How to Elope in Virginia [Updated 2023]

The Complete Guide on how to Elope in Virginia

Congratulations on your decision to elope in Virginia! Whether you’re a local couple looking for a romantic and intimate way to celebrate your love, or you’re planning a destination elopement in the Old Dominion, Virginia has a ton of great stuff to offer. We have beautiful beaches and mountains to historic mansions and charming small towns. Virginia really does have a wide variety of locations that are perfect for your dream elopement.

In this blog post, we will travel through a journey to go over everything you need to know to plan the perfect elopement in Virginia, including how to snag a marriage license, pick out your location, and cover our bases to make sure we can sail through the process stress-free!

What is an elopement today?

Lets start out with what an elopement is in 2023! Elopements are often associated with a quick, rashly planned wedding, often involving just the couple and a witness or two. But…. Elopements can happen for a variety of reasons, including a desire for a more intimate and personal ceremony, a desire to avoid family drama or interference, or even a desire to avoid the stress and expense of a traditional wedding (this was our reasoning). Or maybe you just want some epic photos of you looking swanky in a jaw-dropping location!

Some people may also elope because they want to have a destination wedding or because they have a small circle of friends and family and want to keep the event small as well. Ultimately, the decision to elope is a personal one and will depend on the needs and desires of each couple.

Before you start planning your elopement though, it’s important to make sure you have all the legal requirements knocked out. In Virginia, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license from the Circuit Court Clerk’s office in the county where you plan to get married. Both parties need to be present to apply for your license, and you’ll need to bring identification (driver’s license or passport) and proof of age (such as a birth certificate). The cost of a marriage license in Virginia is $30, and the license is valid for 60 days from the date of issuance. Don’t loose track of these dates of you could find yourself frustrated by missing your window!

Our favorite places to elope in VA

Now to the fun part: choosing the location! Once you have that pesky marriage license in hand, it’s time to start thinking about the location of your elopement. Virginia has a wide variety of locations that are perfect for elopements like we mentioned above, so it can be difficult to choose just one.

Here are a few of the best locations for eloping in Virginia

The Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains are a stunning and picturesque location for an elopement. Sweeping views of the valleys and peaks, this region is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. You could get married at a mountaintop overlook, in a beautiful meadow, or at a rustic cabin (hello mountain man chic).

Virginia Beach

If you’re looking for more of a beachy vibe, you could look into eloping in the Virginia Beach area. With miles of sandy shores and beautiful sunsets, this location is perfect for a romantic and intimate ceremony. I recommend you check out the Boardwalk, on the sand in a secluded area, or at a nearby park or garden. (Who wouldn’t want to say their vows with the ocean as their backdrop, Right?)

The Shenandoah Valley

The Shenandoah Valley is a beautiful region of Virginia with rolling hills, charming small towns, and stunning vistas. My husband actually grew up in the Shenandoah area and spent tons of time trekking through the area if you want some other ideas! The valley is perfect for couples who want a rural and rustic elopement. Consider getting married at a vineyard, at a farm or ranch, or in a charming small town.

The Historic Triangle

If you’re a history nerd, you cant miss by eloping in the Historic Triangle of Virginia. Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown is home to a variety of historic sites and landmarks, including Colonial Williamsburg, the first permanent English settlement in America. There are tons of historic plantations, formal gardens, or maybe even a museum or cultural center.

The Northern Virginia Wine Country

If you’re a wine lover, consider eloping in the Northern Virginia Wine Country. NoVA is home to a number of beautiful wineries and vineyards, making it a perfect location for a small and intimate ceremony. This would be a perfect location for a cozy and romantic elopement in my book.

Let’s talk about elopement logistics

After you’ve chosen your location, it’s time to start thinking about the details and small touches of your ceremony. If you’re planning a small elopement with just a few guests, you may not need a lot of additional decorations or details. However, if you’re planning a larger elopement or want to add a personal touch to your ceremony, there are a few additional things you can consider to prep the location well.

One consideration is to hire an officiant to perform your ceremony. There are a variety of officiants in Virginia, including ordained ministers, justices of the peace, and secular officiants. Choose an officiant who aligns with your values and beliefs, and make sure you discuss your vision for your ceremony with them in advance so you can all be on the same page.

You may also want to consider adding some personal touches to your ceremony, such as writing your own vows, incorporating music or poetry, or including a unity ceremony (such as a sand ceremony or candle lighting). These special touches can help make your elopement feel even more meaningful and personalized. Those are all things our couples consider normally but have you thought about these?

Our top three considerations for your elopement

  • Consider a weekday – costs could be lower, Availability may be better, Less traffic, more privacy at your venue choices (win/win/win?)
  • Mind the weather – Winter weather spring showers & holiday traffic can put a damper on any backwoods, beach, or other travel plans you may have
  • Plan, Plan, Plan – don’t forget the important items (even though there are very few) How will you handle telling the folks? Who is going to get invited? Did you remember to pack the marriage license and setup materials?

Once your ceremony is planned, it’s time to think about the logistics of eloping in Virginia. If you’re planning a small elopement with just a few guests, you may not need to worry about transportation or accommodations. However, if you’re inviting more guests or are planning a longer trip to Virginia, you’ll need to make arrangements for these things as well.

For transportation, consider whether you’ll need to rent a car or whether you’ll be able to use public transportation. If you’re planning to stay in Virginia for a few days, you’ll need to find accommodations as well. There are a variety of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals available throughout the state, ranging from budget-friendly options to more luxurious options. Consider what type of atmosphere you want for your trip and choose accommodations that match your style and budget so you can have your dream elopement without breaking the bank in the process.

Elopement Checklist

Once you’ve taken care of the logistics of your elopement, it’s time to start thinking about how you want to celebrate afterwards! Party time am I right?? Even though you’re eloping, that doesn’t mean you can’t have ad reception or celebration with your guests. There are a variety of restaurants and event spaces in Virginia that would be perfect for a small reception or dinner. Consider hiring a caterer or working with a restaurant to create a special menu for your celebration. You could also consider hosting a small reception at your accommodations, either by hiring a caterer or by putting together a spread of food and drinks yourself. Nothing kicks off a party like some good grub!

Our favorite places to celebrate after elopements

The Tobacco Company Restaurant

Lemaire Restaurant

Maggiano’s – Richmond

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

As you start planning your elopement in Virginia, remember to keep things simple and focus on what’s most important to you. Whether you choose a beautiful beach or mountain setting for your ceremony, a cozy bed, and breakfast for your accommodations, or a small reception with your closest friends and family, the key is to create a celebration that is meaningful and personal to you.

Eloping in VA can be a beautiful and intimate way to celebrate your love and commitment to each other. By obtaining a marriage license, choosing a location that reflects your style and values, and making all the necessary arrangements, you can create a truly memorable and special day. So if you’re considering eloping in Virginia, start planning today and create a celebration that is truly your own. And if you don’t already have a photographer on the books, I’d love to help you plan and capture your perfect ceremony together!

Elopement Packages

powhatan elopement photographer stephanie jenkins photo posing in green sunglasses and red hat

Hi friend!

Chances are, you’re here because you’re on the hunt for the perfect elopement photographer to fit your vibe and personality. You probably feel a little overwhelmed with the process and maybe a little unsure of what goes into it.

Maybe you’re not a huge fan of being photographed and your partner tends to duck out of photo ops at every opportunity. Or, maybe you LOVE being in front of the camera and capturing every Instagram-able moment together, even if you do actually have food stuck in your teeth.

Whichever side of the fence you’re on. Just know that we got you! Our ultimate goal is to offer you the best possible experience so that you feel like you’re working with a friend you’ve known for years vs a stranger with a big camera in your face.

Our elopement experience packages start at just $1950 and include more than just some photos you can look back on. We provide premium experiences for our lovely couples and can’t wait to help you plan your day! If you’re looking for an even more comprehensive solution we have partnered with Sarah Pete to offer an INCREDIBLE Deal that you can check out here:

Q: What is the best place to elope in Virginia?

A: Virginia has many beautiful places to elope, including Grayson Highlands State Park, Sandbridge Beach, and various state parks throughout the state.

Q: How can I get married in Virginia?

A: To get married in Virginia, you need to apply for a marriage license at a circuit court clerk’s office. You must also have a marriage commissioner perform the ceremony and sign the license to make it legally binding.

Q: Can I get legally married at a courthouse in Virginia?

A: Yes, many courthouses in Virginia offer wedding ceremonies for couples who want to get legally married in a simple and affordable way.

Q: Do I need a marriage license to elope in Virginia?

A: Yes, you need to obtain your marriage license before getting married anywhere in Virginia, including at an elopement ceremony.

Q: What do I need to include in my elopement ceremony?

A: The beauty of an elopement ceremony is that you can make it as simple or as elaborate as you want. However, you need to have a marriage commissioner perform the ceremony, and you should exchange vows and rings to make it official.

Q: How do I find an elopement photographer in Virginia?

A: You can search for elopement photographers online or ask for recommendations from friends or wedding planners. Make sure to check their portfolios to see if their style matches your vision for your elopement experience. At Stephanie Jenkins Photo we offer multiple editing styles so that you can get exactly the look you want!

Q: What is the elopement day timeline?

A: The elopement day timeline is flexible and can vary depending on your preferences. However, you should plan to get ready, have the ceremony, take photos, and celebrate together. Your photographer or wedding planner can help you create a personalized timeline.

Q: Can I have a small wedding instead of an elopement in Virginia?

A: Yes, you can have a small and intimate wedding ceremony with your close friends and family members in Virginia. You still need to obtain a marriage license and have a marriage commissioner perform the ceremony to make it legally binding.

Q: What are some venues in Virginia for intimate weddings or elopements?

A: Virginia has many beautiful venues for intimate weddings or elopements, including wineries, bed and breakfasts, historic sites, and private estates. You can also consider renting a cabin or booking a glamping experience for a unique and intimate ceremony.

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