Ready to Elope in Florida & have an authentic, “old Florida” experience? Check out our Planning Guide for inspiration & all the details!
Discover an “Old Florida” experience on your Elopement
We’ve spent decades living in the southeast and when we’re not exploring the mountains near our home, we’re spending time along the coast too. We first though Florida was just about beaches, but as we dug under the surface of the sunshine state we realized it has SO much more to offer for an adventurous elopement in the outdoors! While we wouldn’t plan a wedding in the summer (more on that later) there is so much to experience when you choose to elope in Florida.
For example, have you thought of ..
- Experiencing wildlife, flora and fauna of the Everglades National Park
- The beautiful blend of history and nature at Dry Tortugas National Park
- The many (countless, really) state parks
- Beautiful towns steeped in history (like St. Augustine)
- Gorgeous clear water of natural springs (great for snorkeling!)
- Paddling on a kayak or snorkeling around the Florida Keys
- Booking a secluded Airbnb on the coast for your own tropical escape
These ideas are literally the tip of the iceberg when you think about plans to elope in Florida with adventure in mind!
Elope in Florida | Experience an Adventure!
If you’ve been looking around at ways to elope in Florida, everything can start to look the same. A ceremony on a beach with an arbor and some chairs for guests, a handful of photos, and you’re done. Eloping with us is nothing like that!
This is your opportunity to go on an adventure that truly reflects the two of you, what you like to experience with each other, and to take in all the sights of the area too. With such a wide open blank canvas in front of you, it would be tragic to miss out on the opportunity. Said another way, why get all dressed up for a 30 minute ceremony? There is so much more y’all can have fun with while you’re here!
Read on to learn more about ways to elope in Florida and how we create a unique adventure for you…
Why Elope in Florida | Beyond the Beaches
We’ve planned many elopements along the coast of the southeast, and a common theme we hear from couples who come to us is that they want more than just a traditional beach wedding. When we hear that, Florida is on the top of our list for recommendations. That might be surprising to some, but Florida really is a whole lot more than the beaches!
Florida is a massive state with the beaches literally only being a tiny sliver of real estate in comparison. Below, we’re going to give you an overview of what’s possible — from national parks, state parks, clear blue springs, historic towns and everything in between. Yes, we’ll highlight a few beaches that we feel like are worth it too!
This isn’t your typical “elope in Florida” planning guide
Can we take a quick moment and address what might be the elephant in the room? This isn’t going to be an “elope in Florida” guide to exhaustively list out locations. A few reasons for that:
- There’s just too many possibilities out there. To try and list everything would be to ignore the most important factor: your needs. Planning an elopement is far more than choosing a spot you’ve never seen before off of some website. It takes an expert in elopement planning to help you create the right kind of a day, and that’s why we are here.
- There’s already a ton of resources out there on places to elope in Florida. We would rather focus on why you might want to elope in Florida and then help you plan out what that experience would look like!
So instead of overwhelming you with information about the “what and how” of eloping in Florida (although we will touch on these points later) we would rather help you in your decision on if you should elope in Florida in the first place.
That’s because a true elopement planner and photographer will help you from the very beginning on location decision. We’ve photographed elopements from the mountains to the coast and that’s because we’ve become experts in the craft of what we do. Have a chat with us and you might learn that Florida is a great match for you, or you might choose somewhere else. Either way we are at your side to plan out the perfect day!
Elope in Florida | Inspiration for an Authentic Adventure
Historic cities & small towns | St. Augustine & More
St Augustine reminds us of Charleston, SC in so many ways, and has so many beautiful options to blend all the uniqueness of an historic city with natural areas too! The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and the picturesque setting of the Old City (and especially St. George Street) are just the beginning. There are so many options between traditional bed and breakfast lodging and inns, as well as booking your own Airbnb. Our take: Have your ceremony in a private setting of a small venue or vacation home, and then venture out to see all there is in St. Augustine with photos all along the way!
The Florida Keys | Blend History and Adventure
We love the area along the Florida Keys too for a blend of small town and tropical vibe. It really is like a whole other country! And don’t focus on just Key West; Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon and more all have their own personality and options for adventure. Fun idea: Make your elopement your honeymoon too! With kayaking, snorkeling, private sailboat and catamaran options, scuba diving to coral reefs, glass bottom boat tours, dolphin cruises and more — you could spend days in this area and not even scratch the surface.
Romantic Botanical Gardens
It seems like in Florida the entire year is “growing season!” That means lots of selection of beautiful gardens to choose from. Leu Gardens in Orlando is one of our favorites for an intimate wedding. The grounds are huge so you have lots to choose from for both a private ceremony spot and variety of photos too!
Just a quick note here, not all gardens are the same and some are rather small — which leads us to not recommend some. For example, Kraft Azalea in Winter Park is a beautiful setting (especially for sunset) but it’s right next to a busy neighborhood street and even if you book a wedding time there, it’s a public park so don’t expect much privacy. We’d rather take you someplace that gives you that feeling of being away from it all!
Unique Resort Experiences
We’re not ones to go anywhere near Disney World for an elopement, and if you’ve read this far we might be of the same mind. So, when I mention this next spot don’t rule it out just because it’s a “resort!”
In fact there are some unique places in Florida that are way different than the paved out amusement park experience. One of our favorites is Discovery Cove for a wedding. Honestly, we were skeptical at first before visiting but it’s a really fun blend of nature, wildlife, and really great conveniences like private cabanas and an open bar too! It’s great place to have an adventure-ish feel while having many conveniences nearby.
Quiet beach towns
Not that we completely throw out the idea of spending time at the beach in Florida! We’d just travel more like a local and avoid places like Destin (although 30A is a favorite). There are so many small coastal communities which have a great selection of vacation rentals and wide open sand to really feel like you have the place to your own. And they aren’t too far from larger towns/cities so you can have a good selection of wedding vendors (hair and make-up, officiants, private chefs, and so on!)
The reality of a beach wedding in populated areas is that you’re going to most likely have to deal with onlookers for your wedding. If you want to have privacy, then off the beaten path is the way to go. We’d love to tell you about the local spots we’ve discovered over the years!
If you really want to experience old and wild Florida, then Everglades & Dry Tortugas need to be on your list. We wouldn’t go to the former any other time than winter, and for Dry Tortugas there are some important details to consider too (like taking the seaplane, or boat, and how weather / time of year can affect your plans for either of these—we prefer the seaplane!). Said another way, these parks take some serious effort both to get to and experience. But there is nothing else like these experiences in Florida when it comes to getting out into the wild!
State, County & City Parks; Wildlife Preserves
Did you know that Florida has 175 state parks? That doesn’t even include smaller, lesser well known county & city parks, wildlife preserves, national forests and more. Many are hidden gems where you can have a small celebration surrounded by nature, with a good expectation of privacy too.
One of our favorite places we used to take the kids is Fort De Soto, a county park near St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach and more. It has all the natural beauty of these places without the condos. They don’t have lodging in the park but they do have a great RV campground!
Natural Springs, Kayaking, Snorkeling and more!
There are over 1000 documented natural springs in Florida, and some have been developed into beautiful swimming holes. You can kayak amongst mangroves, and in many places snorkel (or even scuba) to experience the oceanic beauty just below the surface. Like we said, why not go on an adventure when you elope in Florida? Here’s a link to some of the best springs in Florida (Wekiwa Springs is one of our favorites near Orlando!)
And yes, we did take this photo of a ray swimming right by – what a cool experience!
How to Elope in Florida
Now that we’ve covered some non-traditional ways to elope in Florida, let’s talk about the rest of the details? It also seems kind of odd to us that there is a notion of a traditional way to elope in Florida, doesn’t it? Not to get all preachy here but somewhere along the way, assumptions became the norm and it seems like all we see about eloping in Florida is going to the beach. Why not change that?
How much does it cost to elope in Florida?
Whenever we’re shopping for something that’s new to us, there is always the question of “how much does it cost?” We completely understand that, and that’s why we’ve created this resource below for you to see the big picture of what it might cost to elope in Florida. Use this budget calculator to see how things add up in comparison to your budget:
We’ll say though that when you are wondering how much it costs to elope in Florida, you need to consider your aspirations for your day, and your needs and wants. Be careful assuming a dollar amount without doing the research on what would be a good fit for you. There are beach-focused companies that will “get you married” for a few hundred bucks. That might be all you need, but before assuming that — take a look at what a more immersive experience might feel like for you!
Elope in Florida | Legal Requirements
Laws and public land policies are subject to change, but here is a quick run down of where things stand as of this writing (link for more info):
- You can usually expect the marriage license to cost around $100
- There is a 3 day waiting period for Florida residents. The license must be used within 60 days & picked up in person
- You can pre-apply online before showing up in person at the county clerk’s office
- Witnesses are not required, but there is space for witnesses to sign
- You can apply in any county and then get married anywhere in the state
Public Land Permits
Most of the permit questions surround the National Parks & popular state and local parks. Each one has their own regulations, so its best to reach out to these parks directly; especially because at the time of this writing the permit situation in all public lands continues to be in flux!
However, if you’re working with us, just ask us! We know the local situation when it comes to permits in all the places we go to for elopements so you don’t have to.
When to Elope in Florida
As with a lot of things in life, the answer to this question is definitely “it depends!”
- Winter: This is our favorite time of the year! When the rest of the continental US is probably underneath snow or at least cold weather and no leaves on the trees, winter in Florida is mild to even warm in the furthest southern parts. Be careful assuming the whole state is the same climate though; the panhandle will be far different weather than the Keys! Still though, winter is our top recommendation for comfortable temperatures and less crowds. Exception: Christmas to New Year’s will be super crowded in some places, and vacation rentals booked up (and expensive too). Choose wisely when eloping over the holidays, it’s best to go one week in either direction to avoid the hassle of tourists around.
- Spring: A great time of the year for the weather but it highly depends on which time of spring we’re talking about! You can pretty much write off the entire month of March because of spring break (although this is still a possibility, it just depends on where). April and early May are better; especially if you want warm weather.
- Summer: Pretty much a hard pass in our book. Hot, humid, long days means any chance of sunset is super late; tourist season because it’s summer (and school is out). Honestly if you want to elope in the summer, escape north with us for a Blue Ridge Mountain Elopement! Also note that hurricane season starts in June and continues through November, so it will be rainy season.
- Fall: Not really a season in Florida but in the rest of the nation we might typically think of this as September through November. Note that this is right at the end of hurricane season too … but with the right backup plans in place, this is otherwise a great season to elope in Florida as it’s after summer temperatures take a break.
Honestly, there are a lot of factors to consider about the when & where to reach out to us, we’d be happy to help you with your decision!
What to Bring to Elope in Florida?
Keep in mind that when you come to Florida, it’s basically like escaping to the tropics with a warm humid climate, plenty of sun, bugs are a real thing, and beaches are not the easiest to walk on. Some things to make sure you bring:
- Sunscreen, bug spray (test some out before you travel to make sure you are ok with the scent), swimsuits (you’re going to enjoy the water and/or a pool, right?), multiple outfits, comfortable shoes (avoid heels; flats are good!). Or go barefoot on the beach! For locations out in nature, we encourage bringing hiking shoes. Honestly, it’s a great look!
- What to wear: avoid that big heavy wedding dress or thick suit! Lightweight materials that flow and are breathable are the best. Guys: Check out State and Liberty, one of our favorites!
Elope in Florida | Finding the right Airbnb
No guide about eloping in Florida is complete without advice on a place to stay! Sometimes our couples choose to have their ceremony at the Airbnb for convenience and privacy (and then venture off for exploring nearby sights for photos together). Others choose to have there ceremony in a natural setting or on the beach; and often (especially with guests) the Airbnb is used for a reception location. We’ve written a whole guide about this, check it out here! Airbnb wedding venues in Florida.
Ready to Elope in Florida?
At StoryBright Films, we go beyond the role of photographers; we are the architects of extraordinary wedding experiences, each as unique as your own love story. Our mission is to help you craft the perfect vision for your special day, whether it’s set in the sunny state of Florida or another remarkable destination.
Our approach to weddings and elopements is all about personalization. We meticulously attend to every aspect of your day, from handpicking locations to artfully designing the entire experience. With our extensive planning expertise and seamless day-of coordination, you can kick back and immerse yourself in a day that’s been tailor-made just for you.
Your love story is one-of-a-kind, and we’re here to ensure your wedding day reflects that uniqueness. Whether it involves exchanging vows in a hidden botanical garden, sharing an intimate moment by a serene river or natural spring, or hosting a private ceremony or reception at a charming coastal Airbnb (or any other unique vision you have in mind), we’re dedicated to transforming your dream day into reality.
If you’re considering eloping in Florida but aren’t quite sure where to begin, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at StoryBright Films. We’re here to provide guidance in planning a wedding experience that perfectly aligns with your preferences. Contact us today, and let’s embark on the journey of creating your very own, unforgettable adventure!
🙏💕 Mark & Carolyn