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Where and How to Elope in Pennsylvania

Updated: Mar 15



Elopement couple walking through a snowy forest


Pennsylvania is my home state, and I may be biased but it 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 adventure in between.

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!


 


Couple eloping at a waterfall in Ricketts Glen State Park
Ricketts Glen State Park


Where to Elope in Pennsylvania

The locations I have listed below are parks or general areas, so you'll want to hire an elopement planner or a photographer who doubles as a guide (like me!) to help you find exact locations for your ceremony and portraits. They'll do the research and find what you need for you and your guests.


Northeast

The Northeastern part of Pennsylvania is well known for the Pocono mountains. For people in New York City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, it's an easy and quick escape from city life so there are many vacation homes in the area and it's busy on the weekends throughout the year. But because of that, many of the great mountain views, lakes, and forests have been developed into ski resorts and neighborhoods for weekenders so there are many limitations to where you'll find great places to elope.


My Favorite Elopement Locations Include:


  • Worlds End State Park

  • Rickett's Glen State Park

  • Delaware Water Gap

  • Hickory Run State Park



Southwestern Pennsylvania

The best places to look in the Southwestern part of Pennsylvania for an adventurous elopement is in the Laurel Highlands region. It's still somewhat of a hidden gem so it doesn't get the same crowds that the Poconos do, and there are plenty of scenic views, rivers and lakes, and quiet forests you can use for your wedding day.



My Favorite Elopement Locations Include:

  • Ohiopyle State Park

  • Linn Run State Park

  • Laurel Summit State Park

  • Bear Run Nature Reserve

  • Laurel Hill State Park



Elopement couple at Ohiopyle State Park
Ohiopyle State Park


Northwestern Pennsylvania

The Northwestern part of Pennsylvania is quite diverse in its scenery, including beaches, mountain overlooks, ancient pine forests, and giant boulders in addition to the vast forest. The Erie area will be busier with vacationers, but the further you move toward central PA the quieter the parks get.


My Favorite Elopement Locations

  • McConnell's Mill State Park

  • Presque Isle State Park

  • Moraine State Park

  • Allegheny National Forest

  • Cook Forest State Park



Central Pennsylvania

If you're looking for places with seclusion and wildlife, the central part of Pennsylvania will be the perfect destination for your elopement day. There aren't large cities nearby- just small towns and campgrounds. You'll find beautiful overlooks, treelined canyons, some of the best stargazing, and even elk herds in a small area.


  • Raystown Lake

  • White Mountain Wild Area

  • Bucktail Overlook

  • Elk Country / Benezette

  • The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon

  • Sinnamahoning State Park

  • Cherry Springs State Park


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!


Couple walking through the forest at Rimrock Overlook in the Allegheny National Forest
Allegheny National Forest

 


How to Elope in Pennsylvania



Securing Location Permits

One of the most important things you should do to prepare for your elopement day is secure a permit with the office of whatever park or preserve manages the location you're getting married at. They want to know how many people will be attending, what time, and where within the park you'll be getting married and they may require a permit fee as well. One park I know of charges just $30, while some may charge more or nothing at all. At that point, they'll also let you know of any restrictions they may have on decorations or where you may or may not be permitted to hold your ceremony.


Additionally, they may require that your photographer or other vendors secure a permit and submit their business insurance to them, so be sure that your photographer does their part as well.


Note: Another benefit to hiring an elopement planner or photographer/guide is that they will find all of this information, making things much easier and less stressful for you.



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 and ask your important guests to participate in your ceremony with readings or other wedding traditions.


Note: Couples who elope with Wild North Weddings - I will provide you with resources to help you build the perfect self-uniting ceremony so you don't feel lost.


Couple eloping at the Boulder Field in Hickory Run State Park Pennsylvania



Dress For The Occasion


Pennsylvania is a state that gets all 4 seasons (sometimes in one day) and temperatures can be quite unpredictable, so when planning an outfit for your wedding day it's important to prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised when the weather actually turns out great. Here are some tips for choosing the right attire for your wedding day in PA:


  • Choose comfortable footwear - the #1 mistake couples make is trying to wear dress shoes on an elopement day. If you want nice shoes, pack them in a bag and wear them for your ceremony, but wear shoes with good traction for the rest of the day. If it's going to snow or if it's been raining, wear waterproof boots. If you're going to be near a water source, bring water sandals. Going barefoot is ok, but rocks can be very slippery and you also don't know if there's glass or fishing hooks hiding in there.

  • If you're wearing a dress, wear bike shorts or leggings underneath. Leggings will help keep your legs warm in the winter months, and a skin tone pair will assure that it's not noticable in photos. And thick thighs may save lives, but bike shorts will save your thighs in the summer when you're walking long distances.

  • When you're dress shopping, make sure that the material under your arms won't rub or irritate your arms after a long period of time. If it does, see if you can have that fixed during alterations.

  • Speaking of alterations - have them install a wide piece of ribbon as a loop under your dress skirt that will allow you to carry the train easily. Dresses may come with a small one, but a wide piece of ribbon will be comfortable around your wrist, and having a custom one installed may allow you to have better control of it.

  • If you're getting married in the summer and wearing a long-sleeved shirt, you may want to bring a 2nd one in case you sweat through the first.

  • If you're getting married in the cooler months, bring a real winter coat and gloves with you no matter if it fits the outfit you're wearing or not. Never underestimate how cold it can be when you're outside for a long period of time, especially when the wind blows.



bride showing off leggings under her dress at Ohiopyle State Park


Plan Some Fun Into Your Wedding Day!

Elopement days aren't just for getting married! It's about sharing a new, exciting experience together. Planning a fun activity into the timeline will help make new memories together and add to the story of your wedding day. 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 luxury picnic

  • A UTV adventure

  • Rock climbing

  • An evening dance in front of the campfire

  • Dinner cooked at your rental by a private chef

  • A horseback ride

  • A Pub crawl

  • Snowtubing

  • Ziplining

  • A boat ride



elopement couple repelling down a cliff


Choose Wild North Weddings to Document Your Day!

Planning an elopement is less stressful than planning a big wedding, but having a partner in the planning process and peace of mind knowing that your photographer is experienced in photographing weddings in any condition is invaluable.


If you're an engaged couple who's thinking about eloping or are ready to take the first step towards planning your elopement adventure, you're in the right place.

Wild North Weddings  Has photographed weddings all across the country and internationally Has 5-star reviews across the board Can provide insight and assistance with planning adventure elopements Will tell the story of your wedding day through real, candid photographs you'll love forever



Visit wildnorthweddings.com to get started with your wedding journey

or check out the "Elope in Pennsylvania" page for special pricing.




Adventure wedding elopement photographer | Wild North Weddings

Hey there! I'm Carly - The owner of Wild North Weddings and a photographer specializing in documenting weddings and elopements across the U.S. If you love the idea of a wedding with adventure, excitement, and a little romance sprinkled in, let's talk about how I can help you create and capture the wedding day of your dreams!


Destination Wedding and Elopement Photographer for weddings across the United States including Pennsylvania, Utah, Arizona, Washington, Montanna, Colorado, as well as in Europe including Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Switzerland and other international destinations


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