I love being able to call Ontario my home, and over the years, Bruce Peninsula National Park has come to hold a special place in my heart. From the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay to the forested hiking trails and surrounding sustainable accommodations, Bruce Peninsula National Park is the perfect location for intimate, adventurous elopements. After years of exploring this National Park, I’ve written a guide full of all my best advice on planning a Bruce Peninsula National Park elopement.
The Best Time To Elope At Bruce Peninsula National Park
Time of Year – Late Summer | Fall
August, September, and October are the best months to visit for your Bruce Peninsula National Park Elopement. Temperatures become more comfortable in late August, and visitor numbers begin to dwindle at the close of Summer. Beautiful Fall colors pop up all throughout Bruce Peninsula National Park beginning in mid-September. During late Summer and Fall, plenty of activities are available, like hiking, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, boating, Northern Light viewing, and more! You and your partner will enjoy the nice weather, stunning views, and endless activity options in and around Bruce Peninsula National Park!
Time of Week
Bruce Peninsula National Park sees almost half a million visitors each year. National parks tend to be more crowded on weekends than weekdays, so planning your celebration on a weekday will ensure you have an intimate and private elopement, even at some of the most popular and beautiful spots in and around the park!
Time of Day – Sunrise or Sunset?
Truthfully, it’s totally up to you and your partner! You can plan a Sunrise elopement that starts with coffee and a hike or a Sunset elopement that ends with you both cuddled under a blanket looking up at the Northern Lights. Here are some things to consider when deciding between a Sunrise or Sunset elopement:
- What type of lighting are you going for in your pictures? This is a great question to discuss with your photographer!
- What experience(s) do you and your partner hope to share? (ex. cave exploration, zip lining, or kayaking)
- Are you and your partner morning or evening people?
- What is the weather like at sunrise/sunset during your elopement season?
- Is ceremony privacy important to you as a couple?
The Best Places To Elope In And Around Bruce Peninsula National Park
01. The Grotto
The Grotto cave system in Bruce Peninsula National Park is very intricate, filled with turquoise blue waters and rigid pieces of rock. You and your partner will venture around a 2-mile loop from the parking lot to The Grotto via the Georgian Bay Marr Lake Trial. On the way to The Grotto caves, you’ll pass Cyprus Lake, Horse Lake, and Indian Head Cove. Once you get to The Grotto, there are multiple viewpoints of the caves and overhanging cliff points that look out onto the seemingly endless horizon of the Georgian Bay. Continuing around the loop counter-clockwise, you’ll pass Boulder Beach and Marr Lake before reaching the parking lot.
I love this spot for romantic Sunrise and Sunset elopements. I also love that the hiking route stops at multiple picture-worthy locations besides The Grotto. The loop is moderate with low elevation gain and only takes about an hour to complete.
The Grotto is open year-round, but parking reservations are required from April 30 to October 31.
02. Flowerpot Island
Large sea stacks, formed by thousands of years of weathering, have made this location just 6.5 kilometers northwest of Tobermory a one-of-a-kind ceremony spot. Couples can ride a boat and explore the island’s caves, rock formations, light station, and more! Only accessible by boat, trips to Flowerpot Island run roundtrip from the docks of Tobermory from Mid-May to October. Admission for adults costs $8.50 each, and cruises to the island vary in cost depending on the type and company of the cruise. Camping reservations may also be made in advance. For more reservation and transportation information, click here.
03. Lions Head Trail
Just 20 minutes south of Bruce Peninsula National Park is Lion’s Head Provincial Park. The park is best known for the Lion’s Head Lookout, a break within the towering evergreens along the Lion’s Head Trail that looks out onto rugged limestone cliffs and a bright blue shoreline.
This is an epic ceremony location and especially amazing in Fall when Autumn colors fill the treeline along the shore. You and your partner will enjoy the quiet hike through Lion’s Head Provincial Park, especially if you plan your elopement for a weekday!
The out-and-back route is 6.8km and is accessible via the McCurdy Parking Lot. This location requires a parking pass reservation to be made online, May-October. The pass costs $20 for 4 hours or $30 for a full day.
04. Heaframe – A Frame Cabin
Less than a half hour from Bruce Peninsula National Park is a picturesque A-Frame cabin near Lake Huron and Red Bay. This quiet retreat is located in the middle of a forest and includes a fire pit, outdoor games, a fireplace, a retro fridge, and the COOLEST outdoor sauna.
This A-Frame is so cute and could also double as a ceremony location. The cabin’s warm and inviting vibe, surrounded by a lush and quiet evergreen forest, creates a cozy and private elopement experience.
The Best Accommodations Around Bruce Peninsula National Park
01. On the Cliff Bed & Breakfast
On the Cliff Bed & Breakfast is perfect for any couple looking to unplug and unwind in nature in a charming B&B environment. They keep sustainability in mind like: energy efficient built, no single use soaps, eco friendly/biodegradable laundry soap, purified water available so no bottled water required, an EV charger and more! On the Cliff Bed & Breakfast is adult only and less than 200 steps to the Bruce Trail and Lion’s Head Nature Reserve. If you have guests you can rent out the entire place to yourself as well!
02. Cottage with Spa
This cozy, charming, modern cottage features a private beach and spa! Access to the Georgian Bay and Bruce Trail is just steps away from the beautiful cottage. This remote accommodation recently added a pergola and stone fireplace in the backyard, making the cottage the perfect location to celebrate after an intimate wedding or elopement with close family and friends.
03. Beautiful Tobermory Cottage
This cozy forest cottage is just 3 minutes from downtown Tobermory and a little less than 20 minutes from Bruce Peninsula National Park. It’s a quiet escape close to hiking trails, featuring a fire pit seating area, stone fireplace, and large dining area. Tobermory Cottage is a relaxing retreat that can sleep up to 8 people and is ideal for a private elopement or intimate wedding with a few guests.
The Best Activities In And Around Bruce Peninsula National Park
Late Summer | Fall Activities
Traveling To And From Bruce Peninsula National Park
There are almost 50 airports in Ontario, with Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) being the largest! Bruce Peninsula National Park is just a 3-hour drive from YYZ and offers scenic views of some of Bruce Peninsula’s most beautiful towns, forests, and parks.
If you’re looking for a ‘greener’ and more efficient mode of travel in Ontario, consider taking the train. VIA Rail offers routes across the province and beyond, with service to over 400 communities in Canada. It adds even more adventure to you and your partner’s elopement experience while keeping sustainability in mind. If you’re down for a road trip, renting an RV or camper van is another option. Outdoorsy is a great RV and camper van rental site!
When I talk about accessibility with clients, I also like to mention location accessibility. If you and your partner want an accessible-friendly ceremony spot, I can help you choose a location that meets all your accessibility needs.
How To Find An Elopement Photographer
Finding the best and right photographer for your Bruce Peninsula National Park elopement comes down to finding someone you and your partner trust, bond with, and connect with. You’ll be spending most of your elopement day with your photographer, so choosing someone you’d love to share your most intimate, beautiful, and love-filled moments with that day is important.
I encourage you to sit down with your partner and list your must-haves for your elopement. Hop over to Instagram, Google, or Pinterest and start searching for photographers that travel to and are familiar with the location and style of photography you want for your dream elopement. Maybe one of those photographers is me!
After you inquire with a few photographers, schedule a phone consultation before booking.
Important Questions To Ask Your Potential Elopement Photographer
- How would you describe your editing style?
- What values are important to you? (Quality, Inclusivity, and Passion are GREAT values)
- What packages do you offer?
- How would you describe your on-site photography style? (Directive, Interactive, Posed?)
- How many photos are delivered after our elopement?
- How and when do we receive sneak peek photos?
- Are your travel and accommodation costs included?
- What types of albums and prints are included in your packages?
- How do you integrate Leave No Trace guidelines into an elopement?
Ask as many questions as possible during your consultation with photographers! Your photos will be the most valuable investment you will make when planning your elopement. You want to make sure you make the most informed decision possible before booking. This will ensure that you not only walk away with nostalgic keepsakes but also have a beautiful experience that’ll make you and your partner happy for a lifetime.
If you like my style, vibe and feel like we could be friends, you won’t just get amazing photographs of your experience. You’ll also get a cheerleader, an adventure guide, and a friend. I’ll support you and your partner through the roller coaster of emotions that come with planning an elopement. On the big day, I’ll help you and your partner be fully present with one another. It’s my job to make sure you enjoy your elopement day, so I’ll take the itinerary, watch the clock, and guide you both through the big and small events of the day. I’ll also gently nudge you into better lighting, fix flyaways, and adjust your dress or tux. Lastly, I’ll give you and your partner the space to enjoy and soak up each and every moment with each other while still capturing the small, intimate intricacies of your love.
The Best Vendors For You Bruce National Park Elopement
When you hire me as your elopement photographer, you’ll gain full access to a preferred, sustainable vendors list upon booking! I source and build sustainable vendor lists for all my elopement locations — from florists that plant their own flowers or source from communal gardens to plant-based caterers, local and experienced adventure guides, inclusive officiants, and more! I aim to make your elopement planning process as stress-free and streamlined as possible.
Including Family, Friends & Pets In Your Bruce Peninsula National Park Elopement
An important discussion to have with your partner during the elopement planning process is if or how you’ll include friends, family, or pets in your elopement. Take some time to talk over your elopement day priorities, wants, and needs so that you both have a clear vision of what your ideal elopement day will look like.
If you choose not to involve family/friends in your elopement, you may feel a little nervous when it comes time to tell them. Being nervous is totally normal! When it comes time to tell your family and friends that you’ve eloped, there are many different options. Of course, there’s always the option to tell family and friends in person or over FaceTime. BUT, one of my favorite ways couples tell family and friends they’ve eloped is through announcement cards! I offer linen print boxes that include memorable snapshots from your elopement day. Sending these to your family and friends is a meaningful way to make them feel included in your elopement experience.
If you want to include family and friends in your elopement celebration but don’t want them at the actual elopement, hosting a reception or get-together once you return from your trip is a nice option! This can look like a private, catered dinner reception in an event space or a low-key brunch at home with family and friends.
If you’d like to involve family and friends in your elopement day plans, I am happy to help plan an elopement that includes up to 8 guests. We can also include your furry friend(s) in creative ways! If your ceremony location doesn’t allow pets, don’t worry! We can arrange to celebrate with your pet(s) at an Airbnb or other pet-friendly outdoor location nearby.
How To Design Your Bruce Peninsula National Park Elopement
The design of your Bruce Peninsula National Park elopement should be personalized to you and your partner’s styles and personalities! Don’t feel pressured to mold your elopement designs to trends and traditions. If designing isn’t your strong suit or you simply don’t want to stress over it, consider hiring an elopement planner. I always recommend connecting with elopement planners that are experienced with planning at your elopement location. They’ll not only be connected to other vendors in the area but full of local tips and tricks.
How To Choose The Perfect Elopement Attire
In short, wear something that makes you feel beautiful, confident, and comfortable. While it may be helpful to consider terrain and weather, there are no rules when it comes to elopement attire. You can wear hiking boots and a wedding dress if you want! One of the best things about eloping is that it’s all about you and your partner, nobody else. Embrace the muddy hiking boots paired with a designer suit or wedding dress, and lean into a glamorous look with comfortable shoes. Heck, maybe you even want to go full-out and wear head-to-toe adventure gear. The choice is yours!
How To Make Your Bruce Peninsula National Park Elopement Official
You’ll need to obtain a marriage license to get officially married in Ontario. This can be done by visiting a local municipality on Bruce Peninsula. There, you’ll pay a fee and provide proof of identification. A marriage license is valid for three months from the date of issue. An officiant (who’s legally permitted to do so) needs to perform the marriage and then send a completed and signed marriage license to ServiceOntario. After the officiant registers the marriage, you can request a marriage certificate. Lastly, Ontario requires that two witnesses and your officiant be present for the ceremony.
With An Officiant At Your Elopement Ceremony
If you choose to include an officiant in your actual elopement day ceremony, I can help you find and coordinate an officiant to ensure your elopement is as stress-free as possible! Don’t forget that you’ll need two witnesses as well. This can be family/friends or myself and an additional person. The officiant and witnesses only need to be present during the ceremony. If you’d like the rest of your elopement experience to be private, we can include that wish into your elopement day plans!
Without An Officiant At Your Elopement Ceremony
If you and your partner only want to experience your elopement with a photographer, you may want to do the “official” legal tying of the knot separately. This can be done at a courthouse or town hall on another day, before or after the elopement day.
Packing For Your Bruce Peninsula National Park Elopement
If you and your partner choose to wear a dress or suit on your elopement day, here is one of my favorite travel tips to make transporting important elopement attire hassle and risk-free.
Transport your dress or suit using a garment bag. The Green Garmento is one of my favorite companies that sell sustainable garment bags. It’s also a women-owned business!
Airlines like Delta have hanging closets at the front of the plane. If you let a flight attendant know you have your wedding attire in a garment bag as you board, they can assist in hanging it in a closet on the plane for you. Just make sure to grab it on the way off! I always advise clients never to put wedding attire in checked luggage. Elopement dresses or tuxes packed in checked luggage risk getting lost, delayed, or damaged. Sure, you may have to carry the garment bag through the airport, but better safe than sorry!
If you’re driving or taking a train to your elopement location, you can hang or lie your garment bag flat in your backseat, trunk, or sleeping cabin.
Elopement Essentials Packing List
- Passport / ID / Credit Cards
- Elopement Attire
- Garment Bags
- Vow Books
- Base Layers
- Hiking boots
- Long + Short Sleeved Shirts
- Adaptors + Chargers
- First Aid Kit + Medications + Toiletries
- Hiking Packs
- Reusable Water Bottles
- Bear Spray
Bruce Peninsula National Park Elopement Timeline
1:30 PM: Get Ready at A-Frame Airbnb
3:00 PM: Drive to Bruce Peninsula National Park
3:30 PM: Hike to the Grotto!
4:00 PM: Stop along the hike to take pictures at Cyrpus Lake, Horse Lake, and Indian Head Cove
5:00 PM: Vow ceremony at The Grotto
6:30 PM: Sunset portraits and champagne toast
8:00 PM: Hike back to the car and drive to Lion’s Head
9:00 PM: Watch the Northern Lights on the shores of Georgian Bay
Bruce Peninsula National Park Entry & Elopement Permit Guidelines
If you plan to visit Bruce Peninsula National Park and its surrounding areas, entry fees, reservations, and photography permits are most likely required. If you hire me as your photographer, I’ll assist you in securing all necessary reservations and advise you on what fees will need to be paid before your ceremony date. I already have the photography business license Bruce Peninsula National Park requires for elopement photographers, so the planning process will be stress-free when working with me!
Leave No Trace
The beauty of eloping lies not just in the simplicity and intimacy of the experience but also within the location where it’s celebrated. We want to keep that scenery beautiful during your elopement, so generations to come can also enjoy Mother Nature and all her amazing wonders. Leave No Trace is an organization that focuses on educating people on sustainability, and I’m proud to be a Leave No Trace Aware Photographer. I’m proud to practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace and want to encourage you to do the same!
The 7 Principles:
- Plan Ahead & Prepare
- Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Others
You can learn more about Leave No Trace on their website.
Ready To Plan An Adventurous Bruce Peninsula National Park Elopement?
Bruce Peninsula National Park and the surrounding peninsula is only 100 km long and 38 km wide. Still, it’s packed with incredible overlooks, sandy beaches, green forests, luxurious accommodations, and dozens of hiking trails. Some of Ontario’s best offerings fill and surround this unique National Park. If you and your partner love the idea of a Bruce Peninsula National Park elopement and need help figuring out all the details, you can share your love story, vision, and more with me here. You can also check out where I’m headed this year on my travel page and download my free ‘How To Choose Your Dream Elopement Destination’ guide on my website! I can’t wait to help you and your partner create an intentional elopement experience at Bruce Peninsula National Park!