How to Choose the Perfect Adventure Elopement Location - Tu Nguyen

How to Choose the Perfect Adventure Elopement Location

If you don't know what is an elopement yet, head over the following link to check out what it is and 11 Reasons why to elope. And while you're at it, don't forget to give these rad ideas for your adventure elopement a look. It's a very long blogpost, but informative and packed with ideas that you don't even know that it exists and we promise it's super worth the read!

The beauty of eloping is you can (almost) get married anywhere you want. But one may argue that it's one of the hardest parts of the elopement planning process. Because there are so many amazing, jaw-dropping places around the world. Having the location picked is the very first thing you have to get done and the location obviously will dictate the rest of the planning: logistics, activities, timeline, when and how you want to do the ceremony, style & mood...

In the last few years, we have captured adventure elopements in many countries over the world: Morocco, Kenya, India, Vietnam, Singapore, Iceland, Italy, Greece... Not just photograph and film but also almost always take a bigger role in our couple's adventurous journey, work closely with them to come up with a great itineraries that fits their need, personality and wildest imagination, make the best out of the (often limited) time we have.

So based out of our very own experiences, here are a few questions you have to ask yourself to help narrow down the perfect location for your unique adventure elopement.

1. What timeframe suits you best?

First and foremost, when can you travel for your elopement? The usual answer is whenever you can get the vacation time from your boss if you're not a freelancer like us (and even so we can hardly have time off for a long trip during the peak season). It can vary a lots from person to person and for you it may have to be summer, when your work schedule slows down a bit.

Let's say if you can choose your own vacation time, depending on location and itinerary, a trip or activity can range from several days to several weeks (even months, but it doesn't mean that we will be bothering you on your back all the time lol!). Many locations are good to visit all year around but some are only available or require a best time to visit to enjoy their beauty to the fullest. Some are seasonal (due to weather or scenery or other reasons...), while others are available but change offerings.

For instance, November to March is not only the best time to visit Antarctica, it is the only time it’s possible – as the ice breaks up allowing ships to pass. Or safari elopement in Kenya, of course the wildlife can be seen year-round but from July to October when the millions of wildebeest migrate from Tanzania to Kenya, it is one of the greatest wildlife spectacle in the world that you don't want to miss. Another example is that despite the recommendation time to hike Chilean Patagonia is November to early March (summertime in the southern hemisphere), there is one problem though: you'll compete with heavy crowds during this peak season. So early November (spring) or late March (autumn) are sometimes much better option with mild temperatures, blooming flowers and fewer crowds.

Be sure the best time to visit one place fits your schedule and availability, unless you're total flexible with time, then you will have a much greater selection. Or sometimes, when you decide to elope on a whim (let's say a few weeks from now) then choosing the right location could be the make or break for your elopement.

2. What kind of terrain/scenery do you like?

Ocean. Mountain. Cliff. Desert. Snow. Highland. River. Canyon.

Forest. Glacier. Rolling Hill. Marsh. Oasis. Wide Open Space. Swamp.

Tundra. Valley. Fjord. Island. Waterfall. Urban. Old Town. Outback. Cave.

Backcountry. Gorge. Badlands. Lush vegetation. Cape. Cay. Channel.

Delta. Beach. Big City. Steppe. Plain. Volcanoes. Plantation. Geyser. Hot Spring. Archipelago. Bay. Lagoon. Ancient Ruin. Flower field.

Or National Park, which is known for its abundance and variety of sceneries and landscapes mentioned above!

It's all down to your personal taste. Choose one. Or more than one ;)

3. Color Palette

The color palette set the tone and the mood of your photos before you even know it. Color can affect us psychologically and physically, often without us being aware, and can be used as a strong device within a story.

In post-production, we as photographer or videographer can only work to some extent with what we are given, and so it can be argued that the overall look and feel of the your elopement story is greatly the responsibility of the weather, lighting and location that we choose in the first place. There is a time and place for everything and there is also a space for every color - every shade evokes different emotions and feeling. 

Dolomites Mountains in Italian Alps look and feel very different in summer and winter. Even the similar scenery or terrain with similar climate can have different colors, shades and vibes in the same season. Moroccan desert doesn't look anything like Chilean desert. Norwegian Fjord vs New Zealand Fjord. South East Asian jungle vs South American jungle. So on and on.

4. Climate

Although there is a phrase that originates from Scandinavia: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes." -  where it's a common mantra taught by parents who insist that their children spend time outdoors every day. Nevertheless each individual has his own physical limit and personal preference so probably you would choose a location with accordingly climate up to your taste and condition. For example, Tara doesn't like extremely cold weather whereas Tu is not really a fan of hiking in the hot and extremely humid zone, despite the fact that we were born and raised in Vietnam, a tropical country. So if we're going to elope, we will choose a middle ground that works for both of us and that's okay. 

Today, climate scientists split the Earth into approximately five main types of climates (Köppen Climate Classification System):

1. Tropical
In this hot and humid zone (usually 22.5 degrees north and south of the equator), the average temperatures are greater than 64°F (18°C) year-round and there is more than 59 inches of precipitation each year. Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, all of the Caribbean islands, and the top half of South America, including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia... as well as the northern regions of Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil.

In Africa, the only nations that cannot be called tropical countries are Morocco and Tunisia in the north and Lesotho and Swaziland in the south. All the rest lie either entirely, or at least partly, in the tropics. There is no tropical country in Europe. All South East Asian countries are tropical countries.

2. Dry
Here moisture is rapidly evaporated from the air and there is very little precipitation. This climate is mainly found 30 degrees north and south of the Equator: North Africa, Central Australia, Eurasian interior, southwestern United States and northern Mexico...

3. Temperate
In this zone, there are typically warm and humid summers with thunderstorms and mild winters. Eastern parts of the United States and southern Canada, northern China, Korea, Japan, central and eastern Europe...

4. Continental
These regions have warm to cool summers and very cold winters. In the winter, this zone can experience snowstorms, strong winds, and very cold temperatures—sometimes falling below -22°F (-30°C). Think Central Russia, Siberia, Canada and northern states of the United States.

5. Polar
In the polar climate zones, it’s extremely cold. Even in summer, the temperatures here never go higher than 50°F (10°C). Antarctica, Greenland, and some parts of Europe.

5. Road trip / expedition trip / outdoor activities you want to do?

If you want to do a particular road trip or expedition trip, and/or pack it with your favorite outdoor activities such as Hiking, Trekking, Mountaineering, Camping, Sailing, Kayaking, Skiing, Horseback riding, Rock Climbing.... They can be a fun part of your elopement. Then after filtering out other personal factors, maybe there are only a few places left on the radar which offer that kind of trip - jackpot! Saving your time and headache while choosing a location you want lol.

But seriously this is the perfect setting for an elopement. 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. Head over the link below for more ideas and inspiration!

6. Comfort

Do you want to go in full backpacker mode, wild camping, multi day trekking, off the grid or do you want a base for your adventure elopement? (Glamping/Lodge/Resort...) Or something in the between? How much comfort are you willing to give up? Or none?
Remember: there is no right thing to do it because it's personal preference. And even avid backpackers with rad bushcraft skills may want something different this time for their elopement for a change or vice versa.

They have this saying:"Hike your own hike" - now we say: "Elope your own elopement."

If you're on the verge of deciding then here are the reasons to have a base for your 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 meant sacrificing the comforts and indulgence. Especially for a special affair like elopement of after a few days of trekking.

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.

- 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 outdoor activities, giving advices and bringing your cultural ceremony to life...

That being said, not every location on your wish list may have such a suitable base for your need so this is definitely something you have to think about when considering a location for your elopement if the base is something you can't and don't want to live without. Check out the best wilderness retreats on the link below!

7. Do you want to include other family members?

It's fine to elope without guest or with guest. There is no hard and fast rule. But if you do want to elope with guest, for each guest you want to include in your elopement, you have to be considerate and check if the location is something suitable for them. And as counter-productive as it may sound, you will have to compromise and find a middle ground if you want to include the important people to you as much as possible even if you have to give up your favorite spot.

Parents. Is your folks' physical condition and fitness level ideal for your elopement location?

Kid. Being parents ourselves, we'll definitely elope and include our baby girl when she's a bit bigger so she can enjoy our day too. We're writing a blogpost on how to include your kid in your elopement but in the mean time, do check a lots of tips and tricks for travel with kids here.

Your Dog / Cat. Find a pet-friendly elopement location for your loved one. Analyze and reduce all the possible risks by careful planning. Here you can read on how to include your dog in your wedding.

Guest with Disabilities. You can find a lots of tips and resources for travelers with disabilities here.

8. Accessibility

It's a trade off. Easy to reach locations may lose their original charm and uniqueness and you have to compete a heavy crowd. Secluded places are harder to get to, but in return, they're isolated, off the beaten track so privacy is assured, away from the crowd.

We have to take into consideration of many factors such as: is there any major/regional airport in the nearby and how far, and if you don't want to fly or there isn't any airport how can one get there (land/sea/train...), how to move between various spots in that region etc...

Our pro tip? Incorporate and plan the journey to the location you want to elope in a way that it becomes a part of your story, like the elopement below!

9. Any tribal/cultural ceremony/blessing/ritual that you want to incorporate?

We may sound like a broken record but 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.

After you found 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 maybe you can pepper some cultural flavors by incorporating some local, traditional rituals for the ceremony.

10. Sentimental Value

Rather picking a random "exotic" location, you want to elope to a location that plays big role in your life/love/relationship? A trip, a country, a place that brought you together in the first place for instance? We say heck yeah! Somewhere that holds a great sentimental value to your life can emotionally elevate and enhance your elopement to the next level.

When you remember the first time you met your partner in crime - the love of your life or your first trip together as a couple, we're sure that you have a strong memory of where you both were and how everything went. Or a location of your childhood, somewhere down the memory lane, something that plays a big part building up yourself of present day. It's so meaningful to your life that you can't even imagine a life without it?

According to many studies, "neural representations of the content of the experience had become linked with the spatial and temporal context. Such evidence provides strong evidence for the theory that memory formation and recall involve association of event with context, especially spatial and temporal context. This linkage creates a mutually reinforcing interaction of event and location. We tend to remember both or neither."

We guess that's why location is so important in our memory - now it's a chance for your to honour it, to incorporate it in one of the most important events of your life.

11. The Ceremony Spot

Do you have a personal preference of how you want the ceremony spot looks like?

Do the location that you chose for your elopement has a spot with special flair for your ceremony?

By working forward and backward with the idea of finding the ceremony spot will help you saving time on finding the perfect adventure elopement location by filtering out unwanted options.

We're working on a blogpost about choosing the best ceremony spot for your elopement but in the mean time, consider the below factors!

Accessibility & Logistics.

- Permission to perform the ceremony.

- Lighting. How does it look at the time you want to do the ceremony?

- The view. Obviously.

- Privacy. Is it secluded or stuffed with tourists?


L E T ' S  C H A T !


© Tu Nguyen Wedding Photography in Greece, Italy, Spain, France & Germany // +49 176 5650 8077 // info@tunguyenwedding.com

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