Choosing a Location for Your Intimate Wedding: Things to Consider
March 26, 2019 , PLANNING RESOURCES
In a previous post, I talked about how important it is to find the perfect elopement location. How a location that represents you as a couple can imbue your day with more meaning and can really help foster a true-to-you wedding experience.
Finding a location that speaks to your collective soul is incredibly important. And, let’s face it, it’s pretty damn romantic as well. But what about the practical aspects of location selection? Thinking about the following early on in the planning process will help turn those elopement location dreams into a reality.
Practical Aspects to Consider
1. Geographic and Ecological Interests – Probably the most obvious characteristic of a location is it’s geography, all those landforms that make a place so unique. Natural landscapes may be mountainous, coastal, riverine, desert, karst, or tropical. Knowing what type of geography speaks to you is a good starting place for finding the perfect piece of earth to say “I do.”
Interestingly, the geographic characteristics of a location are important enough on a psychological level that researchers in both environmental psychology and anthropology have dedicated their lives to studying how people develop attachments and emotional bonds with the land.
It’s easy to see how bonds might form between humans and landscapes, beyond what you would expect is strictly necessary for survival. Landscapes seem to take on a personality and emotion of their own. Rugged mountainous landscapes can evoke a sense of wonder and awe, reminding us the world is so much bigger than we are. This sense of “awe” can make us more generous and increase other prosocial behaviors like cooperation. And some landscapes just feel romantic.
So ask yourself, is there a particular geographic landscape that reflects you as a couple? Somewhere you seem to just “fit”? Move beyond choosing a landscape simply for the breathtaking images that it makes possible and pick a place that provides additional meaning to your wedding day.
2. Activities – What activities do you want to do on your wedding day? Some locations lend themselves to certain activities more than others. Hiking works well in mountainous landscapes. Cliff walking necessitates the presence of cliffs. And you can’t kayak without a body of water. I know it seems obvious, but believe me, it’s worth pointing out. It’s funny how things like this can be overlooked in the excitement of dreaming up your day!
3. Time of Year and Weather – This is a super important consideration to make, as some locations are inaccessible during certain times of the year. If you envision your wedding day taking place in a snowy wonderland, but the location you love is closed during the winter months, you’ll want to know this and make alternative arrangements early. Likewise, if you dream of chasing the changing leaves, then you’ll want to make sure your chosen location puts on an epic show during the fall.
4. Privacy and Seclusion – How private, secluded, and remote of a location do you want? And how much are you willing to work to get there? Some really remote locations require backpacking in. Others are so remote that they require access via a helicopter. If having a really private and secluded ceremony is important to you, a remote location may be the way to go. But a remote location isn’t necessarily needed to experience privacy and intimacy either. You can find pockets of seclusion in even the most frequented National Parks, but it does take some planning. You may have to opt for getting married during a particular location’s off- season.
If you’re absolutely in love with a location, but crowds seem impossible to avoid, try exploring locations within a 50-mile radius of the place that you love. The landscape will likely be similar, and you can very possibly avoid hoards of people. The most geotagged locations (those that are popping up on Instagram and Pinterest again and again) will be the most popular. Use those as a jumping off point and then venture out in all directions to find something that will provide both the landscape and the seclusion that you desire.
5. Accessibility – This is a big one to consider. Not only because some locations are completely inaccessible during certain times of the year and under certain weather conditions, but also because they may restrict the number of guests who can attend. So ask yourself how many people will be attending. Also, keep in mind any guests that may need special accommodations to get to your ceremony site, and make sure your chosen location has these in place. If it’s just you and your partner, as well as a couple of vendors (maybe your officiant and photographer), then you’ll have more options. However, if close family and friends will be celebrating with you, it’s still entirely possible to find your perfect elopement location!
Can’t bear to part with your dog during your wedding day? You don’t have to! I’m a dog mom and absolutely get wanting to involve your fur baby in such a momentous occasion. Finding dog-friendly locations and trails is definitely doable and definitely worth doing. After all, dogs are family members, too.
A note on permits. Many locations require permits for the ceremony and for photography as well. It’s worth researching and procuring these in advance. If you have a wedding planner helping you out with the logistics, they come in handy during this research. Some elopement photographers will look into this when scouting locations for you as well (I happen to be one of them!).
6. Advance Booking – How much time is needed to ensure the availability of a particular location? Are things booked out months, or even years, in advance? Your timeline is going to partially determine what locations are available to you. If you are putting something together in just a few months (Hey! It’s possible!), some sites may no longer be available. Ask yourself what your timeline looks like, how flexible it is, and whether it meshes with your chosen location.
7. Domestic or International – There are additional special considerations for international weddings, such as visa requirements, local laws and customs, and general accessibility issues (among others). A lot of these are quite specific to the region. The good news is that many elopement photographers are more than happy to help you navigate these (I’m one of them!). So, if your dream location involves hopping on a plane and heading to another country, don’t let the logistics stop you!
There are many moving parts to planning a meaningful and intentional wedding day, and while the above will help you prepare, it’s important to keep in mind that spontaneity and flexibility are as essential as preparedness. In fact, it’s the spontaneity that, oftentimes, yields the most meaningful moments. So don’t be afraid to dream a bit and take some risks when choosing your wedding day location. This is your day and there are no do-overs so above all else, you do you!
Perhaps a little known fact, but location scouting is one of the most fun aspects of my job and I would love nothing more than to help you pinpoint the perfect location for a true-to-you wedding day experience. Click below to get in touch and let me know what you’re looking for in a location. We’ll work together to find the perfect match for you!