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Ultimate guide on how to elope in Australia

This is the ultimate guide on how to elope in Australia and how to do it legally. If you’ve never thought about eloping and are not totally sure if it’s right for you, then check out our article on the reasons why you should elope. Some couples should really be eloping instead of trying to have a wedding. So have a read of it and see if eloping is right for you.

With this guide, I hope to give you all the information you need on how to elope in Australia and to have an amazing elopement in Australia. Eloping is more than just saying your vows and signing some papers. I want you to have the best elopement experience possible. Work out where you want to elope to, how to plan it, how to organise it, and also how to have an amazing experience that most people would never have thought of.

how to elope in Australia

Are you having a legal or symbolic ceremony?

When working out how to elope in Australia, there are a couple of ways couples can choose to do the elopement ceremony.

The first way is to have a proper legal ceremony where a registered marriage celebrant does a legal ceremony for you. During this ceremony you sign all the legal documents that will officially legalise your marriage under Australian Law.

The second way is to have a purely symbolic ceremony. A symbolic ceremony is more spiritual by nature and it is really where you commit your hearts and souls to each other. You would say your personal vows to each other, making promises and commitments to one another. It may not be legal in the eyes of the law, but it is a beautiful ceremony to commit your hearts and start your new life together.

Couples would generally do this symbolic ceremony at an elopement if they were having a traditional wedding back home with all their family and friends, but still wanted to get married in a stunning location for just the two of them. Or if they are a couple from overseas, they might do the symbolic ceremony here in Australia and then sign the marriage documents back home at City Hall.

how to elope in Australia

How to legally get married in Australia.

If you want your marriage to be fully recognised in Australia, then there are some guidelines that you have to follow legally. Some of the guidelines are pretty obvious, but I’ll list them so you have all the information. These are the requirements on how to elope in Australia legally:

  • Not be married to someone else.
  • Not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Understand what marriage means and freely consent to marrying.
  • Each partner has to sign a witnessed Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) at least one month prior to the wedding. This is done through your authorised celebrant. (So it takes at least one month to get married in Australia).
  • A registered civil celebrant must conduct the wedding ceremony and submit all the paperwork for you.
  • You need two witnesses over the age of 18, to sign your marriage certificate and other legal documents at your ceremony. (Yes there needs to be at least two other people, not including the celebrants at your elopement. You can use your photographer, videographer, stylist or someone from your venue).

The paperwork needed to legally marry in Australia.

  • Your birth certificates.
  • Your Australian or overseas passports.
  • If you were previously married, you will need to show the appropriate documents. ie divorce or death certificate.
  • Your celebrant may also ask you to complete a statutory declaration to support your evidence.
  • Complete a Notice of Intended Marriage, one month to eighteen months out from your elopement/wedding date.

Other information about legally marrying in Australia.

  • If you are an overseas couple thinking of eloping to Australia, you can legally marry here. You don’t have to be an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident to legally marry here.
  • Same-sex marriage is finally legal in Australia.. woohoo…! As of December 2017, Australia has marriage equality. The act, which is read out at your marriage ceremony, now reads “the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.
  • At your wedding elopement ceremony, you, your celebrant and your two witnesses, will sign three marriage certificates. Your celebrant will then give the paperwork to the ‘registry of birth, deaths and marriages’ in the state where you got married within fourteen days.

Pick a location for your elopement.

The biggest factor when working out how to elope in Australia is… location, location, location.

The location you choose is the most important decision in the whole “How to Elope” journey. It will dictate your whole elopement experience. So there is a lot to think about to make sure it is right for you.

Many couples that just want to get married, may think that if they elope they have to head to the local registry and marry there. This is naturally an option you have, but you have sooooo many other better choices available. This is Australia and Australia is stunning! And I wouldn’t have written this guide or started this website if I wanted you to do that.

When you elope, you can marry the person you love, just about anywhere. Let me say that again. You can marry the person you love, just about ANYWHERE!!

how to elope in Australia country wedding

How on earth do you pick an amazing location for your elopement?

You may already have a clear vision for what you want. Or maybe you have a clear vision for what you don’t want? You should choose your location first before you decide on a date for your elopement. Some destinations and locations are best avoided at certain times of the year. And naturally, there are some that are perfect any time of the year.

For instance, if you had your heart set on an outback Australia wedding in the Northern Territory, you probably don’t want to do this in January. Because the temperature can average around 35ºC to 40ºC (95ºF to 104ºF), plus it is the wet season.

So follow these steps to help narrow down your choices for an amazing elopement location that is right for you.

1. Sit down together.

Pop a bottle of champagne or relax together with a coffee and sit and talk about it. This is an important step because you both need to be on the same page with the same vision and meaning for your day. And you need to discuss ideas together. Go through the steps below and just start writing down ideas, and thoughts so you can get a clearer vision.

2. Climate

Think of the type of climate you want to get elope in. Australia has every type of climate imaginable. From the hot and humid to the frosty and alpine. By thinking of the type of climate you prefer, it may narrow down the region in Australia that would suit you best.

Australia’s climate is broken up into eight distinct climate zones

  • Zone 1 – Hot humid summer, warm winter. Across the top of Australia. from Exmouth in WA, Darwin and Katherine to midway between Cairns and Townsville.
  • Zone 2 – Warm humid summer, mild winter. Coastal Queensland from midway between Townsville and Mackay south to just below Coffs Harbour.
  • Zone 3 – Hot dry summer, warm winter. Northern central Australia from Carnarvon on the WA coast, encompassing Newman, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Longreach, Charleville to the Queensland hinterland, stopping before the coast.
  • Zone 4 – Hot dry summer, cool winter. Southern central Australia from the WA hinterland across most of inland SA, inland NSW and inland Victoria, encompassing Yalgoo, Warburton, Coober Pedy, Whyalla, Broken Hill, Mildura, Bourke, Tamworth and Albury-Wodonga.
  • Zone 5 – Warm temperate. West coast of Australia from Geraldton to Perth and Bunbury. Also Esperance and Eucla. Coastal areas of SA Ceduna to Adelaide and some hinterland areas north of Whyalla and east of Adelaide. The coastal strip of NSW from Wollongong to Sydney up to Newcastle. And the Hinterland strip west of Brisbane.
  • Zone 6 – Mild temperate. The southern part of WA around Albany. Hinterland north of Adelaide. Then most of the south-east coast of Australia including Kangaroo Island, Ballarat, Melbourne, Southern Highlands NSW
  • Zone 7 – Cool temperate. Sub-alpine areas of Victoria and southern NSW including the south-eastern coast of Victoria and a small area west of Coffs Harbour, most of Tasmania and Bass Strait islands.
  • Zone 8 – Alpine. The alpine areas of Victoria, NSW and Tasmania.

3. The Scenery

Imagine the scenery that you want for your ceremony and for your photos. Do you want a rustic country setting with you walking through farmlands and old wooden barns? Or drinking wine and walking through the rolling hills of green vineyards? The sand between your toes and playing in the water for a beach or ocean elopement? On the top of a mountain with the clouds overlooking the valleys below? In the middle of the desert, surrounded by sand dunes as far as the eye can see? or in a snow-covered valley with snow-capped mountains all around you?

Every one of these scenery choices will look amazing, especially if you were to look on Pinterest or Instagram. But you have to think of the scenery that you would be most happy being in. Even if you were to get amazing photos, there is no use saying your vows at the top of a mountain if you are deathly afraid of heights. Or in the snow, if you hate the cold. This is a personal choice that only you can decide.

4. Natural Wonders

Think outside the box now. Where are some places in Australia that you have always wanted to go to? Places you have always wanted to visit and explore. Think of the natural wonders and unique landscapes in Australia. There are places that tourists flock to and places that only the locals know of. You can potentially get married at these places.

Just because no one gets married there doesn’t mean that you can’t elope there. The beauty of eloping is that it is low impact on the environment. It is not a hundred people. It is from two to twenty people. You are much more likely to get permission and access to beautiful places if there are fewer people and there is less impact involved.

Think of Australia’s amazing National Parks and State Forests. Use the internet to help inspire you and let your imagination run wild.

Uluru elopement

5. Your Passions & Hobbies

What are your passions or hobbies? And don’t say ‘watching tv’. Think of activities outdoors that you love doing and especially things you love doing together. Skiing, hiking, swimming, surfing, fishing, camping, exploring, shopping and even eating, are all fun activities. These passions can help you determine your elopement location.

For instance, if you hate the outdoors but love shopping and eating twelve-course degustation menus, then maybe a city elopement in Melbourne is more your style. Or if you live and dream fishing, then maybe you should elope to Darwin and do some fishing for those giant Barramundi’s?

You can even incorporate these passions into your elopement day with your photographer. Get photos of you both fishing in the morning, swimming under a waterfall at lunch and then eloping at sunset.

Or for a luxury city elopement, you could get photos of you both getting a spa treatment in the morning, swimming in a roof top pool with cocktails at lunch, say your vows in an art gallery, followed by a private dinner.

The choices are endless. There are no rules. Be true to yourselves and have a dream day together and incorporate your passions and hobbies into your elopement. And if nothing else these passions may help you narrow down your location choices.

6. A place that has meaning.

Is there a location in Australia, for either one of you, that has significant meaning? Do you have a special place? Australia has some if the most stunning places in the world, but a location that has a special meaning to you could be a better choice for you.

It could be a place where either one of you grew up or spent the summer holidays at. Or it could be the place you both met, the place you first holidayed away together or even the place you proposed.

Only you can decide if a sentimental location is better than a picturesque location in a place that has no meaning to you. Logic says that you would have to choose the location that has more meaning to you. But do you? Once you elope at a place you’ve never been to or don’t have any emotional attachment to, it will become the place you married the love of your life. Either way, it’s something to think about.

6. Guests or no guests

There is no right or wrong answer here. There are no rules, so do what works for you.

If you are having some guests, then this will be another factor you have to consider in regards to the location. Will your guests be able to easily access the location and will it be suitable for them.

For instance, a cliff top elopement might be totally unsuitable if there will be young children attending. Or an elopement near a slippery waterfall might be out of the question if your Grandparents are attending. Or a National Park will be impossible if you want to bring your dog to the ceremony.

So who you bring to your elopement may influnce where your location is. And if you bring guests, make them your nearest and dearest only. You can always have a dinner or party with the rest of your family & friends later.

7. Combine your elopement and honeymoon

A great tip for how to elope in Australia is to combine it. You can combine your elopement with your honeymoon. Yes, you absolutely can!

So you can elope and then honeymoon around the region or area afterwards. Or you can use your elopement as a starting point, and then drive, fly or sail to your honeymoon locations. You could elope on a Queensland island and then sail around the Great Barrier Reef, island hopping, for your honeymoon. Or elope to Perth and then fly off to Singapore and then Europe for your honeymoon.

So where you were thinking of honeymooning may help decide your elopement location.

Research venue and accommodation options

Once you have narrowed down your location choices, you need to research potential venues, properties and accommodation options in the areas that you are thinking for your elopement. How to elope in Australia is also about researching the local area as much as possible. Try to find out about accessibility, the weather, seasonal closures etc. This is another major stage in your elopement planning journey, so it is important that you choose carefully.

The key parts of the day that these properties may be able to cover include accommodation, ceremony, photo location and reception/dinner. You have a few options here to look for.

  • You can find some nice accommodation at or near where your ideal location is. A place where you can do the “getting ready” part of your day. And a comfortable place to come back to after your elopement ceremony and photos. So if you wanted to get married in a National Park, find some a nice property just outside of the park.
  • Find a place where you can do some key parts of the day at. The venue might be able to do the accommodation and the ceremony parts of the day. Or the ceremony and the location photos. Or just the ceremony and a small dinner.
  • To make it really easy and convenient for you, an even better option would be to find a place where you can do everything. The whole day from start to finish. A place that offers beautiful accommodation, a lovely place for the ceremony, some scenic places for some photos and some options for your elopement dinner/reception that evening. Depending on what you are after, it can be difficult to find places like this. There may be trade offs and compromises. But place like this do exist.

When you are looking for these properties, think of beautiful rental properties, luxury villas, glamping, bed & breakfasts, guest houses, lodges, farm stays or anything that is totally unique and different. Bigger hotels & resorts can also be an option, but they can be very busy and crowded. So just make sure they offer you the privacy that you need for an intimate elopement ceremony.

Having great accommodation also allows you to go out and explore the area and have a wonderful experience the days before and after the elopement.

National Parks, State Forests and Conservation Areas in Australia

You can get married in National Parks, State Forests and Conservation Areas around Australia. They are a wonderful option when working out how to elope in Australia. But not necessarily every single one will let you and not necessarily at certain times of the year.

For instance, at Uluru, there are no wedding ceremonies allowed inside the National Park itself. It is a very sacred site for our Indigenous Australians. You can, however, have the elopement ceremony outside the National Park at the top of one of the sand dunes that look out onto Uluru.

These are beautiful, natural areas and they are rightfully protective of them. The beauty of eloping is that it may be possible to elope at these locations because of how ‘low impact’ elopements can be. They are so much more likely to approve an elopement with four people than they are a wedding with fifty people.

You need to contact all these government departments fairly early to make sure it is even possible. And all weddings and elopements are granted or rejected on a case-by-case basis. Their websites give very little information unless you are planning a wedding in a National Park located in a major city.

So if you have a ceremony location in mind in a particular National Park:

  • Look up the location online and find out who manages the park.
  • Send them an email and see if they will allow it. You can call them, but it is best to get things in writing.

If you can’t get permission to have your ceremony inside these parks, you could perhaps try to find somewhere outside the parks borders.

Think mid-week for elopements

When working out how to elope in Australia, think mid-week. When you have a few properties that you think might be ideal for you, you will need to contact them. Some of these places will already do elopements and weddings and therefore the whole process may be very easy. For others, the concept may be foreign to them and they may be hesitant to do an elopement if it affects their normal weekend business. So mid-week is an awesome option for your elopement for a variety of reasons.

  • Weekends, particularly Saturdays are peak times for wedding venues. So they will generally have minimum numbers or minimum spends for weekends. Mid-week weddings are much less frequent so most venues would welcome the extra business.
  • Accommodation properties will also generally book out for weekends as well. You will have many more options mid-week.
  • Properties that generally don’t do weddings or elopements may be more open to the idea if it is a mid-week elopement. It won’t affect their weekend business, and because there aren’t many people involved it won’t really impact them too much.
  • Weekends tend to be busy times for outdoor locations. Particularly if they are in beautiful and scenic places. Mid-week you often have the place to yourselves.
  • It may even be cheaper during the week, compared to a weekend.
eloping sydney

Pencil in an Elopement date

Once you have actually decided on a location for your elopement and a property to base your elopement from it is time to look at locking in a date to have your elopement. Here are some tips for choosing a date for your elopement:

  • The climate of the region you have chosen should help you decide what month is the best weather and temperature-wise. So if are eloping in Darwin (which is a Zone 1 climate), then November to April is the wet season, and maybe should be avoided if possible.
  • Then again, choosing a season that most people avoid could be an awesome time to get married. It is technically the off-season for them, so you would have more options and maybe a better price.
  • Find out the dates your venue/property is available over the period you are thinking.
  • If you are getting married off-the-beaten-track in a National Park or somewhere else, find out if you can get permission to have your ceremony there first.
  • When can you both get time off work?
  • When are you wanting to honeymoon?
  • Do you have a date that is significant for both of you?
  • If you are inviting family & friends, call or write to them and check that they can make it around the dates you are thinking. Or check with them what times are normally best for them.
  • Try to avoid school holidays or public holidays in Australia. Everywhere tends to book out around those times, and places can get very crowded in general.
  • Find out if your preferred photographer and celebrant are available.

Celebrant & Photographer

Choose an awesome elopement photographer. And get an incredible marriage celebrant. I can’t tell you how important these two suppliers are for your elopement.

If you are eloping in an stunning location, you want to remember the location and the day with amazing photos. So choose an awesome photographer to capture your day.

You also need someone amazing to conduct your marriage ceremony. This is so important not only from a legal standpoint but also from a personal and emotional one. The last thing you want is a ceremony that is boring and has nothing to do with the two of you.

Book everything in.

Once you have decided on an elopement date, the venue or location and confirmed it is available, it’s a good time of year, your very close family and friends can make it and your preferred photographer and celebrant are available, lock everything in. Sign what you need to sign and transfer deposits. Woohoo!!

How to elope in Australia elopement logistics.

You have now booked the major things in, now it is time to work out the finer details for what you want at your elopement and make sure it is all logistically possible.

You may want to source other wedding suppliers, including a videographer, hair & makeup, flowers and styling for your ceremony and reception dinner. A wedding dress, suits, wedding cake, music, invitation and signage. Or not, add as much or keep it as simple as you like.

Work out exactly where you will do your ceremony and how you will get there. Can you walk or do you need transport? Drive yourself or get someone local to drive? Or do you need to take a helicopter or boat?

It can be a good idea to get someone local or even a wedding planner to help with any of the elopement logistics involved. Staff or managers from your accommodation, coordinators, tour operators or the concierge can also be very helpful in the planning process.

You may be able to book many things online, but local knowledge can’t be underestimated. They may be able to source local flowers or tell you of beautiful secret locations for the ceremony or just offering general advice on the area. You may or may not need assistance, but by asking them you can give yourself more options. And by using someone local, you will help the local economy and encourage more elopements in the area.

Eloping australia

Permits for eloping.

Unless you are getting married at the property or at the venue that you have chosen, you have to assume that you will need a permit of some sort. So find out what permits and rules you need to follow to have your ceremony at the location you want. You may also need a photography permit.

For any elopement on public or private land, you will probably need some sort of permit. Assume that you need permission. Don’t trust websites on the internet that tell you that you can have your ceremony for free at ‘this public spot’. The sites may be outdated and councils and government departments may have changed their rules and procedures. The last thing you want during your elopement is some ranger, security guard or official stopping your ceremony to ask if you have permission.

If you do get permission, always get it in writing and bring it with you on the day. Never take someone’s word for it over the phone.

Final Thoughts on how to elope in Australia.

So that is it. That is the ultimate guide on how to elope in Australia. I have tried to make it comprehensive and informative and will update this page as needed.

We ran through the legal factors so that you elopement is legal in Australia. I have given some advice on how to choose an elopement location. And I have given you a bunch of tips for when choosing venues, properties and suppliers for your elopement.

If you are planning an elopement, feel free to bookmark this page and refer back to it during your planning. If you found this guide helpful or you think I missed something, I would love to hear from you.

Eloping is so much more than just getting married or just a wedding. It is about you, your relationship, the adventure you are about to start together. It’s about your closest family & friends all gathered in an amazing location that has a special meaning to you.

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