It's no secret that I love being an elopement photographer, and Hampton Roads (and the surrounding areas!) offers some of the best places to elope. However, planning a wedding of any size can be overwhelming, so after photographing many elopements (you can see a gallery of highlights here!), I wanted to share some advice on where and how to elope in Hampton Roads.
Places to Elope
There are a wide variety of places to elope around the Hampton Roads area, so here are just a few ideas!
Magnolia House Inn and Wedding Chapel - this little bed and breakfast doubles as the perfect elopement venue. They offer several packages to choose from, and the owner is an officiant who can perform your wedding. The owners, a husband and wife duo, are incredibly kind and accommodating. I love photographing elopements here!
The Courthouse- your elopement can be as simple as visiting the courthouse, taking pictures before and/or after, and getting your marriage license that day! This couple chose to invite family to a reception afterward to celebrate.
First Landing State Park (or another outdoor venue)- if I were to plan my wedding all over again, I would pick a beautiful outdoor option like First Landing and get married among the woods with a photographer, officiant, and just immediate family. Click here to see what an elopement in this area of Virginia Beach would look like!
Plantation, Vineyard, or another small wedding venue - in truth, you can elope almost anywhere! Many venues offer packages for this purpose. Two of my favorite elopements happened at Tuckahoe Plantation in Richmond and Saude Creek Vineyards near Williamsburg. The sky is the limit!
How to Elope
The first and most important step is to get your marriage license. You can either get it on the same day you elope, especially if you plan on a courthouse wedding, or you can get it prior to your elopement date. Make sure to check the rules, but as of this writing marriage licenses are valid for several weeks after they are issued, so you can take care of that beforehand. Just make sure your officiant signs the certificate and sends it to the court so you can make it official!
Who to Invite
This is completely up to you! I have photographed elopements with only the couple and the officiant (see an example here) or those where a few family members are present. If you are in a different location than your family, you can always choose to have a celebration in their city after the fact, but if they are nearby it may be more meaningful to have a few people there alongside you to celebrate.
Eloping in Style
The best part of an elopement is that you get to decide 100% of the details. The one part of the day I see all brides choose is a wedding dress. Feel free to pick something outside of the norm - like this blush dress from Candis' elopement! One of my favorite elopements ever was this fully styled day at the Tuckahoe Plantation in Richmond. Only a few family members were present, but the couple still got to enjoy a meal together - and Tiffany held a gorgeous bouquet!
The Most Important Thing
At the end of the day, the most important element is that you are finally married. No matter how you choose to elope, the result is the same. I am a firm believer that you should hire a photographer to document your marriage so you can show any friends and family who were not able to be there, and so you can remember it forever. Make your elopement your own and you will be able to look back on your day with only the best of memories as you became husband and wife.
Planning to elope and looking for a photographer? Send me an email and let's chat!
Click here for a few more practical elopement tips from Tidewater and Tulle, a local wedding blog.