Pennsylvania is my home state, so I may be biased, but Pennsylvania is one of the most beautiful, underrated destinations for adventure!
Everyone knows the state for Philadelphia, the city of brother love, and Pittsburgh, the city of bridges (or the city of champions if you're a Yinzer!) but there's so very much more to explore!
The mountains of the Laurel Highlands and Poconos region provide wonderful views for days (especially in autumn!), and a number of waterfalls! The shores of Lake Erie have sunsets that compare to those of the West Coast! "The Wilds" of Pennsylvania have old, cozy forests and wooded canyons as well as the Allegheny National Forest. Lakes and rivers flow beautifully throughout the state as well - perfect for a post-wedding float!
Although there are many gorgeous venues within the state that offer micro-weddings and elopements, I decided to limit the list to locations that are adventurous and outdoors! I also tried to stick with locations that may offer more privacy and won't be overcrowded with tourists, though choosing a weekday is probably the best way to avoid that!
Where to Elope in Pennsylvania
Loyalsock Canyon Vista
Pennsylvania Grand Canyon
Susquehannock State Park
Hawk Mountain Raptor Conservancy
Glen Onoko State Park
Ohiopyle State Park
Beam Rocks Overlook
Wolf Rocks Overlook
Laurel Hill State Park
Presque Isle State Park
North & Central Pennsylvania
Elk Country Visitor's Center
Pine Creek Gorge
Cook Forest State Park
Bald Eagle State Forest
I know this list seems a bit overwhelming because many of them are big state parks with lots of space! But part of the service that you receive with Wild North Weddings is to help narrow down the perfect location for you, based on the type of scenery you're looking for, how far you'd like to hike, if you're bringing guests, mobility restrictions, etc. There's an intense amount of research that goes behind the curation of locations I select to share with my clients, so rest assured - you won't be left alone to figure it out all!
Please note: ALWAYS follow the guidelines of Leave No Trace when visiting these locations! We want to keep our lands accessible and beautiful for a long time to come!
How to Elope in Pennsylvania
Securing Location Permits
The locations that I have listed here must be contacted in advance to ensure that you have the permission and permits necessary for your event. Even if it's just the two of you, you should still ensure that you've followed all necessary measures to be sure you're allowed to have your ceremony there. Many times the cost isn't high at all. Ohiopyle State Park for example is only $25! Not sure where you would even start with obtaining a permit? Wild North Weddings couples also receive assistance when it comes to figuring out who to speak with and how to obtain permits when necessary!
Making the Marriage "Legal"
There are 2 ways you can go about having your wedding ceremony officiated. The first is by hiring an ordained officiant, local mayor, judge, or any other person who can legally officiate your wedding. There's usually a small cost affiliated with this depending on the person performing the ceremony.
The second option is to tie your own knot and have a self-uniting ceremony! Pennsylvania is one of few states where you can have a self-uniting wedding license, only requiring signatures from at least 2 witnesses of the event. All you have to do is tell the clerk at the courthouse that you'd like a self-uniting marriage license and mail it back in afterward, just as you would any other marriage license. With this, you can state your own vows or even have any family member or friend "officiate" the ceremony with readings of your choice.
Choose Your Attire
Just because you're having a smaller guest list doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the dress budget! If you want the gown of your dreams, you have full permission to splurge on it. Just remember that you will get dirty! But you'll have the most fun experience in that dress and the dirt will tell a story.
If you'd rather have a smaller dress budget, there are some amazing options on Amazon for as low as $28 (just make sure you read the reviews so you don't get something low quality!). A gorgeous white jumpsuit would be amazing too. Be sure whatever you choose to wear is comfortable, doesn't irritate your arms when you move them, and leaves room to move around.
Be mindful of the weather when you're planning your attire. Summers can be very hot and humid, and the rest of the year can be unpredictably cold (or warm - that's PA for ya!). For the summer - those wearing long-sleeved shirts and jackets should be prepared with a t-shirt underneath so you can remove them while you're on your trek. You don't want to be dripping with sweat! And for dresses, light weight and flowy will make your life easier. In the colder months it's important to be prepared with a cover-up and leggings under your dress (fleece-lined or nude if you have a slit).
Prioritize Footwear! You'll need shoes, sandals, or boots that have good traction and that you don't mind getting wet or dirty. Don't worry - you can bring another pair to change into for pictures if you're feeling a more elegant look.
Make Plans for the Rest of Your Day!
There are SO many things you could do with your day! I can't even imagine listing them, but here are a few ideas for you to consider...
Brunch together or with your guests
Kayaking or River Tubing
Spend the morning at the spa
Hike for a sunrise or sunset view
Visit a brewery or winery
A UTV adventure
An evening dance in front of the campfire
Dinner cooked at your rental by a private chef
A horseback ride
A Pub crawl
Relax in the hotel as long as you'd like!
Choose Wild North Weddings to Document Your Day!
Our Pennsylvania Documentation Packages Include:
Planning assistance - including location selection, help with permits, custom timeline building, and vendor recommendations.
An online gallery and high-resolution image downloads
A print release allowing you to have your photos printed at your discretion.
All travel fees
A new wedding BFF, back-up officiant, and life-line to help you craft the perfect day!
Prices range from $300-$450 per hour for under 5 hours. Discounts apply for longer days.
One of my favorite parts of the concept of eloping is that couples are spending money on what they value most, rather than what they think they're supposed to. If you want to spend an absurd amount of money on a bouquet, spend $28 on your dress, stay in a super luxury cabin for the weekend and drink boxed wine, or stay in a tent under the stars and pop champagne fireside, do it! Wherever your wedding day takes you, always remember that it's your day and to stay true to what you want from it. Don't let anyone else cause you unnecessary stress, and don't be afraid to say "no" or "yes" to people. There's no right or wrong when it comes to weddings, so don't hesitate to do things your way!
Let's Talk! Fill out the contact form below to ask questions or start planning the beginning of your greatest adventure! More Good Reads on Elopements: Eloping Q&As White River National Forest Elopement The Costs of Eloping -vs- Big Weddings Keeping Loved Ones Involved in Adventure Weddings 5 Reasons Adventure Weddings are The Best! Wild North Weddings is an elopement and adventure wedding photographer documenting weddings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Denver, Colorado, Vail, Colorado, White River National Forest in Colorado, Moab, Utah, Arches National Park, Utah, Sedona, Arizona, Glacier National Park, Montana, Grand Tetons National Park, Montana, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, Taos, New Mexico, Zion National Park in Utah, Arcadia National Park, The Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, Smokey Mountain National Park, Shenandoah National Park, the Pacific Northwest, and more!