Honestly, expect ease and a lot of comfort when eloping in Europe! Europe is a small but incredibly diverse continent with great, modern infrastructure and public safety. English is spoken widely, especially in heavy tourist areas and all the Nordic countries. However, do expect a language barrier at times depending on where you are.
If you’re from North America, you’re going to be especially spoiled by how easy it is to get around. The countries are small and connected by train systems, and a trip from Venice to Paris to Zermatt are no more than comfy sleeper train rides away.
The food in all of Europe is high quality. Customer service is present, but not overbearing (and honestly sometimes lacking). Tipping servers more than €1-2 is unnecessary – seriously, my American friends, they’ll be confused and possibly even offended by your 20% tip.
On the other hand, sales tax on goods and services is already around 20%, so consider some things may feel a little more expensive, especially shopping.
Finally, the concept of eloping itself is still completely unknown here, so expect curious looks! Most people will ask if you’re models for a photoshoot – feel free to explain proudly that, “Nope! This is our wedding day!” or, say nothing at all 🙂
The Nordic countries, Denmark, and the UK. They all grow up speaking English! The Italians and the Spanish will do their best with a smile, the Germans and Austrians may or may not try, and the French will probably just ignore you.
Europeans learn English not just to speak with native English speakers, but also other Europeans. They learn English to communicate as they travel and do business across borders within the EU.
When speaking English here, just slow down and use a 5th grade vocabulary. Don’t use idioms or slang or a heavy accent, and you’ll be fine!
PRO TIP: Download Deepl translator to your phone and learn a couple basic phrases wherever you go. Greetings and niceties go a long way for warming folks up.
The best part about eloping in Europe is you’re already on your honeymoon as soon as it ends! While planning your overall trip, it’s important to think which airports you want to fly in and out of. Many major European cities have direct flights connecting around the world.
When moving around the continent by bus or train, it’s so much less stressful the less you have on you. If you plan to fly with any budget airlines around Europe, this tip applies even more. Most couples pack a backpack each, then share a suitcase with enough room to bring back souvenirs.
You want to give yourself wiggle room for jet lag and unforeseen delays. Whether you plan your elopement at the beginning or end of your trip is up to you! It might be less stressful to just get it out of the way and enjoy a true “honeymoon” or to give yourself lots of time to adjust and relax into your vacation before the big celebration.
Otherwise, your itinerary across Europe can include just about anything. I’m a fan of slower travel, meaning I like to stay in places longer and absorb the area. Moving around every single day, a new hotel every night, makes it hard to relax; but to some, that’s part of the adventure!
Yes, it’s possible to get legally married in Europe!
Before we get into that though, ask yourself: do you really want or need the bureaucratic headache? For most countries, there is a pile of documents you need to get translated and officated. It will take weeks to months, require a certified translator, and you’ll most likely have to have a non-English ceremony in a city hall somewhere. You’ll then need to take all that paperwork back to your resident country, and have it translated and officiated again.
If you decide there is a sentimental reason for all this, by all means go for it! But start this process 6 months in advance. As someone who’s lived in 3 European countries, I can tell you things generally move pretty slowly here.
Denmark. It’s dubbed “The Vegas of Europe” specifically for this reason. They accept documents in English and have a really streamlined process for non-citizens/non-residents.
Below, I’ve written summaries for some of the major areas people consider eloping. It really comes down a lot to personal preference and your vision for the day. Whether you’re inviting guests makes some places better than others as well, so read on!
These countries are great if you really love wild, unspoiled nature. The winter is a magical, snowy wonderland punctuated by the northern lights, and summers are never-ending daylight. They’re vast and difficult to get around without a car, but perfect for those who really want wilderness.
The west coast of Portugal and northern coast of Spain is comparable to the Pacific coast of the US. The southern coasts are warm. These countries are great for beach elopements, or city elopements exploring cathedrals and old architecture.
The outlying islands off the west coast of Europe are hidden gems. The Azores and Madeira are especially wild and impressive. Mallorca and the canary islands are much more developed and geared towards partying tourists, so my choice is always the Azores and Madeira for a tropical and wild elopement.
The Alps stretch across a large stretch of western Europe. The Italian Dolomites are dry, rocky and other worldly, while the Austrian and German alps are green and mossy. The Slovenian alps look a little like the Dolomites, and have impressive turquoise rivers and canyons. The French and Swiss alps are equally green and wet, with the highest peaks in the range – most notably, Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.
Because of the diversity of mountain huts and the development of the ski areas in the Alps, it’s one of the most accessible mountain ranges in the world. Even if you have guests with varying physical abilities, they’ll be able to reach high altitudes with the gondola networks. Mountain huts make staying overnight at altitude luxurious, and you can catch sunrises, sunsets and stars all from your room!
These countries have a really beautiful charm. The landscape is moody and rocky, especially Ireland and the Scottish highlands. If you love moodier, earthier tones, and cooler weather, these locations are perfect.
READ MORE: How to Elope in the Faroes, Ultimate Guide
Iceland is the ultimate adventure elopement location. The landscape is truly otherworldly, and the geothermal activity means you can explore hot springs, lava flows and glaciers all in the same place. There are ice caves, waterfalls, black sand beaches and vast swaths of hiking areas. The American and European continents meet here as well, making it an especially meaningful place for international couples to elope.
Sun, sand, food and smiles – need I say more? The mediterranean coast is beautiful all but the chilliest months of the year. Each area has its own special vibe and culture, but if you want somewhere warm with a mediterranean touch, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Spring elopements are best for: avoiding crowds, blooming flowers, warmer ski elopements
Spring elopements are worst for: in my opinion, aesthetic. Until mid-May, things are pretty dried out, dead and brown in most places. It’s not my favorite time of year!
SEE MORE: Alps Spring Elopement (March)
Summer elopements are best for: greenery, warm weather; keep in mind southern Europe can be very hot
Summer elopements are worst for: crowds, surge pricing; it’s peak travel season
Fall elopements are best for: dry and sunny weather, fall colors, fewer crowds
Fall elopements are worst for: alpine lakes – many of them have dried up by this time
READ MORE: 2 Day Dolomites Hiking Elopement
Winter elopements are best for: avoiding crowds, ski elopements, Christmas markets
Winter elopements are worst for: weather; Europe can be really grey in the winter (like, really grey). Embrace it and choose a snowy location in the Alps!
READ MORE: 2 Day Dolomites Ski Elopement
Getting around Europe by train is super affordable and easy. Since the continent is so dense, you’ll be able to get to almost any destination with a train. If you’re planning a larger honeymoon trip across Europe, I recommend taking advantage of the train system, especially first class cabins and sleeper trains. These are affordable upgrades that guarantee you a seat placement and a quiet area.
Buses are also large and comfortable!
However, once you are in the area of your elopement, I recommend renting a car for a couple days. You’ll want the flexibility of getting around on your own timeline. Especially if you’re not doing a city elopement, and plan to be in the mountains or a rural area. You can’t depend on the buses and trains as much, and you’ll want a place to store your bags and a change of clothes.
Renting cars in Europe is easy. There are just a couple things I recommend checking, and that’s the availability of automatic transmissions. Renting a manual car in Europe is a lot cheaper, so if you can drive stick, you can save yourself some money.
The roads here are great, just watch out for speed traps and know where you’ll need to pay extra for tolls and vignettes. It’s worth mentioning one more time to watch out for speed traps – they’re everywhere!
Additionally, make sure you get an international driver’s license before you arrive. It’s just a translation of your license for the police here, but it may be needed to pick up your rental car.
I find searching Instagram hashtags one of the best ways to find vendors. Search by country, region and profession. They should have a variety of work showcased on their page, and links to their website and prices.
Don’t judge a vendors business by their follower amount either – some of the best service providers here have modest “followings.” They tend to be focused on serving their clients rather than posting on social media 😉
There are so many talented elopement photographers all around Europe. I encourage you to support local artists and hire as local as you can! European taxes are high, and operating a business here is difficult for many artists. By hiring a local to the area, you’ll be supporting the economy in a sustainable way, and getting a more knowledgeable vendor.
I’m uncompromising in delivering you the most luxurious, most chill elopement experience possible. I provide you with all the resources you need to make this thing happen, including vow guides, location guides, vendor recommendations and hotel ideas. The mountains are my home, office and playground, and I can’t wait to share it all with you.
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