There are certainly a ton of amazing locations in the U.S. for couples looking to elope, but it might be somewhat overwhelming when it comes time to choose.
That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to help you choose the perfect location to tie the knot.
Many different factors have to come together in order for a city to be right for an elopement ceremony, including availability of accommodating hotels, chapels, the amount of gardens and other aesthetic locations for photoshoots and outdoor ceremonies, the quality of local restaurants, the reputation and hospitality of the city, as well as entertainment, ambience, and proximity to other fun couples activities.
When you take all of these things into account, there are clear winners when it comes to the right city to get eloped in.
Here’s our selection for where to elope to have the best experience possible in the U.S.!
What’s more romantic than a mountain retreat?
The Poconos attracts thousands of people every year for their quaint charm and entertainment, as well as simply being far more accessible than many other mountain resorts and destinations.
Located only a couple hours from major cities like New York City and Philadelphia, the Poconos are like a little slice of snowy, pine-forest paradise nestled between the hustle and bustle of the East Coast.
What makes them so ideal for elopements is their plethora of snug, idyllic retreats for couples, which include actual log cabins in the middle of the woods, skiing and snowboarding, lodges, hiking, giant lakes, camping, and more.
If you and your significant other are dreaming of some kind of magical forest ceremony, you can very well have it in the Poconos.
The best part is, there are actually hotels and bed and breakfast style accommodations that cater to couples, as well as more adventurous activities like cave diving, kayaking, and rock climbing if you really want to shake things up.
Vegas is still one of the most popular places in the country for couples looking to elope, but its sister city Reno is starting to become the superior option for several reasons.
First and foremost, Reno enjoys all the same laws that make Vegas a booming city for tourists and couples. There’s plenty of resorts, casinos, nightlife, restaurants, and chapels that cater to soon-to-be-newlyweds.
Arguably, because Reno has been trying to make a name for itself over the past few years, earning its nickname, the Biggest Little City, the quality of its resorts and casinos has been rapidly increasing in competition with Vegas.
This means more quality for less price. Less congestion, more parking, more room to move around, less hassle, and often more options.
What separates Reno even more is that it has the luxury of having more natural options. There are several resorts and elopement packages that focus on more rustic settings with more traditional amenities, instead of everything revolving around casinos and the nightlife.
However, if you’re looking for that classic “Vegas” feel, Reno has you covered as well. Then there is the food. With spots like the Great Full Gardens and The Twisted Fork, you’re bound to find something to sink your teeth into.
The perfect mix of southern charm and modern amenities. This up-and-coming city has it all: beaches, art and culture, excellent dining, fine hotels, and plenty of couples to do.
Savannah is known for its gorgeous botanical gardens, which make a perfect setting for elopement photoshoots. There are also nature walks and tours available at the local parks and gardens, including the famous Forsynth Park.
You’re also not going to want to miss Joe’s Homemade Café, The Rail Pub, and Vic’s On The River for some of the best quality southern cuisine you can ask for in the state.
Best part is, it’s all within short distance of hotels and accommodations perfect for intimate weddings and elopements.
Every year this exotic paradise attracts thousands of couples wanting to elope in style.
Whether it’s the crystal clear ocean with white sand beaches, or endless entertainment with a tropical twist, Maui has always been a wedding and elopement hotspot.
There are many activities for couples seeking romance and adventure, including the famous sunset cruises and various spas you can enjoy. Maui is also home to several amazing restaurants, including The Mill House, Cuatro, and the famous Lahaina Grill.
Probably the most iconic of all, the tropical beach setting is one of the best in the world. If getting eloped in a tropical paradise is something you’re dreaming about, Maui is what you’re looking for.
The quintessential elopement destination, New Orleans draws couples from all over the country every year. The unique combination of cultural influences and prime location on the Gulf has slowly turned the city into the premiere place for destination elopements.
So what can couples expect in New Orleans?
5 star hotels that cater specifically to eloping couples and have everything from wedding halls to balcony photography packages and suites, to world class dining, to art and entertainment you literally can’t get anywhere else.
New Orleans is a city with rich history. Many different cultures settled in the city, and to this day it holds all of these influences in a perfect blend. French, Creole, German, African, and Caribbean history has crafted an urban experience like none other.
Where else can you get impeccable Southern style seafood right from the Gulf of Mexico, enjoy beautiful gardens, live music, historical museums, ferry rides on the Mississippi, and top it all off with an elopement ceremony for the ages?
Probably the best part of New Orleans is the culture that has developed around elopements themselves.
The city has become a Mecca of sorts for all things weddings. There are many professional services in the city that have put together their services specifically to take the guesswork out of your elopement and make sure everything runs smooth. We’re one such business, that prides itself in delivering world class service for anyone looking to elope in NOLA.
So if you’re looking for someplace to hold an unforgettable elopement, you could do no better than right here in New Orleans.
There’s certainly no shortage of amazing places to hold your destination wedding, but there are several reasons why New Orleans should be on the top of your list.
It’s no secret that over the past few years, New Orleans has become something of a Mecca for couples looking to elope and get married, and it’s no wonder. The art, the culture, the cuisine, the classic luxury, and the climate all combine to form one of the best destination spots for romantic getaways and beautiful ceremonies.
So what does the city have to offer? You’re in for a treat.
Let us show you why New Orleans has quickly become one of the hottest spots in the country for couples looking to tie the knot!
Magnificent Accommodation Options
When it comes to New Orleans, you’re looking at some of the finest hotels you could possibly ask for. Many of them have renovated and crafted their space specifically for wedding ceremonies, so on top of luxury accommodations, you have ball rooms, dining rooms, photography settings, and more right there in one building.
Often hotels in New Orleans come equipped with romantic balconies that overlook the city or the bay, aesthetic gardens perfect for ceremonies or photo shoots, great proximity to parks, restaurants, chapels, and other crucial wedding services, and knowledgeable staff who will work hard to ensure that your stay is a memorable one.
Because so many hotels in the area are used to hosting wedding services and parties, the staff are already familiar with working in tandem with local caterers, photographers, officiants, and wedding coordinators, to create a seamless professional experience that you can’t really get anywhere else.
World Class Restaurants and Catering
New Orleans has come to be synonymous with great food. The unique mixture of cultures, traditional customs, foreign influences, and long history has made the city a veritable hotbed of delicacies and comfort food.
Not only this, because of the influx of couples looking to wed, many of these restaurants do in fact accommodate large gatherings like weddings and even provide amazing catering options with impeccable service.
We’ve highlighted some of our favorite New Orleans restaurants before. Places like the Rum House, Brennan’s, and the Commander’s Palace have become nationally sought-after tourist destinations based on their reputation and food alone. If that doesn’t speak for how wonderful the food in New Orleans is, nothing will.
One of the best parts about the dining in New Orleans is that there is something for everyone.
Looking for an extremely high class experience with French delicacies? Good down south comfort food? The freshest seafood money can buy? Decadent desserts that will have you coming back for more? New Orleans has all of this in spades.
So one of the big reasons so many couples love New Orleans as a place for their destination wedding is, you can always count on the food. Whether you are looking for 5-star wedding catering or a romantic restaurant to have a quiet date, or a fun bar with great night life and food, you can find it here.
Scenic Natural Beauty and Climate
New Orleans has the benefit of being situated on the Gulf Coast, which enjoys magnificent weather at just about all times a year. It can be occasionally humid at the height of summer, so that’s something you might want to take into consideration, but if you’re looking for a paradisiacal getaway in the dead of winter, New Orleans might be calling.
Add to this the lush and attractive gardens and scenic beaches and lakes that are all around the area, and you have the perfect setting for marriage magic. It’s a sightseer and photographer’s dream, as well as an amazing choice for anyone looking for a warm, relatively stable climate at just about any time of the year.
Between the vast Lake Pontchartrain, ferry rides across the Mississippi, and touring the famous Garden District, you can’t do much better than the natural beauty and warm climate of New Orleans. A destination wedding dream!
City Rich in Romanticism and Culture
The food and the weather tie into our final point: New Orleans just simply has that “magic” something that makes it a “romantic” city.
Wherever you turn, beautiful architecture meets quaint cafes and elaborate gardens. Music playing in the streets, festivals and parties year-round, world class dining and fine arts to keep any couple occupied, and possibly some of the most robust night life this side of Vegas.
At any time of the year, you’re guaranteed to find fun events to attend and themes to fit your wedding around. It’s not all about Mardi Gras either. New Orleans enjoys a rich mix of different cultures from all over, including German and Creole. There are many cultural festivals, holiday festivals, art shows, theater showings, and live music to enjoy at all times of the year.
What better way to celebrate your wedding or elopement than to live it up in the heart of New Orleans? There’s truly something for everyone in this city of romance, and that’s perhaps the number one reason why it has become such a huge hotspot for destination weddings. There’s simply no other place like it. For more info on marrying in New Orleans, connect with us! We would be honored to help you navigate the many options!
There is no shortage of things to do in New Orleans, so if you're planning your wedding there, it only makes sense to partake in some of the food, entertainment, art, and history that the city has to offer.
After all, New Orleans isn't just one of the top places for couples looking to tie the knot in style, it's also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire country. There is quite a bit to see and do.
So if you are looking to make some memories before the ceremony even begins, we've got some ideas for you!
1. Eat beignets (not at touristy cafe du monde, but at Cafe Beignet!).
This is basically essential if you’re visiting New Orleans. If this is where you’re getting married, even better. These little fried pastries are a specialty here and you don't want to miss out on these world famous New Orleans style donuts.
2. Have a cocktail at the carousel bar in the Hotel Monteleone.
Want to try something a bit unorthodox? The extravagant Hotel Monteleone has a unique take on the typical fancy bar. Known simply as the Carousel Bar, it’s something that has to be experienced to be believed. It’s definitely a different take on the classic bar scene.
3. Take a selfie in Exchange Alley.
Nearby from Hotel Monteleone, there’s the gorgeous decorative street known as Exchange Alley, a place rich in art, culture, colorful buildings and dining. It’s one of those well-taken care of little city nooks that makes for a perfect backdrop to a Newlywed photo.
4. Take the beautiful Algiers ferry to the westbank side of the mighty Mississippi River.
Once there, enjoy a bite or drink at Dry Dock Cafe or Old Point Bar, two of the best places to grab a drink and mingle with the locals. This is one of those uniquely New Orleans experiences that you don't want to miss out on. Don't forget to take in the New Orleans city skyline from that side of the Mississippi River.
5. Stroll down historic Bourbon Street (tip: do not wear beads when it’s not Mardi Gras - you will scream Tourist!).
With a wide variety of entertainment to choose from, it will be hard deciding where to start! Check out the bars with live music. Anytime of the day, anytime of the year... Bourbon Street is full of laughter, fun and libations.
6. Try and find all the cool rooftop bars with amazing city views, for a memorable dining experience.
Tip: some are guests only as the pool is rooftop as well and only for guests privileges. Don’t be afraid to call a location beforehand and ask about their amenities. Many New Orleans restaurants and hotels have classic sensibilities and will go out of their way to cater to patrons.
7. Stop and enjoy a conversation with a local!
Local New Orleanians are the nicest people on planet earth. Promise you will leave the conversation with a new friend and a dozen other recommended hot spots to see, not to mention a new take on the city’s history, or simply where to get the best oysters.
8. For the ladies: stop in “Bourbon French Parfums."
This shop on Royal street makes custom tailored scents that can be made into your special wedding day fragrance. If you’re looking for that special something to spice up your big day and want to do something out of the ordinary, this is just the right opportunity.
9. Must take photos in Jackson Square.
The historic St Louis Cathedral is stunning and millions of people make sure to capture photos of the iconic church whenever they are visiting New Orleans. Try taking photos in Jackson Square at different angles with the church in the background. I promise... these will be the photos you will frame and cherish for life.
10. Is traditional New Orleans style music something you’re interested in?
Frenchman Street is just a quick stroll outside of the FQ. If you want to hear authentic live New Orleans music, this is the place to go. It’s where all the locals go to hear the real sound of New Orleans!
If you’re wondering if eloping is right for you or if you are having trouble planning and putting it all together, you’re not alone.
There’s certainly thousands of couples in your same exact shoes, getting butterflies and wondering just how they can pull off their elopement without a hitch. There’s this idea that getting married has to be this huge complex beast that oftentimes leaves couples frazzled in the months leading up to the big day.
An elopement should be as stress-free and fun as possible. Here are 5 secrets to planning a successful elopement wedding!
1. Set a Workable Budget
One of the benefits of an elopement rather than a traditional wedding is the money you are likely to save. On the whole, eloping is cheaper than most kinds of traditional ceremonies. That is part of the allure of elopement, the fact that you don’t have to worry about all kinds of extravagant expenses and sinking thousands of dollars on floral arrangements and catering.
However, you are still going to want to setup a workable budget before putting your elopement together. It might sound romantic to just hop on a plane and travel somewhere on the spur of the moment, but if you are looking for something a bit more structured and with less hassle, you are going to want to invest in some elopement services, and other things,,such as the dress, restaurant reservations, etc.
Budgeting properly means less stress when everything is coming together. You don’t want to have to deal with unexpected expenses and financial issues during your elopement. Unlike a traditional ceremony, the goal here is romance and fun with your significant other. That means a little bit of planning can take a lot of the stress and guesswork out of the equation.
2. Don’t Feel Pressured to Invite Everyone
Another benefit of eloping is the crowd size. You’re not here to put on a show for your estranged second cousins and friends of friends of friends. This is about you and your closest loved ones sharing in your special moment.
While there may be tons of people who might want to see you get married, the bottom line is that if you are deciding to elope, it likely means you want a more intimate ceremony without a lot of the chaos that often comes with wedding ceremonies.
By all means, invite who you want, but don’t feel pressured to send everyone an invitation. Keep it simple. Closest relatives and best friends only. The fewer people that get invited, the cheaper the overall cost and the more intimate the experience.
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference, but elopements are often at their best when they are shared only by a select few of the bride and groom’s most closest friends and relatives. This makes everything far more manageable, especially if you are planning to elope far away from where you live.
Tip: Ask your photographer to send you an elopement announcement after your ceremony with a photo or two from your wedding day and share with those who were not present.
Keep it simple and you’ll be a lot happier. Have a small party/reception back at home. Don’t worry, your friends and family will understand.
3. Choose the Location and Let a Professional do the Rest
We mentioned earlier about elopement services, and we can’t stress this enough. It is a mistake to think you can pick a random city halfway across the country and decide to get married there on a whim, without planning or knowing the place, and expect everything to go off without a hitch.
You don’t know the sights, the places to get great food, how to avoid tourist traps and really enjoy the authentic experience of the city or location you are visiting.
Rather than winging it, let a professional handle things. Elopement packages provide all sorts of benefits, from photography services, to taking care of catering, seating, hotel arrangements, decorations, the cake, and even sight-seeing advice.
At ElopeToNola.com, we offer elopement packages that are perfect for couples who want to explore New Orleans and have the time of their lives, with everything taken care of.
So it’s important to decide early on in the planning where you want to elope, and then get in touch with an elopement service that’s reputable, so they can take care of all the work, leaving you to focus on what matters: your ceremony and your love!
4. Get the Legal Stuff Out of the Way
You’re also going to want to take care of the legal aspect of things as soon as possible. Don’t try and incorporate all of this right into the ceremony. Many professional elopement services recommend getting to your selected elopement spot a few days early in case there are any legal "waiting periods" from the time of obtaining your license to actually saying "I Do" in your chosen city. If you are selecting New Orleans, the waiting period is 24 hours from your ceremony time.
If you are planning on getting your marriage officiated in the state or city where you are planning your elopement, read up on all of the legalities of marriage in that state so you can familiarize yourself in case there is anything you need to know. Oftentimes, elopement planners will help you out in this regard, as well as provide the necessary person or officiant to run the actual ceremony.
5. Don’t Get Lost in the Details
Finally, don’t let yourself get lost in the details. An elopement should be sweet and simple. Don’t torture yourself worrying about the fluff: cakes, flowers, hair and makeup. Let a professional handle these things and they will work themselves out.
Most importantly, don’t try and do too much. The best part of an elopement is the freedom it gives the bride and groom to explore the city of their choosing, relax, enjoy cocktails and nightlife together for several days, long after the ceremony is over and done with.
To make the most of your elopement, don’t fret over anything, just allow it to unfold. Enjoy the experience, have fun with your guests, and most of all, let yourself be swept up in the romance, not bogged down in the details.
If you take all of these tips into account, your elopement will unfold effortlessly!
The holidays are a time when we come together, count our blessings, and give gifts to our nearest and dearest. This can be an especially joyous occasion for newlyweds spending their first holiday season together!
However, this time of the year can definitely be stressful and chaotic, so it is important to be organized and prepare for the season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Diwali, we have compiled several tips and tricks for couples’ first holiday to go off without a hitch!
Be Ready If Traveling
Last year, a record 107.3 million people traveled for the holiday season - which can spell disaster in the event of being unprepared, or just plain bad luck.
If you’re heading to visit family far away, be sure to get to the airport at least two hours in advance for domestic flights, or three hours in advance for international travel. It’s helpful to check in for your flight prior to arriving at the airport, and you can download your ticket on your smartphone - no more lost boarding passes!
Be sure to weigh your checked baggage at home - try using an ordinary bathroom scale and standing on it while holding your bag; you don’t want to be slapped with an additional overweight luggage fee! Remembering your picture ID or passport is paramount, as you will not be able to go through security without it - you and your spouse should remind one another.
Consider a good pair of travel shoes that you can slip on and off - this will make the security line a breeze! Before you hit the airport bar, think about gulping down some water. The low humidity level on planes can dehydrate us, leaving us feeling tired and groggy upon landing.
Prepare Your Place
If you’re hosting your first holiday, it is very easy to become overwhelmed and stressed. Even for those who are naturals at hosting, the prospect of sharing a your home with in-laws can evoke a sense of the Griswold Family Christmas.
But, never fear- with careful planning, you can make the holidays a smash hit! First, determine who exactly is coming in advance to be sure that you have room for everyone. If you are just moving into a new starter home, consider purchasing a new dining room table that’s long enough to comfortably seat everybody; there’s nothing worse than cramming guests around a tiny table!
Online furniture stores like, Arhaus offer many different dining room table options that are sure to wow your guests! Next, make sure you’ve got adequate sleeping space for your guests, complete with enough pillows and blankets for everyone’s comfort. These may seem like simple items on your checklist, but lack of a good night’s sleep can ruin a trip for your loved ones.
Most importantly, keep a tidy house! It’s much better to have your home nice and clean for when your guests arrive, and it will give you one less thing to worry about as you play host to your friends and family.
The holidays are a time filled with tradition, which can sometimes be difficult to adhere to when the family becomes larger!
The best way to negotiate this is by being open and honest about expectations with your spouse. If your family tradition involves chopping down a Christmas tree and bringing it home but your wife has an allergy to Douglas firs, all the Benadryl in the world won’t make her holiday enjoyable!
Conversely, if your family likes to imbibe in alcohol and your husband doesn’t drink, this can make things awkward and uncomfortable for him. The key is compromise - it’s very important to have open and honest dialogue.
This precedent will carry over through your relationship, making this type of transparency valued in your marriage! If possible, make a list of each tradition your family has, and decide which ones your family will continue and which ones will become a pleasant memory!
The holidays don’t have to be chaotic, and through careful planning, you can have the perfect celebration!
By sticking to these tips, you can ensure your preparedness and transform for your home into a beacon of holiday joy. Who knows, maybe things will change next year, or you will set the new tradition for years to come!
It doesn’t matter if you’re getting married in the middle of a beach or in the heart of New Orleans, sometimes you just want that touch of unique class and atmosphere that only comes from a rustic style wedding!
Rustic themed ceremonies tend to focus on the outdoors, floral décor, minimalism, articles of nature such as wood and stone, ambient lighting, and an overall atmosphere of quiet charm.
You almost get the feeling that you’re stepping into another world when you partake in a well done rustic style ceremony, and here’s how you can grab some of that magic for your own wedding or elopement.
Choose the Right Venue
Make sure that regardless of where you’re planning on having your ceremony, it fits your rustic theme. You want to go with soft lighting, frosted style lights, candles, wooden décor, easy access to the outside, a nice old style bar, and plenty of charm.
If you know where to look, you can find such venues in even the biggest, trendiest cities. Actually, these kinds of “rustic” styles are becoming increasingly popular for city cafes and restaurants. The aesthetic lighting, wood furniture or paneling, spacious designs, and simple aura attract people looking for an escape from the usual chaos of city life.
This same philosophy works perfectly for a destination elopement or even a moderately sized wedding. The right venue will allow you to give the ceremony just the right feeling you want, while still providing five star services and dining.
Some unlikely places also can be transformed into the perfect location for a rustic style elopement or wedding, such as barns and large makeshift tents in the woods. Let your imagination do the talking!
Boho is the Way to Go
One of the most popular trends in rustic weddings are casual, boho style dresses with earth tones. Not every ceremony has to be glitz and glam – part of the charm of a rustic wedding or elopement is the simplicity, and that goes for the dress as well.
Get that natural, earthy feel by choosing a more down-to-earth kind of dress, which you can also fit into the theme of the entire ceremony itself. Coordinate what kind of soft lighting, earth tones, and rustic setting you are planning with the kind of dress you are looking for. This is especially important if you are planning an outdoors ceremony. You’re going to want to take weather into account as well.
Most of all, choose a dress that fits the essence of the ceremony. Are you going for merely a touch of rustic, or a full-fledged “back to nature” kind of wedding? You can accentuate your dress with accessories such as flower crowns, lace, and earthy stone, shell, or wooden jewelry.
Use Natural Elements of the Country as Props
Hay bales? Check. Wagon wheels? Check. Wooden fences, horses, and picnic tables? You bet!
There’s really no limit to what you can put together when you opt for a more rustic style wedding or elopement. Even if your ceremony happens to be in a bustling city like New Orleans, you can invest in some country-style props, like wagon wheels and hay bales, to transform a venue into a mock barn or old-fashioned saloon.
You would also be surprised how easy it is to transform a public park into a slice of rustic heaven with some fairy lights, tents, hay bales, and wooden benches or chairs. Just keep all of this in mind in the planning stages so you have no last minute snafus trying to put it all together.
A little can go a long way in a rustic ceremony. The right lighting and dresses alone can transform what would be an ordinary wedding into something much more memorable and magical.
Don’t Forget the Food
Whether you plan on holding the ceremony in the comfort of a hotel, the square of a local park, or in the middle of the woods, you’re going to want catering that can accommodate the look, feel, and theme of your special day.
Good food can truly put a lasting impression on guests and give a ceremony the right aura. In this regard, do away with the overly fine dining and go with comfort food options. New Orleans for example is one of the biggest elopement destinations due in part to its amazing selection of fine comfort food dining.
Who says you can’t do BBQ or seafood at a wedding? If you’re planning an outdoors event, this can be the perfect kind of after-party. Likewise, sometimes there’s nothing better than a ceremony that’s topped off with a hearty home-cooked style meal.
It’s easy to transform any wedding ceremony into a rustic fantasy, with the right venue, props, and planning. Don’t be afraid to coordinate with all of the parties involved, especially your hotel or venue of choice, catering, floral services, and photographers.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to experiment, after all, it’s your day. You get to make it as magical and exciting as you want. Even if it means renting a horse!
Weddings and elopements are full of small special moments, some being long traditions, and some completely unplanned and spontaneous.
One tradition that has been staple of tradition for centuries is that of a groom not seeing their bride on the day of the wedding, until the actual ceremony takes place when the bride enters the room.
This tradition is still fairly common and it’s something many couples still believe in and practice. It was considered bad luck for a groom to see his bride before the ceremony, and this sentiment still exists to a degree, though a new wedding and elopement trend is starting to become more prevalent in our photography-rich age of social media.
This new trend, dubbed the “first look,” involves the bride and groom meeting up early on the day of the wedding for a pre-ceremony photoshoot.
The sense of anticipation for both the bride and the groom (and everyone watching) is something that adds a bit of magic to the entire elopement or wedding ceremony, so it’s no wonder it’s still somewhat expected that a groom not see his bride until the actual ceremony. However, there can be no doubt that the rising first look trend is taking hold: many couples believe there are several reasons to have a first look, and it’s not just about beautiful photos.
The Magic of a First Look
It’s undeniable that the concept of first look ceremonies might seem awkward to people who area traditionalists or who just haven’t heard of such a thing before. After all, won’t the couple getting married have their pictures taken dozens of times throughout the actual ceremony anyway?
That would be the case if a first look was all about the photos. The truth is, one of the most magical aspects of the first look is getting some time to be alone before the action of the ceremony. This quiet time that brides and grooms get to share can be both intimate and soothing for the nerves.
For many couples, nerves are the biggest downer and impediment leading up to an elopement or wedding ceremony. Even if there’s nothing to be nervous about and all of the planning has gone right, all of the guests have arrived, all of the honeymoon details have been taken care of, and everything else is lined up, that feeling of unnecessary anticipation and nervousness is not something all couples welcome.
Instead, the option of a first look gives couples a chance to spend time together before the day gets too busy, helping to ease nerves and release some tension.
There’s also the fact that the couple gets to see each other before anyone else – hence the term “first look.” It’s a more private, intimate setting before the families and friends get involved. A lot of couples are starting to prefer this, as it gives them a chance to mingle and spend some personal time together. Privacy is something that’s hard to come by on your wedding day. Once everything is set in motion, you might go the entire day without getting a shred of personal time with your new wife / husband. A first look bucks this trend and allows for some personal time before the ceremony gets underway and privacy goes out the window.
The Perfect Photo Opportunity
First Look’s aren’t just about quality time for the couple, there are practical aspects too. One of the biggest reasons why couples opt to have a first look is for early photographs.
Photography is such a huge part of any elopement or wedding ceremony – but cramming in all of the desired angles and moments can be daunting during the actual ceremony itself. A first look gives couples the chance to stage a special photo shoot specifically to take pressure off the ceremony and create easier, dynamic, and romantic shots.
Much like an engagement photoshoot, a first look offers couples the ability to choose a special location with very specific lighting and backdrops, and because there isn’t so much pressure, it’s often easier for couples to unwind and be natural during the photos.
First look photo sessions have other benefits, including timing. Depending on the time of the year the ceremony is taking place, the lighting may not be ideal after everything is done for post-ceremony photos, especially outdoors. Holding a photo shoot before the ceremony even begins guarantees that you get in plenty of gorgeous photos with adequate lighting.
Another benefit is that a photographer or videographer gets to be more involved and can direct the couple if need be into more romantic poses and settings. Despite playing such an important role in the ceremony, photographers can’t really intervene much when the ceremony is going on, so if there is some last minute lighting problems, bad angles, or camera snafus, there’s really not much they can do.
It’s much different during a first look, where a photographer can tell the bride or groom to stand a certain way, remind them to pose naturally, look in a certain direction, or move closer to a light source. You’re also free from the prying eyes of family and friends, so you can be as goofy or as passionate as you want, without risk of judgment later on!
Planning a First Look
Interested in a first look for your wedding day or elopement? The most important part of planning one is to simply make sure everyone involved is on the same page, that you have easy transportation to the location of the first look, and that it doesn’t put any unnecessary stress on you or your significant other.
The key to pulling off a romantic, fun first look is to treat it like a casual date. Let yourself relax and enjoy the time before the ceremony together, your mood will show up in the photos and they will come out fantastic.
You don’t necessarily have to go far or rent out someplace exotic all for the sake of your first look, either. Often the courtyards and lobby areas of certain hotels make perfect places for small intimate photoshoots. Inquire with the hotel you are staying at for your ceremony if they can recommend a spot.
Local rivers, lakes, and parks also provide the perfect place for a first look, especially since these places are typically less crowded in the mornings than at any other time of the day.
Regardless of where you decide to have your photoshoot, take advantage of the time and have fun. A first look is like taking the moment where the bride first walks in and the groom sees her for the first time in her dress, and capturing it for an hour, away from the world. No wonder this trend is taking off!
The key to any good couple’s photography is to capture a “natural” or effortless look and feel. Nothing looks worse than stiff bodies and unnatural, complex poses and gestures, especially in photos that are supposed to be special and capture important memories like your elopement.
But how is this accomplished without going to some kind of modeling school? You’re in luck, we have put together this small guide to help couples take stunning, natural-looking photos without any hassle.
*** ALWAYS STAND TALL, SHOULDERS BACK A BIT and LADIES SHOULD DISTRIBUTE WEIGHT ON ONE LEG (Whether crossing one leg over another or shifting all weight to back leg. This will create an hourglass figure that flatters most ladies)
The Importance of Bending Joints
Think about how you move around throughout the day. You’re rarely stiff, with your joints locked. This is the number one mistake people make when they “pose” for photos. You never want to lock your joints, it’s what gives you the appearance of being stiff and uncomfortable.
Not only this, but these kinds of stiff unnatural poses tend to show on the faces of the people being photographed, which usually means the whole composition comes off as awkward. This is the last thing you want for your elopement photography session! The more you look at each other, laugh with each other and kiss.. the better the photos come out. Your photographer will let you know when he/she would like for you to look directly at camera for a more formal pose.
When getting into a specific pose, remember to relax your body and bend. Don’t lock your knees (ladies should put all weight on back leg), bend your arms, and make sure your hands are doing something. It’s very rare during the course of a day when our hands are just flat and resting stiffly at our sides. That’s unnatural and it will show in the final product!
Don’t Be Afraid to Touch
One of the most important parts of capturing natural, stunning elopement or wedding photos is intimacy. No matter what pose or angle you take, there should be some kind of interaction between the couple.
There are some basic but highly effective posing tips for capturing natural intimacy that are super easy to do and will take your photos to the next level. To create as natural-looking photo as possible, you should be sure to touch each other as much as possible.
This simple, classic pose has the typically shorter of the pair facing the hip of the taller, preferably in an embrace or at least touching. Remember to bend the elbows and knees, don’t force yourself into a stiff posture, and try gazing at one another for added effect!
Chest to Chest
Nothing says romance quite like a chest to chest pose. Can be an especially powerful pose to highlight peak moments of the ceremony or to show off anything you want to camera (like rings!) if the couples extend an arm toward the photographer.
Touch foreheads or kiss for an extra dash of romance. You can’t go wrong with this intimate pose.
Together But Separate
You don’t always have to be in an embrace to create a romantic composition. This pose has become popularized in social media like Instagram in recent years.
All you really need to be doing in this pose is holding hands with your significant other at a distance, but it helps if you look as if you are in the middle of doing something, like sharing a joke or just walking along.
A different take on a classic pose. Standing one in front of the other, one embraces the other from behind. Be sure to be touching each other’s arms or hands for added intimacy. This is one of those sweet poses that is easy to pull off and creates the perfect elopement feel.
Keep Lighting and Setting in Mind
When taking the perfect elopement shots, you want to make sure you start with the best conditions possible so that your photos come out the way you want them. This includes using the right backdrop or setting, time of day, and lighting.
Remember to keep time of day in mind if you are shooting outdoors. You want the light to be favorable and not too harsh, so early morning or evening lighting is preferable to noon or midday. Likewise, if you are indoors, try to take photos in ambient lighting, or with the right equipment so that shadows aren’t too harsh. You want soft light and a primary light source so there aren’t a bunch of messy shadows.
There are a lot of factors that go into stunning elopement photos but these are the most important. If you remember to stay flexible, pose naturally, and take your photos in good lighting, it’s easy to create beautiful shots that you will come out just the way you want and that you can cherish forever.
There’s nothing like the atmosphere and memories of an elopement in the fall. Make that double for one held in New Orleans. With the wide variety of entertainment and rich cultural history, New Orleans captures the spirit of fall like no other city in the country.
If you’re planning for a fall elopement, check out some of these ideas to take advantage of everything the city has to offer during this mysterious and beautiful time of year!
Oak Street Po-boy Fest
What exactly is a po’boy and why does it have its own festival, you might ask?
New Orleans is certainly famous for a lot of reasons, and one of those reasons is its excellent assortment of signature dishes. A po’boy is a traditional New Orleans specialty that is basically a fried seafood sandwich.
This tasty dish can come in an array of styles and flavors, and is such a hit that every year, people from all around New Orleans converge on Oak Street to partake of the different recipes and enjoy live music.
If your idea of a fun time is mixing it up in historic New Orleans and enjoying some down South comfort food, you can’t go wrong with the Oak Street Po’Boy Fest. While festivals like this are often held every year, this particular one is on November 11th. The perfect time to enjoy the fall weather and indulge!
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
Speaking of festivals, New Orleans excels at them. Just about any time of the year you’re bound to find a unique cultural experience being celebrated in the streets. If you’re looking for one with that fall / Halloween kind of flair, the Voodoo Festival might be up your alley.
This special Halloween weekend event is one part music festival, one part culinary fair, one part art show! Experience an exciting array of costumes, street art, culinary delights, and local music. The festival makes it a point to give its attendees an immersive art experience – many of its attractions are designed to stimulate the senses.
Big artists like Childish Gambino and Artic Monkeys are headlining this year’s experience, and if that’s not enough for you, there’s a haunted Mortuary, amusement park rides, and a beer hall, all taking place right in City Park. What more could a newly eloped couple want?
New Orleans is truly a melting pot of culture and tradition, and its Oktoberfest celebrations are proof of that. Though the city is typically not well known for anything German, it’s a little-known fact that the city actually has some German roots, and has a thriving German culture, along with plenty of high quality restaurants and festivals.
No place does Oktoberfest quite like New Orleans. Celebrated all month long across from City Park on Bayou St. John, the festival includes a large selection of traditional German food, live music performances, family activities, and of course, plenty of beer. More than enough reason to incorporate it into your elopement festivities!
Just because Louisiana isn’t exactly famous for fall foliage, doesn’t mean you’ll be missing out on nature’s beauty. Fall is the perfect time of the year to visit New Orleans’s natural outdoors attractions, because the weather is more favorable and yes, some of the trees do change their leaves.
City Park hosts its own fall garden festival right in the Botanical Garden every year, which is the ideal spot for couples looking for some immaculate photography opportunities, and on top of that, it’s a great time too, that includes typical fall events and of course some great food.
Halloween Parades and More
New Orleans takes Halloween to a whole new level. If you’ve never experienced their Halloween parades, you’re in for a treat, and so is your significant other!
Hosted by some of the same people involved with New Orleans’ famous Mardi Gras celebrations, their annual Halloween parade is a dream for any couple looking to spice up their elopement and add a dash of the mysterious and fun.
If you’re of the ambitious sort, they even host a charitable “Zombie Run” right through the French Quarter, just remember to bring your costume!
And of course, numerous bars and restaurants take part in the Halloween Parade, helping to host various mini events and entertainment for all ages, including newly eloped couples looking for a fun night on the town.
New Orleans is proof you don’t have to settle for a boring old marriage ceremony. With all the fun and excitement the city has to offer, especially in the fall season, it’s easy to transform your elopement into a day (or night!) you won’t ever forget.
Also known as one of the culinary capitals of the US, New Orleans is a great place for elopements simply for the dining options it offers, especially if you’re looking to relish some amazing delicacies you can’t really get anywhere else.
If your tickets are booked and your bags are packed, here’s a little help to make sure your stay in the city before and after your elopement is full of deliciousness.
Keep reading to discover some the unforgettable New Orleans classics that you absolutely need to try when you’re here, and places that make them the best.
If you love foods that are packed full of flavor, New Orleans has everything you could ever ask for. One such flavorful dish are gumbos, seafood stews that have long been a staple of southern eating.
For starters, don’t forget to give the gumbos at Gumbo Shop a try- from the classics to the some others with delicious twists- you’re in for a good surprise here, and that’s obvious considering how this place has won the ‘Best Gumbo’ award every time.
If you’re talking about breakfast foods you absolutely wouldn’t want to miss out on treating yourself to some delicious beignets- the traditional New Orleans favorite!
This deep fried pastry is sprinkled with powdered sugar over the top and tastes absolutely divine, and if you’re looking forward to tasting it, Cafe Beignet is the place to be! Best of all, this place has an amazing menu that serves so many other delicious breakfast items too- you’ll actually be spoiled for choice here. If you’re a fan at all of breakfast treats and you find yourself in New Orleans for any reason, including your elopement, you’re not going to want to skip out on visiting this place.
If seafood spells love for you, and oysters are your weak spot, you definitely won’t be disappointed when you’re here.
New Orleans is famous for its unique traditional seafood dishes, and is the home to some of the best chargrilled and charbroiled oysters in the country.
Felix serves some of the best plump and delicious chargrilled oysters, and the place is pocket friendly too. If you’re looking to taste some authentic charbroiled oysters or just purchase a kit that helps you make them yourself, Dragos is the place to visit.
If you’re in New Orleans, you definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on tasting the Bananas Foster, another staple and trademark of the area.
One of the most loved desserts, and there’s nowhere better to sample it than at Brennan’s.
This dramatic dessert tastes amazing, and after you’ve had your fill, you’ll be left with a smile on your face! Don’t be surprised if you find people who have dined elsewhere to arrive at Brennan’s just for dessert, it’s that good. We already featured Brennan’s in our piece on the best romantic restaurants for the newly married couple in New Orleans!
Whether you’ve heard of Po’boys or you haven’t, make sure you don’t miss out on giving them a try when you’re in New Orleans, and Johnny’s Po-Boys helps you do just that!
Known for being the oldest Po’boy restaurant in the world, this place serves the classic and rich Po’boys that will tickle your taste buds. Choose from their extensive menu or try one of their specials, you won’t be disappointed. These down south staples might have you coming back for another trip!
Napoleon House is a must visit if you’re looking forward to try mufalettas, the quintessential New Orleans sandwich which is packed with cured meat and cheese and is slathered with a tangy olive salad and is heated to intensify the flavors.
Don’t be fooled by the idea that it is just another “sandwich” - you can try, but you can’t finish one yourself - that’s how filling and hearty it is! You absolutely won’t find another sandwich quite like it outside of the city, so while you’re there, be sure to grab one
For More tips on must see and do in New Orleans, click HERE.