A collage of images of brides and grooms kissing during their elopements; image overlaid with text that reads How to Elope in Austin, Texas by Nikk Nguyen Photo

So you’ve decided to elope in Austin, TX! Congratulations! Let’s face it, the huge ceremony just isn’t for everyone. An intimate ceremony with you and your future spouse - with maybe a few additional guests - can be equally as magical. And quite honestly, a whole heck of a lot cheaper. But before you hop on the plane to the Lone Star State with rings in hand, there are a few things you’ll want to consider as you plan your special day. I’ve photographed dozens of incredible couples as they elope in Austin, so I’ve put together a guide to help you plan the perfect elopement.

How to Elope in Austin: a Checklist

Here’s a brief overview of what anyone who wants to elope in Austin should keep in mind:

  • Check the legal requirements
  • Book your travel
  • Decide on your guestlist
  • Find the right vendors
  • Plan the ceremony
  • Coordinate your celebration

How to Legally Elope in Austin, Texas

The law in Travis County requires the soon-to-be-wed to have a marriage license that is at least 72 hours old, and no older than 90 days. You’ll have to make an appointment to go into the Clerk’s Office with some ID to make the license official.

If you want to elope in Austin in an intimate ceremony without any onlookers, you’re in luck! Witnesses are optional here in Texas. But you do have to have the ceremony officiated by someone who is licensed to perform wedding ceremonies. This could be a judge, an officiant, a religious official, or a friend who has been ordained. That person will have to sign the marriage license to make it official. 

Where Will You Say “I do!”

The venue is something that sets the whole tone of the ceremony. If you’re planning to elope in Austin, you’re going to have plenty of incredible options! You can choose something as low-key and simple as a civil service performed by a Justice of the Peace, or something as grand as a museum. Whatever your style, it’s a safe bet that the city of Austin has it. 

Most locations do have a booking fee, and they range anywhere from $350 - $1.300+ depending on the location, date and time, and length of time you are at the location. With so many options available, it can be hard to choose. To get you inspired with some ideas, I’ve pulled together a list of some venues for you to consider, some of which are free:

Booking Your Travel for the Big Day

If you are not within driving distance of Austin, you will be happy to hear that Austin has its very own international airport. One thing to think about when booking travel to elope in Austin is that you want to do it well in advance. If you’re flying in, I’d suggest that you rent a car for your trip. The last thing you want is to be stranded on your wedding day!

Next, you will want to look at lodging. Depending on the venue you choose to elope in Austin, you may have the luxury of staying directly on the property where you’ll exchange your vows. If not, though, Austin has so many amazing places to stay.

For a little slice of history, the Hotel Ella is a great choice. It’s housed in the historic Goodall Wooten House, built in 1900 as one of Austin’s original landmark estates. It’s located close to downtown too! Whatever you are picturing for your elopement in Austin, the city has a plethora of hotel and Airbnb options. Finding the perfect spot for your getaway shouldn’t be difficult. 

Guest List – To Have One or Not To Have One

So you have chosen to elope in Austin! Now you need to decide the all-important factor of whether or not you want it to be just the two of you, or if you want to invite a small handful of the people you really couldn’t imagine saying “I do” without.

When creating your guest list and determining the number of guests you invite, consider the total number of guests allowed at your chosen venue. Some venues have restrictions on the number of total guests allowed during the ceremony, especially in light of the pandemic. The most common headcounts for elopement packages are anywhere between 15 and 20 guests max. If it’s next to impossible to narrow it down that small, then you may want to look at more traditional wedding venues or one of the many gorgeous parks in the area. 

Choosing Your Vendors

When you chose to elope in Austin and have opted to scale down the traditional wedding guest list, that doesn’t mean you should have fewer vendors to help organize and capture your day! Some of the vendors you should be thinking about are photography/videography, flowers, hair & makeup, an officiant, and any food, drink, and entertainment you may want at your celebration. 

Pictures Are Worth A 1,000 Words – It’s Worth It

When choosing a photographer or videographer, it’s important to find someone whose artistic style matches the look you are going for. Do you like photos that are moodier in style and lighting, or do you prefer bright and playful? These are things you will want to think about when you review their portfolios. Check out my portfolio to see if we could be a good fit! If you elope in Austin, I’d love to be the one to capture every beautiful detail.

Do You Want Flowers?

Next, you’ll want to think about flowers. Do you want them? If not, amazing! Let’s move on to the next item. But if you do want flowers for your big day, then you will want to look for a florist that is local and delivers to the venue you have chosen. You don’t want to be running around on the day you elope, so utilize the delivery services available whenever possible. Depending on the venue you choose, they may have a relationship with a local florist so you could knock out the flower arrangements right there!

The Glow Up - Hair & Makeup

Every bride wants to look her best on her wedding day, whether you’re getting married in an elaborate wedding or choosing to elope in Austin. If you want to do your own hair and makeup, or you would like to have someone do it for you, planning ahead is always best. In either scenario, it’s wise to have a trial run on your elopement day look! This is so that you feel your absolute best and know exactly what look you’re going for. If you choose to have a professional pamper you for your special day, thankfully, Austin boasts a staggering total of 329 beauty salons in the city alone!

Who Will Perform the Elopement Ceremony?

Travis County does require couples who want to elope in Austin to have their ceremony performed by a licensed individual. Most venues will have connections you could use to find an officiant, or perhaps you have a friend who is licensed and ordained to perform weddings - they would qualify as a legal signature on your marriage license.

Something to think about when choosing an officiant to elope in Austin is to ask them what their process looks like throughout the ceremony. Think about what you’d like: Do you want to be able to exchange your own vows? Do you want the ceremony short and sweet? These are things you should ask the officiant before you choose to hire them for the ceremony. 

Where’s the Party At?

You’ve said your “I do’s”: now it’s time to celebrate! Depending on whether you want the post elopement celebration to be just you two, or if this will be a larger surprise party to share the great news with those you love, you will want to have the important details ironed out before you make the trip to elope in Austin. 

As mentioned above, there are wedding venues that do offer reception halls on their property should you want to keep everything in one location. You could go back to the hotel you’ve booked for the night and celebrate there, or book somewhere else entirely.

If small and intimate is the continuing thread throughout your day into the night, then Austin won’t disappoint you there either. There are several restaurants in the city that have multiple reviews raving about each spot being the perfect spot for a romantic dinner. LENOIR, Juniper, and the Roaring Fork are just a few of them. Make sure to call ahead and book your reservation! 

How to Elope in Austin: Some Final Thoughts

As you can probably tell, choosing to elope in Austin is an incredible decision! There are so many amazing options here and the energy is fantastic. Your day is going to be absolutely gorgeous! Have a look at my blog for more tips on how to elope in Austin and take your wedding to the next level.

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A bride and groom smile while holding an umbrella in the rain during their elopement by Nikk Nguyen Photo; image overlaid with text that reads How to Elope in Austin, TX
A bride and groom celebrate after their elopement; image overlaid with text that reads How to Elope in Austin, Texas

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