Eloping in North Carolina
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Eloping in North Carolina – The Ultimate Guide (2024)

If you’re looking for a unique and intimate way to tie the knot, eloping in North Carolina might just be the perfect option for you!

What better place to elope than in the stunning state of North Carolina?

With its picturesque scenery and charming small towns, NC offers a plethora of options for couples seeking a memorable elopement experience.

In this in depth guide to eloping in North Carolina, we cover everything from how to legally elope in North Carolina, how much it costs, the best places to hold the ceremony and any reception, and tips for budgeting your day!

With a little planning and creative thinking, you can have an amazing wedding day in this beautiful state.

Be sure to check the sections on:

Where to elope in North Carolina
Legal steps required to elope in NC
The in-depth guide on how to elope in NC

Let’s get to it!

The Pros and Cons of eloping in North Carolina

Eloping can be a great way to celebrate your love for each other and to tie the knot.

But it may not be for everybody.

There are some important things to consider when thinking about having an elopement vs a traditional wedding.

There are also some things you should take in to consideration when thinking about a North Carolina elopement specifically.

Let’s have a look at the pros and cons here.

The Pros of North Carolina elopements

  • Intimacy

Eloping allows for a truly intimate experience with just you and your partner.

North Carolina offers plenty of picturesque locations where you can exchange vows with no distractions.

  • Flexibility

With an elopement style wedding, you have the flexibility to choose your ceremony location, time, and style.

NC has everything from beaches to mountains, providing a diverse range of options to fit your preferences.

  • Affordability

Eloping can be significantly cheaper than a traditional wedding, and North Carolina has plenty of affordable options for accommodations and activities.

  • Less Stress

Planning a traditional wedding can be stressful and time-consuming.

Eloping eliminates many of the typical wedding planning hassles, allowing you to focus on enjoying your special day.

  • Adventure

Eloping in North Carolina can be an adventure.

From hiking in the mountains to exploring quaint small towns, there are plenty of opportunities to make your elopement experience unique and memorable.

The Cons of a North Carolina elopement

  • Limited Guest List

Eloping typically means a smaller guest list, which may disappoint family and friends who were expecting an invitation to your wedding.

  • Missing Out on Traditions

This style of wedding also can mean skipping some traditional wedding activities like the reception, first dance, and cake cutting, which some couples may regret.

  • Less Formality

Eloping is a more casual and relaxed approach to getting married.

If you want a formal wedding with all the traditional elements, eloping in general may not be the best option.

  • Weather

North Carolina’s weather can be unpredictable, particularly in the mountains and coastal areas.

This can be a factor when planning an outdoor ceremony.

  • Logistics

Eloping still requires planning and logistics, such as obtaining a marriage license and finding a suitable location for the ceremony.

This can be challenging if you’re not familiar with North Carolina’s rules and regulations.

How to elope in North Carolina – A Step-by-Step guide

Eloping in NC doens’t have to be stressful if you work through the process in an organized way.

Of course, if the idea of planning your own elopement sounds more stress than you might like, you could also consider an elopement package.

NC elopement packages give you the full experience with a set cost and none of the stress.

But if you want to do it yourselves, here is a step-by-step guide on how to elope in North Carolina.

Be sure to check the in-depth guide below, where we go in-depth in to these points.

1. Pick a Date and Time

Decide on a date and time that works well for you and your partner.

Consider the weather, availability of vendors, and any events or holidays that may affect your elopement plans.

2. Set a Budget

Decide on a budget for your elopement, including expenses for travel, accommodations, vendors, and other activities.

3. Legal Requirements

Obtain a marriage license from the county where you plan to get married.

You and your partner will need to appear in person with a valid ID and pay a fee.

There is no waiting period, and the license is valid for 60 days.

4. Choose a Location

North Carolina has a diverse range of landscapes, including beaches, mountains, and forests, so choose a location that suits your style and preferences.

Consider the size of your guest list and the availability of your chosen location.

5. Find an Officiant

North Carolina allows non-denominational or civil ceremonies, so you can choose an officiant that fits your beliefs and style.

Look for officiants who specialize in elopements.

6. Plan the Guest List

Decide if you want to invite any guests to your elopement.

Keep in mind that eloping is typically an intimate affair with only a few close friends or family members.

7. Hire Vendors

Consider hiring an elopement photographer, florist, and other vendors for your elopement.

Look for vendors who specialize in elopements and have experience working in your chosen location.

8. Plan the Ceremony

Work with your officiant to plan the ceremony, including vows, readings, and any special rituals or traditions.

9. Plan the Reception

Consider hosting a small reception or dinner after the ceremony to celebrate with your guests.

Research restaurants and venues in the area and make reservations in advance.

10. Book Accommodations and Travel

Book accommodations and travel in advance to ensure availability and to get the best deals.

Consider staying in a romantic bed and breakfast or renting a cabin or beach house.

11. Things to Do After the Wedding

Plan some fun activities to do after the wedding, such as exploring the area, trying local cuisine, or enjoying outdoor adventures.

12. Have Fun

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your special day!

North Carolina offers a variety of unique experiences and beautiful landscapes that will make your elopement memorable.

How to elope in NC – In-depth pointers

Next, we’ll go in to some in-depth pointers to help you plan your day!

How much does it cost to elope in North Carolina?

The cost of an elopement in North Carolina can vary widely depending on factors such as the location, the size of the guest list, and the services you choose to include.

On average, an elopement in North Carolina can cost between $1,500 and $5,000.

The lower figure includes the marriage license, the elopement officiant, a basic venue, and a less experienced photographer.

The higher figure includes a more experienced photographer, a basic reception with food, some wedding decorations, flowers, and accommodation.

Compared to a traditional wedding, eloping in North Carolina can be significantly cheaper.

The average cost of a traditional wedding in the United States is over $30,000, according to a survey by The Knot.

This is due to the higher costs of venue rentals, catering, entertainment, and other expenses associated with a larger guest list and more elaborate event.

Eloping in NC offers a more affordable and intimate alternative to a traditional wedding while still allowing for a beautiful and memorable experience.

With a smaller guest list, you can focus your budget on the details that matter most to you, such as a stunning location, a talented photographer, or a romantic dinner for two.

Budgeting an elopement in North Carolina

Here is a breakdown of some of the costs associated with an NC elopement.

  • Marriage License

In North Carolina, the cost of a marriage license is between $50 to $100 (depending on the county).

This is a necessary expense as it legally allows you to get married in the state.

  • Officiant

You will need an officiant to perform your wedding ceremony.

The cost of an officiant can range from $150 to $500 depending on the type of ceremony you want and the level of customization you desire. Some officiants may also charge extra for travel expenses.

  • Elopement Photography

One of the most important aspects of your elopement is capturing the memories through photographs.

Hiring a professional photographer in North Carolina can cost between $500 to $2,000 depending on the package you choose, the length of time you need their services, and their level of experience.

  • Clothing

While you may not need to purchase a full wedding gown or tuxedo for an elopement, you will still need to consider the cost of your wedding attire.

This can include a dress or suit, shoes, accessories, and any alterations that may be needed.

  • Flowers

Depending on your style and preference, you may want to include flowers in your elopement.

The cost of flowers can vary widely depending on the types of flowers and arrangements you choose, but generally, you can expect to pay between $150 to $500.

  • Hair and Makeup

If you plan to have your hair and makeup done professionally for your elopement, this can be an additional expense.

The cost of hair and makeup services can vary widely depending on the stylist, the level of experience, and the services included.

Expect to pay anywhere between $100 and $300.

  • Location Permit

If you plan to have your elopement at a public location, such as a state park or beach, you may need to obtain a permit.

The cost of a permit can range from $50 to $500 depending on the location and the size of your guest list.

  • Wedding Rings

Wedding rings are an important part of the ceremony and can be a significant expense.

The cost of wedding rings can vary depending on the material, style, and where you purchase them.

On average, couples in the United States spend around $5,500 on wedding rings.

You can, of course, have a fun and inexpensive ring that you get for $100, or you can get an expensive unique ring for a lot more.

The choice is yours!

  • Ceremony Decor

Depending on your chosen location, you may want to decorate the ceremony site with flowers, candles, or other decor elements.

The cost of ceremony decorations can vary depending on the size of the area you want to decorate and the types of decorations you choose.

  • Reception Decor

If you plan to have a small reception after your elopement, you may want to decorate the space with table settings, centerpieces, and other decor elements.

The cost of reception decorations can vary depending on the size of the space and the level of customization you desire.

  • Food and Beverage

While an elopement is typically a more intimate affair, you may still want to celebrate with a special meal or drinks.

This can be an additional cost to consider, especially if you plan to dine out or have a catered meal.

  • Transportation

If you are getting married in a location that requires transportation, such as a mountain or beach, you may need to factor in the cost of renting a vehicle or hiring a transportation service.

  • Accommodation

If you plan to stay overnight in North Carolina, you will need to factor in the cost of accommodation.

Depending on your preferences and budget, accommodations can range from $100 to $300 per night.

  • Travel Expenses

The cost of travel will depend on the distance you need to travel and your mode of transportation.

Be sure to factor in the cost of gas, airfare, or rental car fees when budgeting for your elopement.

Overall, the cost of an elopement in North Carolina can vary greatly depending on the services you choose and the size of your guest list.

However, an NC elopement can still be significantly cheaper than a traditional wedding, allowing you to have a beautiful and memorable experience without breaking the bank.

Tips to reduce costs when eloping in NC

Your elopement does not have to be expensive.

And, a lot of the time, that is the point of eloping – to reduce costs!

Let’s cover some tips on how to keep the budget down.

  • Choose an off-peak season and day

If you’re flexible with your date, consider getting married during an off-peak season and day of the week.

This can help you secure lower rates for vendors and accommodations.

  • Keep the guest list small

One of the benefits of eloping is that you can keep the guest list small.

This not only makes the ceremony more intimate, but also reduces the overall cost of the wedding.

  • Choose a public location

Instead of paying for a private venue, consider getting married in a public location such as a park or beach.

Many public locations do not require a fee or permit, which can save you money.

  • Think about renting

Renting items can be a great way to save money on your elopement.

Whether you need chairs, tables, linens, renting can be a cost-effective solution.

You can also rent wedding decorations and hire your wedding attire.

  • DIY decor

If you’re creative and crafty, consider making your own decor for the ceremony and reception.

This can be a fun and affordable way to add a personal touch to your elopement.

  • Skip the reception

If you’re not interested in having a reception, consider skipping it altogether or having a simple celebration with just you and your partner.

This can significantly reduce the overall cost of the wedding.

  • Prioritize your spending

Decide what aspects of the elopement are most important to you and allocate your budget accordingly.

For example, if having a professional photographer is important, allocate more of your budget towards that and cut back on other areas.

By following these tips and being strategic with your spending, you can have a beautiful and memorable elopement in North Carolina without breaking the bank.

How can I legally elope in North Carolina?

If you’re going to get married, you’re going to want it to be legal!

There are some important steps and considerations you must make to have a legal elopement in North Carolina.

1. Get a marriage license

In order to get married in North Carolina, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license.

The cost of a marriage license in North Carolina varies by county, but typically ranges from $50 to $100.

Both you and your partner will need to appear in person at the register of deeds office in the county where you plan to get married, and bring with you a valid form of identification (such as a driver’s license or passport) and your social security number.

2. Find an officiant

In North Carolina, you must have an officiant to perform your marriage ceremony.

The officiant can be a religious leader or a court magistrate, and must be legally authorized to perform marriages in the state of North Carolina.

You can search for authorized officiants on the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website.

3. Choose your witnesses

In North Carolina, you are required to have two witnesses present at your wedding ceremony.

The witnesses can be anyone over the age of 18, and do not need to be related to you.

4. Get married

Once you have your marriage license, your officiant, and your witnesses, you’re ready to get married!

During the ceremony, you and your partner will need to sign the marriage license along with your officiant and witnesses.

Your officiant will then file the completed license with the register of deeds office.

5. Obtain a copy of your marriage certificate

After your marriage is registered with the register of deeds office, you can obtain a copy of your marriage certificate.

The cost of a marriage certificate in North Carolina varies by county, but typically ranges from $10 to $15.

Eloping in North Carolina is a relatively straightforward process.

By obtaining a marriage license, finding an officiant, choosing witnesses, and getting married, you can make your union legal in the state of North Carolina.

How old do you have to be to elope in North Carolina?

It’s important to note that in North Carolina, the legal age to get married without parental consent is 18.

If you are under the age of 18, you will need to obtain parental consent and a court order before getting married.

The best places to elope in North Carolina

When choosing where to elope in North Carolina, you are spoiled for choice.

With its stunning natural scenery and popular towns and cities, you will have no problem finding somewhere to tie the knot.

Here are some of the best places to elope in NC that you should consider.

The Blue Ridge Parkway offers breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains and is the perfect location for couples who love nature.

With numerous overlooks and hiking trails, you can choose a secluded spot for your ceremony and take advantage of the stunning scenery for your photos.

The Outer Banks is a 200-mile-long chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina.

With miles of pristine beaches, lighthouses, and quaint towns, the Outer Banks is the perfect place for a romantic beach wedding.

You can choose from a variety of beachfront wedding venues or elope on the beach itself.

Asheville is a charming mountain town that is known for its arts scene, craft breweries, and stunning architecture.

With the Blue Ridge Mountains as your backdrop, Asheville is a great place for a small, intimate wedding.

You can choose from a variety of venues, including historic homes, boutique hotels, and outdoor spaces.

You can see our in-depth guide on eloping in Asheville, here!

Wilmington is a coastal city that is known for its picturesque downtown area, riverwalk, and beaches.

With a variety of wedding venues, including historic homes, gardens, and waterfront locations, Wilmington is a great choice for couples who want a beach wedding without venturing too far from civilization.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee and offers stunning mountain views, waterfalls, and wildlife.

With over 800 miles of hiking trails, you can find a secluded spot for your ceremony and take advantage of the park’s natural beauty for your photos.

This iconic mountain offers stunning views and unique rock formations for a memorable elopement ceremony.

This secluded island off the coast of North Carolina offers beautiful beaches and a serene setting for an intimate elopement ceremony.

This beautiful forest is located in central North Carolina and offers several stunning locations for an outdoor elopement ceremony, including the High Rock Lookout Tower, Badin Lake, and the Uwharrie River.

This historic estate in Charlotte offers a beautiful and elegant setting for a small elopement ceremony.

This 18th-century estate is located in Wake Forest and features stunning gardens and a beautiful pavilion for a charming elopement ceremony.

Area: Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this wilderness area offers several beautiful locations for a remote and adventurous elopement ceremony.

This outdoor wedding venue in western North Carolina features beautiful gardens, waterfalls, and mountain views for a stunning elopement ceremony.

This large lake north of Charlotte offers several locations for a beautiful elopement ceremony, including parks, beaches, and lakefront estates.

As you can see, there are so many great locations to choose from when thinking about where to elope in NC.

We suggest researching each to find a place that fits both you and your partner’s personalities.

What is the best month for eloping in North Carolina?

The best month for eloping in North Carolina depends on the preferences of the couple and the location they have chosen.

Generally speaking, the best months for eloping in North Carolina are in the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November).


During the spring, the weather is mild and the flowers and trees are in bloom, making for a beautiful backdrop for an outdoor ceremony.

However, the spring can also bring some rainfall, so it is important to have a backup plan in case of inclement weather.


Summer (June to August) can be hot and humid in North Carolina, but if you choose a location that offers shade or air conditioning, it can still be a great time to elope.


In the fall, the weather is cool and crisp, and the leaves change to vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow, making for stunning scenery for an outdoor elopement.

Fall is generally a drier season in North Carolina, with lower humidity and fewer chances of rain.


Winter (December to February) can be chilly, but the mountains can offer a beautiful snowy backdrop for a romantic elopement ceremony.

Is eloping in NC a good way to get married?

In conclusion, eloping in North Carolina can be a great way to get married, especially if you want a private and intimate wedding ceremony without the pressure and expense of a large traditional wedding.

North Carolina has a wide variety of beautiful and romantic locations, including beaches, mountains, forests, gardens, and historic estates, which can provide a stunning backdrop for your elopement.

Eloping in North Carolina can be relatively easy and affordable, as there are many wedding vendors and officiants who specialize in elopements and can help you plan a beautiful and personalized ceremony.

So if having a North Carolina elopement sounds like an amazing idea to you, why not get planning now?

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