Eloping in Pennsylvania PA
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Eloping in Pennsylvania – The Ultimate Guide (2024)

Eloping in Pennsylvania has become a popular choice for couples seeking a more intimate and personal way to tie the knot.

With its scenic beauty and charming atmosphere, Pennsylvania offers a variety of picturesque locations to get married.

Gone are the days when eloping was considered a hasty decision made by impulsive couples.

Nowadays, eloping has become a romantic and meaningful way for couples to celebrate their love without the stress and pressure of a big wedding.

And Pennsylvania provides the perfect backdrop for an elopement, with its breathtaking landscapes, historic sites, and quaint towns.

Whether you’re looking for a mountaintop vista, a romantic beachfront, or a rustic barn setting, Pennsylvania has it all.

From the Pocono Mountains to the shores of Lake Erie, the state is home to a diverse range of natural wonders and cultural attractions that make it an ideal destination for eloping couples.

So why not elope in PA and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime?

In this ultimate guide to eloping in Pennsylvania, we take you through everything you need to know for the perfect day, from the legalities involved, to choosing a destination, to setting a budget, to picking vendors.

Let’s get to it!

The Pros and Cons of eloping in Pennsylvania

There are many great things about eloping that are exciting and romantic.

But eloping is not for everyone.

There are certain pros and cons that couples should consider when thinking about eloping.

Pennsylvania itself also has good points and bad points when it comes to having this style of wedding.

Let’s have a look at some of these now.

The Pros of an elopement in Pennsylvania

  • Scenic Locations

Pennsylvania boasts an array of scenic locations for elopements, from lush forests to tranquil lakes and historic sites.

Couples can choose from venues such as the Pocono Mountains, Hershey Gardens, and Longwood Gardens, among others.

  • Affordability

An elopement style wedding can be significantly more affordable than hosting a large traditional wedding.

By choosing a smaller guest list and a more intimate venue, couples can save money on everything from catering to decorations.

  • Privacy

For couples who value their privacy, eloping provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate their love in a more intimate setting, without the scrutiny of a large audience.

  • Flexibility

An elopement offers couples greater flexibility in terms of scheduling, location, and style.

With fewer guests to consider, couples can be more creative and adventurous in their choices.

  • Less Stress

By eloping in Pennsylvania, couples can avoid the stress and pressure of a traditional wedding.

They can focus on each other and the moment without worrying about the details of planning a large event.

The Cons of an elopement in PA

  • Can be more expensive than first thought.

Although elopements are often cheaper than traditional weddings, Pennsylvania is not the cheapest state to secure locations and vendors.

Budgets can also get out of control if couples are not careful.

Be sure to read our guide on how much an elopement costs to make sure you plan your day in a way that won’t break the bank!

  • Lack of Family and Friends Involvement

For couples who want their family and friends to be part of their special day, eloping can mean a lack of special people getting involved if they are not invited as part of any limited guest list.

It may cause hurt feelings or strain relationships, especially if the family was expecting a traditional wedding.

  • Less Formality

Some couples may miss the formality and elegance of a traditional wedding, which eloping does not offer.

Couples may miss certain moments like cutting of the cake, a first dance, or simply walking down the aisle.

  • Last minute planning problems

Elopements often happen relatively quickly, and this may limit the couple’s ability to customize their wedding, as they may not have access to the same resources and vendors as they would with a longer planning period.

They may also not get the vendors they want, and there may not be many accommodation options available.

  • Legal Requirements

Eloping in Pennsylvania requires couples to obtain a marriage license, which can be time-consuming and may have specific requirements, such as a waiting period or blood tests.

It’s important to research and understand the state’s marriage laws before planning an elopement.

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

In order to have a successful and stress-free PA elopement, it’s important that couples make sure they plan in advance so that things go smoothly.

If this seems like a lot to think about, you might want to consider taking out a Pennsylvania elopement package to take the stress out of planning your special day, and making sure it comes in at a set price.

For those who want to plan for themselves, we have prepared this step-by-step guide on exactly how to elope in Pennsylvania.

We also go in to more detail on these points further down.

1. Choose a date and time

First, decide on the date and time for your elopement.

Pennsylvania offers picturesque locations year-round, so consider the season and weather when planning.

2. Set a budget

Determine your budget and what you can afford.

Eloping can be more affordable than a traditional wedding, but costs can vary depending on location and vendors.

You have to be diligent to not allow costs to creep up unexpectedly.

Be sure to check our guide on the cost of an elopement for successfully budgeting your day!

3. Meet the legal requirements

Pennsylvania has certain legal requirements that must be met in order to get married.

For example, PA requires couples to obtain a marriage license at least three days prior to the ceremony.

Couples will need to bring identification, proof of residency, and pay a fee.

You may also need to take a blood test, depending on your age and prior marital history.

We go in to these requirements in more detail, below.

4. Choose a location

Pennsylvania offers numerous scenic locations for elopements.

Consider state parks, historic sites, and unique venues. Keep in mind that some locations may require a permit or reservation.

We’ve covered all the best places to elope in PA in this in-depth guide!

5. Find an officiant

Search for an officiant who can perform your ceremony.

Pennsylvania allows a range of officiants, including religious figures, judges, and magistrates.

6. Plan the Guest List

Decide on the number of guests you want to invite.

Remember that elopements are typically small and intimate, but you may want to include close family or friends.

7. Hire vendors

If desired, hire vendors for photography, flowers, and music.

There are a range of talented elopement vendors who can help make your elopement special.

Although the only vendor you need is a PA elopement officiant, you should strongly consider an PA elopement photographer to capture your day on camera.

8. Plan the ceremony

Work with your officiant to plan the ceremony.

Decide on the structure, vows, and any readings or special rituals.

See our guide on how to elope for more details on designing the elopement ceremony.

9. Plan the reception

If you plan to have a reception, choose a location and style.

A lot of this will come down to if you are having any guests.

Perhaps you want to have a caterer, music, and decorations.

Consider local restaurants, wineries, or breweries for a unique experience.

10. Book accommodation and travel

If you are traveling to Pennsylvania for your elopement, book accommodation and arrange transportation.

Consider local bed and breakfasts, hotels, or vacation rentals.

if you have guests coming, make sure there are enough accommodation options available for them, too.

11. Have the ceremony

Next is the fun part!

Actually getting married!

Enjoy the moment and celebrate your love for each other.

12. File the Paperwork

After the ceremony, file the signed marriage license with the appropriate county office within 10 days.

Your elopement officiant may well do this for you.

It’s important to clarify this in advance with your officiant to make sure your marriage becomes legal!

13. Plan what to do after the ceremony

Plan any additional activities or experiences for after the ceremony.

Why not explore Pennsylvania’s beautiful landscapes, historic sites, or culinary scene?

Do you wan to do these things alone as a newly married couple, or do you want to share some of these experiences with your family members and/or friends that are attending your PA elopement?

14. Have fun!

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your special day.

Elopements offer a unique opportunity to celebrate your love in a meaningful and intimate way.

Be sure to take in the whole elopement planning process and enjoy the ride.

And remember to take some time alone together on the actual day to take in the moment!

If you have reached the bottom of this list and it feels like planning your own Pennsylvania elopement might be a bit much, consider taking out a Pennsylvania elopement package to take the stress of planning away, and to be sure that everything is handled for a set price!

How to elope in Pennsylvania – In-depth pointers

Let’s have a look at some of the steps above in more detail.

How much does it cost to elope in PA?

The cost of eloping in Pennsylvania can vary widely depending on a number of factors, such as location, guest count, vendors, and travel expenses.

However, generally speaking, eloping in Pennsylvania can be significantly less expensive than a traditional wedding.

On average, elopements in Pennsylvania can range from $1,500 to $7,000, depending on the couple’s preferences and needs.

This may feel like a large range, but this is really because it is down to each couple and what they want for their day.

For example, eloping at a state park or historic site may require only a permit fee and an officiant, while a more elaborate elopement with a photographer, catered meal, decorations, and nice accommodation can start to get pricey.

Couples who choose to elope in Pennsylvania can often save money by keeping the guest list small, opting for less traditional venues, and being creative with vendors and decor.

By choosing to elope, couples can also redirect some of their wedding budget toward experiences or travel, creating a memorable and unique celebration of their love.

Be sure to check our tips on keeping costs down, below!

Budgeting a PA elopement

Here are some specific costs you may encounter when eloping in Pennsylvania:

  • Marriage License

To get married in Pennsylvania, you will need to obtain a marriage license.

The fee for a marriage license in Pennsylvania varies by county but typically ranges from $50 to $90.

  • Location Permits

Some locations, such as state parks, may require a permit or reservation to hold your elopement ceremony.

Permit fees can vary but typically range from $25 to $100, depending on the location and the number of guests.

  • Officiant Fees

In Pennsylvania, judges and magistrates can perform marriage ceremonies for free, but many couples choose to hire a professional officiant or religious figure.

Officiant fees in Pennsylvania typically range from $100 to $500, depending on their experience and the level or personalization you want.

  • Elopement Photography

Hiring a photographer for your elopement can range from $500 to $4,000, depending on the length of coverage, the services provided, and the experience of the photographer.

Some PA elopement photographers may also offer elopement packages that include additional services, such as prints or albums.

  • Attire

The cost of attire can vary greatly, depending on your preferences and whether you choose to buy or rent.

Purchasing a wedding dress or suit can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.

Renting may be a more cost-effective option, with prices typically ranging from $50 for a basic suit or dress to $500 for a designer tux or wedding dress.

  • Makeup and Hair

If you choose to have your hair and makeup professionally done, expect to pay around $150 to $300.

Costs will increase if you have any of your wedding party’s hair or makeup done.

  • Wedding Rings

The cost of wedding rings depends on the material and design.

On average, couples can expect to spend around $2,000 to $3,000 on wedding rings for a gold or platinum ring.

You can save a significant amount of money on wedding rings by selecting one made with a less traditionally desirable material, such as having a pewter wedding ring

  • Decorations

The cost of decorations can go from one extreme to the other, depending on your tastes and the location of your elopement ceremony and reception.

For example, if you choose a natural outdoor setting, you may only need minimal decor, such as a bouquet and some candles.

If you opt for a more elaborate setup, such as a rented arch and floral arrangements, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1,500.

Remember, these are just some examples of the costs you may encounter when eloping in Pennsylvania. The actual cost will depend on your preferences and needs.

Tips to reduce costs when eloping in Pennsylvania

The costs of PA elopement can add up quickly, but, understndably, you may equally not want to lose dome of the elements you desire on your wedding.

In these situations, you can get creative to reduce costs.

Here are some ideas on keeping your dream elopement without breaking the bank!

  • Opt for a weekday or off-season date

By choosing a less popular wedding date, you can often save on venue, vendor, and accommodation costs.

Many venues and vendors offer discounted rates for weddings held on weekdays or during off-season months.

  • Keep the guest list intimate

Elopements are all about intimate and personal moments between you and your partner, so you can reduce costs by keeping the guest list small.

Consider inviting only your closest family members or friends to the ceremony, or plan to celebrate with loved ones at a later date.

  • Find a naturally beautiful setting

Pennsylvania is home to many stunning natural locations that make for a beautiful elopement ceremony backdrop.

Choosing a natural setting can often reduce the need for elaborate decor and venue fees.

  • Get creative with decorations

Instead of expensive decorations, consider getting creative and making your own.

For example, you could create a bouquet from wildflowers, use candles and lanterns for lighting, or repurpose items you already have.

  • Support local vendors

When hiring vendors, look for local options rather than bringing in vendors from out of town.

Supporting local vendors can often lead to lower travel fees and more competitive rates than companies that work nationally.

  • Hire less experienced vendors

Oftentimes, the more experienced the vendor, the more expensive they will be to hire.

You could choose to use vendors who are looking to expand their portfolio, and so might offer a lower rate than a more experienced vendor.

  • Consider renting attire

Rather than purchasing a wedding dress or suit, consider renting from a bridal boutique or online rental service.

This can be a cost-effective option, especially if you don’t plan to wear the attire again.

  • Look for elopement packages

Some vendors, such as photographers or officiants, may offer elopement packages that include multiple services at a discounted rate.

This can be a convenient and cost-effective option.

  • Keep it simple

Remember that the beauty of eloping is in its simplicity.

Focus on what’s most important to you as a couple, and don’t feel pressured to add unnecessary frills or details that may drive up costs.

Legal Requirements for eloping in PA

There are requirements certain steps you must follow to make sure your Pennsylvania elopement is legal.

If you miss any of these steps, it may render your marriage unlawful.

Here are the legal requirements for eloping in Pennsylvania:

1. Obtain a marriage license

You must obtain a marriage license from a Pennsylvania county courthouse or clerk’s office.

Both parties must appear in person and provide identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.

The cost of a marriage license varies by county but typically ranges from $30 to $90.

2. Allow for the waiting period

Pennsylvania has a three-day waiting period after obtaining a marriage license before you can get married.

However, you can waive the waiting period for an additional fee.

3. Age requirements

Both parties must be at least 18 years old to obtain a marriage license without parental consent.

If either party is under 18, parental consent is required.

4. Divorce and annulment

If either party has been divorced or had their marriage annulled, they must provide a certified copy of the divorce decree or annulment certificate.

5. Blood tests

Pennsylvania does not require blood tests for marriage.

Couples planning to elope in Pennsylvania can focus on other legal requirements, such as obtaining a marriage license, finding an officiant, and arranging witnesses, without needing to worry about undergoing a blood test.

6. Hire an officiant

You must have an officiant to perform the ceremony.

The officiant must be authorized by a religious organization or registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

You can search for registered officiants on the Department of State’s website.

7. Witnesses

In Pennsylvania, two witnesses are required to be present at a wedding ceremony in order to make the marriage legally valid.

Witnesses can be anyone over the age of 18 who is not a party to the marriage, such as family members, friends, or even strangers.

Witnesses must be physically present during the ceremony and must sign the marriage license after the ceremony has taken place.

It’s important to note that witnesses play an important role in the legal process of getting married.

Their presence and signature on the marriage license is necessary to validate the marriage, and failure to have two witnesses present may result in the marriage being deemed invalid.

Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that your witnesses are aware of their role and are present at the ceremony.

If you’re planning to elope in Pennsylvania and don’t have any guests attending, you can ask your photographer and another vendor to act as witnesses.

Alternatively, some wedding venues may be able to provide witnesses for an additional fee.

It’s always a good idea to confirm this with the venue or officiant beforehand, to ensure that all legal requirements are met on your special day.

8. Exchanging vows

During the ceremony, you and your partner will exchange vows to officially declare your commitment to one another.

You can choose to write your own vows or use traditional vows provided by your officiant.

9. Filing the marriage certificate

After the ceremony, you and your witnesses will need to sign the marriage certificate.

Your officiant will also sign and complete the certificate, then provide it to you.

It is important to note that you have up to 10 days to file the signed marriage certificate with the county where you obtained your marriage license.

Your officiant may file the signed certificate for you, but you should confirm this with them in advance.

It’s important to note that these requirements may vary by county, so it’s best to check with the specific county where you plan to get married to ensure you meet all legal requirements.

Places to elope in PA

Pennsylvania is full of great locations that you can exchange vows in.

From beautiful natural locations to fun city spots, the Keystone State has plenty of interesting spots you can choose from.

We’ve prepared this in-depth guide on the best places to elope in Pennsylvania, but for some quick ideas, consider the following:

Ricketts Glen State Park

Located in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, Ricketts Glen State Park is known for its breathtaking waterfalls and hiking trails.

With over 13,000 acres of natural beauty, this park is a perfect location for couples who love the outdoors.

Philadelphia City Hall

Philadelphia City Hall is a stunning architectural landmark and popular elopement location for couples who want to exchange vows in the heart of the city.

The building’s grand staircase, ornate details, and sweeping views of Philadelphia make it a memorable spot for a city elopement.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a bird-watching and nature conservation center in eastern Pennsylvania.

The sanctuary features stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains, making it a great location for a natural elopement in Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden

The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is a picturesque location for a natural elopement in Pennsylvania.

With over 400 acres of gardens, woodlands, and trails, this location offers a serene and intimate setting for a small wedding ceremony.

Pittsburgh City View

Located on Mount Washington in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh City View offers panoramic views of the city skyline.

This location is popular among couples who want to exchange vows against the backdrop of the city lights.

French Creek State Park

French Creek State Park is located in southeastern Pennsylvania and is known for its vast forests, lakes, and hiking trails.

This location is perfect for couples who love nature and want a serene and secluded spot to elope.

The Please Touch Museum

The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia is a fun and playful location for a city elopement.

The museum houses whimsical exhibits and interactive installations that create a unique and memorable setting for a wedding ceremony.

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens is a historic botanical garden in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

The garden’s 1,077 acres of gardens, meadows, and woodlands make it a stunning location for a natural elopement.

The garden also features a number of indoor and outdoor venues, including a conservatory and a fountain garden, that are available for private events.

The Poconos

The Pocono Mountains, located in northeastern Pennsylvania, are a popular destination for couples looking to elope in a natural setting.

The area is known for its picturesque scenery, including waterfalls, hiking trails, and stunning mountain views.

There are a variety of venues available in the Poconos, including rustic cabins, mountain lodges, and outdoor ceremony sites.

Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park, located in southern Pennsylvania, is a historic and scenic location for an elopement ceremony.

The park features sprawling fields and landscapes, as well as historic monuments and landmarks.

The park offers numerous locations for ceremonies, including outdoor spaces and historic buildings, such as the Gettysburg National Cemetery and the Gettysburg Battlefield.

If you want more ideas, be sure to see our expert guide on the top places to elope in PA!

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

There is no bad time of year to consider eloping in Pennsylvania.

But there are some factors you might like to keep in mind:

  • Weather

Pennsylvania experiences four distinct seasons, with hot summers and cold winters.

If you prefer milder weather, consider eloping in the spring or fall when temperatures are more moderate.

Summers can be hot and humid, while winters can be cold and snowy, so keep these factors in mind when planning your elopement.

  • Scenery

Pennsylvania’s natural beauty varies with the seasons.

In the spring, you’ll see blooming flowers and trees, while fall offers stunning foliage and colorful landscapes.

If you’re looking for a snowy setting, consider eloping in the winter when the state’s ski resorts and winter wonderlands come alive.

  • Tourist season

Some popular locations can be crowded during Pennsylvania’s peak tourist season.

Consider eloping during the off-season to avoid crowds and secure better deals on venues and vendors.

The tourist season in Pennsylvania varies depending on the location and the activities offered in that area.

However, in general, the busiest tourist season in Pennsylvania is during the summer months (June-August) when visitors come to enjoy outdoor activities, festivals, and events.

Other peak tourist seasons include the fall (September-November), when the state’s foliage attracts visitors, and the winter (December-February), when many ski resorts and winter activities are popular.

It’s worth noting that certain cities, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, are popular tourist destinations year-round and can be crowded at any time.

Should I consider eloping in Pennsylvania?

Couples thinking of eloping in Pennsylvania can have a unique and unforgettable experience.

With its beautiful natural scenery and charming cities, Pennsylvania has something to offer every couple.

An elopement allows couples to focus on each other and create a memorable day that reflects their love and commitment for one another.

And if couples follow this guide, eloping in PA can be both exciting and stress-free.

So why not get to planning right away?!

Other Resources

Remember to see our guide on the top places to elope in Pennsylvania.

Thinking of other places you could elope?

See our guides on…

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