Elopement in Virginia
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Elopement in Virginia – The Ultimate Guide (2024)

Having an elopement has long been a romantic way for couples to tie the knot, and what better way to do it than eloping in Virginia?

With its charming small towns, stunning natural beauty, and rich history, Virginia offers an array of idyllic elopement locations for couples looking for an intimate and unforgettable wedding experience.

From the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the quaint cobblestone streets of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia’s diverse landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for your day.

In this in depth guide to eloping in Virginia, we’ll explore some of the best elopement destinations in Virginia, tell you exactly how to plan your dream elopement, and give you tips on having the best time eloping in the Old Dominion State.

Be sure to check out the sections on:

How much it costs to elope in Virginia
The step-by-step guide on how to elope in Virginia
The best places to elope in Virginia

Let’s get to it!

The Pros and Cons of eloping in Virginia

There are many great reasons to have an elopement, but this style of wedding won’t suit everyone.

Virginia has many great qualities that make it a great place to get married in on short notice, but there are some practical elements to consider, too.

We have made this pro and con list to getting eloped in VA for you to think on.

The Pros of Virginia elopements

  • Breathtaking scenery

Virginia is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the country, from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay.

If you choose to elope in Virginia, you can exchange your vows amidst gorgeous natural scenery that will make for breathtaking photos and unforgettable memories.

  • Affordable cost

Compared to a traditional wedding, elopements can be significantly less expensive.

Virginia offers a variety of elopement packages that are affordable, so you can have a beautiful and intimate wedding without breaking the bank.

  • Flexible wedding locations

Virginia offers a range of wedding venues for elopements, from cozy bed and breakfasts to sprawling vineyards.

You can find a location that fits your personality and style, whether you want a rustic or elegant wedding.

  • Easy marriage process

Virginia has simple marriage requirements, and you can obtain your marriage license quickly and easily.

The process is straightforward and hassle-free, which is a definite plus for busy couples.

  • Romantic atmosphere

Virginia’s charming small towns, historic landmarks, and quaint streets make for a romantic and intimate atmosphere.

Elopements in Virginia can be a chance to focus solely on your love for each other and celebrate your special day in a place that feels magical.

The Cons of an elopement in Virginia

  • Limited guests

Elopements are typically just the couple, and perhaps a few close friends or family members.

If you were hoping to have a large wedding with lots of guests, eloping may not be the best choice.

  • Less formal celebration

Elopements are usually low-key and less formal than traditional weddings.

If you wanted a big, elaborate celebration, an elopement may not be what you are looking for.

  • Lack of control over certain elements

Since elopements are often arranged quickly and on short notice, you may not have as much control over certain elements of your wedding, such as finding the perfect vendors, the choice of officiant, or getting your dream venue.

  • Missing out on traditional wedding rituals

Traditional weddings often include a variety of rituals and traditions, such as exchanging rings, walking down the aisle, or having a first dance.

Elopements can be less structured, which means you may miss out on some of these classic wedding moments.

How to elope in Virginia – A Step-by-Step guide

If you’re asking yourself, “how do you elope in Virginia?” then you’ve come to the right place!

Let’s take a look at the various steps you need to take to elope in VA.

We go in to more detail in the in-depth guide further down.

It’s important you read and understand these points to have a stress-free experience.

And fi you look at this list and think it might be too much for you, you can always consider a Virginia elopement package, which will give you your wedding for a set price, with far less stress involved!

1. Pick a Date and Time

You can’t get married without a date!

Choose a date and time that works best for you and your partner.

Consider the season, weather, and availability of the location you have in mind.

2. Set a Budget

Determine your budget for your elopement.

Consider expenses such as travel, accommodations, wedding attire, officiant, photographer, and any other vendors you may need.

Remember that, although elopements can be cheaper than traditional weddings, they can also get expensive quickly if you don’t stick to your budget.

3. Legal Requirements

Make sure you cover the legal requirements for getting married in Virginia.

You and your partner will need to obtain a Virginia marriage license from the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office in the county where you plan to get married.

After the wedding, make sure to obtain your marriage certificate and change your name on legal documents, if desired.

4. Choose a Location

Virginia offers a variety of beautiful locations to elope, such as the Blue Ridge Mountains, historic landmarks, or coastal towns.

Decide on a location that suits your vision and budget.

5. Find an Officiant

Choose an officiant to perform your wedding ceremony.

You can hire a professional or ask a friend or family member to officiate if they can get a license to do so.

Make sure you pick someone who understands the style of your elopement and who you get on with.

6. Plan the Guest List

Elopements are typically small, but you may want to include a few close friends or family members.

Determine who you want to invite and send out invitations or save-the-dates.

7. Hire Vendors

If you want to include vendors in your elopement, such as an elopement photographer, florist, or caterer, research and book them in advance.

Wedding vendors can book out far in advance, so you may have to be flexible if you are planning this elopement at the last minute.

8. Plan the Ceremony

Work with your officiant to plan your wedding ceremony.

Decide on readings, vows, and any other special touches you want to include.

You could also include some of your guests in your ceremony, for elements such as readings.

9. Plan the Reception

If you plan to have a reception, consider a small gathering at a local restaurant or renting a private space.

Will you have any dancing, music, or catering?

Keep in mind your budget and guest list.

10. Book Accommodation and Travel

Book accommodation and travel in advance, especially if you plan to elope during peak season.

Make sure there are enough accommodation options for any guests you do plan on having.

If you are eloping in a hard-to-reach destination, you may have to consider group travel to get guests there.

11. Things to Do After the Wedding

Consider what you want to do after the big day!

Do you want to have a honeymoon somewhere?

Will you take part in some of the amazing activities Virginia has to offer?

Will you travel around the state a bit?

Plan some time together alone or with your guests to get the most out of your experience.

12. Have Fun

Remember to enjoy your special day and have fun!

Virginia elopements offer a beautiful and romantic way to start your journey together as a couple.

How to elope in VA – In-depth pointers

So now you know how to elope in Virginia, but there are definitely some more things to consider before jumping right in to it!

Let’s take a look at some of the points above in-depth.

How much does it cost to elope in Virginia?

So you may be asking yourself, “How much does it cost to elope in VA?”

Well, the cost of eloping in Virginia can vary depending on several factors, such as the location, the number of guests, and the vendors hired.

However, the average cost of eloping in Virginia ranges from $500 to $3,000.

This cost typically includes the marriage license, officiant, photographer, and a small wedding ceremony setup.

However, the cost can increase if you choose to add additional vendors, such as a florist, hair and makeup artist, or a caterer.

In comparison, the average cost of a traditional wedding in Virginia can range from $25,000 to $35,000.

This cost includes venue rental, catering, elopement photography, entertainment, floral arrangements, and other expenses associated with a larger wedding.

Eloping in Virginia can be a more affordable option for couples who want to have an intimate wedding ceremony without breaking the bank.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that elopements typically have fewer guests and fewer elaborate details compared to a traditional wedding.

Budgeting an elopement in VA

It’s important for couples to consider all potential costs when planning their elopement in Virginia to ensure that they stay within their budget.

Here are some of the typical costs associated with elopements in Virginia:

  • Marriage License

The cost of a marriage license in Virginia varies by county but typically ranges from $30 to $50.

  • Officiant Fees

Officiant fees vary but typically range from $100 to $400, depending on the experience and services offered.

  • Photographer Fees

Photographers can charge anywhere from $500 to $2,000 for elopement photography packages, depending on how experienced they are.

  • Venue Fees

The cost of a venue for an elopement can vary widely.

Some popular options, like renting a cabin or lodge in the Blue Ridge Mountains, can range from $200 to $1,000 per night.

  • Permits

Some locations, such as national parks or historic sites, may require a permit for elopements.

Permit fees can range from $50 to $300.

  • Flowers

The cost of flowers varies based on the type and number of arrangements.

Couples can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 for a simple bouquet and boutonniere.

  • Hair and Makeup

Couples who choose to have hair and makeup services can expect to pay around $150 to $400.

  • Catering

For couples who want to have a small reception after their elopement ceremony, hiring a caterer can be a good option.

Catering costs do change based on the type of food and the number of guests, but couples can expect to pay around $30 to $75 per person.

  • Videographer

If couples want to have their elopement ceremony professionally filmed, they can expect to pay around $1,000 to $2,500 for videography services.

  • Accommodation

For couples who are traveling to Virginia for their elopement, they will need to consider the cost of accommodation.

Couples can go for as basic or as luxury accommodation as they want.

On the low end, expect to pay around $50 per night, to $500 per night on the higher end.

  • Transportation

Couples who need transportation to their elopement ceremony or reception location may want to consider renting a car or hiring a transportation service.

Transportation costs can be roughly $50 per hour for a basic car, to $200 per hour for a higher-end vehicle.

  • Wedding Planner

Some couples may want to hire a wedding planner to help with the details of their elopement.

Wedding planner fees vary depending on the experience and services offered, but are generally around $1,000 to $3,000 for elopement planning services.

Tips to reduce costs when eloping in VA

If it is starting to seem like the costs are adding up, never fear!

We have prepared this list of tips to reduce the costs of your elopement.

  • Get a Virginia elopement package.

An elopement package will give you your perfect elopement day at a fixed cost, and without all the stress involved in planning it yourself.

You will work with an experienced elopement planner who can plan your whole day for you and take care of everything involved, and you don’t have to worry about the costs creeping up!

  • Choose a non-traditional day and time

Consider getting married on a weekday or during an off-peak season when vendors and venues may be less expensive.

Also, getting married during the daytime can be a more affordable option than a nighttime wedding.

  • Keep the guest list small

The more guests you invite, the higher the cost of your elopement.

Consider keeping the guest list to just a few close family members or friends.

  • Choose a simple location

Instead of renting an expensive venue or location, consider choosing a public park, beach, or other free outdoor location for your ceremony.

  • Skip the reception or keep it simple

A reception can add significant cost to your elopement.

Instead of a full reception, consider having a small dinner with your immediate family or having a cake and champagne toast.

  • Do it yourself

Consider doing some of the wedding preparations yourself, such as making your own bouquet or creating DIY wedding favors.

You could also ask your guests to help you as their wedding gift!

  • Book vendors early

Booking vendors early can often result in discounts or early bird specials. Additionally, booking in advance can help avoid last-minute price increases.

  • Limit the number of vendors

While hiring vendors such as a photographer and officiant can be important, hiring too many vendors can add up quickly.

Consider choosing vendors that offer multiple services or finding ways to consolidate services.

By following these tips, couples can significantly reduce the cost of their elopement in Virginia while still having a meaningful and memorable wedding day.

How to plan the Virginia elopement ceremony

Planning an elopement ceremony can be a fun and exciting process, and it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Here are some steps to help you plan your elopement ceremony:

  • Determine the style and tone of your ceremony

Decide if you want your ceremony to be formal or informal, traditional or modern, religious or secular.

Think about the tone you want to set for your special day.

  • Choose a location

Decide on a location that is meaningful to you and your partner.

This could be a place that is special to you both, a beautiful natural location, or a unique venue that reflects your personalities.

  • Choose an officiant

Choose an officiant who is authorized to perform marriages in Virginia and who shares your values and vision for your ceremony.

This could be a religious leader, a secular officiant, or a friend or family member who is ordained.

  • Write your vows

Write your own vows that express your love and commitment to each other.

You can make them personal and unique, or use traditional vows as inspiration.

  • Choose any additional elements

Decide if you want to include any additional elements in your ceremony, such as readings, music, or symbolic gestures.

  • Hire a photographer

Hire a professional photographer to capture the special moments of your ceremony and create lasting memories of your elopement.

Be sure to tell them about the format of your ceremony (and particularly any surprise moments!) so they can figure out how best to capture it on camera.

  • Obtain necessary permits

If you are planning to have your ceremony in a public location, make sure to obtain any necessary permits or permissions ahead of time.

  • Plan for any logistics

Think about any logistics you will need to take care of, such as transportation, accommodations, and any necessary vendor services.

By following these steps, you can plan a beautiful and meaningful elopement ceremony that reflects your personalities and values, and creates lasting memories of your special day.

How to find a Virginia elopement officiant

Finding an officiant for your Virginia elopement is an important task.

Couples should find an experienced and qualified officiant who can help make their special day even more meaningful

Here are some steps to help you find an officiant:

  • Determine what type of officiant you want

There are several types of officiants, including religious, non-denominational, and secular.

Consider your beliefs and preferences to determine which type of officiant is right for you.

  • Ask for recommendations

Ask friends or family members who have recently gotten married for recommendations for an officiant.

They may be able to recommend someone they used for their own wedding.

A friend or family member can also be your officiant, as long as they are a legal resident of any Virginia county.

If so, they can then petition their county to become a one-time civil celebrant, but only in that county specifically.

  • Check online directories

There are several online directories of wedding officiants that allow you to search for an officiant by location and type of ceremony.

  • Ask your venue

Venues often have relationships with local officiants who have performed elopements at their location before, and may be able to recommend someone who is a good fit for your ceremony.

  • Interview potential officiants

Once you have a list of potential officiants, set up a time to interview them.

Ask them about their experience, their availability on your wedding date, and their ceremony style.

Make sure you feel comfortable with them before making a decision.

  • Verify their credentials

Before hiring an officiant, make sure they are legally authorized to perform weddings in Virginia.

You can do this by contacting the the County Clerk where you plan to hold your ceremony.

Can you elope in Virginia? – How to legally elope in VA

It is important to make sure you have all the necessary documentation and follow the legal requirements to ensure your marriage is valid.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to legally elope in Virginia:

1. Obtain a marriage license

In Virginia, both parties must be at least 18 years old, or 16 with parental consent.

Apply for a Virginia marriage license at the Clerk’s Office in any Virginia county or city.

You will both need to appear in person and provide the necessary documentation.

You will need to present a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, passport, or military ID.

The cost of a marriage license varies by location but is typically around $30-$50.

There is no waiting period to obtain a marriage license, and it is valid for 60 days.

2. Choose an officiant

An authorized officiant, such as a religious leader or a civil celebrant, must perform the marriage ceremony in Virginia.

They will need to sign the marriage license and return it to the Clerk’s Office.

3. Find a witness

In Virginia, you need at least one witness to sign the marriage license.

This can be a family member, friend, or anyone over 18 years old.

4. Exchange vows and rings

During the ceremony, you will exchange vows and rings with your partner. You can write your own vows or use traditional ones.

5. Sign the marriage license

After the ceremony, you, your partner, and the witness(es) will need to sign the marriage license.

The officiant will also sign and return it to the Clerk’s Office.

By following these steps, you can legally elope in Virginia and start your new life together as a married couple.

The best places to elope in Virginia

Virginia is home to a diverse range of stunning landscapes, making it the perfect destination for couples looking to elope.

You are truly spoiled for choice, but here are some of the best places to elope in Virginia, along with reasons why they are great options:

Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park offers breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys, forests, and peaks.

It’s a popular destination for hikers, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts, and it’s a great option for couples looking to elope in a natural setting.

The park has several scenic overlooks, waterfalls, and trails that provide the perfect backdrop for a romantic ceremony.

Virginia Beach is a popular coastal destination that offers miles of pristine beaches, oceanfront boardwalks, and a bustling town center.

Couples can exchange their vows on the sandy shores, with the Atlantic Ocean as their backdrop.

The beach is also home to several resorts, restaurants, and venues that offer a variety of elopement packages and services.

Virginia’s capital city, Richmond, is a vibrant urban center that combines historic charm with modern amenities.

It’s a great option for couples looking to elope in a city setting, with plenty of venues, restaurants, and attractions to choose from.

Some popular locations include the Virginia State Capitol, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the James River Park System.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic road that runs through Virginia and several other states, offering breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains.

It’s a popular destination for road trips, hiking, and camping, and it’s a great option for couples looking to elope in a natural setting.

The parkway has several overlooks, picnic areas, and trails that provide stunning backdrops for ceremonies and photos.

Monticello is the historic home of Thomas Jefferson, located in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The property features a stunning neoclassical mansion, manicured gardens, and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

It’s a great option for couples looking for a more formal and elegant elopement, with plenty of photo opportunities and historic significance.

This 175-acre garden is located in Norfolk, Virginia and features a variety of themed gardens, including a Japanese garden, rose garden, and butterfly garden.

It’s a beautiful location for a garden wedding or elopement, with plenty of photo opportunities among the lush greenery.

The Inn at Little Washington is a five-star luxury inn located in Washington, Virginia.

The inn features beautifully landscaped gardens, a stunning dining room, and luxurious accommodations.

It’s a great option for couples looking for a more intimate and upscale elopement experience.

Great Falls Park is located in northern Virginia and features a series of waterfalls along the Potomac River.

It’s a popular destination for hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing, and it’s a beautiful location for a nature-inspired elopement.

Chincoteague Island is a small island off the coast of Virginia and is known for its wild ponies and beautiful beaches.

It’s a great location for a beach elopement or a more rustic outdoor ceremony.

Poplar Forest is another historic property owned by Thomas Jefferson, located in Forest, Virginia.

The property features a restored octagonal home and beautiful gardens, making it a great location for a historic and elegant elopement.

As you can see, there are many Virginia elopement locations available to you.

You just have to pick the one that suits both of your personalities and the feel you want for your day!

What is the best time of year for an elopement in Virginia?

The best time of year for an elopement in Virginia depends on the couple’s preferences and what kind of atmosphere they want for their ceremony.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Spring

Spring in Virginia is typically mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to mid-70s.

The state’s famous cherry blossoms also bloom in the spring, making it a beautiful time for outdoor weddings and elopements.

  • Summer

Summer in Virginia can be hot and humid, with temperatures often reaching into the 90s.

However, the state’s beaches and mountains offer cooler temperatures and refreshing breezes, making it a great time for outdoor weddings and elopements in those areas.

  • Fall

Fall in Virginia is one of the most popular times for weddings and elopements, thanks to the state’s stunning fall foliage.

Temperatures are typically mild, with highs in the 60s and 70s, and the state’s wineries and apple orchards are popular venues for fall weddings.

  • Winter

Winter in Virginia can be cold and snowy, but it’s also a cozy and romantic time for weddings and elopements.

The state’s ski resorts and historic inns offer plenty of options for winter weddings, and the holiday season can add an extra layer of magic to the festivities.

Should I elope in VA?

Eloping in Virginia can be a wonderful option for couples who are looking for a more intimate and personalized wedding experience.

With its stunning natural scenery, historic landmarks, and variety of venues and vendors, Virginia offers plenty of options for elopements of all kinds.

Whether you’re looking for a rustic outdoor ceremony or a luxurious indoor celebration, Virginia has something to offer.

Additionally, eloping in Virginia can be more affordable and less stressful than planning a traditional wedding, while still allowing you to celebrate your love in a meaningful way.

So if you’re considering eloping, Virginia is definitely worth considering as a destination.

Other Resources

To read more about planning an elopement, check out our in-depth guide on how to plan one.

If you want to know more about the cost of eloping, see this guide.

For other ideas about where to elope, why not consider…

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