everything you need to know about eloping in Virginia…

There are so many beautiful places to elope in Virginia. You might be wondering what is so special about Virginia, but seriously - we have amazing locations across this beautiful state. If you love the ocean, beaches, forests, rivers, mountains, farmlands, wineries, lakes, waterfalls - you name it - it’s here in Virginia. The perfect spot to elope is just waiting for you here in Virginia, whether it’s a small quick elopement or a full day adventure.

The Best Places to Elope in Virginia

  • Richmond, VA for that fun urban vibe

  • Coastal Virginia

  • Great Falls Park

  • Shenandoah National Park

  • Virginia Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Grayson Highlands State Park

Peaks of otter - blue ridge parkway - favorite spot for elopements

Peaks of otter - blue ridge parkway - favorite spot for elopements


The definition has definitely shifted a lot, so we should make sure we’re all on the same page.


My grandparents and goodness - even my parents - think of elopements as these quick and dirty kind of things where you sneak off into the night without telling anyone and get married real quick at the courthouse in the morning because someone got “in trouble”, which was this really odd term for being pregnant.

That’s not what elopements are anymore.

These days, elopements are the simplest forms of weddings stripped of all the stuff that makes it all production-like.

Elopements can be anything you want them to be - but the main focus is that it’s an authentic representation of what is most important to the two of you. You get to plan your whole day with heart and intention, spending it however you decide.

So what does that look like? It could be spending the day hiking up a mountain to get married as the sun sets, running around Richmond having cocktails and finding the perfect mural to say your vows in front of, or any other way that you can dream up.

The best thing about elopements is that it can really be anything you want - no rules.
You can create the perfect, intimate, fun day that reflects everything you love most about your relationship together.


  1. Pick a Weekday.

    Weekdays are going to be your best bet for privacy - so think Monday through Thursday. If you’re wanting to hike, you’ll run into less people on the trails on these days. Plus, what better reason to skip work and make the whole event into a trip?

  2. Think about where/when you want to get married and plan accordingly.

    Will you need hiking boots? Do you want to pack your dress in a backpack and put it on at the top of the mountain? Will it be cold at higher elevation that time of year?

  3. Plan to have your ceremony close to sunrise or sunset.

    Planning to have your ceremony around sunrise or 2-3 hours before sunset provides the perfect lighting for your photos. The sun is lower in the sky and provides really flattering light and often changes the shade of the sky.

  4. Marriage license stuff can get tricky - make sure that’s all squared away ahead of time.

    Fun fact, you don’t need a witness when getting married in Virginia. You will need someone to officiate and online ordinations are not acceptable forms of ordination to be registered as an officiant in most counties in Virginia.
    Click here for all the info of who can marry you, where to get your marriage license, and all that good stuff.

  5. Choose a date that isn’t July or August.

    Just kidding - sort of. Virginia can be really hot and humid during those months. Depending on where you want to elope, make sure that you’ve done a bit of research about potential weather conditions. The weather at sea level at the beach varies greatly from the weather in Richmond and again, even further from the weather in the mountains.
    Click here to learn more about the climate in Shenandoah National Park
    Click here to learn more about the climate of the Greater Virginia Area
    Click here for current weather conditions along the Blue Ridge Parkway including Shenandoah National Park

  6. Road Closures

    If you’re thinking of eloping in the mountainous areas of Virginia during the winter months, it’s important to consider the potential for snow and keep in mind that not all roads will be open. The Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park publish current alerts and conditions on their websites.
    Click here for current alerts and conditions for Shenandoah National Park
    Click here for current road conditions and closures for the Blue Ridge Parkway including roads in Shenandoah National Park

  7. Traffic + Summer Bookings

    Summer months are a beast for traffic in Virginia. Especially if you’re traveling on 95, lots of folks drive down from the northeast to the Outer Banks for vacation. Other folks are taking camping trips to Shenandoah from DC. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day - expect a decent amount of traffic and plan accordingly. Hotels, Airbnbs, and campsites definitely book up, so getting a jump on your travel bookings is a good idea.

Where to Elope in Virginia?

* Here is my elopement location winner list *



Whether you’re looking for cool murals, that Richmond skyline, or an elopement along the river, Richmond boasts so many amazing locations for your urban elopement.


Richmond, the capital of Virginia, is among America’s oldest major cities. Situated along the James River, it’s a city that prides itself on its place in history as well as the arts, making it a creative choice for your elopement. 

Here is a list of specific locations that are fantastic for elopements and within 30 mins from downtown Richmond…

| Maymont Park |

Maymont Park is a 100-acre Victorian estate and public park within the city of Richmond, Virginia. It contains Maymont Mansion, now a historic house museum, an arboretum, formal gardens, a carriage collection, native wildlife exhibits, a nature center, and Children's Farm.

| Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden |

The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is 50 acres of beautiful gardens just a short 15 minute drive from Richmond’s downtown in Virginia's Lakeside neighborhood. It features a conservatory, library cafe and tea house restaurant.

| Belle Isle |

Belle Isle is a small 54-acre island in the city of Richmond, Virginia. Belle Island lies within the James River, and being owned by the city it serves as a city park. It is accessible to pedestrian and bicycle traffic via a suspension footbridge that runs under the Robert E. Lee Bridge from the northern shore or via a wooden bridge from the southern shore. Except when the water level of the James is high, it is also reachable by foot from the southern shore via easy boulder-hopping. From Belle Isle, one can see Hollywood Cemetery, the old Tredegar Iron Works, and Richmond City's skyline.



With literally thousands of miles of Virginia coastline, there’s so many cool, private locations to choose from. Elopements at the Virginia Coast are tranquil, fun, and carefree.


| Chincoteague Island |

Chincoteague Island, Virginia’s only resort island, is perhaps the most beautiful island on Virginia's Eastern Shore. World famous for its oyster beds and clam shoals, Chincoteague is the gateway to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge which is located on the Virginia side of Assateague Island. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is also home to the world famous Chincoteague Ponies and an award winning beach at Assateague Island National Seashore.

| Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge |

Back Bay NWR provides over eight miles of scenic trails, a visitor contact station, interpretive programming and, with advance scheduling, group educational opportunities. It’s located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, immediately south of Sandbridge beach at the southern end of Sandpiper Road.


| Shenandoah National Park |

This spectacular park is just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C. and just a little over that from Richmond, Virginia. Shenandoah National Park is your escape to cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, quiet wooded hollows—full of awesome hikes to mountain top views and scenic vistas along Skyline Drive. There are 200,000 acres of protected lands to escape to - just waiting for you to have your intimate elopement.

What do you need to know about getting married at Shenandoah National Park? A special use permit is required for any wedding ceremony or special ceremony involving more than 15 participants. Having less than 15 people at your ceremony? Good news! Ceremonies with less than 15 participants and no set-up do not require a permit. Due to the extremely high volume of visitors to the park on fall weekends, any wedding ceremony taking place at an overlook on a Saturday or Sunday in October or November must be completed no later than 11am.

There are so many amazing spots to say your vows within Shenandoah.
Here are a couple of my favorite hikes-

  • Stony Man

  • Big Meadows

  • Hawksbill Mountain

  • Mary’s Rock

  • Dark Hollow Falls


| Blue Ridge Parkway |

There are so many amazing spots to say your vows along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Here are a couple of my favorite hikes-

  • Raven’s Roost

  • Cold Mountain Trail

  • Sharp Top at Peaks of Otter

  • Humpback Rocks

  • McAfee Knob

What do you need to know about getting married along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia? Permits, for sure. Regardless of the number of people attending your ceremony (actually you’re only allowed 25 people or less), you’ll need a special use permit. The application for the permit is $60 and the permit is $40. You can find more information about the permit here.


| Grayson Highlands State Park |

Wild ponies, wide open spaces, and mountain views sound like a dream? Thought so.

Grayson Highlands State Park is a state park located in Grayson County, Virginia, United States. It is adjacent to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and lies within the Jefferson National Forest. The park was established in 1965 and contains a total of 4,502 acres. You can hike up to Mount Rogers summit for an even better view.



  • Yourself and someone to marry

  • An officiant. Virginia is pretty specific about who can officiate a wedding. Online ordinations don’t count in most Virginia counties to obtain permission to officiate a ceremony. If you’re hoping to have a friend officiate, not all hope is lost. As long as your friend is a Virginia resident, they can apply to be a one time celebrant in the county in which they live. There’s a bond that they’ll have to put down and the process (from personal experience) is not incredibly clear, so just ask a million questions at the circuit court when looking into things.

  • You don’t need any witnesses for your marriage license in Virginia. So that one’s easy!

  • Bouquet? I can help you find the perfect seasonal bouquet!

  • Photographer ;)

  • If you’re interested in video, I offer wedding films. See example here

  • Champagne? Cake? Donuts? Pie? Something celebratory.



Need photography for your elopement? I’ve got you covered.

Hello there. I’m Emma -

a wedding and elopement photographer based in Virginia.


Elopement Pricing:

Four hour packages and Full-day (8 hours) coverage available.

Personal Printing rights to the fully-edited digital files.

Online gallery with high resolution image download.

Travel included for all of Virginia. Want to elope to North Carolina or Maryland? Add $400.

Four hours: $3800 | Full-day $5600


If you have an elopement idea that doesn’t quite fit a package listed above, let me know.

 Can’t wait to hear from you!