Photo by Daring Wanderer/Stocksy. Design by Lauren DeLuca for Yahoo Travel.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and an estimated six million people are either expecting or planning a proposal this February 14th.
Once engaged, most couples then have the arduous task of planning, and paying for a wedding in order to make the whole situation official.
But if that predicament fills you with utter dread, as it did with me, and the romantic whirlwind of your proposal has got you itching to seal the deal as soon as possible, then you may be toying with the idea of eloping.
With the average cost of a traditional wedding now running at around $26,000, who would blame you!
Luckily there are incredible places all over the country where you can get hitched quick and still have the wedding of a lifetime.
Coronado Island, Calif.
A wedding on the beach has never been so easy! (Photo: Hotel Del Coronado)
If being barefoot in the sand with breathtaking views is what you had in mind for your intimate nuptials then Coronado Island near San Diego, Calif. is a perfect option. Central Beach boasts the historic Hotel Del Coronado as an impressive backdrop along with year round perfect weather. Also, the City of Coronado allows for up to 25 people, without a permit, at your ceremony, should you actually want to share your moment with friends and family. All you need to do is book an officiant, get your marriage license (which must be obtained within California in the past 90 days) and show up.
US Virgin Islands, Caribbean
For something a little more exotic, the U.S Virgin Islands are spectacular. Warm crystal clear waters, miles of white sand beaches, incredible food and impeccable weather make this locale an obvious destination. St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John are all U.S territories and therefore U.S laws apply. You don’t need a passport to travel there, and there are frequent flights from multiple cities making this part of the Caribbean highly accessible, even on short notice. Plus almost all resorts offer some kind of wedding package. There is no mandatory residency limitations, as with other parts of the Caribbean, and you can fill out a form online that gets signed at your ceremony. Simple.
Las Vegas, Nev.
Say your I do’s with a view. (Photo: The Linq)
Hosting over 114,000 weddings a year, Las Vegas is the second most popular destination on earth to get hitched (after Istanbul, Turkey), largely because of how easy the state of Nevada makes it to actually tie the knot. Marriage licenses are incredibly cheap, readily available, and there are no formalities to consider such as a waiting period or blood tests.
Book a ’High Stakes Wedding’ on The High Roller - the World’s tallest ferris wheel, where you can have a one hour ride in a private cabin providing incredible views of the Las Vegas Strip as you say your ‘I dos’. Special extras include a rose bouquet, champagne and strawberries along with pre-ride photos. Rates start at $2,300.
Or in true Las Vegas fashion you could take part in the mass wedding ceremony, officiated by Elvis that is set to take place at 3pm on Valentine’s Day at the LINQ Promenade Fountain Stage. Couples taking part will get to enjoy a first dance sung by the King himself, followed by a champagne toast aboard The High Roller. The wedding ceremony is free, you just have to pay the cost of the marriage license and once lucky pair of newlyweds will win a two night stay at a Caesars property, including airport limo pickup and $200 dining credit. Sign up at email@example.com or by calling 702.524.8318
Located on the edge of Lake Tahoe and surrounded by the dramatic Sierra Nevada Mountains, Reno has all the accessibility of Las Vegas but with a more beautiful backdrop. In fact, you will struggle to find a wedding ceremony location without spectacular views. As with Vegas, marriage licenses are very easy to get as all courthouses are open from 8am until midnight, seven days a week. Along with dozens of quirky wedding chapels, many charging as little as $50 to perform your ceremony, and the majority of hotels offer wedding packages specifically for couples opting for more minimalist nuptials, Reno has become one of the most elopement-friendly cities in the nation.
Niagara Falls, NY
Get up close and personal with nature with a wedding at Niagra Falls. (Photo: iStock)
Niagara Falls has been dubbed the “honeymoon capital of the world” and for over 200 years has been an iconic destination for proposals, weddings, and honeymoons alike. And what better place to make your marriage vows than with nature’s powerful wonder raging in the background. There are lots of options for eloping brides and grooms from the peace of the Niagara Falls State Park, to a post ceremony helicopter ride above the falls. Or if you are looking for the extreme romantic experience, share your first kiss in the mist of the water on board the historic “Maid of the Mist” tour boat. All can be arranged with little to no notice making it ideal for a last minute wedding.
New Orleans, LA
While a little more notice is needed in the state of Louisiana, out-of-state couples can get married there with only a 72-hour waiting period. And the wait will be worth it for a wedding in the Big Easy. The historic French Quarter has plenty of venue options, from quaint hotels to funky wedding chapels, and after saying “I do,” you can indulge in the vibrant nightlife and eclectic food offerings of the city. Just don’t forget your beads.
Winter Park, Colo.
Elope with scenic Winter Park as your backdrop. (Photo: Wild Horse Inn)
If a ceremony conducted by Elvis or a voodoo doctor isn’t your thing, and you are hoping for an elopement that is more rustic and remote, you should consider Winter Park, Colorado. Not only does Colorado have no waiting period and no marriage license limitations, but you can pick one up for just $30. Hotels and lodges, such as the Wild Horse Inn, offer marriage packages, perfect for those wanting to elope on the slopes. You can also read your vows fireside in the Inn itself before indulging in champagne in the hot tub under the stars.
Park City, UT
Along with Nevada and Colorado, the state of Utah makes it wonderfully easy for couples to get hitched quick, with simple and cheap to obtain marriage licenses and a huge variety of location options. Park City, for example, has a lot to offer an eloping couple, from scenic alpine views and world-class amenities (widely considered to be some of the World’s best snow!) to great restaurants and bustling boutiques. Resorts such as Deer Valley provide magnificent venues with full-service wedding packages that are perfect for those in search of a majestic mountainside event.
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