How to elope in the UK

Your ultimate guide to eloping in the uk

With all the craziness in the world right now, big gatherings have been ruled out for the time being. Covid wedding rules are changing all the time and usually come into effect with little time to change plans. This is making wedding planning all kinds of hell and in turn, causing couples looking to get married, crazy amounts of stress. So why not forget the guest list, the huge venue, and the pressure and instead just plan something for the two of you? This is my ultimate guide for how and where to elope in the UK.

What is an elopement?

The official definition of an elopement is ‘run away secretly in order to get married.’ As you can imagine, this isn’t quite what I’m suggesting when I say elope. In modern terms, to elope is just to get married with the two of you, or a small collection of friends and family (I’m talking single figures). Unlike weddings, there’s not really a norm for the day to follow or traditions like cake cutting. Instead what you decide to do on the day, is ultimately down to you. It can be as simple as going to a registry office then for a nice meal, or as crazy as climbing a mountain to say your vows at the top. In the UK for the marriage to be legal, there must be two witnesses, so this is needs to be considered. These witnesses can be family or friends or even your photographer/videographer.

How to elope in the uk

Reasons to elope in the uk

As I previously mentioned, eloping isn’t for everyone, but there are some really great benefits to eloping and it is something most couples don’t even consider. It’s important to think about what you want to get from your wedding day and how you want the day to feel. The great thing about elopements is the day is all about you, as a couple. With so few guests it means less time worrying and organizing people, meaning you can just focus on each other.

With less guests comes a smaller cost. Elopements can save you money, as you won’t be spending on food for 100 guests or a huge venue. This also means you can invest on the aspects of the day that are most important to you. Maybe splashing out on a designer dress, you’ve always dreamed about, or leaving you with a bigger budget for the photographer you really want (me, I hope), or even going on a crazy honeymoon travelling the world. With an elopement you can even make this a part of your honeymoon, if you’re travelling to your dream destination together, why the hell not get married there too?

Elopements make the guest list way easier; you can throw it in the bin altogether. So that second cousin with the 7 kids you didn’t want to invite, will understand that you just wanted to spend this day the two of you. This can remove so much stress about who should and shouldn’t make the cut. This also means removing the pressure of expectations, you no longer need to worry about all those eyes on you walking up the isle and can instead focus on how amazing it will feel saying your vows. You can skip the first dance you were dreading and the awkward cake cutting.

There can however be the pressure of choosing who to witness for you. This can be solved by having two photographers/videographers to witness for you. Or maybe, you have two best friends who are perfect for the job. You can always have a small group of parents and siblings to share the moment with too, the other people in your life will understand that this is how you’ve chosen to spend you big day.

How to elope in the UK

So you’ve decided that you’re forgetting all the stress of planning the big white wedding instead you’re going to elope, what now?

 With any marriage in the UK you have to give notice of your intent to marry at least 28 days before you tie the knot. In England and wales the place in which you marry must be licenced for weddings, with this in mind most couples who elope choose to do the legal part of a different day and just go to their local registry office. This leaves you free to be as crazy with your elopement plan as you wish and also means you can have a humanist celebrant for your ceremony. If you decide to get married in Scotland then you can legally have your wedding anywhere and with a humanist celebrant, giving you complete freedom without the trip to the registry office. If you need more help and advice, or want an experience that is completely stress-free, why not hire an elopement planner like the amazing Wild heart elopements or Ella mai . Or get in touch now and we’ll get the ball rolling.

Humanist celebrants, what are they and why you should have one.

Humanism is a non-religious world view that is centred around the belief that we have one precious life, and we should make the absolute most of it, helping others where we can.
 
A Humanist ceremony is one that is completely unique to you, one that reflects your lives together. It can be gushy and romantic and have everyone who witnesses it (including me) crying with happiness for you both. Or they can be absolutely hilarious, going through your funniest moments together and starting your marriage with love and laughter. It’s completely up to you as a couple. A good celebrant will guide you and create the most incredible and personal ceremony, that you won’t ever forget.

Some of my favourite celebrants include Claire Digance and Katie Matthews.

Where to elope in the UK?

When it comes to eloping in the UK the options are infinite, but here are some of my favourite elopement locations for Scotland, England, Wales and beyond. 

Couple laughing together with their celebrant during their elopement on Mam tor in the peak district.
Couple touching noses in a snowy woodland with snow falling around them after they eloped. Bride wearing willowy celestial dress and holding a wild bouquet in green and white tones.

Where to elope in Scotland

The absolute best thing about eloping in Scotland is that you can have a legal ceremony anywhere. Meaning you can skip the registry office and get straight to the good bit. It’s also filled with incredible landscapes, not only stunning mountain ranges, but white sand beaches, endless lakes, and countless castles. There are endless options for eloping in Scotland but here are some great ideas to get you started.

 

Glencoe

Glencoe is one of my absolute favourite places for elopements. The best thing about it is you don’t have to be hiking mad to elope here as even views from the roadside are absolutely stunning! Glencoe valley is also home to lots of friendly wild deer, that with the right persuasion will also love to be a part of your elopement pictures. 

 

Set in front of Glen Etive, a couple are cuddling during their elopement pictures while a deer is stood with them.

Best places to stay in Glencoe for your Scottish Elopement

1.  The Kings House Hotel – Possibly the most famous Glencoe accommodation and it’s so easy to see why. This hotel has incredible views of Glencoe valley and is the favourite hang out of wild deer.

2. Signal Rock Glencoe – These secluded self-catering cottages are the perfect homely accommodation. They’re also perfect if you’re eloping with family and want them to stay close by.

 

How to travel to Glencoe

When travelling around Glencoe the best option is by car as this gives you the most flexibility.

If choosing to elope in Glencoe from outside of the UK the closest international airport is Edinburgh from here you can hire a car, the drive will take around 2.5 hours.

If coming from the South you can get internal flights to Edinburgh or Glasgow and hire a car from there. Or you can also get the train, the closest station being Fort William.

Where to elope in Glencoe

There are lots of options for where to elope in Glencoe, my favourites include Glencoe Valley, Glen Etive and Glencoe Lochan. They’re all really close by and you can easily hit them all when booking a 4-6 hour package.

 

For more Glencoe elopement inspiration check out this blog.

Glen etive

Set on the road to Glen Etive, A bride is twirling around her groom at blue hour and a little moon can be seen between the hills.

Glencoe Lochan

Glencoe lochan with a bride and groom stood gazing at each other. Bride is holding a bouquet of dried flowers.

Isle of skye

The Isle of Skye has so much to offer, from incredible mountains to ruined castles, gorgeous beaches, lochs, and fairy pools. This is definitely the place for anyone looking for a magical elopement.

 

Best places to stay in Isle of Skye for your Scottish Elopement

 

1. Skye Red Fox Retreat This gorgeous little wooden pod is the perfect place to have a snug wedding night under the stars.

 

2. Sligachan Hotel – set in a stunning location this hotel offers modern rooms and great food.

 

 

How to travel to the Isle of skye

 

When travelling around Skye the best option is by car as this gives you the most flexibility.

 

If choosing to elope in Skye from outside of the UK the closest international airport is Edinburgh from here you can hire a car, the drive will take around 5 hours. Alternatively, you can then get an internal flight to Inverness and the drive from there will take around 2.5 hours.

 

 

 

Where to elope on the isle of skye

 

There are endless options for where to elope on Skye. The most popular being the Quiraing and it’s so easy to see why with its breath-taking views. Other favourites include the Fairy Glen, Old Man of Storr and Loch Coruisk.

 

 

 

Loch awe and Kilchurn Castle

Loch Awe and Kilchurn Castle are not as well known, but completely deserve a place on this list for how insanely beautiful they are. This setting is quintessential Scotland, with a huge loch, ruined castle and mountain backdrop, everything you could want for a Scotland Elopement in one place.

 

Where to stay for your loch awe elopement

1. Ben Cruachan Inn – With amazing food and whiskey this is a great place to stay and get well looked after.

2. Argyll Chalets – Perfect for if you’re bring along friends and family and you’re looking for a cosy Loch side stay.

 

How to travel to Loch awe

 

As with most Scottish Highland Elopement locations the best way to explore is by car but is also accessible by train with the closest station being Loch Awe Station.

If choosing to elope at Kilchurn Castle from outside of the UK the closest international airport is Edinburgh from here you can hire a car, the drive will take around 2.5 hours. 

 

 For more inspiration for your Loch Awe and Kilchurn Castle elopement see this blog.

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is the biggest Lake in Great Britain, meaning there’s loads to explore. This gorgeous loch is surrounded by charming villages and incredible countryside. Due to its popularity with tourists, its definitely best to avoid eloping here in high season and instead saving it for the winter months, when there are less tourists. 

 

Bride and bride, same sex couple cuddling in front of loch lomond with rainbow, during an elopement

Best places to stay in Loch Lomond

1. Suie Hunting Lodge Hotel – This gorgeous boutique hotel is perfect for a luxury stay with a cosy homely feel. Ran by a lovely family who will go above and beyond for you. I personally couldn’t imagine staying anywhere else.

For more options visit this link.

 

How to travel to Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is more accessible than my other options but having a car still gives you the most freedom. Loch Lomond is only 45 minutes from Glasgow and 1.5 hours from Edinburgh by car. Getting the train is also a great option, the closest station is Balloch and is only 45 minutes from Glasgow. Glasgow is the closest airport for internal flights and the nearest international airport is Edinburgh.

Suie Hunting lodge hotel

Edinburgh

 This medieval city is filled with cobbled streets and pretty buildings. Surrounded by beautiful hills, it’s a brilliant place to elope for those wanting the best of both city and countryside. Edinburgh’s thriving nightlife also makes it the perfect place for a great boozy celebration.

Best places to stay in Edinburgh

 

1. The Dunstane – A luxury and romantic boutique hotel, with lots of rooms great for if you’re bringing along friends and family.

 

There are loads of great airbnb options throughout Edinburgh, with lots of choices in different parts of the city and to suit all budgets.

 

 

 

How to travel to Edinburgh for your Scottish Elopement

 

Edinburgh is really accessible and travelling around the city is easy with lots of bus and tram options. The fastest train to Edinburgh from London only takes 4 hours. Edinburgh also has an international airport. Parking in Edinburgh can be expensive, so if driving, I would reccommend choosing accommodation with parking.

 

 

Where to elope in Edinburgh

 

Edinburgh has so many great options for your Scottish elopement. If you’re looking for pretty cobbled streets and quaint buildings, the Royal mile is where to go. For incredible views over the city Carlton hill is a big favourite and for the most incredible sunsets it must be Arthur’s seat. St Anthony’s chapel is another popular spot for elopers, this stunning ruin has a gorgeous city view also, sitting high on the hill with a loch below. My personal favourite spot for Edinburgh elopements is the Secret Herb Garden, a beautiful greenhouse set on huge grounds, perfect for if you’re bringing guests.

 

The Secret Herb Garden

Where to elope in England

When it comes to eloping England is often overlooked in favour of Scotland or Ireland as English law doesn’t currently allow for outdoor ceremonies. That being said there is nothing to stop you from doing the legal part at a different time. This leaves you free to plan the elopement you want without being constrained by legalities or having to worry about remembering forms on the day. It also means you can choose to have a humanist celebrant or no celebrant at all, you could even write your own vows to read to eachother. England has so many breath-takingly beautiful places to elope to, don’t let old outdated laws put you off.

The Peak District

The Peak District is my favourite place for elopements. Filled with gorgeous hikes, deep forests and the cutest villages, there are endless options of lovely places to elope here. The Peak District is perfect for couples who are looking for jaw dropping scenery, but then want to follow their elopement with a good pub lunch.

Groom holding his brides face with a snowy snake pass woodland in the background.

Best places to stay in The Peak District

 

1. Rocking Stone Cottage – An idylic cottage set in the heart of the peaks. This self catering cottage is the perfect rural retreat, with a modern interior, its the perfect mix of cosy luxury.

2. Woodcock Farm cottages – Based in a cute village on the edge of the peaks, this modern yet cozy cottage is filled with natural light making it the perfect place to stay and get ready together before your peak district elopement.

3. Losehill House – This gorgeous hotel and spa is nestled in the hills of the peaks, the outdoor hot tub and spa facillites are the perfect way to relax after your adventure.

 

 

How to travel to the Peak district for your elopement

 

The Peak District is very acsessible being only a 30 minute drive from Manchester. There are lots of public transport options to and around the peak district, with plenty of train stations dotted throughout the peaks and regular buses its easy to get around. The closest internation airport in Manchester airport, from here you could get the train or hire a car to explore freely.

 

 

Where to elope in The Peak District

 There are so many breath-taking spots for your Peak District elopement. Pretty much everywhere in the Peak District is gorgeous, but some of my favourites include Mam Tor, Kinderscout, Winnats Pass and Higger Tor.  Castleton is a particular favourite of mine, a tiny village nestled in the valley, surrounded by huge hills filled with crystals found nowhere else, the most magical of places.

 

Mam Tor

Bride and groom having their first kiss after an humanist elopement ceremony on Mam Tor in the peak district. Celebrant clapping and celebrating behind them.
bride eloping in the peak district

Woodcock farm cottages

Where to elope in the UK, couple getting ready together in the peak district at woodcokfarm cottages

The Lake District

Home to some of the best views in England, and as the name suggests there’s plenty of incredible lakes, but also stunning hills and small villages filled with character. This is a place perfect for couples who want an adventure and love to hike.

A couple standing on rocks with a cave behind them. On a beach on the Lake District, during their elopement.

Best places to stay in The Lake District 

1. The Langdale– This place has it all. A luxury hotel and spa, but also self catering options of log cabins and cute cottages, look no further.

2. Airbnb also has lots of great options in the Lake District, with something to suit every style and budget.

 

 

How to travel to the Lake District

 

The best way to fully explore the Lakes and make the most of your adventures by car. The closet airport is Manchester, which is only just over an hour away. There are railway lines that run through the Lake District, but the best locations can only be reached by car then on foot.

 

 

Where to elope in The Lake District

The Lake District is filled with gorgeous scenery, you really can’t go wrong. The Lakes have something for everyone, with incredible mountains, tranquil lakes and moody rocky beaches. Some of my favourite spots include Blea Tarn, Wastwater and Scafell Pike.

 

Blea Tarn

Couple cuddling with Blea Tarn lake in the background. During the Lake District elopement

 

 

And a couple of non UK options… 

 

Where to elope in Iceland

A country like no other, the land of fire and ice. It’s so easy to see why this is such a popular elopement destination and one of my favourite countries. If you dream of being married in front of a waterfall and then going swimming in a geothermal river, then this is the place for you.

jokulsarlon glacier lagoon

A couple standing in the Glacier Lagoon in Iceland.

Best places to stay in Iceland for your Icelandic elopement 

1. The bubble hotel– This is a bucket list kind of hotel. Sleep in a bubble under the stars, could anything be more romanitc?

2. Golden circle cabin– A gorgeous cabin in Icelands famous Golden circle. This is a great location to stay if you plan to see some of Icelands most famous sites.

3. Foss Glacier Hotel – This luxury hotel is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking to elope at Jokulsarlon Icelands famous Glacier lagoon.

 

 

How to travel to Iceland

  

The best way to explore everything Iceland has to offer and make the most of you Iceland elopement is to hire a car. Be warned though due to the risks of driving in Iceland, rental car insurance can be very pricey, but its worth every penny. The best international airport to fly into is Reykjavik, from there hire a car head to the ring road. Although there are public transport options, they can often be cancelled due to weather conditions making it very easy to get stranded.

 

Where to elope in Iceland

EVERYWHERE. Honestly there are no bad options, everywhere you turn is jaw droppingly beautiful. My favourite spots include Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, Vik black sand beach, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Skogafoss Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park.

 

Seljalandsfoss

Iceland elopement photographer

thingvellir national park

thingvellir national park iceland elopement

Lake Bled Elopements

The perfect place for a fairytale like elopement. Set in Slovenia surrounded by mountains this gorgeous lake has a tiny little island in the centre, which is home to a church, overlooked by a castle. I wouldn’t believe this place existed if I hadn’t of been lucky enough to visit.

Best places to stay in lake bled

There are tons of great Airbnb options for Lake Bled. Here’s where I stayed for my visit, it was perfect for a peaceful trip and the bakery was only a 10 minute walk away.

 

How to travel to Lake bled

 To get to Lake Bled you fly into Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, where you can hire a car the drive then takes around 45 minutes. 

 

Where to elope in Lake bled

Get married in the little church on the island, then let’s head off into the hills and visit the castle and alpine forests, there’s even a waterfall close by.

 

Lake bled church, lake bled elopement
Me, with pink hair sitting on some logs

More elopement Inspiration

Lauren Elliott Photography

25 Mottram Moor, Mottram in Longdendale, Greater Manchester, UK, SK14 6LA