Where to Elope in Florida
Are you planning to elope in Florida? As the most beautiful state in the country (in my humble, totally biased opinion), there’s an infinite number of locations to recite your vows and tie the knot.
Choosing an elopement location in Florida is all about deciding what YOU want out of a wedding day. You don’t have to choose a location that can accommodate a certain amount of guests, or that’s close to an airport or hotel.
You get to choose a location ANYWHERE, giving you complete flexibility and control over your wedding day.
That being said, there are a few factors to consider.
- Is it just the two of you and an officiant? Or do you plan to have a few guests in attendance?
- If you’re inviting guests, will it be 5, 10, or 30 guests?
- Do you want to make a weekend celebration out of it, or is half a day enough for you?
- Do you want to get married on the beach? Do you want to be in an evergreen forest with Spanish moss dripping down from the trees? Want to be on a boat or an island? Or do you want to stay in or near a big city?
If you’re not inviting any guests, just an officiant and a photographer (like myself), then you can literally go anywhere. You can hop on a sailboat or yacht, paddle to a private, deserted island, or walk deep into a state park or national forest for incredible views and backdrops.
However, the more guests you plan to bring, the more you’ll want to accommodate them. With anywhere between 10 and 30 guests, you might want to reserve a micro-wedding venue or small event space that offers elopement packages.
Whatever your cup of tea, I’ve got some recommendations here. Here’s an overview of the best places to elope in Florida:
- Micro wedding venues in Florida
- Beach Elopement Locations
- Outdoor Elopement Locations + Adventure Ideas
Micro Wedding Venues in Florida
Micro wedding venues are essentially any proper wedding venue that offers elopement packages. This generally means a ceremony only, for 1-2 hours, at a discounted price. Often, these packages are only available on weekdays. Here are some Florida elopement locations for those that want an actual venue.
Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden
The name really says it all. The garden is as beautiful as it sounds and offers multiple outdoor venues and one indoor chapel, making it one of the best places to elope in Key West Florida.
The Cooper Estate (South of Miami)
The Cooper Estate is a venue that showcases Old Florida - what the state looked like a hundred years ago. It’s gorgeous, green, and has everything you need for a small wedding celebration.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (Miami)
Vizcaya is a stunning and elaborate venue in Miami geared toward larger weddings. Large weddings will utilize the main house. However, for smaller weddings (like elopements), you can have a daytime ceremony anywhere in the gardens (with no access to the house). The reservation fee for a garden ceremony is a fraction of the main venue cost and includes up to 25 guests.
You can have an intimate, daytime ceremony here, then go out for dinner and spend the evening on the beach.
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (Delray Beach/North of Ft Lauderdale)
Just like Vizcaya, Morikami offers an elaborate museum venue designed for larger weddings that will be held in the evening (when the museum is closed to the public). But for elopements and small ceremonies, you can host them outside in the garden during the daytime, for a much lower cost. This venue is in Delray Beach, near West Palm Beach.
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse (Daytona Beach)
Looking for cool places to elope in Florida that are unique and different? Plan your elopement in front of a magnificent lighthouse. The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is a museum near Daytona Beach.
They have a specific lawn in front of the lighthouse for ceremonies. And you can climb the [many] stairs to the top of the lighthouse for magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean. Just know that ceremonies are held during normal business hours, so there will be other people around.
Twisted Oak Farm (Vero Beach)
Looking for a rustic ceremony under acres of moss-draped oak trees? Twisted Oak Farm in Vero Beach (north of West Palm Beach) offers traditional wedding rentals, as well as rentals for elopements (up to 4 guests) and micro-weddings (up to 30 guests).
Elopements and micro-weddings are typically done during the week, keeping their weekends free for larger weddings.
Peña-Peck House (St Augustine)
St Augustine is known for its historic, colonial architecture, and the Peña-Peck House is the perfect example of that. It’s in the middle of downtown, but its mature canopy of trees makes it feel quiet and intimate. Smaller elopement reservations are available in the garden.
Leu Gardens (Orlando)
Leu Gardens is a beautiful, spacious garden in Orlando that offers very affordable elopement packages for up to 25 guests.
Kraft Azalea Garden (Winter Park/Orlando)
This stunning 5-acre garden offers so much when it comes to elopements. It features the Exedra, a stone column backdrop making this the perfect spot to recite your vows during the sunset.
Reservations are handled through the city, ensuring affordability. It’s one of the best, cheap places to elope in Orlando Florida, and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Micro Wedding Venues - Continued
How about a classic elopement at the courthouse? The Sarasota Courthouse is a beautiful, historic building that actually allows for some gorgeous photos.
It’s one of the most affordable places to elope in Florida (about $30). A county clerk at the courthouse performs your ceremony. And it allows for spontaneity - no reservations or appointments. Just show up during business hours and get married at one of their ceremony spots on the property.
Hotel Zamora (St Pete)
Looking for some scenic urban and beach views while you recite your vows? Hotel Zamora in St Pete offers rooftop views of the Gulf of Mexico. This Mediterranean-style, boutique hotel is a beautiful location to stay and host your event for your closest family and friends.
Harborside Chapel (Tampa/St Pete)
Maybe you want the best of both worlds when you get eloped. If you’d like to host your ceremony in a stunning chapel, surrounded by windows and natural light. Harborside Chapel is the perfect spot. Weekday elopement rentals are very affordable.
The Don Cesar (St Pete)
Affectionately known as the Pink Palace, the Don Cesar is a well-known, historic resort on the beach in St Pete. It’s fun, vibrant, and classic, and offers elopement packages on its private stretch of beach.
Selby Gardens Spanish Point Campus (Sarasota)
Selby Gardens (their Spanish Point Campus) is on the southern end of Sarasota and features 3 wedding/elopement venue options. One of which is a historic chapel, and another is out on the lawn. The main campus (Downtown Sarasota) is stunning as well, but geared towards larger weddings.
Key Sailing (Siesta Key)
Get eloped on a private sailboat that seats up to 12 guests. The cost per hour is very affordable on Key Sailing, based out of Siesta Key (Sarasota). Bring your own snacks and drinks, such as beer or white wine. Since you can bring up to 12 guests, it’s easy to bring an officiant and photographer. Bathrooms are available onboard.
Or, you can complete your ceremony ahead of time on the beach and embark on a sunset sail with just the two of you (and maybe a photographer).
Historical Society of Sarasota County
A historical church from 1901 next to a house built in the 1800s. For those who love vintage charm and historical architecture, and want to get married in a church, the Historical Society of Sarasota is an adorable option.
Sarasota Garden Club
The luscious Sarasota Garden Club sits just across the street from the bay in downtown Sarasota. It’s the perfect place for an intimate ceremony, and gives you easy access to the beaches of Lido Key and Siesta Key, not to mention the amenities, activities, and restaurants of Sarasota.
Elope at these Stunning Homes and Cabins on Airbnb
Ok ok, these aren’t proper wedding venues, so I shouldn’t call them that. But these are gorgeous properties that will create lasting memories for decades to come. Airbnb makes it easy to find beautiful places to elope in Florida.
Like this Aframe on the beach in St Augustine.
Or this log cabin on the river, just north of Tampa.
Here’s a cabin on stilts, over the edge of a lake.
This cabin provides instant access to the otherworldly Withlacoochee River.
And here’s a modern cabin on the river in Bonita Springs.
And if you really want a fantastic river stay, the Weeki Wachi River features a fantastic emerald green color and is often home to manatees. This updated cabin sits right on the bank.
To host an elopement at an Airbnb, you should always message the host first and confirm that it is ok with them. If it’s just the two of you, a photographer, and an officiant, it shouldn’t be an issue at all.
If you’re inviting a handful of guests, you’ll definitely need permission, even if the guests aren’t staying overnight in the home. There are a plethora of Airbnbs in Florida that would make for a stunning elopement.
Florida Elopement Locations on the Beach
Let’s be real; most people who elope in Florida are looking to do so on the beach. Or at least, they’ll want to head to the beach at some point during their elopement.
Here are some of the best places to elope in Florida on the beach, and a few ideas for how to plan it.
Beach Elopement Ideas
1 - Have an intimate ceremony on the sand. Bonus points if it’s during sunrise or sunset. Just the two of you and an officiant. Maybe your dog and best friend are there as well. No chairs or decor are needed, just the sights and sounds of the ocean.
2 - Plan a small picnic. You or your friends can set up a beautiful picnic on the beach. Or you can hire a local elopement specialist to set up a stunning beach spread that will look dreamy in photos. Have someone bring a freshly brewed coffee box from a local coffee shop if it’s in the morning, and maybe some baked goods.
3 - Pop champagne!
Whether you have your ceremony on the beach, or you are coming to the beach after a ceremony elsewhere, bring some champagne and pop it during the sunset (but check beach rules about glass bottles and alcohol).
4 - Host a proper ceremony. If you do want to have a few guests around for your elopement, and you want to have a full ceremony with chairs and decor set up, you can definitely do that. On many Florida beaches, you’ll need a permit from the city or county to do this.
Visit the city website where you are thinking (for example, here is the Madeira Beach website - $50 for less than 25 guests, $100 for more than 25 guests) to apply for a permit. Then, you can hire a wedding vendor to bring any decor or chairs needed.
Alternatively, there are companies like Florida Beach Weddings that do everything for you, including the permit process (but they usually make you use their staff photographers).
Here are a few ideas and beach locations to consider.
Anna Maria Island
A personal favorite of mine, and a popular vacation destination. It's quaint, gorgeous, and easy to reach from numerous airports. Tons of great vacation rentals to stay at and quite a few nature preserves nearby.
The beaches on the gulf coast are made up of soft, powdery white sand, making these beaches very desirable (on the East Coast, you get larger brown granules of sand which has a rougher texture).
Just south of Anna Maria Island, and next to Sarasota, this island is consistently ranked as one of the best beach destinations in the country.
A very popular island in Fort Myers with gorgeous beaches and plenty to do around the island.
Honeymoon Island State Park
This state park is just north of Tampa and St Pete. The main park is accessible by car. But on the far north end of the island is a deserted beach that requires boat access to get to. If you have a boat, you can also go to the next island over - Anclote Key Preserve State Park for something with very few people.
Any beach in the Florida Keys would be the perfect location. It just depends on where you are staying during your trip to the Keys. Bahia Honda State Park is a beautiful option.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park (Miami)
My favorite beach in Miami. It’s on an island and is away from much of the crowds. There’s a stunning lighthouse and lots of opportunities for beautiful photos, especially early in the morning when there aren't many beachgoers around yet.
Canaveral National Seashore
This protected strip of shoreline is virtually untouched and absolutely gorgeous. There’s a fair number of parking lots and easy beach access. Simply walking down any of the beaches a little bit will get you away from other beachgoers (mostly people fishing).
Anastasia State Park (St Augustine)
The beaches here are some of the most picturesque in the state. Not to mention the lighthouse and the moss-draped, oak-lined trails and roads.
Outdoor Elopement Ideas in Florida
Feeling adventurous? Want to do something totally different, unique, and memorable on the biggest day of your life? Here is where to elope in Florida when you want to incorporate some adventure activities into your plans.
Paddle to Shell Key
Shell Key is an uninhabited island in Fort De Soto Park (St Pete). You can paddleboard or kayak to the island and find your own private beach to relax on. You can even camp here if you want (camping permit required).
Camp on a Private Island
Want to camp on your own private island? You can have your ceremony here, or head here after a ceremony on the mainland.
At Canaveral National Seashore, there are 14 separate islands that you can reserve and camp at. Each can accommodate at least 6 people, with some able to accommodate upwards of 60 for larger groups.
Some are a bit further away and would require a boat. Others you can paddle to on a canoe or kayak if you aren’t bringing too much gear. For $20 a night, you’ll get magnificent, private views. But it’s completely primitive camping - no toilets, electricity, or drinking water.
Hitch a Ride to Cayo Costa State Park
Cayo Costa State Park is near Fort Myers. It’s a large, uninhabited island with pristine beaches and hiking trails. There are developed campgrounds here, but you likely can’t paddle far enough to reach them. You’ll need a boat to reach it (or reserve a ferry).
The good news is that there are restrooms with flushing toilets and showers. With few people around, it’s a great place to bring your dog and let them experience the joy and freedom of your big day as well, whether you stay overnight or not. If you have a boat (or rent one), boat camping is also available at the dock.
Paddle Through the Mangroves
There are tons of places in Florida where you can paddle through beautiful mangrove tunnels. They are unique, fascinating, and intimate.
You can find mangrove tunnels and scenic paddling areas near many of the best beaches and vacation destinations, including Sarasota, the Keys, the Everglades, and Miami. There might even be an under-the-radar spot near me, just south of Tampa Bay...
Swim and Snorkel in one of Florida's Many Natural, Blue Springs
Most people come to Florida for the beaches. And most people miss out on our true treasures; the springs. Florida has dozens of natural, blue springs that are perfect for snorkeling and swimming.
These unique locations are incredibly scenic and make for a wonderful elopement activity. Many of them are located inside State Parks, so camping is usually available, and Airbnb’s are often nearby.
A few examples (though there are many more):
- Silver Springs State Park
- Blue Spring State Park
- Rainbow Springs State Park
- Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Charter a Sailboat
You might be able to pick up on a theme when it comes to Florida elopement ideas; water. Florida is all about being on, in, or near the water.
Chartering a private sailboat excursion is a great way for you, and possibly a guest or two, to enjoy the sunset and recite your vows out in the deep blue sea. A few hours on a sailboat is can be surprisingly affordable.
Heli-Tour in the Florida Keys
Maybe you don’t want to be in the water, maybe you want to be over it. A helicopter tour in the Florida Keys is a great way to see this unique destination from a new point of view.
Swim With Manatees
Yes, manatees are real. And you can often find them while paddling through nature preserves or down rivers if you get the season right. But in certain areas (Crystal River), manatees hang out year-round. And you can SWIM WITH THEM. Seriously, if I was getting eloped, I’d swim with manatees. It’s about an hour north of Tampa.
See the Milky Way
Want to see the Milky Way? You’ll need to find a Dark Sky-certified park to actually get a clear view of the stars in the sky.
There are only 201 of these locations on the entire planet, and two of them are in Florida: Everglades National Park and Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in Central Florida. If you camp at either park on a clear night, you’ll get the most incredible view of the stars. And if you’re there between April and September, you’ll get the best view of the Milk Way. That’s pretty romantic if you ask me. Unfortunately, Milky Way viewing season is also the hot season.
Go Lobster Diving
Want an adventure and a delicious dinner? If you’re in Southern Florida (particularly the Keys) you can go lobster diving. You’ll dive down into relatively shallow water and use a stick and a net to catch lobsters hiding under rocks.
It’s not easy, but the reward is worth the effort. You can catch lobsters when they are in season by either free diving or scuba diving.
Hot Air Ballon Ride in Orlando
The most romantic way to see Florida might be a hot air balloon ride. There are a few opportunities to do this in Orlando, so you might even get a glimpse of Disney World.
Ride Horses at Amelia Island State Park
Are you in love with horses? Or do you want to ride horses for the first time? Well, you might as well do so on a tropical beach. One of the absolute best places in Florida to elope is on Amelia Island, where you can explore the state park here and go on a seaside horseback riding tour.
Leisurely Float Down a Scenic Florida River
Florida has some of the most beautiful rivers in the country. Especially the ones with crystal-clear water flowing from a natural spring. Weeki Wachee Springs is one of these scenic rivers. You can rent float tubes and hold hands as you bumble down the river at your own pace. Or you can rent clear-bottom boats for the best views beneath the surface.
Explore the Florida Keys on a Jet Ski
Want to break free from the crowds in the Keys? Rent a jet ski and explore the quieter side of the islands, or hop around from island to island and find the perfect place to relax.
Get Married Among the Rolling Hills of Lake Louisa State Park
Florida is extremely flat. But Lake Lousia State Park is home to one of the only places in Florida with rolling hills. If dreamy, meadow pictures are a goal, consider this state park in Central Florida.
You can also kayak the lake during the sunrise, explore the trails on horseback, and even rent a glamping tent or cabin.
Florida State Parks
I mentioned a handful of state parks above, for casual elopements. For those looking to host a proper elopement ceremony surrounded by nature, there are 59 Florida State Parks that advertise wedding rental space (for around $50).
A few of the key parks:
- Big Talbot Island (Jacksonville)
- Anastasia (St Augustine)
- Delnor-Wiggins Pass (Naples)
- Bill Baggs Cape Florida (Miami)
- Alfred B. Maclay Gardens (Tallahassee)
- Henderson Beach (Destin)
- Lovers Key (Fort Meyers)
- Honeymoon Island (Dunedin, near Tampa)
How On Earth Do You Choose Where to Elope in Florida
Let’s just say that those who are eloping in Florida are spoiled for choice. There are so many options, from traditional wedding venues that offer elopement packages, to scenic beaches and viewpoints, and remote natural locations that require a hike, a paddle, or a boat to reach. But how on earth do you choose a place to elope in Florida?
To decide, refer back to the questions we asked before:
- How many people do you want to invite (if any)?
- Do you want to be in or near a big city?
- Do you want to be on or near the beach?
- Do you want to be surrounded by nature, or close to activities like swimming, hiking, paddling, or wildlife viewing?
- Do you want to host a ceremony at a place with some amenities, or do you want to recite your vows in a unique, scenic location that hasn’t been done before?
Answering any (or all) of these questions can help narrow down the choices. If you need some guidance, I’d be happy to help. And if you’re looking for an elopement photographer, I’d be especially happy to help!
You can read more about my elopement photography services here. And if you want to send me a message, you can do so below.
Meet the Photographer
Kelsey Jaeger - Florida Elopements
I'm Kelsey Jaeger, a Southwest Florida local who absolutely loves elopements and capturing authentic, intimate photos of couples in the wild.
I'd love to hear from you and see if we can work together to create a magical elopement and unique, timeless photos that you'll cherish forever.
Send me a message so we can start planning today!