Rad Ideas For Your Adventure Elopement

Like most of other elopement photographers, we started out shooting local traditional (big) weddings, and then slowly shifted our focus from local wedding to destination wedding and big wedding to intimate wedding and adventurous elopement in far flung places.

Shooting adventure elopement is now for us not just a way to make money - it's beyond profession, it's becoming our lifestyle. After all, traveling and seeking adventures in the wilderness is something that truly makes us happy and peaceful to the core. More than anything.

Looking back at our journey, we have been to almost 40 countries and hopefully many other more to come in the upcoming years thanks to our profession and passion, shooting rad elopements as far as in Kenya, Morocco, Iceland, Vietnam, Singapore, India, Thailand... And of course a whole lots of weddings and elopements around Europe, our home base.

It seems like a big chunk of millennials and younger generation between us are opted to elope at the moment! If you don't know what is elopement and why to elope instead of having a traditional wedding then check out our blogpost Eleven Reasons To Elope!

But what can we do with elopement actually? Again this is the beauty of eloping - the possibilities are endless and there is only one rule when eloping: there is no rule at all!

Only the sky is the limit. Or maybe not, if you can afford a round trip to Earth's outer atmosphere. Last time we checked, it costs "only" a whooping $10 millions lol. Although if you can settle for "less", a balloon ride to 19km altitude costs you "only" $75,000 - or a spot on the commercial spacecraft to 100km altitude for "only" $100,000

1. Road Trip / Expedition Trip Elopement

Road trip is always awesome regardless which state of life are you in. Kids love it. Young adults love it. People in their late 20s love it. Middle ages love it. Old folks love it. To be honest, we haven't seen anyone who doesn't love road trip. And for adventurous elopement, road trip is like awesomeness on roid. Teehee.

We're such big fan of full day/multi day elopement due to the nature of how we work. Actually we don't take elopement booking that less than one full day because We'd prefer to spend as much time as possible with you to connect and build up an ultimate trust, in order to be able to capture your incredible journey and not just a few pretty pictures here and there.

Instead, all we’re trying to do is becoming your best travel companion, to capture your precious moments together, let you shine in your own shell without forcing you to pose as someone you’re not.

And road trip (or even better: an expedition) is the perfect setting for that. Now elopement is not a destination, it's a journey. It's not just about the ceremony, it's a full adventure you set together, from getting ready, first look, ceremony, exploring the region together, doing activities that you truly love. And the expedition/road trip helps you building your story's setting effortless. You twos are the main characters of your photo story and astrong setting is almost like a third character in its own right. It has heart and soul, different moods, an influence the other characters (you) and the events (your elopement).

For instance, this crazy road trip elopement in Morocco (and glamping in Sahara desert) awesome elopement in South of France, where we accompanied the couple from Paris to South of France or this one week elopement in Andalusia, one of the most beautiful regions of Spain!

Or here we have some rad ideas for your elopement, so you don't have to dig out from the huge Google pile-up:

- Three Weeks Journey (9,000km) on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow all the way to Beijing, crossing Mongolia via Gobi Desert and elope somewhere along the way. One of the greatest adventures of our age to discover Russia and Asia.

- Expedition Trip to Antarctica and get married in front of 100,000 King Penguins. Enough said.

- Touring the East Java of Indonesia with camper vans and at the end, elope on top of Mount Bromo. Hmm. Delicious.

- Madagascar road trip on a 4x4 with rooftop tent, the oldest island on earth!

- Drive Montana and Wyoming's jaw-dropping Beartooth Highway

- Flightseeing over (and Dune Driving) the Skeleton Coast, Namibia - where they described it "a no-man’s land of starkly spectacular proportions. It’s a place where bleached whale bones and the rusting hulks of shipwrecks line miles of empty sand."

- Walking the Great Wall of China

- Off the beaten path in Hormuz Island (Iran).

- Trek the 200km long Annapurna Circuit, the best long distance trekking route in the world.

- Wilderness Retreat at Nimmo Bay (Canada), one of the most pristine place in the world.

- Arctic Circle Expedition in Greenland!

- Motorbiking the Ho Chi Minh Trail from North to South Vietnam, our homeland, where we were born and raised.

- Backpacking Australia, from pretty coastal ocean roads to the vast outback, one of the last uncharted frontier of modern times.

- Multi day houseboat trip in Kerala backwater or Mekong Delta.

- Greek Island Hopping!

- Elopement Ceremony on hot air balloon somewhere with snow capped summit in the background.

- Getting married in Hang Son Doong, the world's largest cave in Vietnam

- Ultimate American road trip through diverse national parks on wheels!

- Cruising the Nile River through Egypt on a Felucca (a traditional Egyptian wooden sailboat thats been around for centuries).

- Tours on luxury trains through India.

- Exploring the North Coast 500 Route & majestic Scottish Highlands.

- Overland Trip through Russia.

- Visiting the idyllic Batanes Islands of Philippines.

- Island Hopping in the Stockholm Archipelago.

- 7/8 Days Trip through the Yukon Territory.

- Yurt Camping in Kyrgyzstan, Armenia or Kazakhstan.

- Coastal to Highlands Papua New Guinea Adventure.

- Live like a local on Lake Titicaca.

- Silk Road Overland Tour.

- A road trip in the Peloponnese (Greece).

- Off the grid on Tibetan Plateau.

Journey via Karakoram Highway (KKH), the world’s highest paved highway at around altitude of 5,000m

- Road Trip through Germany's Black Forest & Romantic Road.


Okay, okay you're right, we admit that maybe this list is less about "some rad ideas" for your elopement but more of "this sounds freaking awesome, please hire us to do this. Or we will look for you, we will find you and we will shoot you".
Lame pun intended.
But isn't it the same thing? We're leaving you with that.

2. Elopement involved in outdoor activities

Hiking, Trekking, Mountaineering, Camping, Sailing, Kayaking, Skiing, Horseback riding, Rock Climbing... Your favorite outdoor activities can be a fun (optional) part of your day or you can take it to next level: you have to do them in order to elope!

For this elopement in Central Vietnam, basically we had to get through the untouched jungle is driving a tractor off-road for 18km (It took the driver a bit more than three and a half hours) and then trekking through the jungle for more than 3 hours (6km), going up and down, crossing endless streams, creeks and rivers, climbing a 60 meters high waterfall.

Don't forget to follow the Leave No Trace practices!

- Climbing the Kilimanjaro and get eloped on the summit. A beautiful mountain peak that requires much less technical skills than the other 5,000er summits in the same range.

- Skydiving in Interlaken (Switzerland)

- Trek the entire Kungsleden Trail (440km) or a shorter segments of it in Sweden. One of the most stunning trekking trail in Europe. Well, Its name means King of Trail in Swedish not without any reason.

- Stargazing in NamibRand, Namibia - one of the world's best celestial sights.

- Kayaking the Amazon River.

Snowmobiling on Langjökull Glacier in Iceland.

- Glamping in Sahara Desert

- Indulging yourself with Safari and private treehouse or luxury villa with five star amenities in South Africa.

Jungle Trek in Sumatra (Indonesia)

Trek the Tian Shan Mountains – Kyrgyzstan

- Walking the historic Nakasendo trail in Kiso Valley (Japan)

- Canoe Safari in Botswana

- Horse Trek the Caucasus Mountain in Georgia Republic

- Aurora Camping & Dog Sledding through Arctic Circle in Sweden.

- Underwater Scooter in Mauritius.

Whale Watching and Glamping Under the Northern Lights in Norway.

- Hiking Tasmania's Overland Track.

- Zip lining through the jungle in Arena Volcano (Costa Rica) & staying at the beautiful tree house community Finca Bellavista

- Heli Hiking Franz Josef Glacier (New Zealand)

- Rappelling in Iguazu Falls (Argentina)

- Biking Sicily, an island almost as close to Africa as to Europe where history, arts and architectures meet beautiful sceneries.

- Camping and Rafting Grand Canyon

Microlight Flight over Victoria Falls, Zambia.

- Skiing in the French Alps.

Freediving & Exploring the Canary Islands

- Go tramping in New Zealand.

- Hike, Kayak and Wild Camp the Norwegian Fjords

- Scuba Diving & Snorkeling in the Caribbean.

- Wind surfing in Corsica, a small French island. You may want to hike the GR20, one of thetoughest long distance trail in Europe while you're here.

- Paragliding in Mendoza (Argentina)

- Hike the world's highest lava lake on Mount Nyiragongo & Gorilla Trekking in Congo

- Doing nothing in Seychelles. Does this even count as activity? Lol

- Hiking the Cares Gorge in the Picos De Europa National Park - one of the Asturias region’s most striking place. An easy day hike.

- Cycling the death road in Bolivia.

- Hiking Fagaras Mountains (Romania).

Packrafting Through Finland’s Thousand Lakes is apparently the next big thing.

- For those who are experienced sailors can charter sailing ships and boats around the world!

- Hike the Patagonia, where a few places can match for its diversity of scenery.

- If you're a avid backpacker and trekker, thru-hike (or if you don't have that much of time, section hike) the Appalachian Trail (3500km), Pacific Crest Trail (4279km) or Continental Divide Trail (5000km)!

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Things to keep in mind when choosing the right adventure for your elopement:

1. Your Budget
Your wedding is not worth going into debt. Same rule applies for your elopement.

2. Your Physical Condition
Each destination requires coping with different climate or environment condition. If you have any special physical condition, you should ensure that the expected itinerary, accommodations, and foods won’t create health issues.

3. Your Fitness Level
Don't overestimate your fitness ability and underestimate the activity's physical tasks. Especially when things don't go according to plan or weather turns bad.

4. Your Skills
Many trips/expedition/activities require a minimum skill level to enjoy.

5. Your Time:
Depending on location and itinerary, a trip or activity can range from several days to several months. Some are only available for specific seasons of the year, while others are available but change offerings. Be sure it fits your schedule and availability, unless you're total flexible with time.

6. The Destination’s Culture & Living Standards:
Open your mind. Be nice, stay smart, be safe. Have common sense and respect for other country and people. Understand that the destination countries may have a different standard than your or our countries when it comes to politic, culture, public service, daily life practices... Doesn't mean they are worse than ours. Don't expect the unrealistic expectations.

7. Mandatory Requirements:
Health insurance, visa, required vaccinations, travel insurance, permits...

8. Plan ahead and plan for detours:
Having an idea of your itinerary but leave room for spontaneity. Have fun and don't stress out. It often turns out to be the most memorable parts of a trip.

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3. Having a base for your adventure elopement?

Think glamping.
Think luxury remote resorts.
Think unsual, exotic lodges.
Think boutique design hotel.

Why should you have them as a base for your adventure elopement?

- They're isolated, off the beaten track so privacy is assured, away from the crowd.

- They have the best location to offer you nature & wilderness discovery at its best.

- For some, getting off the grid doesn't always translate to sacrificing the comforts and self-indulgence. Especially for a special affair like elopement of after a few days of trekking. Hot shower, anyone?

Picture this: Go hiking, kayaking, horseback riding or whatever is your favorite outdoor activities in the most beautiful locations on earth, then return to that base to a cozy bed with a mattress that feels better than the one in your house, gourmet meals, and other remarkable amenities & services, all in the middle of nowhere — without you having to lay a finger on. We think it's hard to say no even for the most hardcore adventurers ;)

- You have a nice place to do "Getting Ready" and "Elopement Reception".

- These lodges they can help taking the elopement planning and logistics execution out of your hand so you can enjoy your adventure to the fullest. Arranging transport, finding the best secret spots for the ceremony, reception decoration, recommending & offering a whole lots of outdoor activities, giving advices and bringing your cultural ceremony to life...

Check out the best wilderness retreats on the link below!

4. Incorporating tribal/cultural ceremony/blessing/ritual

We can't stress this enough: the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation is tricky.

For instance taking a ritual ceremony for your elopement simply for the sake of being "exotic" without understanding what that ritual truly means and how to do it correctly without being harmful to the culture you're borrowing.

The natives and their traditional rituals should play a big, respectable part of your wedding ceremony - they are not props nor your decoration. When in doubt: ask and do research, listen to their story, find out what does a certain symbol mean to a particular culture? When and where is it appropriate to use it? The list below is just a sheer recommendation of a few traditional ceremonies and rituals around the world that we did research, we personally think that common sense and respect goes a long way and when in doubt it's often you know the answer - it's best to choose not doing it. 

- Andean Marriage Ceremony meets multi day trek from Salkantay to Machu Picchu.

- Buddhist monk's blessing ceremony in Angkor Wat (Cambodia), Temples of Bagan (Myanmar) or in Thailand.

- Maasai Marriage Ceremony with blessing from Maasai elders meets safari wedding in Kenya (Maasai Mara National Park or Amboseli National Park)

- Shinto Ceremony in a Shrine in Japan.

- Handfasting ceremony.

- Rendille Tribe Marriage Ceremony

- San People Dance Tradition

- Ndebele Wedding Ceremony Rituals

- Traditional Javanese Ceremonies

- Wodaabe Courtship Dance

- Camel Dance of Niger

- Painting Henna (Swahili / Mehndi Ceremony in India)

- Door Games in Chinese Weddings

- Xhosa Tribal Traditions

- Bedouin Ceremony

- Maori Ceremony

- Berinai Ceremony in Malaysia

- Rukai Ceremony

- Varmala Ritual in India

- Aboriginal Ceremonies & Performances: Smoking Ceremony, Welcome to Country, Didgeridoo, Cultural Dance...

- Tsaatan Tribe Ceremony in Mongolia

- Jumping the Broom Ceremony

- Papua New Guinea Highland Wedding

- Native American Blessings

- Hmong Ceremony

- Sundial Ceremony

- Mohawk Nation Sacred Wedding Ceremony

- Dusun Tribe Ceremony in Borneo

- Sun Dance Ceremony Sioux Indians

- Viking Scandinavia Wedding Rituals

- Yakan People Ceremony (Philippines)

- Navajo Wedding Ceremony

Kazakh Ceremony

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5. Combining all the options above

Now you're probably blaming us for listing all of the cool things above.
"How I am supposed to choose what to do when all the options sound mega ultra amazing??? Seriously I want to do them all! What's the point of this blogpost? I'm even more confused than before lol!"

Well, here comes the silver lightning: don't feed bad, as everyone suffers from massive indecision reading this blog post. Here are few ways to help you pull the trigger:

- It may sounds odd and not helpful, but trust your initial gut. Pick one thing that truly speaks for your spirit, something you want to choose without hesitation in ten seconds!

- Prioritize your needs, your condition and your demands and be cutthroat.

- Flip a coin, duh!

- How about not compromising and combining them in a way that fit all your need and your preferences?

First, you find a road trip/expedition trip itinerary that you love or fits your time/personal style/life condition (for example a trip around Maasai Mara National Park), then pack them with action - adventurous outdoor activities along the journey (safari, game drive, hot air balloon, kayak, hiking...), then pepper some cultural flavors by incorporating some local, traditional rituals for the ceremony (Maasai Mara ceremony blessing)... So on and on, working one step at a time to finalize the masterplan. 

This kind of combination allows you plenty of free time to wander and wonder. There is still enough of a planned itinerary to keep the fires of inspiration burning, but with lots of rest stops and room for spontaneity along the way. In the end, your elopement will look like an incredible journey filled with highlights after highlights, instead of feeling like wasting time waiting and building up for the climax (the ceremony) that will only last for 10-15 minutes.

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6. A week/weekend getaway with family kind of elopement

We did an elopement in Naxos (a stunning Greek island) in 2018. Including the bride and groom there were in total 10 adults and 3 kids: just their parents and siblings (and the sibling's kids). They flew from the states to Naxos and rented a beautiful beachfront villa for the whole week and the ceremony was just amazing and intimate. Nick and Claire had so much quality time during that week to spend with the immediate families, not worrying about anything. Remember, elopement doesn't have to be just two of you. You can totally include your close family, or your kid, or your dog, or your best friends... at your elopement. Or at least having them for the ceremony before heading off to your adventurous road trip.

Personally we think it's a great excuse to plan a family getaway as you plan this special occasion, to create memories for a lifetime, and a chance to travel to somewhere you might not otherwise go, with people you know and love.

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7. Super unique Elopement kind of type

There are weddings. There are elopements. And there are couples who are so different and unique that they truly want a new approach. That so-called "elopements" don't even look like an usual one and dare to challenge the social norm and wedding industry standard of how a wedding film/photo story should be. More like a dream, a short film... We don't know, here words fail to do them justice. And for such couples, we're so grateful to be give a chance to able to express our creativity without holding back anything.

For instance, this elopement in Vietnam and Singapore is more like a surreal short film, this engagement elopement in India is more like a love letter to their beloved country, India. Or this elopement in Iceland is the expression for their love of god. Get in touch if you want to create something you've never seen before :)

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8. City / Urban Elopement

Elopement doesn't necessarily take place in nature, grande vista or wilderness. And just because if you opt to a city elopement doesn't mean it's not an adventure. It's just a different kind of adventure. There are so many reasons why a couple choose to elope in the city: they are city people or one particular city/town plays a big role in the couple's life/relationship. Or due to logistics/financial situation/personal situation/health problem that they can't travel at that moment.

Oftentimes they pick a beautiful place to get ready together and another nice spot in the city to do the symbolic ceremony. It's not uncommon that they may want to include a town hall visit to register their marriage legally, even if it's a destination elopement when the paperwork isn't too troublesome. Check out this elopement in Venice or this elopement in Verona

Although we're not city people and spend most of the time in the wilderness, below are a few favorites cities of us for elopement:

New York City, Venice, Rome, Kyoto, Porto, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Hoi An (Vietnam), Cartagena (Colombia),
Florence, Amalfi Coast, Barcelona, Nice, Paris, Vienna, Seattle, Seville, Geneva, Zurich, Bruges, Strassbourg
Hamburg, Prague, Budapest, Salzburg, Dubrovnik, Istanbul, San Francisco, New Orleans, Marfa, Havana
Edinburg, Lisbon, Granada, Lucern, Verona, Matera, Ostuni, Kotor, Colmar, Mumbai, Tokyo....

Elopement Wedding in Ankara

9. Religious Elopement

Is there such thing like religious elopement? Like church elopement? Yup we guess there is a niche for this. We even did one in Europe a few years ago when we first started shooting elopement. Or you apparently have seen a handful of church elopements in Iceland too.

Many venues in beloved spot destination wedding location even offer an elopement package that may includes a ceremony in the Catholic Church, performed by a priest. Sometimes, a notice of few months prior must be given, and the couple must go through pre-wedding sessions with their home parish priest. 

Or take an example of Greece, there are over 6,000 Greek islands, more than 220 of them inhabited. And whether you’re Greek Orthodox or not, there’s a fact that these little white churches that are scattered around every village, mountain, waterfront, cliff... on these islands. Most of the time, they are situated in the most gorgeous settings in their respective areas, many seem to have blended in their surroundings and become a part of the nature. Stunning sunrise and sunset are granted. So getting eloped at these churches doesn't meant you have to compromise with not having a jaw-dropping backdrop.

We know that planning an adventure elopement (especially in other countries) can be confused and overwhelmed at first that's why we're here to help. If you want to get eloped or have any question, don't hesitate to shoot us an email at info@tunguyenwedding.com or using the form below. And don't forget to check out some other blogposts below - see ya!

Looking for an adventure elopement photographer and videographer? Let's chat!

© Tu Nguyen Wedding Photography in Greece, Italy, Spain, France & Germany // +49 159 0148 0782  // info@tunguyenwedding.com

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