Dreaming about eloping in Florida but don’t know where to start? I am here to help you navigate through the many options Florida has to give you. If you are concerned about the best time of year, weather, location, or how to make it all legit then this guide is for you!
Best Time of Year For A Florida Elopement
Unlike many areas of the U.S. Florida’s best wedding seasons are pretty much anytime other than summer and I will tell you why below.
Spring – Springtime is great if you want warmer weather without all of the torrential rain that summertime brings. The days begin to get longer and the warmer temperatures are perfect for water activities like snorkeling, boating, and paddle boarding. The one downside to the spring season might be spring break week and the crowds it brings but with careful planning we can avoid that!
Summer – Summer is certainly beautiful in Florida BUT also very hot and humid. If you definitely want to elope between June – August then I strongly recommend a sunrise elopement so you can not only beat the heat but also avoid our afternoon thunderstorms.
Fall – In late October, and November is when we get the closest to having “fall” weather. While it can still be warm during the day, our early mornings and evenings become a more pleasant temperature. September is still very warm and mid-September through October is peak hurricane season. While hurricanes don’t always happen, it may be wise to get travel insurance. I also provide backup plans to my couples in the case of dangerous weather.
Winter – December through March we get our coolest temps which is perfect if you don’t like the heat but still want a wedding in the tropics. Our days are shorter though, so incorporating an evening campfire on the beach, or a night out in St. Augustine (especially during The Night of Lights) are some fun ways to extend your day.
What Happens If There Is A Hurricane?
Fortunately hurricanes are tracked as soon as they form in the ocean which is sometimes up to 2 weeks before they come anywhere near Florida. If you are planning a visit during the high point of hurricane season (September – October) I recommend investing in wedding and/or travel insurance for any hotels and reservations you have booked. Always communicate with your vendors and hosts to see if they have any backup locations (indoors at your rental house for example) or if it is possible to move your elopement to another date.
Oftentimes if a hurricane is coming near one part of Florida we can still plan around it and choose another part of Florida that won’t be affected. Backup plans are always built in to my elopement timelines for couples who choose to come during hurricane season.
Where to Elope in Florida
Although Florida is known for its amazing beaches (which I absolutely love) there are so many other options to consider when choosing a location for your elopement. You can even get married off the coast of Florida if you don’t want a landlocked elopement!
- On a sailboat in southwest Florida
- Downtown Tampa
- St. Pete Beach
- Bok Tower Gardens
- Lake Louisa
- Winter Park, Fl
- Downtown Orlando
- Kelly Park/Rock Springs
- Palm Coast (Washington Oaks, Marineland Beach)
- St. Augustine
- Atlantic Beach
- Ponte Vedra Beach/Guana Preserve
- Big Talbot Island
Keep in mind certain areas may require a permit for eloping in Florida and some do not. Having an elopement photographer who can help steer you through local requirements will take a lot of stress and confusion off of your day!
Want to include your family? Check out this blog post!
Sunrise vs Sunset
If you want that epic beach sunset then definitely choose a location on the gulf coast! While you certainly can get sunset colors on the east coast, it just isn’t the same. If you are up for a sunrise elopement then Florida’s east coast can be extra magical, or, you can also catch a moonrise on an east coast beach if you’re lucky!
How To Get To Florida
Flying – If you are flying into Florida then our major airports are Orlando and Miami followed by Tampa and Jacksonville.
If you are aiming for an elopement on the Gulf coast then Orlando or Tampa is your best option. Tampa is about an hour away from the Gulf beaches and Orlando is a 2.5 hour drive to our west coast.
If you want to elope in central Florida (Orlando, Cocoa Beach, Palm Coast, Daytona) then Orlando is a great option with tons of flights coming and going every day.
South Florida and the Keys is best accessed by Miami which has tons of domestic and international flights coming in and out.
North Florida’s east coast can be accessed by flying into Jacksonville International Airport which has tons of flight options and is a super easy airport to navigate – my favorite!
If the Florida pan-handle is your destination (hello, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Rosemary Beach) the easiest airport to access is Pensacola International Airport.
Planning a road trip?
If hitting the open road is more your style then the two main highways to keep in mind will be I-75 (west side of Florida) and I-95 (east side of Florida). I-75 gives you best access to Tampa, Sarasota, and Fort Meyers while I-95 gives super easy access to Jacksonville all the way down to Miami. Orlando is accessible from either highway!
A note about toll roads:
Throughout a lot of central Florida are toll roads. They are mostly unavoidable unless you want to add a ton of hours onto your drive. The best way to pay for these tolls is to sign up for E-Pass or stop into a Publix (get a pub-sub while you’re at it!) and grab a SunPass. You can also do Toll-By-Plate (your plate is scanned as you drive through) but it tends to be more expensive than the other two options.
How to Make Eloping in Florida Legit
Need to know how to make your elopement in Florida legal? I know how and I am here to spill all of the tea.
Where to Get Your Marriage License
You can pick up your marriage license at any Clerk of Court office. Out of state residents can be issued one immediately, in-state residents have a waiting period of 3 days unless you do a premarital prep course.
In addition to both partners being present when applying for a marriage license, you will need:
- An official ID
- Social Security Numbers
- Passports or naturalization or immigration numbers (for international visitors)
- For those who were previously married you will need the date of divorce, annulment, or previous spouse’s death
When eloping in Florida, who can officiate the wedding?
According to Florida law, “All regularly ordained ministers of the gospel or elders in communion with some church, or other ordained clergy, and all judicial officers, including retired judicial officers, clerks of the circuit courts, and notaries public of this state may solemnize the rights of matrimonial contract, under the regulations prescribed by law.”
Once you have your elopement ceremony and your license is signed you will need to mail back your license to the court offices within 10 days. Once they receive it they will certify it and send it back to you.
What To Do After Your Elopement
The fun doesn’t have to end after you say “I do”! Planning an activity for after your ceremony is a great way to celebrate getting married. Activities that are unique to you and your partner’s interests also helps make your elopement that much more special!
Here are a few ideas for after you become officially hitched:
- Go on a sunset dinner & drinks cruise
- Explore the Florida springs and waterways on paddle boards or kayaks
- Go to a local bar
- Relax on a sailboat or yacht
- Have a beach picnic and bonfire with pizza and s’mores
- Collect shells on the beach
- Rent a glamping campsite
- Grab ice cream
- Hire a private chef for dinner at your rental house
Read this blog post of 60 Ideas For Your Florida Elopement for even more ideas!
Example 8 Hour Timeline For Eloping in Florida
12p – Meet for getting ready photos
2p – First look
3p – Ceremony in botanical garden
3:30p – Bride and groom photos and explore gardens
4:30p – Head to marina
5:30p – Board ship for sunset cruise
6:30 – 8p Dinner, Relax onboard ship, sunset photos
How To Book Your Elopement
Once you’re ready to book your Florida elopement be sure to contact me so we can schedule a zoom call and I can hear all about your elopement dreams. Once we decide how much time you will need for a relaxed and fun day, I will send you a contract and invoice where you can sign and pay a retainer fee. From there you get to sit back and relax as I put together a plan, send you vendor recommendations, and help you navigate through any questions you have about eloping in Florida. Easy peasy lemon squeeze-y!