Apr 22, 2023

How to Elope in Europe (from the U.S.)

Couple standing on cliff edge in Montserrat, Spain at the Abbey of Montserrat
Montserrat, Spain

So you’re thinking about Eloping in Europe eh? Let me just start out by saying that Eloping in Europe can actually be cheaper than staying in the U.S. And yes you read that correctly. There are just a few travel hacks and tips that you will need to follow to make this happen. This is something we can go more in depth with one on one if you would like! We will be putting some info in this post though.

So let’s first talk about some reason you may want to elope in Europe.

  • It can be cheaper than in the U.S.
  • Different locations to pick from
  • To get away
  • Go straight into your Honeymoon after
  • To have an intimate day
  • Explore new cultures and places
  • You’ve dreamt about a specific place

Europe is an absolutely beautiful place with so many different places to pick from. You can go from the Mountains, Beaches, Cliffs, Cities, & even all of the above. Whether your reason to elope in Europe is just out of curiosity of the land or it’s somewhere you’ve dreamt of your whole life, this post should help you figure out the best ways to Elope in Europe. And of course, if you need any further assistance, we are always happy to help. Feel free to contact us on Social media or through our inquiry form.

When Are You Eloping?

This is generally step one of any elopement planning since certain locations depend on the time of year that you go. If you want a summer or warm elopement location and you pick Colorado in the middle of January, you might not get what you want. Some places are normally always warm like countries near the equator such as Mexico (I know this is not in Europe haha) or even more south but on the other hand, those places can get really warm in the summer months and it may be too hot for you to want to elope there.

So picking the perfect time of year is important to the first steps of planning. It will all start with what kind of weather do you want? Do you want to go snowboarding for your elopement, be on the beach, or hike some trails of Italy? Mainly just think about what kind of weather you want. Generally you will want to pick late spring, anytime in the summer, or early/mid fall for countries in Europe. Even countries on the southern points like southern Italy, Greece, etc. tend to get a little cold in the early spring or late fall months (and winter of course). Winter can also be a beautiful time to visit though if you want that vibe, but it can also get dark very early so keep that in mind.

Long story short, figure out which weather you would prefer and search weather patterns in some of the countries and areas you are considering. One thing I would recommend though is to NOT pick a specific date yet. Just a general time of year. We will get to why in just a bit.

Where are you Eloping?

It’s possible that you already know exactly which place and exact date that you want to elope in Europe and that is totally fine. However, we do recommend a little flexibility if you are trying to save a little bit of money. If you have the budget and everything you found is within what you want to spend then by all means go for it! But if you want to save a little money, the key is to be flexible.

Without getting too into the whole travel portion of things (which is covered with a one on one as well as beefily in a different blog that will be linked here when its up) when you are flexible on the date and location, you can save a ton. What you will want to do is go on google flights and enter your departing airport. We recommend using your closest major airport if its convenient to fly out of. Do not select a destination and do not select a date, rather select the tab that says “flexible dates” and here you will select a time frame in the month(s) you are considering eloping. This way you will get a whole map view of places you can fly to and which place is the best to fly to at a certain timeframe. Keep in mind that most flights within Europe are around $30-$80 one way per person so you can always fly into a major city like London and fly from London to let’s say Italy and it can be much cheaper than flying straight to Italy. You can even take a day or two to explore the city you landed in.

Now on the other side of things there is the travel hacking system where you can use points to book flights to Europe for less than $100 round trip per person (for the most part). This is an entirely different topic and will be covered one on one or in another blog briefly.

Where to Elope

I cannot tell you where you should elope but there are some really cool places in Europe. You can pick from a large (or small) city, the mountains of Italy, Switzerland, and more, the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, and much more. It really all depends on what kind of people you are. You want to make sure you do something that you both love.

Some really awesome places to get married can be:

  • Paris
  • Amalfi Coast
  • Barcelona
  • Lisbon (or southern Portugal)
  • Rome
  • Lake Como (or anywhere in Italy)
  • Ireland (Anywhere)
  • Iceland (Anywhere)
  • Scotland
  • Switzerland

These are just some of the many to pick from without being too specific.

Guy lifting girl in the air on the coast of the Amalfi Coast near Positano Italy
Amalfi Coast (Positano)

Once you find your when and your where, this is when you want to start booking your trip but just remember, booking around 2 to 6 months in advance is a good time with around 3 to 4 months being the best as of the time of writing this. Make sure you book your accommodations sooner than later so that you have options.

Getting Married In Europe

Now onto the goodies. This section is honestly very similar to how you would elope anywhere else like the U.S. with just a few differences. The U.S. sees any legal marriage from another country as a legal marriage in the U.S. This means you have a couple of options for the legal portion of getting married.

Getting married before/after going

This is going to be your easiest and less complicated option. You can sign your marriage license either before or after you go on your trip. This is entirely up to your personal preference. However, just keep in mind your passport and the name on your passport. You might want to keep your old last name until after your trip if possible so that you don’t have to deal with the passport troubles right before your trip.

But you can do it either before or after your trip. This means you could even do a mini elopement in your home town before leaving if you really wanted to. Or just head over to the courthouse and get the papers done.

Getting married in another country

This option can be a lot more complicated but let’s face it, it can be pretty cool to say you are legally married in another country. You will have to do some digging into whichever country you decide to elope in as to how to legally get married in their country.

You might also want to do some research to make sure legally everything is fine and dandy from other aspects of life, not just the being married part.

What to do for your elopement

This is going to be entirely up to you and what you guys love doing together. The cool thing about being in Europe is that flights are super cheap so you could literally visit 5 countries in 3 weeks as part of your elopement/honeymoon. You can go to the mountains, then cliffs, then city, and more.

Activities will vary on a where you go basis. You could do things like:

  • Helicopter rides
  • Hiking
  • Explore a city/place
  • Travel to different places
  • Go to an attraction

And much more!

Choosing your photographer and videographer

You’re heading all the way over to Europe, you kind of need BOTH a photographer AND videographer right? How do you go about picking one? Do you go with a local or bring someone with you from the U.S.?

Let’s be honest, choosing your photographer and videographer is one of the more difficult things to do for your elopement. There are 100’s if not 1000’s of people wanting to shoot your elopement. Some will do it for free or “exposure” or others may cost $10,000+++. Which one do you go with?
Well there are a few things to consider when looking for your photographer and videographer.
Let’s break down finding your photo & video duo into steps to make it a little easier…

Step 1: What’s in it for them?

This may seem like a strange first step but this is a pretty important thing to think about when looking for a photographer and videographer. Let’s say you are going to an epic location abroad for your wedding, you will have 100’s of people who will say “I’ll do it for free plus travel costs” or something along those lines. This is because the portfolio is going to be key for them to sell future packages. You want to find a photographer that is there for you and not their business. Now obviously there is always going to be some business reason to do an elopement since most of us photographers can and do turn away couples if it does not fit our niche/aesthetic of our brand. But the key here is just to make sure that the they don’t want you to book just because of your location, but because they think you’re awesome too. I mean, even we get excited when we see someone is eloping in Greece but we still always want to make sure it’s a good fit for everyone.

Step 2: Where are they located or what is their experience in that area

Location is not a solid yes or no to book a photographer. Just because they don’t live in the area you want to elope, does not mean they will not be able to help. For example, we’ve travelled to Italy for a total of 20+ days and spend 13 days simply exploring Iceland for the best spots and ways to make a good trip. So just because we don’t live there does not mean we wouldn’t be able to help you have an epic time.
That being said, locals do generally know more or can help more but if you are traveling abroad, it’s never a bad thing to bring a local to your country to make it a little easier for you with communication, time zones, etc. They key here is just to make sure they know their stuff. How well do they know the area compared to what they are charging you. This can also circle back to what’s in it for them. This may be their first time traveling to that place or even abroad in general.
Just a little side note, if you are traveling abroad and you are not hiring a local to where you are going, MAKE sure who you are hiring has experience traveling abroad. There is a lot that can and will go wrong when traveling and knowing the ins and outs of travel is very important to make sure your photographer team makes it to your destination.

Step 3: How can they help you?

Photographers can and should be able to help you with your elopement. Now this does not mean they will be your elopement planner but with their experience comes assistance. They can help you with locations, permitting, scouting, time lines, and much more. If all they do is offer you a package and can’t help you with anything, it might mean they do not have a ton of elopement experience or might charge extra for helping (which in my opinion should just be included in the package/pricing). Try and find someone who wants to help you, not just doing it because its their job.

Step 4: What’s their experience?

Depending on your budget, the experience level of the photographer may vary. When looking at pricing, generally it goes up depending on factors like Experience level, gear, skill, and most importantly Knowledge. I can be important to have someone who knows what they are doing and has the knowledge to back them up. Skill comes with experience and more gear also comes with experience. Camera gear is not the most important factor but having decent gear and backups is very important. Things like a secondary or third camera body/lens or extra SD cards can make or break a wedding. If one camera breaks and they have no extra, cameras then what? Same with SD cards, it’s not super often but when they fail and you have no backup then what?

So just making sure that the person you are hiring has the experience to match your budget is important. In the last step we also talked about experience traveling so making sure your team has experience in general (not just photo/video) in places like you are going or doing.
For example, if you are hiking in Iceland, you would just want to make sure that your team has some experience hiking in a mountainous area/location as well as some travel experience going abroad.

Step 5: What is included in their packages

Notice how we are almost to the end of the steps of picking your team and we are just now getting into the packages and pricing? That is because picking your creative team is more than just price shopping or picking someone who fits your budget. This is the most important moment if both of your lives together so far, you might want to try and get the perfect team instead of the cheapest one. This can make or break your final video and photos. The reason this is one of the last things to talk about is because your wedding day is more than just taking photos and saying vows. It’s your day to be yourselves and have an amazing time together and have some fun. So you want to make sure you find someone who you vibe with, who you like, who like you, will go out of the way for you, or even someone you’d be friends with! To be honest, we make friends with a lot of our couples, that’s because we and they pick us/them to make sure we all fit and vibe.

With all of that being said, when looking at the packages, you just want to make sure the pricing matches the package. The question is not “how much are your packages” it should be something like “What makes your package cost more than the next person.”

Find out why their packages cost what they do, what value are you getting, don’t get stuck on the pricing in general, but focus on the why. What are they offering that others are not at a lower price point even if the packages are similar in what they physically offer. This is something that is hard to sell as a photographer so having a couple know what they want or ask these kinds of questions can help you find your perfect photographer.

Step 6: Choose the perfect person

Once you’ve gone though all of these steps, it might be good to pick your top three people and hop on a video call (if you have no already) to go over more face to face things or even meet in person if possible. This way you can get a better feel for that person to see if you guys match energy well.

Bonus Step: Where to find your photographers/videographers

The best way to find your creative team is probably Instagram. Most of us photographers will put our Instagram name as “Location Elopement Photographer” or something like that. So you can simply just search your location or location of elopement then elopement photographer and you’ll find results. But if you want a more broad range, you can search hashtags like “#icelandelopement” or something like that to find someone who has shot in your location before. Google is also a good way to search but it may be more bias, lastly TikTok is similar to Instagram and is a good source.

Traveling to Europe

Last but not least, one of the more important aspects of getting married in Europe. We talked a little in the sections above about how to find good travel based on flexible dates and times but there are some key things to know about traveling to Europe.

Using only Money

When you are using only money to pay for your trip (i.e. no points) it can get a little more expensive but there are still plenty of ways to make it friendly to your wallet. One of those things was mentioned above being to be flexible. Don’t pick a specific date you HAVE to travel or a specific place you HAVE to visit. Now obviously a place can be more important than a date so if you have a place in mind, definitely stick with it if you are in love with it. But for those who are not dead set on a location it allows you be even more flexible.

When looking for travel to Europe you want to look at round trip flights to a major city in Europe. Don’t worry, you can still go anywhere else. Generally this option makes it cheaper for the flight prices even after buying more flights. What you would do is book a flight for example to London round trip. Then from London you would book a cheap $30 flight to your dream location of let’s say Italy. The flights to London and paying an extra little bit to fly to and from Italy one way trips may be way cheaper than flights straight to Italy.

The other way to look at it is find good airlines with cheap flights. Norse Airlines recently came out with cheap one way flights to Europe for less than $300 in some cases.

When booking your accommodations just find someone you like in an area that suites you well. Usually if you are going to a major city like let’s say Paris you would want to stay near all of the attractions you want to see or do. Making a Google My maps is a good way to pin point a good area that’s close to the things you want to see. Also if you have multiple cities to pick from like in the Amalfi Coast or Lake Como, make sure to do your research on which areas work best for you. For example, when we stayed in Positano, although amazingly beautiful, we were unaware of the 1000000000s of stairs and would rather have stayed in Sorrento and taken a $2.50 bus ride to Positano for a day.

Booking with points

If you are booking with points or want to learn more about using points this is something we will be making more blogs and vlogs about and also help our booked clients with too.

Long story short you would utilize the entry bonuses of good travel cards like the Amex Gold or Platinum, Capitol One Venture/Venture X, Chase Preferred, and other similar cards by spending a certain amount within the first few months of card opening. This will give you 60,000 to 150,000 points depending on the card and bonus but they also all come with their own perks and yearly fees.

Once you have accumulated these points you can utilize them to TRANSFER to airlines and hotels. I emphasized the transfer word so that you know NOT to use your points within the cards portal. Transferring points will give you the best bang for your points. For example, right now (April 2023) chase is running a 20% transfer bonus to Flying Blue (KLM/Air France) and KLM/Air France is also running a sale for flights to Europe for around 11,500 per person per way. So you can get to Europe for around 34,000 points for two people round trip plus maybe $160 in cash for taxes and fees. That means you can go to Europe almost twice with earning 60,000 points with just one card. There’s a lot more to this and that could be an entire book at this point.

Accommodations work the same way. You can transfer to hotels to book rooms per night and get super expensive rooms for very little points. In my personal opinion I try to save my points for flights as a nightly stay at hotels can cost around 40,000 points per night for a $300 room which if you do the points comparison, you get more out of your points with airlines. Specially if you go business class (can be around 40,000 points per way business class lay down seats).

General Travel

Traveling throughout Europe is pretty easy. They have cheap flights from place to place, cheap high speed trains with amazing views, and great public transport.

When you are going from country to country, if you have extra time, the high speed train can be amazing. Otherwise if you take a flight, it can be much quicker.

When you are in the cities or near cities, there is generally public transport of some kind that is cheap and easy to use. Google maps has a “public transport” option when you are getting directions and it will tell you which transport to get on and what station. Don’t be afraid to use it. It can get you quite far most of the time whereas most public transport within the US is just in the major parts of the cities. Some trails in Europe go an hour or two or more outside the city.


This blog post could turn into an entire book if needed but hopefully this helps you get over to Europe for your special day. We are always happy to help out and answer questions if you have any about traveling to Europe in general or for your Elopement. Just shoot us a message.

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