Imagine wandering through towering Canadian evergreens as you stroll hand in hand with the love of your life to an intimate, magical location that opens up to a roaring waterfall. Ontario and all of its natural wonders await you and your partner for your dream elopement. If you’re thinking about planning an Ontario elopement but don’t know where to start, I’ve got your back! I’ve written an all-encompassing guide that prioritizes intention and sustainability. Keep scrolling to uncover all of my best Ontario elopement planning tips!
Where To Plan An Ontario Elopement
Ontario has endless location options for your elopement. When picking the best location for your ceremony, here are a few things to consider: time of year, type of scenery, privacy level, activity availability, and sentiment.
As an Ontario elopement photography expert, I’m here to tell you the perfect elopement locations do exist, and some of my favourites are in Ontario! From provincial parks with expansive forests to cozy, cottage-like cabins with private lakefronts, your dream Ontario elopement is just a trip away. There are dozens of locations across Ontario to choose from, and picking a ceremony spot can be challenging! Luckily, I have a free downloadable elopement location guide that can help you and your partner pick the perfect location at the bottom of my contact page here!
When To Plan An Ontario Elopement
After you choose an elopement location, the next big step in planning an elopement is selecting a date.
Best Time of Year For an Ontario Elopement
There’s no place like Ontario in Autumn. Early Fall (September and early October) days bring beautiful weather. Water temperatures are still warm, and rainy days are few and far between. Late Fall (mid October) is a little cooler but full of colorful autumn landscapes that are the perfect picturesque backdrops for elopements. I love chasing all of the fall colors with couples and seeing their faces smile in awe at Ontario’s autumn beauty.
If you’re thinking of eloping in Ontario during the Summer, Winter, or Spring, you should know a few things. A summertime elopement can be very hot. If you and your partner are set on a Summer elopement, I recommend a sunrise or sunset ceremony so temperatures are at their lowest. Winter brings unpredictable weather conditions to Ontario, but indoor elopements can be unique, romantic, and relaxing. If you and your partner are set on a winter elopement in Ontario, I recommend a cozy cabin elopement. Springtime also brings unpredictable, rainy weather. That rainy weather is also accompanied by bugs. Overall, Autumn is the best time of year to elope in Ontario.
Best Time of Week For An Ontario Elopement
Ontario sees over 1 million tourists across its province each year. That’s a decent amount of people frequenting all of Ontario’s beautiful offerings each year, and that doesn’t even include locals! Planning your elopement for a weekday will ensure you have an intimate elopement, as crowd levels tend to dip Monday-Thursday.
Best Time Of Day For An Ontario Elopement
Sunrise or Sunset? Truthfully, it’s totally up to you and your partner! You can plan a sunrise elopement that starts with a breakfast picnic or a sunset elopement that ends with a cozy bonfire celebration. 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. Hiking elopement, romantic bonfire, kayaking adventure)
- Are you and your partner morning or evening people?
- What is the weather like at sunrise/sunset during your elopement season?
- Is privacy important to you as a couple? As I mentioned previously, Ontario sees A LOT of tourists year-round. For example, if you plan to elope in the summer at Bruce Peninsula, crowd levels are high, even on weekdays. If privacy is important to you as a couple, then planning a summer sunrise elopement at Bruce Peninsula would be the best option to ensure low crowd levels.
There are almost 50 airports in Ontario, with Toronto Pearson International Airport being the largest! 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 And Choose Wedding Vendors
Picking vendors to help bring your elopement vision to life is another important part of the planning process. It’s important that you find vendors whose values align with your own. It’s also important that vendors’ quality of work align with your expectations.
When you hire me as your elopement photographer, you’ll gain full access to a preferred sustainable vendors list upon booking! You can also check out wedding and elopement resource sites like Wedding Chicks or Wandering Weddings. As always, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google are great platforms for finding vendors too. Inquire around and weigh your options after receiving quotes.
How To Find An Elopement Photographer
Finding the best and right photographer for your Ontario elopement comes down to finding someone who you and your partner trust, bond, and connect with. You’ll be spending the majority of your elopement day with your photographer, so choosing someone that you’d love to share your most intimate, beautiful, and love-filled moments with that day is important.
I really encourage you to sit down with your partner and make a list of 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. Here are a few 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 the Leave No Trace guidelines during an elopement?
Ask as many questions as you can think of 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 so 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 and vibe and feel like we could be friends, you won’t just get amazing photographs of your experience. You’ll also get a cheerleader, adventure guide, and a friend. I’ll support you and your partner through the roller coaster of emotions that come with planning an elopement day. I’ll be there on the big day to gently nudge you into better lighting, fix flyaways, or 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.
Accommodations Across Ontario
There are so many options when it comes to choosing the perfect accommodation for your elopement. Ontario offers some of the most luxurious and sustainable camps, hotels, AirBnb’s, yurts, geodesic domes, treehouses, a-frames, and off-grid cabins year-round. Some couples also choose to include their accommodation in their elopement photos!
Quasi Cabin – Haliburton
This eco waterfront cabin is completely OFF-GRID. Don’t worry; even though Quasi Cabin is off-grid, it offers luxurious and sustainable amenities. This cozy forest home features solar-powered electricity and heat, an awesome outdoor shower, a bonfire pit, a wooden walk-up bar, a kitchen, and a canoe for the lake. Quasi Cabin is a great, sustainable accommodation for couples who want a modernized, intimate, and environmentally conscious elopement experience.
Hygge House – Consecon
Hygge House is the perfect romantic accommodation for couples looking to indulge in fine wines and fantastic food while on their elopement adventure. Explore world-class vineyards, breathtaking century farms, and unique restaurants, bars, and shopping while staying at Hygge House in Prince Edward County. This cozy boutique house is also located near Lake Ontario and Huycks Bay! If you and your partner are looking to pair your wine tours with a waterfront elopement ceremony spot, all while being just miles from your Airbnb, Hygge House is the place for you.
Glamping at Whispering Springs – Grafton
Located in Grafton, Ontario, Whispering Springs is a luxurious wilderness retreat perfect for couples looking to reconnect with each other in a comfortable, rustic way. You and your partner can invest in an all-inclusive accommodation that features a lavish log cabin or sophisticated safari or treetop tent. Whispering Springs offers activities and amenities like spa services, paddle boarding, a saltwater pool, and so much more! You can also make Whispering Springs your elopement ceremony location. The retreat’s Forest Chapel is a magical escape nested amongst a family of towering pine trees. The perfect backdrop for an intimate celebration of love.
Including Family, Friends & Pets In Your Ontario 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 that couples tell family and friends that they’ve eloped is through announcement cards! I also 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. If your dream ceremony includes your furry friend(s), we can get creative and incorporate them in many different 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 Ontario Elopement
When it comes to the design of your elopement, it’s always best to pick a location first. If you choose to elope in a forested area; colorful, textured florals work to add dimension to your elopement photos! If you decide to elope in or around a cozy cabin, more florals may be needed to add a refreshing touch to photos.
At the end of the day, the design of your elopement is all up to you and your partner! Vendors like florists and elopement planners are always the best advisors when it comes to design. I recommend hiring an elopement planner if your guest count is over ten people and you want to incorporate a lot of florals, furniture, and reception space into your design. If you’re keeping your elopement small, I’m happy to assist with smaller tasks like lighting and placing candles or turning on some music.
How To Choose the Perfect Elopement Attire
When selecting elopement attire, it’s important to consider the type of terrain that you may be walking on and/or through to get to your ceremony location. It’s also important to consider the temperature for that time of day/year. Remember, this is you and your partner’s special day! Wear whatever you both feel comfortable and confident in! Maybe you want to wear your outfits the whole time and don’t mind your outfits getting some fun and dirt on them, or maybe you want to change on the trail! If you want to wear a dress or tux, you can always pack those in a hiking pack or garment bag and change on-location in a pop-up changing tent. If you and your partner are bringing along a vehicle, RV, or camper van, it can also act as the perfect changing area!
The great thing about eloping is that tradition is out the window. If you want to wear hiking boots with a suit, go for it! The sky is the limit, and I’ll be there to capture you and your partner’s beautiful, unique love story every step of the way.
Packing For Your Ontario 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 sells 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.
Photography and Ceremony Permits
Permits may be needed depending on the area you choose to elope in. Some provincial and national parks require permits for elopement photography and ceremonies. Once you’ve selected a location, I’ll research and coordinate any necessary permits for your Ontario elopement!
Activities Around Ontario
There are dozens of activities spread across Ontario, from kayaking, ziplining, and brewery hopping to boat excursions, jet skiing, and white water rafting. Activity availability and pricing depend on your budget, thrill level, and location! One of my favorite activities that I love recommending to couples is cave exploring! This activity is perfect for adventurous, thrill-seeking couples looking to add a little extra excitement to their elopement experience! If you’re looking for a more accessible or relaxing option, Prince Edward County is home to over 40 wineries waiting to be explored!
How To Officially Get Married In Ontario
You’ll need to obtain a marriage license to get officially married in Ontario. This can be done by visiting a local municipality in Ontario. 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, in addition to 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, so 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.
Ontario Elopement Itinerary
After choosing your location, I’ll work with you and your partner to create a stress-free and dream-worthy elopement day timeline. Here is a sample itinerary for an 8-hour Autumn elopement:
1:00 PM: Start your getting-ready experience with a private swim at your lakefront AirBnb!
2:00 PM: Get ready together in your cozy AirBnb cabin with warm apple cider or hot cocoa.
4:00 PM: Travel to a nearby cliff overlooking a lake for your intimate ceremony and ring exchange.
5:00 PM: Visit a second location with a waterfall! Pack a blanket and enjoy a fun and romantic picnic with beer and pizza.
7:00 PM: It’s time for your first dance with your partner at golden hour. I’ll play your favorite songs and capture the special moment.
8:00 PM: Return to your cozy Airbnb cabin for a celebratory champagne toast!
9:00 PM: Cuddle near a bonfire and share delicate pastries, s’mores, or slices of cake to end the evening.
Elopement Essentials Checklist
Once I work with you and your partner to confirm the details of your elopement day, I make a customized checklist that’ll include everything from essentials to specifics. For example, maybe you’ll need champagne for a champagne toast, lanterns for nighttime photos, or s’more ingredients for a bonfire.
If you’re curious about what items I like to include in my clients’ elopement checklists, here’s a sneak peek at the essentials!
- Marriage License
- Garment Bag
- Vow Books
- Send Invitations/Announcements
- Elopement Itinerary
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 7 principles of Leave No Trace in my daily life and while I’m out adventuring with couples. I 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.
Ontario Is Calling
The most important part about planning your elopement is that you and your partner plan a day you will love and cherish forever. Elopements are so much more than vows and pretty photos; they’re an opportunity to reconnect with nature and your partner on a deeper level. Unlike traditional weddings, elopements are intimate, intentional experiences full of adventure, laughter, exploration, and serenity. Whatever your love story looks or feels like, I’m ready to make it a reality for you. Fill out my contact form to kick off your Ontario elopement planning process today!