Virginia Elopement Guide

Planning your Virginia elopement? YES! One of the most beautifully diverse states on the East Coast is calling you for your elopement day.

It’s no secret that Virginia is one of the hidden gems here in the heart of the Appalachian Mountain Range. From the sandy coastlines of Virginia Beach to the stunning cliffs of the Blue Ridge to the downtown streets of Richmond – this state has seriously SO much to offer for your elopement day and as your resident elopement photographer, I’m pumped to give you all of my tips and tricks to getting married and planning an incredible elopement for you and your partner. Let’s get into eloping in Virginia!

First things first…how do we get started if we want to have a Virginia elopement?

Making the decision to elope in Virginia is HUGE all in itself – you’re taking the first step into creating a day and experience for you and your partner that is going to kickoff the rest of your lives together! It’s a huge deal. Take time to celebrate that!

Here are a few things to get you started in planning your day:

  1. Choose your location 
  2. Choose the time/date of your elopement
  3. Choose your vendors
  4. Plan your elopement timeline
  5. Get your permits/marriage licenses
  6. Plan out any activities/plan your timeline

No Virginia elopement day is complete without a kick-ass vendor team!


The floral arrangements I’ve seen that work the best for elopements need to hold up to transport well and also potential outdoor elements such as hot or cold temperatures or wind! Ask your florist for flowers that aren’t super fragile and look for things like dried flowers, grasses, plants with woody stems, and other materials that don’t produce seed – depending on your location, you may need to go with native, non-invasive species to make sure nothing is left behind (learn more about leaving no trace during your elopement day here)

If you’re hiking during your Virginia elopement – make sure to let your florist know and just expect the flowers to be bounced around quite a bit – go for a more sturdy bouquet if this is your case! Make sure to also let them know if you’re wanting any extra pieces for decorating, floral hair pieces, corsages, boutonnieres, etc. Be sure to trust your florist – they’re the experts and can help you design pieces that are going to go perfectly with whatever landscape/vibe you two had envisioned for your day. 😊

Need some recommendations for some awesome florists if you’re eloping in Virginia? Look no further! 

Urban Flora VA

Wild Fleurette

Blooming in VB


Since marriage laws are so varied throughout all countries and states within the U.S. – this will be something that you’re going to want to dig a bit deeper into wherever you plan on eloping in Virginia. Here in VA – you can have someone you know become legally ordained to perform the ceremony, or hire someone to come with you to your ceremony location. This is the most important part of your elopement – so make sure whoever you choose to officiate is someone you really connect with. 

Here are some wonderful officiants I’ve had the pleasure of working with! Be sure to check them out 😊

Married by Evan

Pastor Lynwood at Hilton Baptist Church (officiated my wedding day!!) 


When it comes to planning for eloping in Virginia, choosing where you two are going to be staying is almost as fun as choosing where your ceremony is going to be! This is where you will wake up on your wedding day and where you’ll come back after you are married. 

View your lodging as part of your whole wedding experience. Think outside the box and give yourself permission to consider really fun spaces like cute Airbnbs, A-frames in the woods, treehouses, yurts, oceanside villas, or any kind of place that’s you think is aesthetically appealing, super enjoyable, and fits the vibe for the rest of your day. Pick somewhere that you two will thoroughly love spending time together!!

Pro Tips for Booking Your Lodging

  • Think about natural light and aesthetics
  • Are there good windows in your space? Does the decor vibe with the vision you have for your day? You might want some getting ready or other photos where you’re staying, and good lighting and decor can make a huge difference in your photos.
  • How far is it from your ceremony spot? Map your route on Google Maps between your ceremony spot and where you plan to stay. I suggest trying to find lodging as close to your location as possible (within 60 minutes drive if you can) so that you don’t have to spend too much of your day driving. Some more remote areas may require more travel, but the closer you can stay to your ceremony location, the smoother your timeline will be.
  • How far is it from your ceremony spot? Map your route on Google Maps between your ceremony spot and where you plan to stay. I suggest trying to find lodging as close to your location as possible (within 60 minutes drive if you can) so that you don’t have to spend too much of your day driving. Some more remote areas may require more travel, but the closer you can stay to your ceremony location, the smoother your timeline will be.
  • Get some privacy! If you’re having an intimate wedding with guests, think about booking your own space the night before and after your elopement so you can get plenty of rest and enjoy even more time together, just the two of you. 

Need some inspiration for unique lodging? I’m here for you. Where you stay for your Virginia elopement will absolutely affect your experience, so find a place that makes you happy! Here are a few resources I like to scope out when I’m looking for fun, unique places to stay.



And here are a few of my favorite places to stay here in VA! These are all tried-and-true, have great lighting, great reviews, and are pretty centrally located to many beautiful places to elope in Virginia. And as always, I’m here to help you two find the most beautiful places to stay and elope – so whatever vibe you’re wanting for your day – we can absolutely find that together. 

Cabin on 2 acres River access, Fire Pit, & Hot tub

Updated, EV charger, Modern home

Shenandoah Yurt: Hot Tub~Wood Stove~WiFi~EVcharger

The Black Aframe ⛺️ – HOT TUB & ⛰Mountain Views

Luxury Treehouse with Hot Tub on the Rivanna River

Invictus: A Romantic Sailboat

Underground Hobbit Style Dome House

Private Couples A-Frame Getaway with Hot Tub


Video can be a great additional way to document your elopement story! When considering adding video to your day, it’s key to find a videographer with a similar shooting approach to your photographer. I personally prefer collaborating with non-intrusive, documentary-style videographers who don’t turn your day into a production 😊 To keep an intimate and private feel to your elopement day, consider hiring a solo videographer instead of a team of videographers!

Looking to book a videographer to bring along when you’re eloping in Virginia? Checkout a few of my fav humans to work with below! 

White Caps Film

Folks Film Productions

Abby Bostian Visuals

Catering and Private Chefs

It’s super important to stay well fed and hydrated during your day, and one of the easiest things to forget about is food! Hiring a private chef to create you a stunning and delicious one-of-a-kind meal is a well-worth-the-indulgence experience that you’ll never forget. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself and remember that this is your wedding day, and while hiring your top-choice chef or caterer might cost more per person than someone would typically spend on a plate of food for a big wedding—with less guests (or just the two of you), it’s something definitely worth considering splurging on!

Serendipity Catering

And for some other unique ideas for your elopement day, here are some super fun ones to get you started on your hunt for vendors!

  • A jeweler that will let you make your own rings
  • A live painter during your ceremony
  • A tattoo artist who will give you wedding day tattoos
  • A hot air balloon, helicopter, or float plane pilot
  • A professional 4×4 or vintage vehicle driver

Whether you’re wanting to get married in one of Virginia’s intimate wedding venues or the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley – there is a perfect VA elopement location here for everyone! 

One of my personal favorite parts about the elopement planning process is helping my couples choose the perfect ceremony and portrait location to spend their day at! 

There are a ton of factors that will affect your elopement day, but picking your location for eloping in Virginia is one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle that will determine the experience of you guys deciding that eloping in Virginia is the best place for you two!

Your location should feel right for you two – should be somewhere you feel overwhelmingly happy, somewhere you feel absolutely alive, somewhere you know you and your partner can focus on each other and truly be in the moment. 

Some of my favorite VA elopement locations:

Virginia Beach, Virginia 

First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park is such a fun place for an elopement – with spanish moss, beautiful coastal views and some easy wooded walking trails – this state park has a TON of really easy-to-get-to ceremony locations and portrait locations to choose from! It’s located near the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach and does require permits for any wedding/elopement ceremony held there – but luckily, it’s a super easy process! First Landing does not have crowded beaches, it’s beautiful in every single season, and one of the only places in VB that the sunset is actually over the water. They also have cabins, yurts and campgrounds available if you’re wanting to stay after your elopement!


Another beautiful beach location for your elopement – definitely bigger beaches (sometimes more crowded but most of the time it’s pretty empty) and you actually do not need a permit to get married on the beach here as long as your celebration is under 200 people and/or does not have any setup required (arbors, florals, etc)! If you’re wanting to have something setup for the ceremony, make sure to fill out the application here!

The Villa

Looking like it was literally taken right out of the Mediterranean, the Villa is a beautiful microwedding venue in Virginia Beach that has the capacity of up to 50 guests! With a gorgeous outdoor courtyard and numerous different spaces to host a small reception and get ready, you can have your entire microwedding here! Jodie, the owner, is a joy to work with and I had the best time working there last fall, checkout this styled shoot we collaborated on together and find some more information about booking your microwedding at the Villa here!

Eastern Shore


If you’re wanting a small-town, coastal vibe for your Virginia elopement, Chincoteague might be the perfect place for you! This island houses the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge which is actually home to wild horses! There are a TON of super quaint bed and breakfasts like the Key West Cottages On The Chincoteague Bay or the Channel Bass Inn.

Westmoreland State Park

Located along the Potomac River, this beautiful state park has some of the most unique landscapes in Virginia. This is the only place you’re going to find those PNW-inspired cliffs and coastlines here in VA. This park is one of the easiest to navigate for eloping in Virginia which makes it perfect for the couples who are less keen on a hiking elopement and are more “leisurely walk and picnic on the beach” kinda people. There are sweet little cabins available to rent within the park as well!

Shenandoah National Park + the Blue Ridge Parkway

The only national park in Virginia certainly does not disappoint – Skyline Drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway is home to some of the most incredible views in the entire state. You can find stunning waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, and beautiful wooded hollows here in this national park about 75 miles from Washington D.C.

There aren’t a lot of Airbnbs near the park itself – so you’re going to want to make sure you allow for extra time getting to and from where you’re staying to where you would be eloping!

Some of my favorite hiking trails here are Stony Man, Mary’s Rock, and Old Rag. There are also TONS of incredible overlooks that are super easy to access! This park really does have everything and is easily accessible for anyone wanting a beautiful mountain elopement experience.

Great Falls State Park

Another incredibly unique park in Virginia is found along the Potomac River in the city of McLean. Great Falls State Park has 15 miles of hiking trails, making it a smaller state park compared to others, but with no shortage of activities! If you are an avid rock climber, enjoy white water rafting or horseback riding – this park is going to be for you and would make such a beautiful background for your elopement. Add in a climb with your partner on your elopement day or take a scenic trail horseback ride around the park to view the falls and insane rock formations of Great Falls.

Richmond, Virginia 


One of my favorite places in Richmond! This beautiful historic park is around 100-acres and is filled with a beautiful Italian-esque arboretum, gardens and wildlife habitats! To elope here, reservation times are limited to two-hours and can include the ceremony as well as time for us to take photos afterwards.

They also have the option of adding on ceremony chairs and/or a dressing room for an additional fee if you and your loved ones need a space to freshen up beforehand. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday microweddings can be reserved 30 days or less in advance of the event date and microweddings on Mondays-Thursdays can be reserved 6 months or less in advance. Request some more information and inquire here! This spot is really so unique and beautiful for anyone eloping in Virginia.

Norfolk, Virginia 

Downtown Norfolk is definitely one of my favorite places to photograph anyone eloping in Virginia wanting more of a city, downtown vibe – with the cobblestone streets, older architecture and quirky personality, it’s a really fun place to elope at. 

One of the cutest restaurants in downtown Norfolk doubles as a microwedding venue as well! Get ready, host your intimate wedding ceremony and celebrate with a dinner afterwards at Four Eleven York for your elopement day. You can even stay in the inn afterwards! This is seriously one of the cutest spots in downtown Norfolk and you definitely won’t regret checking them out!

Grayson Highlands State Park

This beautiful state park located in western Virginia has rolling mountain views like nowhere else in our state. With stunning rock formations out of the ground, wild highland ponies, and the state’s tallest peak at Mount Rogers, this is definitely one of the most unique places in terms of terrain that is found here in Virginia.

Due to the high elevation – temperatures here can be lower than surrounding areas and are known to be very gusty with wind, so just make sure you prepare for more extreme weather conditions and bring extra supplies when hiking.

There are plenty of camping options available in Grayson Highland State Park, but the nearby town of Abingdon, VA has plenty of adorable bed-and-breakfasts to choose from as well if you’re wanting to spend the night without camping!

Want some more location inspiration? Checkout another blog resource of mine here to get some more of my favorite locations to elope at in Virginia

The best time for eloping in Virginia

The weather in Virginia can certainly be temperamental – we live in a very humid, coastal state so my personal recommendation for couples that are wanting to elope outdoors is to stick to the fall/winter/early spring months! Summers in Virginia are pretty *sticky* and combined with possible hiking or walking to your elopement location – it could get uncomfortable. Opt for a sunrise elopement or head somewhere into the mountains (where temperatures are definitely lower than along the coast) during the summer months!

Fall in the mountains of Virginia does tend to get pretty busy (with good reason – the foliage is gorgeous and does attract a lot of people all wanting to enjoy the fall season there) so opting for a weekday elopement during peak seasons is going to give you guys a lot more privacy and not have to sacrifice those beautiful fall views for your elopement. 

During the planning process – I help my couples create pro/con lists of what type of location they’re wanting to get married in and from there we can determine when the best time of year would be to elope there! I’m all about making sure you’ve got every bit of information you need to make the best choices for you and your elopement day 😊

Planning your day-of elopement timeline for your Virginia elopement

Once you have some decisions made, travel and lodging booked, activities in mind, attire and gear picked out — it’s time to put everything together and plan out the timeline of your day (or multiple days). This is where your elopement or intimate wedding experience starts to feel super real as you see your vision coming together into a seamless, exciting plan. Don’t worry – scheduling out every single minute of your day is not really my style, but rather making sure that you have time for everything you want to do, see, and experience together while still leaving room for spontaneity and relaxation! 

You’re always going to need a little bit more time than you think you will – so make sure to add in some buffer time. You’ll be glad you did; things always come up on a wedding day!

Deciding on what to do during your elopement ceremony

Regardless of how you choose to do the legal side of getting married, there are numerous traditions that you can decide to incorporate on the day you say your vows—or you can skip them all and decide on your own.

Here are some ideas of what exactly you can do during your elopement or intimate wedding ceremony:

  • Exchange Rings or Another Token
  • First Kiss & First Dance
  • Read Personalized Vows
  • Incorporate Music
  • Unity Ceremony
  • Read Letters
  • Surprises & Gifts
  • Create Space for Those Not Present

The legal stuff: your guide to permits and Virginia marriage licenses

The legal aspect of eloping in Virginia is actually really simple! Pick a time to go to your local city circuit court and fill out your marriage license application – for most cities in Virginia, this is going to cost you about $30 cash. Make sure to bring your IDs! This certificate will be valid for 60 days – so planning to go 1-2 months before your actual elopement day ensures that you guys are totally prepared to give it to your officiant! There is actually no waiting period after you obtain your license, so feel free to have the ceremony same day if that works best for you two 😊

Permits are another story! In all national and most state parks, in order to get married on national park land – you’re going to need a special events permit. There is a waiting period for obtaining these – so I encourage you to really research the area you’re going to be eloping in to ensure that you are following all rules and regulations the park has set in place to maintain the land as best as possible. 
If this part seems super daunting to you, no fear! I actually walk all of my couples through the entire permit process no matter where you choose to elope, leaving nothing up to question so  that we’re doing everything legally and respectfully. It comes complimentary in all of my photography packages!

How much does it cost if we are thinking of eloping in Virginia?

In Virginia – you can be legally married for under $100. The marriage license ($30) and the cost of having a Marriage Commissioner perform the ceremony for you two ($50) only adds up to around $80 – making it super low-cost if you’re looking to just get married and leave it at that. 

However, adding other vendors and activities to your wedding day can really make the entire experience just that – an experience. The average cost of a wedding in 2022 was around $30,000 for an average of 117 guests – weddings are an investment, which is why deciding to elope is SUCH an important choice to make. Your day is sacred; it’s special. Why invest into something that isn’t going to reflect the two of you and everything you want? Eloping doesn’t mean sacrificing the joy, the experience, or the celebration – it actually gives you more space to do things even more aligned to what you two truly want. 

**please note, these numbers are just an approximation and can fluctuate depending on different vendors, different budgets, etc**

Marriage license in Virginia: $30

Officiant in Virginia: $75-$400

  • It’s also important to remember that if you’re eloping in a national park or somewhere secluded, your vendors may have travel fees that apply.

Hair and Makeup: $200-$400

  • This one is obviously optional – tons of my couples do their own hair and makeup for their wedding day, but adding a little extra pampering can make you feel great on the day of 😊 

Photographer: $3300+

Florist: $200-$1250

  • This is such a big range because some couples decide to just have a bouquet, whereas others like to decorate their getting-ready space (like an Airbnb) or bring along some ceremony flowers if the location allows something like that! 

Attire: $500-$3500

  • Again, something that can seriously vary depending on budget! You can find some beautiful wedding attire options through Lulus, Baltic Born, Zara, etc! Or go through a local boutique/tailor for some other beautiful formal options. Really, wear whatever the heck you want. Just be comfortable and feel good in it! 

Lodging, Travel and Transportation: $500-$2000

  • If you’re a VA local, the transportation won’t really apply to you because you’re already here! However, if you’re traveling out of state, plane tickets will definitely vary and I’d recommend using some travel sites like or to keep track of flight prices to maximize your budget and get the best deal! As for lodging, this will depend on if you choose to stay at an Airbnb or hotel and how long you plan to stay there. A lot of couples turn their getting-ready space into where they’re going to be spending their honeymoon! All things to consider when choosing your elopement spot 😊

Post-Elopement Dinner: $100-$400 ~

Average cost: $4905-$11,280

So definitely less than a larger, traditional wedding – but absolutely still an investment into such an important day. These numbers are, of course, an estimation and I was able to get by speaking with a few vendors in Virginia and hearing about their numbers and pricing. It can be tweaked to best fit your budget and vision for your day! I always tell my couples to really invest in the vendors they care about the most. For example, if photos and having a really good dinner after your elopement are the most important – budget the absolute most for those two things so you don’t have to sacrifice, and then maybe do your own hair/makeup and create your own floral arrangements for your elopement to save the extra money! It’s all about tweaking it to fit your day and how you want it to flow 😊

Fun activities/ideas to add to your day when eloping in Virginia

While big traditional weddings have a pretty set plan of events they tend to follow, the activities you can do during your day aren’t limited to just a ceremony and a reception. Your elopement has the power to be a lot more than saying vows and taking a few portraits: this is your chance to build an entire day together that is as much fun as and representative of who you two actually are as possible.

To start figuring out what that might look like – ask yourselves things like:

  • What are our favorite activities to do together? 
  • What do we do for fun on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?
  • How could we incorporate what we love to do on our elopement day?
  • Is there a new activity that we want to try together on our elopement day?

Think outside the box! Get creative and don’t be afraid to splurge— it’s your wedding day, after all!

I’m a huge advocate for keeping things sentimental and genuine – I actually have an entire guide and blog post here that will give you my top tips for keeping things as meaningful as possible on your Virginia elopement day. Check it out!!

Virginia elopement photography packages

As your elopement photographer, a huge part of my job is to make sure that you two have the best experience possible. Most couples don’t hire a planner when they elope because the photographer actually plays a huge part in that process! Between finding permits, location scouting, and offering general advice about the area you’re eloping in – your elopement photographer is going to be a wealth of knowledge and support for you to lean on as you two inch closer to the best day of your lives. 

It’s super important to me to have an all-inclusive, totally customized experience for each and every one of my couples. Everything you see below is what you’re going to get by working with me! 

All of my resources and tips/tricks 

  • I send off a full elopement guide that is seriously such a gold nugget of information for you when you’re going through the planning process. Not only do you have this mega-guide, you’ve also got me as a resource as well! Ask away, I’m here to help and answer any and all questions. 

Location scouting and permit assistance 

  • Not sure where you want to elope? No stress! I send off a location questionnaire that can really help us narrow down what kind of landscapes/views you’re wanting to see during your elopement which will guide us towards the perfect spot for you. If there are any special events or photography permits required, I take care of all of those for you two! 

Custom timeline building and multiple pre-elopement meetings together

35mm film and polaroid images in addition to your full digital gallery 

Travel costs included in all of Virginia 

Sneak peek slideshow and gallery within 3 days after your elopement 

My elopement packages start at $3300! It’s important to me that my clients feel cared about but most importantly, I just want to humanize this entire process of working together. You deserve someone just as stoked about your elopement day as you are, and I can promise you that hiring your photographer is one of the most important decisions you can make during the planning process of eloping in Virginia.

If you’re on the hunt for your photographer still as you guys start the planning process for eloping in Virginia – I would love to work together and would love to help bring the vision of your day to life. Fill out my contact form and we can setup a super quick, free 30 minute consultation and can get to know eachother better! I’ll create a custom proposal for you two and listen to the vision you two have for your day. 

Advice from a Richmond elopement photographer: some other elopement resources for you to checkout if you aren’t 100% ready to work together and are planning on eloping in Virginia or elsewhere!

Checkout the other resources I’ve got in my blog! I try to give as much help and as many resources I can for you to plan the best day when eloping in Virginia 🙂 Click around!

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