Bride and groom stand on in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC during their elopement.

One thing I love about our beautiful capital is that there are so many unique elopement locations in Washington DC! With so much history and culture and lots of gorgeous neighborhoods, you can celebrate your elopement here your own way, designing a day that’s the perfect representation of your love.

If you’ve been thinking about where to elope in DC that’s a little bit different, I’ve got you covered! Meaningful and unique elopements mean everything to me, and as your elopement photographer in Washington DC, I want to ensure you have the best day ever.

To help, here are 10 of the most unique elopement location ideas in DC… plus a few extras! 

1. The National Mall 

The National Mall is such an iconic place and is definitely one of the best places in DC to elope if you love history. You can find all of the famous monuments here, including:

  • The Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool 
  • DC War Memorial
  • Constitution Gardens
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Due to crowds, sunrise is the best time for popular tourist locations like the Lincoln Memorial. Why not take portraits at sunrise, go to the courthouse when it opens to make it legal, then kick off your celebrations? Note that you’ll need a permit for filming and photography here. 

2. Union Station & Union Market

Architecturally, Union Station has to be one of the most gorgeous elopement locations in Washington DC! Opened in 1907, the soaring archways and columns make a striking and instantly recognizable background for your photos. 

Union Market can also make a fun backdrop for wedding photos or even engagement snaps in DC. 

Bride and groom dip kiss holding a white flower bouquet under the arches at Union Station in Washington DC

3. National Gallery of Art 

Imagine strolling hand in hand through the National Gallery, looking at some of your favorite pieces in the collection. Then, saying your vows just outside the gallery before celebrating all afternoon – how fun!

If you love art, this would be one of the best DC elopement locations for your big day. 

Wedding couple sits on couch in front of art in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

4. Enid A. Haupt Smithsonian Gardens & Castle 

Many visitors to DC are surprised to find that we have an actual castle, but locals know and love this building – a treasured part of the Smithsonian. It almost feels like a bit of Europe in DC!

It’s stunning year-round, but one of the best times of year to elope at this spot is in spring. The gardens are phenomenal and lush, so I know you would just love an elopement photo session here.

5. The National Zoo

One of the most unique (but awesome) places to elope in Washington DC has to be the National Zoo! It’s also part of the Smithsonian and entry is free, so it would make such a fun place to get married.

Check out the giant pandas, walk through the Cheetah Conservation Center, and simply enjoy a lovely day out as a couple – with an elopement included, of course! Then, there are plenty of great bars and restaurants nearby in Adams Morgan where you could meet friends and family for a low-key reception. 

6. The Line Hotel DC

The Line Hotel, also in Adams Morgan, is a stylish and inviting hotel, and bonus: it’s even pet-friendly. If you’re coming from out of town, this would make a great base for your DC elopement.

The hotel also has a really awesome rooftop where you could say your vows – or come up first thing in the morning for sunrise rooftop yoga! 

7. District Wharf

The District Wharf would be awesome for a summer elopement. Sure, there are lots of cool restaurants, but I also love that you can really make a day of it here: you could rent kayaks, go on a sunset champagne cruise, or try stand-up paddleboarding.

Keep in mind that a lot of events happen here in summer, so please check out the District Wharf events calendar to make sure they don’t interfere with your elopement plans.

8. Spanish Steps & Georgetown 

The Spanish Steps are truly a hidden gem in DC! These beautiful steps lead to a terrace with a fountain and are found in Kalorama. 

After saying your vows here, Georgetown is right down the road for classic city vibes, cute townhouses, ivy-covered buildings, and the historic waterfront canal. Alternatively, the Foster Collaborative is a modern indoor studio space nearby, perfect for a small elopement celebration.

9. Rock Creek Park 

Wondering where to elope in DC that feels like a million miles away from the city? Definitely Rock Creek Park! It’s ideal for more adventurous couples, with trails and creeks to explore. Think bubbling brooks, cute stone bridges, and lots of cycling and hiking paths. 

I particularly love Rock Creek for fall elopement photography in Washington DC, since the autumn leaves are so striking here. 

10. Restaurants and rooftop bars 

Another fun option is to tie the knot somewhere mentioned above, then celebrate at a restaurant or rooftop bar. If you want to elope with just the two of you, you could then invite family/friends along for the second half of the day to join you. Some restaurants allow you to rent out a room for private events, or for smaller groups, you could just reserve a table in advance. 

You really can’t go wrong with any of the elopement ideas above, especially if you prefer something more unique. However, a few more places to consider include the U.S. Capitol, Meridian Hill Park, the National Arboretum, or The Kennedy Center and The Reach. Please note that some DC locations will require a permit, either for photography or for the ceremony itself, but I’m happy to talk you through how it works. 

With any of these options, you can curate a meaningful day (or even a full weekend) to really indulge, celebrate, and relax as part of your elopement. I encourage couples to dig deep when planning their day, thinking about how you’d love to spend your ideal day together, if anything and everything’s on the table. 

I’m always glad to give recommendations to help you get started, and you can guarantee I’ll be there for every moment of your dream elopement, capturing all the fun, kisses, and emotions on camera!

If you have any questions about these unique elopement locations or any others in DC for where to elope in the city, I’m here to help. I can’t wait to help you craft beautiful memories – let’s do this! 

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