Best Adventure Wedding Locations By Season
Swell & Stone / All photos by Kat Carney of Swell & Stone / United States & Beyond
You know what they say- LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! And it rings especially true for adventure weddings and elopements. Picking the right location at the right time is one of the most important parts of creating a wildly unforgettable and different adventure wedding experience. So if you’ve never been to the location you’ve been dreaming of for your wedding, it’s best to find a photographer who has, and who can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to what time of year to plan your event. With that said, depending on the type of experience you’re looking for, the off-season might be the on-season for you if you’re in search of fewer crowds and a sometimes more adventurous experience.
During “high season” you are likely to find the nicest weather, but don’t rule out low season. I like booking elopements in a location’s “low season” because it means fewer crowds, easier transportation, and seeing a different side of a place. However, it also means potential road closures, restricted access, and bad weather. Contact a local, ranger, or guide service to find out what is possible in your location during the time frame you are considering for your elopement.
You can only do so much to avoid bad weather. Start by researching beforehand to determine seasonal average temps, rain/snowfall and wind.
If you want to go in the low season to avoid crowds make sure to research seasonal road and transportation closures that may impact your day. Also, think about extreme weather like wildfires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
There is always the chance of bad weather during an outdoor elopement. It’s best to be prepared with the right gear and mindset. Remember, sometimes bad weather makes for the best story and photos.
Each season has its pluses and minuses. The best thing to do is to keep in mind what is most important to you and also what works best with your schedule. Summer tends to be the time most people want to get married, but depending on your comfort level in the outdoors, the dead of winter could be the perfect time for you.
Winter has so many amazing things to offer. If you’re a skier or mountaineer, or if you like snowshoeing or hiking in the snow, this season might be for you. There is nothing quite like getting your wedding portraits taken in front of an ice waterfall, just ask Hannah and Collins in the photo above!
Here’s the thing about winter- there are so many fewer people out and about. A winter hike can be calm, serene, and silent, and if you plan it right you might not be all that cold either. Alternatively, there are a ton of locations you can drive to, stay warm in the car, and pop out for a few minutes at a time to take photos. But there are some locations that even in winter are perfect for spending the whole day outside. Want to know more about how to comfortably get married outside in the winter? Check out this post!
The Desert Southwest
Winter is the perfect time to explore the desert southwest, which includes southern Utah, Arizona, and parts of Nevada and California. These places remain mostly temperate in the winter, so planning your adventure wedding can be a breeze. Also, these places are mostly dry during this time, although there are always exceptions. The desert is ideal for eloping in winter because even though the weather can be nice there are still fewer people out and about. This is partly because winter nights can easily drop well below freezing, making camping still a bit dicey for some.
The day before I photographed Cam & Rick’s adventure wedding pictured above, it rained the entire day. We were nervous that the 4x4 roads out to this spot would be impassable, but they weren’t and this spot was enhanced by the myriad of pools dotting the desert floor- a rare sight indeed! It made for the most memorable adventure wedding experience. And that is an important tidbit about planning an adventure wedding- YOU NEED TO BE READY FOR ADVENTURE. Just as when you’re adventuring any other time, inclement weather and adapting to things as they come is part of the fun.
Spring can be wet season just about anywhere, but if you plan it right it’s also beautiful in a number of locations. It’s best to stay at lower elevations in the spring because high in the mountains will still be snowy and sometime wet and muddy.
Coastal Regions- Southern Rhode Island & Southern California & Florida
These spots are often nice on the coast, but can still be really nice inland during this time of year as well. When considering weather as a factor, places like Florida become too hot in the summer months, so it’s best to take advantage of the nice spring weather and plan your elopement for then. Also, as long as you avoid spring break, you can still take advantage of some of the relative peace of fewer crowds before summer comes.
Check out Kavita & Brice’s spring adventure wedding that took place in a tree grove in Florida! Or Makeda & Tej’s adventure anniversary session that I shot on the coast of southern Rhode Island at Castle Hill Lighthouse and Fort Adams State Park. Logistics become very difficult at these locations in the summer because of huge tourism crowds. It’s best to plan sessions in these places for either spring or fall.
Ahhh summer, when it’s finally in the air and everyone you know plans to get married. It can often seem like your summer is lost to attending weddings. Well if you’re going to plan your wedding in the summer it may as well be somewhere awesome!
High Altitude Alpine Locations
Unless you’re an extreme adventurer, this is really the only time of year you can plan an adventure elopement or wedding high in the mountains, so take advantage! Include a small hike to the ceremony location to break away from the crowds. There are so many beautiful options, but here are some of my favorites.
From mountain meadows to alpine lakes, this is the best time of year to get away from it all.
But the waterfalls and picturesque pools of New England and the Pacific Northwest are calling as well. It’s up to you, but no matter what you choose in the summer months make sure you’re either prepared to work around the crowds, or work with your photographer to find a location that is a little more secluded. Sometimes this can be as easy as going early in the morning at what will be a very crowded location later in the day.
And finally, fall. It’s my favorite season to photograph and my absolute favorite place spend the fall is in the Northeast. From the mountains of the Adirondacks to the waterfalls of Vermont. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts have unbelievable views during this time, too. Enjoy the crisp air, fog covering the valleys in the morning, and an absolute feast of color for the eyes.
The truth is that the best location and season to elope in is really your preference. Some of the most fun elopements I’ve photographed were in the dead of winter in cold places. I loved the adventure and the couples who chose to plan them that way did too! Keep in mind the comfort of your guests if you’re bringing some along, but otherwise the sky is the limit. Pick a place that means something to you and your partner or a place neither of you have ever been before, but would love to visit. Either way, if you plan the day that you’ll love and come prepared to roll with whatever weather comes your way, you’ll have a truly memorable and wildly different wedding experience that you’ll be able to live over and over again through your photos.