a couple decides to elope in Kentucky at Castle and Key distillery

Your Guide To Elope in Kentucky | Planning Your Dream Kentucky Elopement

Imagine exchanging vows surrounded by vast forests, cozy bed & breakfasts, or serene lakes – Kentucky’s diverse scenery caters to a range of tastes perfect to create your dream elopement. Discover all you need to know about how to elope in Kentucky. This trend of eloping is rapidly growing, attracting couples who crave a blend of romance and adventure in a beautiful setting. 

As a Louisville wedding photographer, we’ve experienced how an elopement can allow you to be in the moment and celebrate what marriage is truly all about – the genuine moments that speak to your unique love story and why you’ve chosen your person over every other.

How To Elope in Kentucky: A Brief Overview

When considering eloping in Kentucky, there are a few key essential steps to keep in mind. Here’s a brief overview of what you’ll need to plan your dream elopement in the Bluegrass State:

1. Choose Your Date & Location

The first step is to choose when and where you want to elope. Consider the season and time of year you prefer. Throughout Kentucky, there are countless locations to choose from. Consider how you want your day to feel: urban or rural, indoor or outdoor, a traditional wedding venue, or in the middle of the woods. The choice is yours! Make your day align with your unique story.

2. Select Your Elopement Vendors

One of the beauties of choosing an elopement over a traditional wedding is you get to more intentionally focus on the people and the things that matter to you. One way to be sure these important things occur is through choosing the right wedding vendors. The most important vendors to consider include a photographer, a videographer, and an officiant.

3. Plan Your Elopement Timeline & Activities

Crafting a timeline and choosing activities is crucial to making the day uniquely you. Start by determining your ideal ceremony time, considering the best lighting and weather conditions. Next, think about meaningful activities that reflect your personality and interests, such as hiking to an overlook or sharing a private meal. Remember to be flexible with your schedule, allowing plenty of time to be in the moment and celebrate.

4. Book Your Accommodations

For those traveling from out of town, this may want to be done sooner rather than later. Depending on your selected location, you may need to book accommodations such as hotels, rental cars, and other necessities to make your celebration seamless.

5. Make Everything Legal

To make your marriage official, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license. Visit the county clerk office where you plan to marry to apply for your license. Kentucky requires a waiting period of 30 days after you submit your application, so make sure to plan accordingly.

You don’t have to plan your elopement alone. Let us help in the process as your elopement photographer.

shoes, flowers and rings for a couple who has decided to elope in Kentucky

Best Places to Elope in Kentucky

Kentucky, known for its beautiful landscapes and charming scenery, offers countless locations for couples looking to get married in a romantic and intimate setting. Whether you’re envisioning a mountaintop ceremony or a rustic celebration by a cascading waterfall, discover the perfect spot to exchange your vows. Here are some of the best places to elope in Kentucky:

1. Red River Gorge

Located inside the Daniel Boone National Forest, Red River Gorge is a haven for adventurous couples seeking a breathtaking backdrop. The natural beauty here is unparalleled. With its towering cliffs, vast forest, and cascading waterfalls, this natural wonderland provides a truly awe-inspiring setting for a romantic ceremony.

2. Louisville Waterfront Park

If you’re dreaming of a waterfront ceremony, the Louisville Waterfront Park is an excellent choice with beautiful views of the Ohio River. The park’s expansive grounds, modern amenities, and scenic bridges offer a unique blend of urban and natural beauty for your special day.

3. Yew Dell Botanical Gardens

Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, located in Kentucky, offers a beautiful setting for an elopement. The gardens feature a variety of plants and trees, providing a colorful backdrop for your ceremony and photos. The peaceful atmosphere makes it a romantic choice for exchanging vows. The 1940s Log Cabin is a dedicated ceremony space perfect for a rustic-inspired elopement. There are specific days of the week Yew Dell is available for elopements.

Freeze the special moments from your special day. Don’t let the memory slip away.

4. Maple Hill Manor

Maple Hill Manor is a charming bed and breakfast that offers a romantic and historic setting. The manor, built in the early 19th century, features beautiful architecture and elegant furnishings, creating a timeless look. The grounds of Maple Hill Manor include beautiful gardens, a pond, and scenic countryside. The manor’s elopement package includes use of the facility and grounds, an officiant, a wedding cake, and a sparkling beverage toast.

5. Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, located in the heart of Kentucky, provides a forested escape for an intimate elopement. The arboretum truly immerses you in nature with over 16,000 acres of land to explore. They have numerous dedicated wedding spaces inside of the park including the Woodland Pavilion, Quiet Garden, and Sunset Amphitheater. The forest, streams, lakes, and grounds create a perfect atmosphere for nature lovers.

6. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

Known as the “Niagara of the South,” Cumberland Falls State Resort Park offers a magical backdrop for couples looking to tie the knot against the backdrop of a stunning waterfall. The falls are a showstopper, but there are also plenty of other opportunities throughout the park to make your day special including visiting the old fire tour, gem mining, and horseback riding. With its natural beauty and romantic atmosphere, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is sure to create unforgettable memories for you and your partner

7. Natural Bridge State Resort Park

With its iconic sandstone arch and the quaint surrounding forest, Natural Bridge State Resort Park is a popular choice for nature-loving couples seeking a romantic and adventurous elopement. The main attraction, for which the park is named after, is an excellent ceremony location. The park’s diverse hiking trails, unique rock formations, and scenic overlooks provide endless opportunities for memorable ceremonies.

8. The Bourbon Trail

With epic landscapes and the smell of angel’s share all around you, what better place to elope in Kentucky than at a bourbon distillery. The atmosphere of the bourbon trail is second to none and boasts gorgeous vistas and rustic enclosures. Some of our favorites are Buffalo Trace and Castle and Key. There are specific dates Castle and Key offers photography access. If you’d like to see more about Castle and Key see our blog about their venue here.

9. AIRBNB or Historic Mansion

Many options abound in Kentucky for hiring out a historic mansion, a private garden or a luxurious Airbnb or VRBO for the day. Having the ability, and privacy, of having a home at your disposal can encourage your day to be relaxed. You can also choose based on the aesthetic you adore. It also can be beneficial for a full weekend of celebration instead of just a day. Take a peek at the Airbnb‘s we recommend for your elopement or micro-wedding (please check with the host for limitations).

Your Kentucky elopement deserves stunning photography. Limited dates are available.

Kentucky Elopement Legalities & Permits

It is important to consider the legalities surrounding eloping. Let’s dive into the legalities you need to know before exchanging your vows.

Kentucky Marriage License

To make your marriage legal, you must obtain a Kentucky marriage license. The process involves visiting the County Clerk’s office, where you and your partner will apply for the license together (non-residents should look for the office that is within the county of your elopement). This process typically requires both of you to be present with valid identification. Some of our couples have obtained their license the same day as their elopement so fear not if traveling in from out-of-state.

Kentucky law requires that you have two witnesses present during the marriage ceremony. These witnesses must sign the license alongside the officiant to validate your union. Remember that the license must be submitted within 30 days before your wedding date to be legally binding.

Elopement Permits

Some venues or sites may require you to secure a permit before exchanging vows. These permits are essential for ensuring that you can legally hold your ceremony at your chosen location without any hiccups. For example, all Kentucky National Parks will require a special use permit to hold a ceremony within the park. 

Each location may have its own process for obtaining an elopement permit. Be sure to plan ahead and consider the legalities to set the foundation for a stress-free celebration.

Our photography team is dedicated to preserving your memories so you can be in the moment on your wedding day.

Kentucky Elopement Vendors

One of the most crucial decisions in the planning process is selecting the right vendors to bring your vision to life. Here are a few considerations to help you navigate through choosing the perfect vendors for your big day.

Kentucky Elopement & Wedding Photographer

Imagine having your love story told against the stunning backdrop of a Kentucky sunset or overlooking a towering waterfall – these are the images that will last a lifetime. As a photographer myself, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of hiring a photographer who gives you peace of mind on your wedding day. A skilled photographer not only documents your day allowing you to be in the moment, but also weaves a narrative through their lens, preserving the emotions that make your love story truly unique. 

Other Elopement Vendors To Consider

While a photographer is essential, selecting other vendors is equally important to ensure a seamless and memorable experience. Consider including a videographer to capture not just still moments but the moving memories of things like your vows and the exchanging of rings. An officiant is another key vendor for your elopement, guiding you through your ceremony, and is an important vendor to make your union official (an officiant is needed for a marriage license).  On our team, our photographers are also certified officiants, making your day that much easier.

Depending on your desires and budget, you may also want to consider incorporating other vendors, such as musicians to set the mood, floral designers to add touches of natural beauty, or a caterer to provide a romantic meal. Each couple’s desires are different. Your wedding vendors play a vital role in curating a magical day that reflects your love story and personal style.

Ready to elope? Let’s make it unforgettable. 

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