As a Florida elopement photographer who has photographed hundreds of couples saying “I do” throughout the sunshine state, I have compiled a list of the best places to elope in Florida! This list starts way down south in Key West and works its way up north from there! For each location I’ll also list the best time of day for lighting purposes (this is super important for your wedding photography!).
Additionally, when planning a Florida elopement it’s extremely important to know when to plan it! Most other locations throughout the United States have a “wedding season” that is the exact opposite of Florida’s, meaning that instead of a summer wedding you might want to consider a “winter” wedding (I’ll explain why below!).
Other things you’ll need to know when planning your Florida elopement include what you legally need in order to get married there (paperwork, witnesses), and what elopement packages are available to you!
Best Places to Elope in Florida
1. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Key West
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is probably my number one favorite place for elopements in Florida for a couple reasons. First, there is such a diversity of places to take photos! The fort itself is very unique with plenty of brick staircases, archways, and tunnels to explore. Outside of the fort there are beautiful rocky beaches, woodsy trails, and golden grassy fields. Something to keep in mind is that while the park is open until sundown, the actual fort closes at 5pm. So if you want to take wedding portraits inside the fort after that time you will need to contact the park beforehand to schedule an after hours permit. The best time to shoot here is definitely at sunset! Check out the beach area around that time to see tons of sailboats sailing along the water!
2. Smathers Beach, Key West
Smathers Beach is another beautiful beach location in Key West and it’s one of the largest beaches in the area! There are many different access points along the beach, but number 12 has to be my favorite! There are scattered palm trees and even a rocky point that you can walk out onto (like in the picture below!). The best time to shoot here is definitely sunset.
3. West Martello Gardens, Key West
West Martello Gardens is another favorite of mine due to the large variety of locations on the grounds for photos. Butterfly gardens, huge banyan trees, gazebos, trellises covered in orchids, and fountains fill the property which can be explored through numerous winding paths. I recommend shooting here just a bit before sunset since there is a decent amount of tree coverage.
4. Danger Charters, Key West
If you’re looking for something really unique and fitting for a Florida wedding, look no farther than Danger Charters for a luxury sailboat wedding experience! Set sail just before sunset and have your ceremony among the waves with the best possible sunset views.
5. Postcard Inn, Islamorada
Sometimes having your wedding at a resort is the best way to go! Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina is one such venue that offers stunning views along with the peace of mind of knowing that your hotel room is only a short walk away. Either sunset or sunrise work well for this location!
6. Pelican Cove, Islamorada
Pelican Cove Resort & Marina is actually right next door to Postcard Inn and offers the same benefits: stunning ocean views and close proximity to your lodging! Either sunset or sunrise are both great options for this spot.
7. Cheeca Lodge, Islamorada
Yet another beautiful resort option in Islamorada is Cheeca Lodge & Spa. This venue is a bit different than the others in that in addition to beautiful beachy settings with palm trees hanging over the water’s edge, it has plenty of other portrait locations as well! It’s actually pretty diverse! A few examples are the crisscrossing palm tree tunnel to Spa Island (pictured below), a pristine courtyard, various tropical pathways and bamboo-lined trails.. Sunset and sunrise are both great times to shoot at this venue.
8. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne
How gorgeous is this lighthouse overlooking the ocean at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park?! It is the perfect backdrop for Florida elopement portraits in my opinion. Not only does this park offer peaceful beach views, but there are also plenty of shady places throughout the property for pictures. For example, the palm tree-lined pathway leading up to the lighthouse itself is stunning! Sunrise or sunset are both great times to shoot here, but if you want to capture the sun rising over the water then I recommend sunrise!
9. South Pointe Park Beach, Miami
My list of best places to elope in Florida wouldn’t be complete without a beach location in Miami! South Pointe Park Beach can be such a magical spot at sunrise. The expansive beach and rocky jetty provide great portrait locations for your elopement. I don’t recommend coming here during the weekends or at sunset since this location can get pretty crowded being in Miami. Definitely stick to a weekday at sunrise and you’ll be golden!
10. Historic Walton House, Homestead
The Historic Walton House in Homestead is truly unique in that it is the home to many animals including monkeys, flamingos, swans, parrots, and giant tortoises (just to name a few!). The lush gardens surround a charming English-style cottage which creates the perfect backdrop for a Florida elopement. Since the gardens and trees here overshadow so much of the grounds, it’s good to shoot at this location from early afternoon until sunset!
11. Cooper Estate, Redland
The Cooper Estate can be the perfect place for a secluded, intimate elopement among the trees. Beautiful architecture adorns the grounds, offering plentiful options for portraits. I recommend shooting here from early afternoon to sunset.
12. Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Miami
A truly breathtaking place for photos, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens boasts 10 acres of Italiante gardens and a beautiful Gilded Age estate. Even without the gardens, the architecture alone creates the perfect backdrop and offers a huge variety of locations. Sunset (or even a bit before sunset!) is definitely the best time for photos here!
13. Matheson Hammock Park, Coral Gables
If the beach isn’t your cup of tea, then maybe a more woodsy setting like Matheson Hammock Park would suit you best! This spot kind of reminds me of a rustic enchanted forest!
14. Morikami Museum & Gardens, Delray Beach
Another venue that offers tons of unique locations is Morikami Museum & Gardens. With tree tunnels, waterfalls, and bonsai exhibits, there are plenty of beautiful spots to stop for photos as you stroll through the grounds!
15. Deerfield Beach
Another beautiful spot for sunrise elopements is anywhere along Deerfield Beach. Normally a crowded area, visiting this location at sunrise is very intimate and will give you the best lighting for your portraits!
16. Coral Cove, Jupiter
Coral Cove is another favorite spot of mine because of the rocks! Again, sunrise will be the best time to visit this spot to take advantage of the empty beach and the sun rising over the water.
17. Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, Jupiter
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse is a landmark on the Jupiter coastline. The grounds around the lighthouse include shady trails and a huge banyan tree at the base of the lighthouse! This particular tree is the perfect spot for a wedding ceremony with the lighthouse overlooking you from above. Since there is so much shade around this location and the museum only allows certain restricted hours for weddings, mid- to late- morning or mid-afternoon are the best times to shoot here.
18. Riverbend Park, Jupiter
Riverbend Park is the perfect place to elope in Florida if you’re looking for something that is woodsy and rustic with tons of large oak trees and hanging Spanish moss. There are plenty of trails to explore in this area and a really unique feature is an old stone fireplace that lays in ruins in one of the grassy fields. If you think that sounds like a great place for photos, then you’d be right!
19. House of Refuge, Stuart
This location on my list of best places to elope in Florida is near and dear to my heart because it’s actually where my husband proposed to me! I feel like the House of Refuge is a hidden gem of a spot in Florida since it’s in the small town of Stuart and has an absolutely gorgeous rocky shoreline. When the tide is low enough and the waves are calm, you can actually walk down into the rocks and explore – they’re like little caves along the beach! My preferred time to shoot here is at sunrise to take in the sunrise views over the ocean, but at sunset you can walk just across the street to the riverside dock to take in the sunset!
20. Twisted Oak Farm, Vero Beach
There are many rustic, farm venues in Florida to choose from, but Twisted Oak Farm is one of my favorites! Set on a private, five-acre family farm, this venue offers a beautiful, towering oak tree as the perfect shady place to exchange vows. Additionally, there is a pristine barn, a small pond next to a tree swing (which makes for stunning photos!), a treehouse, and the occasional horse or goat!
21. The Acre Orlando, Orlando
If you want to be close to Florida’s theme parks then consider this gem in the Orlando area! The Acre Orlando is an eclectic garden venue with a vine-covered, mirrored patio, antique trailer, and much more.
22. Lake Louisa State Park, Clermont
Lake Louisa State Park stands out on this list as one of the few places that you can elope in Florida that actually has some rolling hills! Planning your elopement here around sunset is perfect if you like that golden “glowy” look! Although this is a favorite spot among photographers and you might encounter some family shoots going on around the park, the property is so huge that you can easily move to a more secluded spot away from people.
23. Rock Springs, Apopka
If you want to elope somewhere with crystal clear water but aren’t a fan of the beach, then Rock Springs might be the perfect place for your elopement! There are plenty of rocky formations along the spring that provide the perfect location for saying “I do”.
24. Pass-a-Grille Beach, St. Pete Beach
I love west coast beaches because of the soft, white sand and the massive amounts of space on the beach! When eloping on the west coast of Florida on the beach I always recommend visiting at sunset simply because the lighting is so beautiful at this time. One downside of this can be the crowds of people that tend to come around the end of the day, but since the beaches there are so huge it’s not difficult to find areas where people are more scarce.
25. Amelia Island State Park, Amelia Island
I’ll finish up this list of the best places to elope in Florida with my northernmost location. Up in northern Florida you can experience the beautiful, expansive beaches of Amelia Island. Amelia Island State Park is on the southern end of the island and is actually the only Florida state park that allows horseback riding on the beach! So if you want your elopement to have a little something extra special, why not ride a horse to your ceremony?! You can catch amazing views at both sunrise and sunset here, depending on which side of the island you’re on. Note that sunrise would require an early hours permit to be obtained from the park before your wedding day.
When to Elope in Florida
Regardless of the exact the location where you’re getting married, if your wedding is in the outdoors in Florida there are definitely certain times of the year you’ll want to avoid. For example, hurricane season is June 1st through November 30th with the peak being in August, September, and beginning of October. In addition to these months being super hot and humid anyways, I highly recommend not scheduling your elopement during this time.
Speaking of hot and humid months, you can pretty much rule out May through the beginning of October if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy the heat. There are also afternoon thunderstorms almost daily between the months of May through September, so planning an outdoor elopement in the afternoon/evening during these months can be risky.
While all of these months can be incredibly hot, the bright side is that they aren’t very windy. This can be a good thing, especially if you’re getting married on the beach or in an unprotected area.
Now that we’ve discussed when not to get married in Florida, let’s go over the best times of year to elope there! If you want to have the highest possible chance of being comfortable outside on your wedding day then scheduling your date to fall between the end of December through March is going to be your best bet! Florida winters are beautiful and the temperatures are pretty much perfect during these months! The small downside of this time of year is that the wind picks up a bit, but that can also create a lot of movement in photos which is great!
Another huge benefit of eloping during Florida’s winter months is that the afternoon thunderstorms subside and most days are clear and sunny!
What do I need to Elope in Florida
Marriage licenses are obtained through any Florida county clerk’s office. You will need a photo ID (driver license, passport, etc.) and your social security number. The fee to purchase your license is $93.50 but it can be reduced to $61 if you have completed a licensed Florida pre-marital course. If you have taken the pre-marital course your marriage license is valid the day of your purchase, but without the course there is a 3 day waiting period before you can get married. Your marriage license is valid for 60 days after that, so your ceremony must be held within that timeframe.
Officiant & Witnesses
Your wedding officiant must be one of the following: a regularly ordained minister of the gospel, an elder in communion with a church, an ordained clergy, a judicial officer, a clerk of the circuit courts, or a notary public. After the ceremony is performed you may have two witnesses sign your marriage license if you’d like! However, witness signatures are not required in the state of Florida.
I truly feel like working with couples on a more personal level and creating one perfect day that’s all about the two of you is one of my life’s callings and it’s been a great source of joy for me over the years. My elopement packages include not only photography coverage, but a customized timeline (so that all of your portraits have the perfect lighting!), location scouting, a comprehensive wedding guide exclusive to my clients only, and local vendor recommendations! You can view my starting elopement package pricing or contact me for a custom quote!