, but, unfortunately, you can’t self-officiate your marriage the way you can in nearby DC. This means that you do need someone to act as an officiant and the state doesn’t perform Justice of the Peace/courthouse weddings. 

Can anyone officiate a wedding in Virginia? Not really — your officiant needs to be registered with the state to perform marriages. Ordained ministers and marriage commissioners can also officiate. It’s possible for a friend or relative to apply for a one-time civil officiant license to marry you, but the catch is they must be a Virginia resident who lives in the county where you’re eloping. 

I know this is a little confusing! But as a local elopement photographer in Virginia, I’ve had the honor of working with many amazing and inspiring officiants and am very glad to recommend someone to you — especially if you’re visiting from out of town!

Wedding couple roast marshmallows at a campfire in their wedding attire during their Virginia elopement.

What Would A Virginia Elopement Look Like?

If you were to plan a perfect elopement in Virginia, how would you do it? The first thing you need to know about elopements is that they’re all about you, so you truly can’t get it wrong! I encourage you to think about what the day means to you and plan your location and activities around what will be most special and meaningful to you both. 

As an example, a couple who loves the outdoors and wants to make the most of Virginia’s amazing natural beauty could look something like this:

  • Check into your adorable B&B along Virginia’s Skyline Drive, one of the country’s most scenic roads and home to the spectacular Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Spend the afternoon checking out one of the region’s amazing outdoor adventures together, whether it’s a waterfall hike, canoeing together or just a relaxing and romantic picnic near the water.
  • Early morning, head to your elopement location for a magical sunrise ceremony before the crowds arrive. Some of the most beautiful places to elope in the Blue Ridge include just about anywhere within Shenandoah National Park, such as Blackrock Summit, Stony Man Trail and Dark Hollow Falls. Oh, and I absolutely love this part of the world and offer elopement packages in Virginia and Shenandoah!
  • Invite all of your friends and fam to join you in the afternoon for a celebration in the park or at a local restaurant. Super fun, casual and stress-free — love it! 
Bride and groom kiss and embrace each other at sunset in the Virginia mountains during their Raven's Roost Overlook elopement. Learn how to legally elope in Virginia!

Amazing Places To Elope In Virginia 

There are so many more incredible places to elope in Virginia, so it all depends on where you want to be! In Northern Virginia, mega convenient due to its proximity to the DC airports, great elopement spots include Old Town Alexandria, Great Falls and even Luray Caverns for something a bit different. 

Other top options across the state include Virginia Beach, Chincoteague Island or even a local Virginia winery or B&B. I love exploring our gorgeous state myself so am always happy to share secret spots or gorgeous places I’ve discovered along the way! 

Now that you know how to legally elope in Virginia, it’s time to start planning your adventure! I’m excited to hear what you dream up and I am always so happy to help with your elopement photography. If you have any questions about planning your Virginia elopement or how your elopement ideas might work for photography, please reach out! I’d love to meet you and start creating your elopement — a unique, exciting and fun occasion that seriously won’t be like anything else! 

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