My Guide to planning a super-meaningful elopement in Europe
Posted on October 4th, 2023.
Why this elopement guide is different?
You’ve probably seen a bunch of those articles where people just list places to elope without giving any helpful information or their unique perspective on elopements. Well, I would like to think this isn’t one of them.
For starters, as you probably know, Europe is a massive continent, meaning you should most likely wear a sweater in the fjords of Northern Norway, while on the sunny Mediterranean coast, it’s best to elope wearing an elegant summer dress.
In this blog post, I will introduce my favorite locations in Europe to exchange vows and explain why some areas are my favorites for intimate elopements. But let’s first answer the question: why do I think your experience is more important than the elopement location?
Table of Contents
Why is your experience more important than the elopement location?
What do you want to remember?
As long as I’ve been an elopement photographer, I’ve thought that your memories of your elopement day are more important than the photos. Instead of taking inspiration from those awesome shots you see of couples on Instagram or Pinterest, I want you to think mostly about one thing: how do you want to feel about each other when you look at your wedding photos?
Why are memories so important?
Let me explain: I can create the ideal Instagram image on a mountaintop by positioning you perfectly and provoking laughter to capture “an emotional moment.” But when you look back at the photo, you’ll only recall the silly joke I told and the discomfort of being posed in that manner.
I don’t want any of that for you. Instead, I want you to be yourselves and focus on the experience, the moments, and the memories in the making. We can still climb that mountain together or find a spot by the lake. But they aren’t backdrops for a photo; they are the settings for your story. So, I promise we won’t do anything just for a photo. We will do it for the experience.
A perfect elopement location vs your memories
When you look at your photos, I want you to see that story. The story of how you promised each other the rest of your lives, the love you felt, the connection, the great adventures you embarked on together on this day. If you feel it at the moment, you will feel it when looking at the photos. That’s what matters most to me.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen so many beautiful locations for elopements, but sometimes you wonder how genuine those places are. As an elopement photographer, I want pictures that show the places as they are, without people clone-stamped out (because the last thing the two of you would like would be to line up behind a group of people to take a picture at a place that looks secluded on Instagram). When alone, you’ll experience the connection with nature, and it’s much easier to enjoy the stunning scenery and, more importantly, your loved one.
Destination wedding locations in Europe
The most popular places to elope in Europe
Norway: Fjords and Unforgettable Landscapes
A place where the world seems to both stand still and dance. For an elopement, this country offers its heart and soul, especially when you sidestep the common trails and venture where only the eagles dare.
Less-known locations for intimate Norwegian weddings:
This relatively lesser-known peak in Lofoten is a hidden gem. The trek up Veggen provides panoramic views of Ballstad, a quaint fishing village, and the vastness of the Vestfjord. An elopement atop Veggen, with the setting or rising sun casting a golden hue over the endless sea, is the stuff of dreams.
Not far from Tromsø, Steinetinden offers an accessible hike with unmatched views. As you reach the summit, the fjords, mountains, and islands sprawl beneath, providing a cinematic backdrop for your vows. Here, in the embrace of the Arctic, your love story finds a serene anchor.
In the shadow of the Jostedal Glacier lies Lovatnet, a lake of ethereal beauty. Its emerald waters reflect surrounding peaks, creating a mirage of heaven on Earth. Nearby, a cascade of waterfalls, like Ramnefjellsfossen, adds to the drama. An intimate ceremony by Lovatnet’s shores, with the melodies of nature serenading you, is pure magic.
To elope in Norway is to be at the mercy of the elements. There, you’re only a tiny peace of it all, and you can really sense it when the fresh breeze is blowing from the north.
Italy: Beautiful locations and romantic lakes
Italy, often painted as a canvas of Renaissance wonders and bustling piazzas, is also a sanctuary of untouched natural beauty. When you elope in its green hills and quiet valleys, you’re not just getting married. You’re blending your love story with the beauty of Italy.
Some example locations for Italy elopement:
Rising against the skies of Northern Italy, the Dolomites are your perfect alpine paradise. Imagine your vows echoing in a place like Cadini di Misurina. Secluded and breathtakingly dramatic.
Less frequented than Tuscany but equally mesmerizing, the olive groves and vineyards of Umbria offer an enchanting backdrop. Amidst this verdant expanse, the only witnesses might be the whispering trees and chirping birds.
Formed thousands of years ago, these canyons near Mount Etna are a natural cathedral, with basalt columns and crystal-clear waters as nature’s altar.
Eloping in Italy isn’t just about a scenic backdrop. It’s an intimate experience where you feel the heartbeat of a country that has celebrated love in all its forms for millennia. In Italy, romance isn’t an industry; it’s a way of life.
Faroe Islands: Europe’s best kept secret
The Faroe Islands are nature’s best-kept secret in the North Atlantic, where the sea embraces rugged cliffs and vast skies touch verdant meadows. For couples yearning for an intimate and uncharted elopement, this archipelago offers tales as old as time and vistas that seem to be painted by the gods themselves.
Options for an adventurous elopement in the Faroe Islands:
Nestled against mountains, the village of Gásadalur feels like a page from a folklore book. Nearby, the iconic Múlafossur Waterfall cascades directly into the ocean. This serene setting, with the rhythmic sound of the waterfall, provides an ethereal backdrop for a heartfelt ceremony.
An enchanting village with turf-roofed houses and a tidal lagoon that changes its face with the tides. This hidden bay, encircled by steep cliffs, offers intimacy and a connection to nature that few places can match.
An uninhabited islet with sharp peaks that rise dramatically from the sea. Accessible by boat, its untouched terrains and panoramic views of surrounding islands like Vágar and Mykines make it a surreal elopement spot.
Eloping in the Faroe Islands is like stepping into another realm – where traditions, myths, and nature dance in harmony. Here, amidst the collision of ocean waves and mountain silhouettes, your love story gains a timeless quality.
Scotland: vows in the ancient highlands
From the misty embrace of the Scottish Highlands to the rhythmic melodies of Loch shores, Scotland emerges as the perfect canvas for a destination elopement. This nation stands out among the best elopement locations, blending raw beauty with layers of history.
Hidden Gems for Your Scottish Elopement Ceremony:
If you probably don’t want to elope in a famous tourist destination, consider the isolated splendor of Rannoch Moor. Surrounded by rugged mountains and serene lochans, this expansive wilderness with its heather-clad moors offers an intimate setting, far removed from the usual trails.
Nestled in Scotland’s far north, Sandwood Bay unveils a mile-long stretch of golden sands, hugged tightly by imposing cliffs and dunes. Accessible only by foot, this remote beach promises true intimacy, where nature’s symphony becomes the sole witness to your vows.
While the Isle of Skye can be very popular, it’s also a massive area, and finding a segluded spot is relatively easy. Even though I need to do some extra work to find the perfect place for your experience, I wholeheartedly recommend Skye.
Elopement in Scotland isn’t merely about a location; it’s an experience, a journey through time, and an embrace of the land’s pure essence. In the heart of its ancient valleys and atop secluded cliffs, your love story finds a home.
Iceland: Destination wedding in the land of fire and ice
In the land where fire meets ice, where geysers erupt in spectacular symphonies, and auroras paint the night, Iceland stands as one of the best places to elope. Venture beyond its popular landmarks, and you’ll uncover some truly secluded havens.
Less-known locations for your intimate wedding in Iceland:
Nestled away from the main tourist trails, Stokksnes, with its dramatic black sands, stands under the sentinel watch of the majestic Vestrahorn mountain. This quiet coastal expanse, marked by changing tides and shifting moods, offers a breathtaking canvas for your commitment to one another.
Hidden within the rugged terrains of the Westfjords are the geothermal waters of Hellulaug beckon. This natural hot spring, overlooking the fjord and far removed from the urban din, provides a serene setting. Imagine immersing yourselves in its warm embrace post-vows, celebrating your union amidst nature’s wonders.
Off the beaten track, Fauskasandur unveils its vast expanse of velvety black sands juxtaposed against a fierce Atlantic horizon. As a top pick for those seeking the best places to elope, its untouched grandeur promises privacy and unparalleled beauty.
While getting married in Iceland is getting super popular, it is still out of this world. It’s good to know that the weather in Iceland can be super harsh, so choose your destination carefully and pay attention to local rules, and you’ll be enjoying something truly magnificent.
Switzerland: Alpine atmosphere and elopement dreams
Switzerland’s charm extends beyond its iconic peaks and bustling towns. Embark on a journey through Switzerland’s lesser-known gems and discover locales that resonate with tales of romance, seclusion, and nature’s pristine touch. While I’ve photographed elopements in more popular places, like in Lake Oeschinensee (in the photo), I wouldn’t probably recommend those places because they are usually very crowded. The photo here was taken just before sunset when everyone else had left from the lake.
Hidden Treasures for Your Swiss Elopement:
Nestled in the heart of the Swiss Alps, Lago di Saoseo is a gem often overlooked. This azure lake, surrounded by dense forests and dotted with larch trees, reflects the majesty of the surrounding peaks. It offers a tranquil setting, allowing nature’s untouched beauty to envelop you as you exchange vows.
Located in the canton of Graubünden, Flims presents a harmonious blend of serene lakes, dense forests, and alpine meadows. Beyond its skiing reputation, Flims in summertime is a revelation with its turquoise Lake Cauma and the serene backdrop of the Swiss Alps, making it an ideal setting for those seeking both adventure and intimacy.
Hidden in the Valais region, Lac de Taney is a serene alpine lake, surrounded by verdant meadows and majestic mountain ranges. Accessible via a scenic hike, its isolation ensures a degree of privacy, and the picturesque chalets nearby offer a touch of Swiss rustic charm, making it a poetic setting for an elopement brimming with character.
Why should you avoid Europe’s most popular places for elopements?
What to avoid if you want to elope in Europe
I believe the most authentic moments happen far from others, where you can breathe deep and feel free. In these places, it’s easy to be 100% yourself, present and in the moment – for each other.
I also want you to remember those stunning landscapes as they were, without people clone-stamped out (because I also know that the last thing the two of you would like is to line up behind a group of people to take a picture at a place that looks secluded on social media).
There are a lot of iconic places in countries like Iceland and Norway. You’ve probably seen photos of those places where they appear to be secluded, but in reality, they’re so crowded that you can’t even imagine it’s the same place you initially saw. You can try to avoid the problem by visiting those places outside the season or early in the morning, but there are better options.
How do I find my elopement locations?
Here’s one example I do when searching unique locations: First, I search for famous locations and add them to a map. I’ve done this using Google Maps. Then, I start exploring the areas near or far away from the popular places using Google Maps’ satellite view and look for the elements I love the most. You could be surprised by how many stunning places there are, but they might be a bit harder to reach, or there’s no convenient parking lot nearby. I’ve noticed that the effort you put into things makes them more memorable. I also use some super cool apps for searching unique locations and knowing the angle of the light before visiting the places by myself, but I’ll save you for the geeky stuff this time.
It’s crucial to be in a place that draws the focus on you, but it’s far more important to do things that make your experience as a couple meaningful. I’m more than happy to help my couples to elevate their experience to another level.
And hey, what do you think: Was this moment on a famous beach or a secluded one?
How to elope in Europe
Why do I think Northern Europe is the best intimate elopement destination?
I believe most couples trying to find the best places to elope are not just looking for epic scenery. Let me tell you, the perfect elopement destination isn’t probably the one you immediately find on Google search. That is because those places often get crowded, and even though you think the beautiful waterfalls are secluded, it turns out that there are cafés and souvenirs sold next to those stunning landmarks. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s probably not the experience you’re hoping for when you dream about your wedding destination.
Everything feels more genuine
While the world keeps evolving, things move at an ever quicker pace, and so many people move to bigger cities (usually that means southwards); there’s something strikingly different about those harder-to-reach rural places. It’s the places where the landscapes have been the same for centuries. The convenience that people are seeking elsewhere is insignificant there. Getting somewhere quickly doesn’t matter when the journey itself is worth it, not the destination. Life itself feels more honest and genuine.
It’s easier to feel truly present for each other
If you want to truly feel present, there’s no better place than the north. Places like Lofoten, the Faroe Islands, or Lapland are entirely at the mercy of the elements. There, nature’s force set the rhythm, and we humans are only a tiny piece of it all. And you can feel this deep in your soul when you stand by the wild sea or at one of the silent lakes when you travel through vast open spaces and explore nature’s barren, raw beauty in the north. It’s not just a romantic getaway with amazing landscapes. It is the best way to empty your mind of the ordinary and let your everyday stress fade away. It makes us see what’s really important in life, and everything else simply falls away.
And to me, this indescribable focus on the things that really matter makes these places in the north the ideal location for your elopement. In that vast, majestic landscape far from big cities, it is as if for the moment everything was focusing on you. And it’s just the two of you.
The North makes it more memorable
I love the north through the wind and weather. Soft summer light, foggy autumn mornings, stormy winds, and rain – all of it feels part of the magic. In fact, I love the north not despite but also because of its weather. Grey skies and a bit of rain can make a day all the more memorable than a “perfectly” blue sky and sun. It adds to the realness. To the feeling of adventure. The spirit of the north.
Should we get legally married in europe or have a symbolic elopement ceremony?
how to elope in Europe
Whenever I announce my new elopement location, I’ll explain the best option for that specific European country. In short, some countries are easier than others, and sometimes, it’s more convenient to have a symbolic ceremony. Also, sometimes having a symbolic ceremony will allow you to have the perfect ceremony location and, thanks to that, an even more meaningful elopement day. And if I’m completely honest, the most moving, personal ceremonies I’ve witnessed were the ones without an officiant, with the couple reading their vows to one another without scripts.
Even if you sign your marriage license in your home country, it doesn’t mean that that date has to be your anniversary. You can get your license signed in your home state’s courthouse and then experience once-in-a-lifetime destination elopement in one of the Europe’s most perfect destinations.
If you have a specific country in your mind and I haven’t announced an elopement experience there yet you would love to have your intimate wedding, hit me a message and let’s see how can we make it happen.
What is the best time of the year to elope in Europe?
I’ve experienced it so many times: couples want to elope in a specific place, but as they don’t have the experience of our climate, they won’t be here at the best time of the year. To help with that, I decided to turn the process around and offer elopements at select locations in the north of Europe on set dates throughout the year as full-day or multi-day experiences.
But answer the question: it depends on the location. Winter elopement in Scandinavia’s coldest time of the year can be cold and dark, especially if you’re not used to being outside at freezing temperatures. But only a few months later, the days are much warmer, and there’s usually plenty of natural light, which makes the experience much better.
On the other hand, knowing what part of Scandinavia to elope to in summer, you won’t see any mosquitos or tourist crowds, and you get to experience the hidden gems of Nordic countries – which is perfect for your Europe elopement.
Making things unique as you
How do you personalize your elopement ceremony for a truly unique experience?
Some ideas on what to do during your elopement ceremony
Your elopement ceremony can be customized to highlight the specialness of your union. From bringing in elements from local cultures, such as traditional music or clothing, to symbolic rituals like handfasting ceremonies and tree planting, there are so many ways you can make it uniquely yours. Personalizing your European-based nuptials will create an unforgettable experience that is rooted in all aspects of love’s journey together.
You could write custom vows for one another, too! Showcase culture through food options during your day. If possible, simply adding personal touches with these sorts of cultural nods adds authenticity and depth to the event overall. Lastly, incorporating any sort of meaningful activity into this already momentous occasion will complete what has been created, expressing devotion while at a lasting place to remember for years down the line.
After the booking, I’ll send you more ideas how to to customize your European elopement ceremony, but if you have specific questions about ceremonies, just hit me a message!
Experience your adventure elopement with Europe elopement photographer
My Europe elopement packages & FAQ
I saw you had a destionations page on your website. What does it mean?
First, I offer elopements at select locations in Europe on set dates throughout the year as full day or multi-day experiences. If you haven’t read my reasons for doing it, please read this first.
I’ll announce my new destinations first to my mailing list and a few days after that, to Instagram. To ensure your experience will be the best possible, every elopement destination will have limited availability between 2-3 elopement experiences.
Second, in addition to offering elopements at select locations, I also photograph a limited amount of á la carte elopements. If you would love to get married in your dream country, mountain or at your grandparents backyard, just hit me a message. For both options, I ensure your elopement is an intimate and unforgettable experience.
Join my mailing list to get started and drop me a message whenever you feel like.
We are planning to elope elsewhere but we love your approach and style. Can you come there?
I have limited availability on my calendar for à la carte elopements, but I would love to make it happen. Contact me, and let’s see how it can be done!
Do you help us plan our dream elopement?
Absolutely! First, I’m 100% sure that an elopement is the most intimate and significant way to honor your relationship and celebrate the beginning of your life together. Making it personal is so important that the day feels like you.
Second, I will suggest accommodation options, activities, and ceremony places and assist you in creating an unforgettable experience, but the focus is always on you. The final decisions and choices are yours to make for your special day.
What is the easiest place to elope in europe?
I know it’s hard to decide with all the European elopement locations, especially when considering the marriage laws. I would recommend that you first think about what elements draw you in and then start considering if you would like to get officially married or if the symbolic ceremony will be a more intimate and personal choice for you. I wouldn’t leave out, for example, Switzerland, even though officially eloping there is most likely impossible for you.
For couples looking for an elopement destination in Europe, Denmark is an excellent option due to its relaxed marriage laws. Other popular options include Italy, Austria, Norway, and Iceland. For those seeking something unique, there are places like Montenegro, Slovenia, Faroe Islands, or even the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
Can we elope with family and friends?
Absolutely! But remember, inviting guests into your elopement may slightly alter its essence. In such situations, I’d recommend planning a multi-day elopement, allowing you to savor those intimate moments with your partner while celebrating with your loved ones.
Additionally, if you choose to weave in friends or family into this special occasion, they must resonate with your unconventional approach. Ensure they understand this isn’t about grand wedding traditions but rather a tailored celebration that mirrors the unique tapestry of your bond.
Europe elopement photographer
Hey, I’m Jaakko. I’m a European adventure elopement photographer based in Finland.
A few years ago, I married my wife pretty traditionally. At the time, it felt like the best decision. However, I didn’t quite understand how emotional the day would feel and how hard it was to be 100% myself. We didn’t get a meaningful experience as a couple because we were self-conscious in front of crowds and cared too much about what everyone else was doing. It’s easy to say now that because both my wife and I are all about experience, we should’ve eloped.
So, I want to help couples learn from my experience and understand that they are allowed to plan a day that is just for them and about their love.