Are you and your love planning a Vancouver Island elopement? If so, welcome! I’m Paige, a wedding and elopement photographer based on the island. As someone who eloped in this beautiful place, I have intimate knowledge of the best planning tips and tricks out there. To learn all about them, keep on reading!
What season do you want to elope on Vancouver Island?
First thing’s first - what season do you want to elope on Vancouver Island? I would recommend determining your elopement season by going off what type of weather you and your partner love the most. For example, if you’re a pale ginger who hates the heat and sunburns at the drop of a hat, eloping during the middle of summer probably isn’t the best idea!
On the other hand, eloping during the winter has its own disadvantages. Road conditions may be a bit more hazardous during the winter months, which could affect your guest and vendor arrival times. Heck, you might not even be able to get to your own ceremony location! If you’re set on eloping on Vancouver Island during the winter, I recommend strategically choosing your elopement spot to avoid any bumps in the road.
Spring and fall are typically milder and less hazardous than the winter months. If you want to avoid as much mayhem as possible, choose an elopement date during this season! Victoria is known for having the warmest and most temperate weather in Canada, especially during the months of September and October. Plus, the fall foliage is absolutely to die for!
How many people are you inviting to your Vancouver Island elopement?
Probably one of the most important planning aspects of your elopement will be determining the guest count. This will affect your location choices, vendor selection, timeline, and so much more! Sit down with your partner and figure out what intimate group of folks you want present if any at all. Remember, it’s perfectly fine to elope just the two of you!! You do need 2 people (who aren’t your officiant) to sign your marriage license, so I’m more than happy to be one of them.
If you want to elope with guests, then it's especially important to think about what you want to do afterward. Do you want to have a small celebration at a local venue? Or have dinner at your favorite restaurant? Or have a catered dinner at your cabin in the woods? Or have a backyard affair at home? It’s all up to you! If you do decide to elope just you and your partner, then think about what kind of activities you want to fill your day with. For example, do you want to do a first look either at your ‘getting ready’ space or at your elopement location? Just because you’re not having a full-blown wedding doesn’t mean you can’t do something like a first look or even a first dance!
There are so many things you can do on your elopement day… hiking, swimming, having a picnic, going on a date after. You can literally do anything you want to! Try and plan ahead as much as possible for your own peace of mind. At the same time, if you are making a last-minute plan… truly all you need is a marriage license and an officiant!
How to legally elope in Victoria
Now, for the legalities of eloping on Vancouver Island! Here’s what you’ll need to make things legal:
Your marriage license - I recommend getting this well in advance, but DON’T forget it when you leave for your elopement! Literally, put a sticky note on your front door to ensure you remember to bring it. You can look up where to get your marriage license using this link! The fee is $100.
An officiant - Of course, you’ll need an officiant to ordain your marriage. When choosing one, be sure their values align with yours all the way. For example, if you believe that love is love, make sure whoever you hire feels the same way. Or, if you want to write your own personal vows, you’ll want your officiant to be okay with that, too! Last, but not least, ensure they don’t have any mobility issues that would prevent them from getting to your ceremony location. If they need to walk down a trail to the beach, for example, then make sure they can do so safely!
Two witnesses - I touched on this earlier, but you’ll need two witnesses over the age of 19 to sign your marriage certificate. I can be one of those people, and usually one of your guests can be the other! If you’re eloping with no guests, then we’ll come up with a plan on how to get the 2nd signature together.
A wedding permit - This isn’t necessarily a legality, but some locations do require a permit if you’re holding any type of ceremony there. If you’re getting married at a park, then you’ll definitely need to check on this! Most permits cost anywhere from $25-$150, depending on the location. I can definitely help you check to see if your Victoria elopement location requires one, and how to obtain it if necessary!
Choose local vendors for your elopement in Victoria
Choosing your vendors is one of the most exciting parts of planning your elopement! There are so many talented local wedding vendors in Victoria and it’ll be so simple for them to get to your elopement location. When choosing your vendors think about the following:
- “Do their values and ethos align with mine?”
- “Do they have a plethora of reviews from past clients?”
- “Does their style align with what I have in mind for my elopement?”
- “Will they collaborate well with my other vendors?”
- “Are they within my budget?”
Here is a list of vendors that my husband and I personally worked with for our very own Vancouver Island elopement! Some traveled from the mainland as that is where I lived at the time. Our caterer no longer operates out of Victoria, but I know some wonderful companies, don't you worry. I’m also more than happy to provide you with a more extensive list of local vendor options:
Photography | Myrtle Moss Photography
Venue | Jordan River Cabin
Dress | Truvelle Bridal
Suit | Indochino
Rings | Minichiello Jewelers
Hair | Willow Hair
Florals | Apothecary Floral
Decor | Tabletop Curated Rentals
Officiant | All Season Weddings
Vow Books | Petite Paperie Design
Jewelry | Mejuri
Hair vine | Pretty Things Co.
Create a Vancouver Island elopement timeline
Once you’ve got your vendors all sorted, it’s time to develop your timeline. Remember when I said to decide on how many guests you want and what activities you’d like to partake in? Well, this is where those answers come in handy! Create your elopement timeline and include the day before and they day after. Remember: you can do absolutely anything that you want! As an example, here is my husband and I’s timeline from our elopement:
4:00 PM - Check-ins at the cabins can begin at this time
7:00 PM – Potluck group dinner, nothing fancy-pants
6:30 AM - Wake up together and have a morning coffee (or something that aligns with your morning ritual)
7:15 AM - Getting ready begins for our respective wedding parties and us (for us, we had women in one cabin and men in another)
12:30 PM - Private first look between us
12:45 PM - Catered charcuterie lunch and refreshments
1:30 PM - Drive to China Beach trailhead and walk 15 min down to beach
2:00 PM - Ceremony begins
2:30 PM – Family portraits on the beach
3:00 PM – Go back to AirBnb
3:30 PM – Caterer passed canapes, refreshments + lawn games
5:15 PM – We leave for solo portrait session on Sandcut Beach (family/guests can entertain themselves)
6:45 PM – We head back to the AirBnb
7:15 PM – First dance + group sparkler exit photo
7:30 PM – Five-course catered dinner with wine pairings begins
9:00 PM – Dancing, drinking, laughing, speeches
8:45 AM – Group breakfast
11:00 AM – Families check-out and mend their hangovers
Let me tell you: we had the BEST time ever. It may not have been the most traditional of weddings, but we did everything that we wanted to do. Feel free to take as much or as little inspiration as you’d like!
Quick tips for eloping in Victoria
Now, here are some quick tips that will be immensely helpful for planning your Vancouver Island elopement. Alright, are you ready?
If you want anything sunset-related (ceremony, portraits, etc.), then ensure you research what time sunset is on your particular day and where the sun hits the horizon. If you’re on sea level, then sunset time is true sunset time as opposed to a mountainous region where you lose the sun a certain amount of hours before sunset.
Consider the height of the shoreline by checking the tidal time - this is easy to google. It would be horrible to want to have your ceremony on the beach, but you arrive and it’s all ocean and no shore line!
If you’re in a remote location, even on the Juan de Fuca trail beaches or anything past Sooke really…you may lose cell reception. So ensure everyone is aware of timelines and plans!
Carpool to the beach or trailhead if you’re traveling together as some of the parking lots are small and get full.
Embrace a little bit of uncertainty…things can be unpredictable in nature! But trust me, that’s the beauty of it. There’s no use getting worked up about anything on your wedding day. It’s about you and your love, and that’s all that matters.
Don’t be afraid to get your dress or the bottom of your pants dirty! You bought this awesome outfit for today so you might as well wear it out!
Always follow Leave No Trace Principles
Whenever you’re doing anything outdoors, it’s always important to followu the Leave No Trace Principles. It’s a privilege to be able to get married in such beautiful places on Vancouver Island, so we should treat it as such. The goal is to always leave these locations better than we found them. In short, here are the 7 LNT principles, but I recommend reading about them more in-depth on the official website:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of others
Vancouver Island elopement packages
I’m sure you’re wondering what kind of Vancouver Island elopement packages I offer! Here’s a breakdown of what my packages include:
FaceTime consultation (or in person over coffee/beer)
High-resolution and web-sized images
Private gallery you can share with your friends and family
STARTING AT: $2,200
I offer add-ons you can purchase to customize your elopement package, so you can read about those on my Investment page!
Ready to elope on Vancouver Island?
I’m sure you are! To get in touch with me about planning your elopement, you can fill out my contact form and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime, check out this gorgeous Sunset Rocky Cliffs Elopement blog I recently created!
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