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5 Recommendations for Destination Elopements in 2020

If you caught *my blog post* or Instagram story last week, you know it was packed full of goodies like a checklist to help plan a destination elopement, some inspiration on different types of landscapes for elopements, and an AMAZING, limited time special for 2020 elopements with Frames & Letters Photography!

Couples who *book* their 2019 or 2020 destination elopement photography package with my by 10/31/19 will have ALL. PHOTOGRAPHER. FEES. WAIVED! That’s right – you basically just cover my travel and Airbnb/accommodation to get to and from the location and no extra cost for the photography part of it!

This could be less than $500 for FULL SERVICE PHOTOGRAPHY!!!

Before you book, I want to share some of my favorite destinations with you, and while some people have already been lusting after a specific landscape, maybe others are not quite decided yet – that’s where I come in! I’ll break it down by destination type and then give you a U.S. and international recommendation! ALL of the international ones are places I’ve been, and I would LOVE to send you my past itineraries because, tbh I’ve got the travel bug and I take at least one international trip a year!

Beach

Beach elopements are so classic, and since it’s very easy to associate the beach with relaxation and romance, I can see why they’re popular! Before and after the ceremony, you can literally just plop yourself on the beach, enjoy some coconut water and take in the sunrise or sunset together while the breeze blows through your hair.

In the U.S. (kind of): Vieques, Puerto Rico

A quick flight from Miami and no passport required, you’ll feel like a million bucks on an affordable budget! There are two smaller islands off the east coast of Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques. Culebra is continually ranked one of the best beaches worldwide, but the ferry line for Vieques is much shorter and there is more infrastructure on the island.

Scuba dive with sea turtles, kayak at night over Bioluminescent Bay, awe at the wild horses and moped around the island to find many intimate spots. There are plenty of beaches to choose from, whether on mainland or the smaller islands, and that combined with the sabor (flavor) and rich food and culture make Puerto Rico my pick for a beach elopement in the U.S.

International: Baja California Sur, Mexico

Baja California Sur is infamous for “Cabo”, aka Cabo San Lucas. Marcelo and I went last fall and it was BREATHTAKING! We went in October, which was technically off-season, so we had entire beaches all to ourselves.

Our favorite spot, and one I would recommend for an international beach elopement: Playa Balandra in La Paz. Do a day tour with La Paz Vip Tours, where you will snorkel in crystal clear water with seals, see some blue-footed boobies, and if you’re lucky, swim with whale sharks!!!

Playa Balandra is typically the lunch spot, and we also went back for sunset. The view is so spectacular that we didn’t want to leave, and enjoyed a romantic view with fewer than 10 people with us.

Forest

Adventurous couples who love to hike, be secluded and be totally surrounded by giant pines, evergreens, or sequoias are drawn to the lush greens of the forest.

In the U.S.: Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

It’s no secret that the PNW region RULES with its lush forests and smooth waterfalls. Columbia River Gorge is filled with beautiful spots like this, so if you like hiking, being connected with nature, and walking through misty trees, this one’s for you!

Photo credit: Pinterest

BONUS local recommendation!!!

If you live in Kentucky and want the feeling of a destination elopement in the forest, but want to have a “real” wedding with as many guests as you’d like, you HAVE to visit *EVENTS AT HEMLOCK SPRINGS* near the Red River Gorge. It’s got a bridal and groomsmen suite, an apartment loft for the bride and groom, wooded ceremony site and full service reception hall with catering and so much more! I did a *styled shoot *there and the owners are SO friendly and created this place after having their own wedding there. How sweet!

International: Valle del Cocora, Colombia

This nature preserve in Antioquia, Colombia, boasts some of the world’s tallest palm trees that stare down at you like gentle giants. You can hike or ride horseback to take advantage of its views, even rent a lovely cabin and wake up to the sounds of this peaceful, tropical valley around you.

Desert

Warm desert colors, cacti, the place where sand meets sky, endless landscape, little chance of rain – what more could you ask for? Modern, hip couples escape to the desert for beautiful ceremonies in the desert.

In the U.S.: White Sands, New Mexico

I didn’t know this place existed until a few years ago, and since then I have been DYING to go! Imagine nothing but beautiful light surrounding you as you exchange vows, walk into the endless desert together, and watch the colorful sunrise and sunset from here. The best part, you can find very cheap flights nearby thanks to airlines like Allegiant and Frontier, and since it’s a national park, entrance is also very affordable!

Any wedding colors would look stunning across this backdrop.

Photo credit: @danitheexplorer

International: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

So, technically salt flats and not a desert, BUT you will find cacti here!!! The Salar de Uyuni tour (which I have done twice) take you by Jeep on a journey through this seemingly desolate, but naturally rich area. While typically dry, if you get there in rainy season, it seems you are standing on a glassy lake with beautiful reflections from the miles of open mountains. Everyone always comes back with cool pictures like this (spot me second from the left!) 🙂

Mountain

Another favorite of couples who are down for a hike, the mountain is a perfect spot to revel in nature’s majesty and secure a breathtaking backdrop for your vows.

In the U.S.: Yosemite National Park, California

Another destination where dreams come true, this has to be one of my TOP favorite places I see elopement pictures from! This expansive park has endless possibilities when it comes to elopement locations, and I’m more than ready for a long hike if it means you get beautiful images like this one from @thefoxesphotography

International: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

MY FAVORITE PLACE! Torres del Paine has 2 – 4 day hikes and has such a unique landscape, including glaciers, crystal clear glacial lakes, a rock beach, and views snowy peaks. With several camping and “glamping” options available, you will enjoy seeing a rare gem nestled in the south of Chile.

Tundra

Not for the faint of heart, a wintry destination is a VERY unique place to elope – I’m picturing a (faux) fur wrap or a bright, colorful hood for the bride and some (faux) leather boots for the groom. Plus, if you can time this right at a location that has Northern (or Southern) lights, what a view!

In the U.S.: Alaska

It may seem a world away, but you’re sure to have a unique elopement if you journey here!

I’m thinking a Husky-driven sleigh to the elopement site, beautiful white snow and tall evergreens in the background, and maybe sightings of bears if we get lucky!

Photo credit: Andagies

International: Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Rumored to have inspired the Disney Castle, this stunning work of architectural art looks most magical in the wintertime! This picture is not mine, but when I went they were repairing the bridge that has this vantage point. Wouldn’t this be a dreamy elopement site??? We can enjoy some delicious German pastries and hot glüwein afterwards!

Where to???

Who’s got a serious case of the travel bug now??? I know I do! All in all, no matter what spot you pick for your destination elopement, without a doubt it will be a journey to remember. If you are interested and want to get started with planning your destination elopement, or for booking, send your inquiries to framesandetters@gmail.com 🙂 Remember, only pay my travel fees and Airbnb if you book your elopement by 10/31/19!

Happy planning! Johanna Elise

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frames & letters photography

Serving louisville & wherever the camera takes me