How to elope in Shenandoah

June 28, 2022
Debbie Elisa Photography

Eloping in Shenandoah is a wonderful way to get married. If you’re looking for an alternative to a large wedding, eloping may be the perfect choice for you! Knowing how to elope in Shenandoah is a great way to start the entire elopement planning process. Not only does it offer a lower cost and less stress than a traditional wedding, but it also allows you to have more control over how your day will look and feel—and what happens on it!

If that sounds like something that appeals to you, continue reading below for our overview of the ins and outs of eloping in Shenandoah.

Let’s kick it into gear!

It’s the season for love! If you’re looking to tie the knot this year, don’t get bogged down with stereotypical wedding planning. Eloping is an excellent way to express your love in a spontaneous and meaningful way, and Shenandoah National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Virginia to do it. By making a few important choices (and bringing some extra cash along), you can make your elopement one of the happiest days of your life.

Setting your budget

If you want to elope in Shenandoah on a tight budget, you’re in luck. We all know that planning a wedding can be expensive and it can be easy to overspend before even realizing what we’re doing. That’s why it’s so important to set your budget before you start buying things like flowers and dresses (which should also be kept simple).

Setting your budget is simple—all you need to do is write down how much money all of these expenses will cost:

  • Venue
  • Photography & videography
  • Flowers and other decor (if needed)

Music (if desired)

Plan for best time to elope

  • Spring and fall are the best times of year to elope in Shenandoah, as these seasons offer mild weather and an abundance of beautiful scenery.
  • Summer can be too hot, so you’ll want to avoid a summer elopement if you’re not used to high temperatures.
  • Winter is too cold for a wedding ceremony, but it’s great for snow photos!
  • If your date isn’t flexible, try planning your trip in winter or spring (or even early autumn). These are the most popular seasons for weddings here.

Book me as your photographer 🙂

Choosing a photographer is an important decision. Here are some tips to help you find the right one:

  • Look for someone who can capture your love and sense of adventure. (Debbie Elisa Photography)
  • Make sure they have experience photographing outdoor weddings, especially in natural settings like Shenandoah National Park (Debbie Elisa Photography)
  • Look for a photographer who has both formal and candid shots of past couples on their website, as well as photos that show off their ability to work with a diverse group of people (including pets!), (oh, Debbie Elisa Photography can!)

If you’re looking for a particular type of photo from your big day, ask the photographer if they’ve done something similar before—Debbie Elisa Photography is the coolest photographer out there!

Dress the part

The great thing about a mountain elopement is that you can wear whatever you want! There are no rules in this scenario, so feel free to get creative with your outfit and have some fun with it. Just like any other type of wedding, though, there are some ways to prepare for your special day.

First things first: dress for the weather! If you’re not from Shenandoah Valley or nearby areas, it’s easy to forget how quickly the temperature can drop when you’re surrounded by mountains and trees (especially if an unexpected rainstorm blows through). Dress warmly without being overdressed — even if you don’t think it will be cold enough outside at first glance! You’ll want to be comfortable while taking photos around town and exploring the park afterward—and again later as well when everyone heads into town for dinner/dancing/whatever else might be on their agenda after getting married!

Hire an officiant

The first thing to do when planning your trip is hire a wedding officiant. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think. You can find one through the internet or ask your hotel reception desk if they can recommend someone (it’s a common request). You’re looking for someone who has experience performing weddings in Shenandoah and has knowledge of all necessary legal requirements for getting married in Virginia. The cost will vary depending on where you go, but on average expect to pay about $200 per ceremony without travel expenses included.

Eloping in Shenandoah | Fields elopement

Incorporate your interests/hobbies into your elopement

This is where your DIY elopement will come alive! Incorporate your interests into your wedding day, so that it’s not just any old day. You can plan a picnic next to some local eateries, like an ice cream shop, then pick out the perfect place to have a picnic for just after you read your vows.

  • Go have a glass of wine at one of Virginia’s vineyards, wineries or breweries; this is the perfect way for you and your soon-to-be spouse (or spouse-to-be!) to enjoy each other’s company while sipping on some delicious drinks from Virginia’s finest.
  • You may want to go for a small hike in Shenandoah National Park or run around in the fields and valleys—whatever it is that gives you two freedom from other people! After all, this is YOUR day—so do whatever makes YOU happy!

Afterwards, don’t forget about music! Put on some of your favorite tunes from your phone and dance around until sunset comes along with its glow of warmth on those last moments before darkness takes over everything again…

Make it legal

  • The town nearest to Shenandoah, Page County, has a courthouse in Luray. It’s located at 104 North Main Street and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am until 4 pm (closed for lunch).
  • You’ll need to file an application for a marriage license at the courthouse.
  • You’ll need a witness—someone over 18 years old who isn’t related to you or your spouse-to-be by blood or adoption. The witness must also sign your application as well as provide identification with their own photo on it (e.g., driver’s license).
  • You will have to pay a fee for the marriage license; this varies depending on where you go in Virginia but averages around $50-$60 per couple. That money covers processing fees and a required online course about premarital counseling called “Preparation For Marriage.” This course costs $15 per person and can be completed online within 48 hours of applying for your license if you want it done immediately after obtaining it rather than waiting until after getting married! If there’s no one else working when you arrive, then they may not ask these questions yet…so get there early!

It’s time to start planning!

Like with any big life decision, the key to a successful elopement is to plan ahead. Once you’ve figured out the basics of your timeline and budget, it’s time to start thinking about the joyous details. These can be as simple as finding an officiant or photographer that you love and admire, or as elaborate as planning a multi-day excursion through Shenandoah National Park with your closest family members and friends. Whatever route you choose, we guarantee this will be one of the most rewarding decisions you make in your wedding planning process!

Grab my STRESS FREE WEDDING DAY TIPS to ease your mind and relax on your big day.

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If you love taking the road less traveled. A trailblazer of sorts. I am a free spirit and don't like conforming to rules particularly. But, i do love when others find their own voice and way on being their own person. So, if that means that you have to burn a few bridges along the way then I guess that's something that has to be done. 

What I love, is that we are who we are. And I am one that loves the ocean and finds peace and serenity at the the water. My clients love peace. Love community with friends and family, and truly lives for the moment.

You are my couple is if you are ready to let loose and have fun and be your true authentic self.

"Over the moon with these pictures"

I may be biased, but I absolutely love Debbie. I have been a part of her photography journey from the start. And I have to say that her evolution for her understanding of photography is amazing. My boyfriend and I wanted a nice beach, golden hour couples' session and of course I snagged Debbie on a weekday. We went to a state park beach and just had a lot of fun. She is so down to earth, so calming but funny, and very easy to talk with. She made my boyfriend feel so relaxed during the entire time. 100% recommend.

Cami & Jimmy

"I can't beleive that's us"

I cannot believe that we took these pictures. I mean, I have never seen myself as photogenic at all. And when Debbie asked about any concerns, I laid it all out of everything I didn't like about myself. Her way of talking to me about self-love really stuck with me. The white dress I chose showed all of my goodness and you know what, she made me feel so good, and free that I did not even once worry about anything. She is truly amazing, in all aspects. 

Samantha & Hunter

"she was amazing for our elopement"

I think Debbie was the perfect hype woman for our elopement. She was there with the smiles, sweet tears, hugs, guidance, and calmness that we needed for the day. Debbie made our elopement so special. Out of all the photographers we spoke with, she just had a realness about her that made me choose her. No sweet talk, pure facts and I loved that she took the time out of her day to text with me for any questions that came up. A true sweetheart!

Alejandra & Jose

"the sweetest and most amazing day"

Nothing like having a wedding with close friends and family to celebrate such a special moment. For us, we looked high and low and found Debbie through a referral from another photographer. I am so glad she was available. She was so sweet and funny on our call. Really made us feel so special and had many great suggestions and ideas that we didn't think about. What we got back was nothing short of perfectly captured memories. 

Alejandra & Jason