Compiled by Marian Amini and Hayley Woodward
WANT TO TIE THE KNOT WITHOUT ALL THE PLANNING? HERE ARE 10 GREAT PLACES TO ELOPE—OR HONEYMOON
1. Bled, Slovenia
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO GO: If you want the ultimate in romance, Bled is the spot, coupling a quaint European village with breathtaking scenery. The town has a tradition calling for the groom to carry his bride up 99 steep steps to ring the wishing bell inside the Church of the Assumption of Mary and then take a wooden gondola across Lake Bled to enjoy a slice of Bled cream cake on the veranda of the Grand Hotel Toplice. To get the marriage license, you just need to send in an application to the Bled Marriage Registry Office and make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy.
TIP: Make sure you apply with the marriage registry two weeks to six months before your embassy meeting.
2. British Virgin Islands
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO GO: More than 60 islands, Caribbean beaches, “The Baths,” reggae music and boat life are calling. To say “I Do” on this archipelago, submit paperwork along with a money order at least eight business days before your trip and, on your wedding day, pick up your license with a photo I.D. from the St. Thomas Courthouse. Twelve resorts—including the Bitter End Yacht Club, hailed the most beautiful place on earth in Travel + Leisure’s 2016 World’s Best Awards—will make booking your honeymoon a breeze.
TIP: Plan an afternoon ahead of time to fill out and mail the forms with your fiancé—they can’t be sent by someone else on your behalf.
3. Cusco, Peru
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO GO: This ancient Incan city boasts plenty of romantic sites in the heart of the Andes. Spend your honeymoon exploring historical sites like the Plaza de Armas or take a day trip to visit the ruins at Machu Picchu.
TIP: Before taking a bus or train to Cusco, make sure to get your Affidavit of Single Status notarized by the American Citizen Services at the Embassy in Lima and present your birth certificates (translated into Spanish) to get your license.
4. Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO GO: Grace Bay Beach is one of Turks and Caicos’ most beloved beaches. A number of luxury resorts and hotels sit at its shore and it’s part of the Alexandra National Park, meaning peace and quiet and plenty of water-related activities. Make sure you are in the country at least three days before applying for a marriage license to establish temporary residency.
TIP: Cruise ship passengers can apply for a special marriage license on the same day of their arrival.
5. Gretna Green, Scotland
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO GO: This historic village in southern Scotland is the unofficial birthplace of eloping. Couples have been running to the village since the mid-1700s, when marriage restrictions in England required couples to cross the border to make their bond legal. In fact, the phrase “running away to Gretna Green” has been used in romantic literature for centuries—it’s not difficult to understand why, based on the rolling green hills and surrounding pastures. Getting your license can take up to 70 days after you apply. If you want a religious or “belief” ceremony, a marriage schedule—similar to our unsigned licenses—must be collected in person by one of you no more than seven days before the wedding. The marriage schedule must then be returned to the registrar within three days after the wedding so the marriage can be registered.
TIP: Make sure you gain entry clearance into Scotland before getting hitched.
6. Kenya, Africa
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO GO: Housing more than 50 of the world’s national parks and some of the most endangered wildlife, Kenya is a perfect to place to go for adventure. We’ll just get right to it: Arrive three days before your big day to get your wedding license in Nairobi and, after you put a ring on it, safari away. We hear the annual wildebeest migration at the Maasia Mara reserve—one of the new Seven Wonders of the World—is a must-see. Check travel advisories before your trip.
TIP: Bring driver’s licenses, passports and birth certificates.
7. Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO GO: Not only does this Maui town possess some of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii, it’s also known for offering a variety of (honeymoon-perfect) activities such as whale watching, snorkeling, golfing and coffee farm visits. And when it comes to licenses, you can apply and have one in hand the same day.
TIP: To pick up your license, you and your significant other must appear in person before a marriage license agent.
8. Niagara Falls, New York
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO GO: With a one-of- a-kind view, adventurous “I Do”packages and a simple system—you can get a marriage license on the spot—it’s no wonder couples come from all over the world to tie the knot at Niagara Falls. Celebrate your relationship via boat, a Falls ledge, cruise package or helicopter. And if it’s an especially last-minute decision, call The Wedding Company of Niagara. They’ll provide witnesses, take photos and video with your camera for free and give you a commemorative certificate that actually says, “Married in Niagara Falls!”
TIP: Remember birth certificates and driver’s licenses.
9. Tamarindo, Costa Rica
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO GO: Off the beaten path from popular beach weddings, here you can choose a variety of picture-perfect outdoor backgrounds. Once you register with an attorney and send in your paperwork two months before the trip, say your vows amid a tropical jungle, next to mountain tops, waterfalls or on uncrowded shores. What you don’t choose, you can explore the rest of your visit.
TIP: You’ll need your passports, original birth certificates and two unrelated witnesses to tag along.
10. Wineglass Bay, Tasmania, Australia
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO GO: Like seclusion? You’ll love this place. Wineglass Bay, in Tasmania’s southernmost state, is considered one of the world’s best beaches. You can also find a host of different adventure activities, including hiking, four-wheeling, kayaking and scenic airplane tours. To get your date set, submit a completed Notice of Intended Marriage to your chosen Australian officiant at least one month, and no more than 18 months, before your ceremony.
Tip: Australian law requires you to hire an authorized celebrant to officiate the wedding. You can find the Registry of Marriage Celebrants at ag.gov.au.