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The Ultimate Florida
Elopement Guide 

So, you are thinking of eloping in Florida but you need some advice on where to start. As a Florida wedding and elopement photographer, I understand that a traditional wedding isn’t for everyone. For those looking to elope or have a micro-wedding, I have put together a complete guide to help answer your questions and walk you through the process all in one place.

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How to Elope in Florida Legally

License 
Let’s start with getting your marriage license. You have to apply in person with your partner by going to the clerk of courts where you intend to tie the knot. Rules differ per county so I recommend going online to confirm all information for your area. 

Each of you has to bring one of the following: 
01. A state-issued ID
02. Social Security Number
03. Payment for license 

Both of you are required to affirm that you’ve read the Family Law Handbook before obtaining your marriage license.

If either of you were married before you will need to provide a statement on how the last marriage ended and the exact date (copies of the death certificate or divorce decree or annulment are not required).

Waiting Period: If one or both of you are not residents of Florida, you are still required to affirm that you have read the handbook, but you are not required to take a premarital course or to wait three days before getting married. In other words, you could arrive in Florida on the day of your wedding, get a license, and get married.

Marriage license fees vary between $60- $80 depending on the factors above.

Once you have your license, the ceremony must take place within 60 days.

Time of the Year


Florida is known as the sunshine state but we do have seasons that are better than others. Below are descriptions of Florida’s seasonality and weather conditions to help you make up your mind on what time of the year to elope.

NOVEMBER - JANUARY
The winter months are known for their beautiful weather and prime peak season. Whether you tie the knot at a venue, a park, the beach, or the courthouse, you are going to have beautiful weather.

FEBRUARY - APRIL
Honestly, these may be the most stunning weather conditions months if you are not a fan of the heat and humidity. With that being said, it is peak season in some areas and you need to do your research for venues, locations, and reservations in advance. 

MAY - AUGUST
The summer months are HOT but also known for the BEST sunsets! The sun goes down close to 8 pm allowing more time in the evening. You can literally have hours of beautiful light for photos before the sun goes down. However, it is the rainiest and most humid month of the year. 

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER
Fall months are a bit cooler, however, consider the risk of hurricanes. I recommend sunrise as there is less of a chance of rain and the sun sets fairly early during these months. Keep in mind it is still busy season. 

 

Locations


When it comes to eloping in Florida most people imagine your typical beach ceremony with the early 2012 style … seafoam green dresses and sea shell decor (If you know you know). While times have changed and beach elopements have truly transformed, there are sooooo many beautiful, diverse, and non-beach places to elope in Florida! Eloping provides you with more options to choose a location unique to your love story. 

PANHANDLE
Rosemary Beach, Florida
Destin Beaches – Destin, FL
Ichetucknee Springs State Park – Fort White, FL

WEST COAST OF FLORIDA
Amelia Island State Park – Amelia Island, FL
Cayo Costa State Park – Cayo Costa, FL
Sunken Gardens – Saint Petersburg, FL
Weeki Wachee State Park – Spring Hill, FL
Naples Beach - Naples, FL

 

EAST COAST OF FLORIDA
Big Talbot State Park – Jacksonville, FL
Blue Springs State Park – Orange City, FL
Bok Tower Gardens – Lake Wales, FL
Castillo de San Marcos – Saint Augustine, FL
Fort Pierce Inlet State Park – Fort Pierce, FL
House of Refuge – Stuart, FL

SOUTH FLORIDA
Bahia Honda State Park – Big Pine Key, FL
Fort Zachery Taylor State Park – Key West, FL
Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden – Key West, FL
Kona Kai Resort – Key Largo, FL
Secret Garden – Miami, FL
Smather’s Beach – Key West, FL

Wedding Officiants 

Florida law requires that the marriage be performed by an officiant who is an ordained member of the clergy, an active or retired judicial officer, a clerk of the circuit courts, or a notary public of Florida. 

 

Here are some of my go-to officiants for our area: Lhegendary Weddings, Louis Kayatin Services, & Weddings by Bonnie 

Time of the Day

As far as timing goes, I always recommend 1.5-2 hours before sunset for best lighting. You can also have your photos taken at sunrise for maximum seclusion before your ceremony or break up your elopement day into sunrise portraits, pre-sunset ceremony & sunset portraits. 

 

Timeline Examples 

My elopement photography package starts at 2 hours and can be extended up to a full day or multi-day. Below are a couple of different timelines and which package you should choose depending on your needs.

 

2 hour Elopement Timeline (Sunset at 8:00 PM)

 

6:00 - 7:00 PM - Ceremony 

7:00 - 8:00 PM - Newlywed Photographs 

 

4 hour Elopement Timeline (Sunset at 8:00 PM)

 

5:00 - 6:00 PM - Before the Ceremony & Getting Ready Shots

6:00 - 7:00 PM - Ceremony 

7:00 - 8:00 PM - Newlywed Photographs 

8:00 - 9:00 PM - Dinner (with Cake Cutting) 

 

6 hour Elopement Timeline (Sunset at 8:00 PM)

 

4:00 - 5:00 PM - Before the Ceremony & Getting Ready Shots

5:00 - 6:00 PM - Travel Time if needed 

6:00 - 7:00 PM - Ceremony 

7:00 - 8:00 PM - Newlywed Photographs 

8:00 - 10:00 PM - More Elaborate Dinner (with toast, Cake Cutting, celebration, etc.)

 

As a reminder, all packages and timelines are custom-built.

Budget for your Elopement

One of the many myths about eloping is they are significantly cheaper than having a wedding. While this statement is true, it is because couples shift their priorities. Instead of spending money on things that they will never use again, or feeding a room of 100+ people, they may put that money towards a house down payment or another trip to experience together. 

 

The average cost of eloping is hard to define because every elopement is different. This is because there are no rules! Your day is completely customizable. You can go down to your local courthouse or you can fly across the globe to a national park or white sandy beaches. 

 

Start your budgeting process by sitting down with your partner and communicating the things that are most and least important to you. Below is an example breakdown of the things you will need to consider including in your budget. Please keep in mind it is YOUR DAY! None of these vendors are required and if you are a Florida local, travel fees will also be deducted from your costs. 

 

AVERAGE COST OF ELOPING 

Ceremony permit &/or Park Entrance Cost: $200

Attire: $200

Hair & Makeup: $300

Florals: $300

Officiant: $300

Food: $500

Cake: $200

Vow Books: $20

Travel: $1,000

Lodging: $1,000

Photographer: $2,500

TOTAL: $6,320

Elopement Checklist 

 

6 Months Before

Decide on…

  • Vision 

  • Budget 

  • Date & Location

  • Research Legal Requirements 

 

5 Months Before

  • Book travel & accommodations

  • Book Photographer 

  • Hire Officiant 

  • Order florals  (if needed)

  • Hire Hair & Makeup Artist 

  • Buy Dress & Suit

  • Purchase wedding rings

4 Months Before 

  • Plan activities for days around your ceremony 

  • Invite those who you would like to attend or be witnesses 

3 Months Before 

  • Finalize travel details

  • Finalie vendor details

  • Arrange necessary travel documents 

  • Prepare marriage license ​​

1 Month Before

  • Create a day of timeline 

  • Confirm travel arrangements 

  • Confirm details with vendors

1 Week Before

  • Prepare payments & tips for vendors

  • Pack for your trip 

  • Write your vows 

1 Day Before

  • Have fun & relax 

  • Get a good night's sleep

After Elopement 

  • Legalize your union

  • Share the news! 

  • Order a photo album & prints to share with all your friends & family 

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