You can elope anywhere in the world, pretty much. But you should elope in British Columbia, Canada. Soaring ancient trees, snowcapped mountain tops, lush vineyards, clear lakes, mountain towns, surf towns, rural or urban — people are arriving every day to have an adventure and get hitched at the same time. It really doesn’t matter what season you choose, and looking at these photos, you can’t go wrong with where. Just do it already! Here’s how.

1

You can get married amongst giants

First, you need a marriage license. You must apply in person. You can look up locations here. Select insurance offices, public notaries, and the government office in downtown Vancouver are able to issue them. Certificates are issued the same day - just be sure the office is open on the day you need to pick up the license. ID for both parties is required, though only one person needs to physically be present to get the license. Once issued, the license is good for 3 months. Once you've got that, you can head to the dramatic location of choice, such as the aptly named Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island. This image is by photographer Chelsea Banwell of Chelsea Dawn Photography.

2

You can have a beach all to yourselves

Once you get your marriage license you can head anywhere in BC to actually get married. Whether it's the mainland or Vancouver Island, further north like Prince George, or the islands of Haida Gwaii, you can always find a remote (or not so remote) beach that's practically empty. Pictured here is Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island, by local photographer Sarah Stein of Fragment of Light.

3

You can be wed in a perfect little fishing port

There are tiny towns and villages all along the coastline of BC - like Poet's Cove on Pender Island, seen here in this shot by Amber Briglio. There are many islands just a short ferry ride from Vancouver. But don't forget: you need a marriage commissioner. Once you know where you want to get married in BC (and as you can see, there's a lot of options) you can search for a marriage commissioner here. They cost roughly $75-$150 and they send in your paperwork within 48 hours of the ceremony. Boom. Married. Note that last minute commissioners can be harder to find, so consider if it's high or low season, how fast you want to elope, and also just how rural you are going (your commissioner will charge travel fees accordingly).

4

Because in BC, love is love

You do need to be 19, currently unmarried (proof of divorce if that applies), and not related, but otherwise BC lets anyone get married, like these two women who said their vows under a canopy of trees just outside of Squamish at the Cheakamus Centre. Image by Meaghan Harvey of Oceanside Portraits.

5

And because BC is big

Nature in BC feels like it all got supersized. This scene is found in Cumberland, BC, for example. By local photographer Karen McKinnon of McKinnon Photography.

6

That light, though.

Something about that northwest light is just dreamy. Bathe in it, whether inland or coastal. It will make your day - and adventure - all the more magical. Be sure to bring two witnesses to make the marriage legal. Your photographer counts as one (all the more reason to hire a photographer) but your commissioner does not. If your photographer has an assistant, you're all set. Also, you can stop a stranger. Who would say no? Just make sure the beach, forest, lake, or mountaintop you choose isn't totally empty! Pictured here is another Vancouver Island beach, this time by photographer Kimberley Kufass.

7

You can go to the edge of the earth in Tofino

Forget the Caribbean. The wild west coast of Vancouver Island is a pilgrimage for surfers, storm seekers, and those just looking for "end of the road" culture (as the little highway ends here with nowhere else to go but into the wild). It's increasingly become a destination for elopements. As elopement photographer Erin Wallis says, "You choose Tofino for so many reasons. Mystical old growth rainforests dripping with moss and warm gooey sunrays pressing in through the canopy, or the vasts swaths of beaches, or the jagged coastline. So many clients choose Tofino because it's stress-free but wildly beautiful." If you want to elope in Tofino you can fly into Vancouver, take the ferry to Nanaimo, get a car and drive another two hours across the island, or splurge on a flight directly into the area, where you get a free scenic view en route with islands, inlets, mountains, and maybe a few whales. Some of the planes that fly in are tiny, adding to the sense of adventure. It's your elopement, live a little!

8

You can run away to Narnia

Big White is just outside Kelowna, which is a 4-hour drive from Vancouver. This little winter wonderland is pretty much perfect for being close and cozy - warm blankets by the fire at night, and big adventures during the day (such as world-class skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, you name it). Run away to Narnia and don't look back. Image by local photographer Abigail Kent of Abigail Eveline Photography.

9

You can get married above adorable mountain towns

Nelson is known for its beautifully restored heritage buildings that come from BC's silver rush in the 1800s. It's steep and colorful and packed with artists, musicians, and other creatives - there's no other town in BC quite like it. It's kind of tucked away from the rest of the world in the Kootenays, surrounded by mountains and lakes. Image by Fragment of Light.

10

You can jump into big lakes under big skies

Inland BC is pretty sweet. Lakes, vineyards, rolling hills, and mountains galore. This lake is Kalamlka Lake outside of Vernon. This area of BC is known for its long, hazy sunsets during the summer. Come in June and sunset isn't until 10 PM, so say your vows and then soak in the end of the best day of your life. Image by local photographer Vanessa Lee.

11

Or paddle across them and pretty much into a Canadian postcard

Pictured here is Ryder Lake, outside of Chilliwack (about 90 minutes to 2 hours from Vancouver). Image by Sharalee Prang Photography.

12

You can stay right in Vancouver but elope in what feels like the middle of nowhere

In fact, this photo, by local photographer Caroline Ross, was taken in Vancouver's Stanley Park, literally minutes by car or taxi from downtown and - time of day depending - 10 to 20 minutes from the surrounding neighborhoods. (Do your research on Vancouver traffic before picking a local spot!). Caroline also had a great tip: "Every year there is an event in Robson Square in Vancouver called Love in the Square. It happens near to Valentine's day and dozens of couples show up to be married right there, in the middle of downtown."

13

You can swing high above the coastal mountains

The Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish is halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. You pay about $30 per person for a round trip private gondola ride up, and, at the top, is a suspension bridge, phenomenal lookouts, and a pretty nice restaurant pouring local beers and wines if you want to raise a glass. Get married in the gondola, on the bridge, at a lookout, you name it. High season is summertime, so plan for crowds - though as a bonus, the gondola and restaurant are open til sundown this time of year. This image is by local photography duo Jelger and Tanja.

14

You can say I do among the vines

Wine abounds in BC in many areas, but particularly in the Okanagan Valley which is about four hours inland from Vancouver and runs from Salmon Arm all the way south to the border with the USA, at Osoyoos. This vineyard here is found in Summerland. Image by Sharalee Prang.

15

You can get married at a castle

It's true. Colonialism brought touches of - you guessed it - British culture to BC. It's not teeming with castles and mansion but they also aren't hard to find in places like Vancouver and Victoria. Seen here is Hatley Castle on Vancouver Island, in a shot by local photographer Chelsea Warren.

16

You can feel like the only two people on earth

BC has a lot of wide open spaces. Combine that with the fact you can say whatever vows you want when you have a marriage commissioner and you have a setting for the most intimate, meaningful moment of your life. This couple traveled all the way to Sombrio Beach, Vancouver Island, to have this private moment together, captured by Angie McCab of Myrtle and Moss Photography.

17

Just remember

First, figure out when, and pick where (good luck with that). Second, find a local commissioner and see when they're free. Third, arrive and apply for your wedding license in person with ID (often same day, except weekends and holidays). Fourth, find witnesses (your photographer counts!) or bank on passing strangers. Fifth, elope! (Image by Angela Ruscheinski of Blush Photography)

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