When couples reach out to me about eloping in Virginia, I always get a bit giddy helping them plan it! Virginia has so many incredible locations to elope at and explore from the amazing history and cobblestone roads in Richmond to the beauty of the Shenandoah National Park.
There are always some important aspects I love to share with my clients so they are prepared for what to expect for their big day. Don’t worry, I am sharing these with you below so you can start planning your Virginia elopement too!
1. Virginia Offers All Kinds Of Scenery
Virginia has gorgeous scenery from the mountains to beaches, lakes, cities, and even wineries! No matter what your interest is, Virginia has something to make your elopement feel even more like you and your partner!
Virginia has everything! We can chat about what kind of scenery you want and then choose a region of Virginia that will bring your vision to life. One of my favorite reasons to elope in Virginia is the option to pair locations together to create your dream day. That could mean adventuring in the mountains in the morning and grabbing a beer at the local brewery that afternoon!
2. Spend Your Elopement Adventuring Around Virginia
Let’s not forget— this isn’t a quick courthouse wedding we are planning here. Your elopement gets to be an all-day adventure filled with your favorite things, with no rush! I want to help you create a Virginia elopement experience you will cherish forever. Some of my favorite recommendations are:
- Spending the morning together and getting ready with your favorite coffee and breakfast
- Going on a morning sunrise hike (if that’s your thing) in the Shenandoah Mountains or doing a brunch luxury picnic in Virginia Beach
- Getting lunch in a historic downtown area or sipping wine at an award-winning winery
- Celebrate at your Airbnb with cake cutting and poppin’ champagne
- Shopping at the cute little boutiques for souvenirs
- Roasting marshmallows next to a campfire
All while getting absolutely stunning photos from me! But seriously the options are endless when it comes to filling your elopement with fun memorable touches! Have something specific in mind? I’m happy to help plan the day with you!
3. Virginia’s Marriage Laws You Need To Know
This one is important, Virginia does have semi-strict marriage laws! If you want your ceremony to be legally binding, you need to obtain a marriage license from the Clerk of The Circuit Court offices. There are many across the state, so just Google the closest one to you or where you’re eloping!
You both will need to visit the Circuit Court offices together and will need a current and valid ID, both of your parents’ full names, and $30 for the application fee! Once your application is approved, you are officially able to legally elope!
Make sure to check out my blog all about how to legally elope in Virginia for even more details.
4. Eloping In Shenandoah National Park Is Free!
You read that right I said FREE for weddings with 15 or fewer guests! Shenandoah National Park is famous for its Skyline Drive and amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Shenandoah is one of my absolute favorite elopement locations and offers so many amazing experiences. You can stay in the park before or after your elopement, see the wildlife, swim in the natural lakes, and enjoy tons of outdoor activities. Plus, there are amazing hikes for all experience levels and tons of drive-up overlooks as well.
Did I also mention the views in every direction are stunning and create beautiful images?! I have a whole blog about planning Shenandoah National Park elopements, read that here.
5. Packing For Your Elopement In Virginia
Packing correctly for your Virginia elopement will directly affect how amazing it is! We do experience all four seasons here so you need to pack accordingly. Weddings and elopements tend to dip in popularity in July because of the heat. But it can be very hot and humid through the whole summer, just something to keep in mind. Vice versa, the mountains also get colder and windier because of the high altitude. That’s one of the reasons Fall elopements are so popular here (more on that later).
I know how stressful packing for your elopement is no matter the weather or time of year. That’s exactly why I provide a custom packing list for every terrain and region so you’re always prepared! My goal is to help create your dream elopement, stress-free.
6. Virginia’s History & Charm Is Endless
The charm and history are unmatched in Virginia! Richmond which was founded in 1737 and it is a busier city with so much to see and explore. Richmond is filled with history museums, the State Capitol, endless craft beer, and amazing restaurants along cobblestone roads.
Old Town Alexandria, in the historic district, is also a must-see! A bit less bustling than Richmond but with so much to offer from quaint boutiques to explore and small businesses to support.
No matter where you choose to elope in Virginia, the charm and history are sure to find you.
7. Virginia Is Perfect For Dog-Lovers!
If you are dreaming of bringing your pup along on your elopement adventure, then look no further! Virginia is very pet friendly and many of the state and national parks are as well! There are lots of hiking trails and a good number of Airbnbs are also pet friendly!
Of course, there are some places where dogs aren’t allowed but we can talk about some great options if bringing your furry friend along is important to ya!
8. Permits, Permits, Permits
Permits aren’t fun but are sometimes necessary for eloping. Luckily, permits are easy to obtain or not required at all! Shenandoah National Park doesn’t require a permit for under 15 people. So if you are planning on keeping your elopement very small or with just you two, Shenandoah is an easy and gorgeous option.
Some state parks or privately owned locations may require permits but I promise they are fairly easy to obtain. I am here to help guide you through the process as I have photographed elopements at most of the State Parks and am familiar with the rules.
I do recommend checking out the websites below for more info!
9. Let’s Talk About The Fall
Fall in Virginia is jaw-dropping, with all the gorgeous Autumn colors coming to life! This also means it’s the most popular time to elope in Virginia. Plus, tourism starts to get even busier than normal.
This doesn’t mean eloping in Fall is a bad idea, you just need to keep a few things in mind! Shenandoah, National Park, for example, only allows morning ceremonies until 10 AM during the month of October and ceremony locations might be limited if privacy is a main concern. I suggest planning early and getting permits for those areas ASAP! You could also consider eloping in late September or early November to avoid some of the crowds and hassle.
10. Weekdays vs. Weekends
Most big traditional weddings happen on weekends because guests need time off, time to travel to and from, and recover before heading back to work on Monday. Luckily, when eloping you may have only a few guests or even no one joining you. Weekdays are always less busy in the State and National Parks as well. I suggest that you are able to plan your elopement date for a weekday!
Certain vendors, hotels, and activities might even have weekday discounts, too.
Virginia Elopement Photographer
Now that you know 10 things you should know about eloping in Virginia, it’s time to start planning the big day! If you have any questions about photographing or support planning your elopement, please reach out here!
I can’t wait to help bring your vision to life!!