Couple dressed in wedding clothes running down sand dunes, Wilsons Prom Sand Dunes Elopement

How to Elope Australia

Firstly, what is an elopement?

Before we talk about how to elope in Australia, let's talk about what an elopement really means.

In an age gone by Eloping used to mean you were running away to get a married secretly. An elopement has now transformed into a wonderful expression of a personal and intimate affair.

An elopement is an intimate wedding alternative for couples who want their wedding day to be focused on what really matters to them, and not the expectations and norms of those around them. The term eloping can also be interchangeable with the terms intimate weddings, small weddings, micro weddings and destination weddings. Eloping can be just as planned out and well thought as a traditional wedding & can involve immediate family and friends.

The biggest difference between a traditional wedding & an elopement, comes from what the couple prioritises on their wedding day. It strips back a lot of unnecessary bullet points on a wedding agenda (such as seating charts, what colour linen you are choosing and if you mother in law approves of your choices) & instead allows you to create an elopement timeline focused on each other.


If you are asking yourself if you should elope in Australia, you should sit down with your partner and write down a list of what is really important to the both of you on your wedding day.

If more of your answers centre around each other and doing something exciting, eloping could be your answer. If you want to include a lot of family and friends, a traditional wedding might be your route.

If the thought of adventuring together, without any distractions excites you, eloping could be for you. With no rush to get back to formalities & the freedom to change your timeline ‘just cause.’ probably means you should figure out how to elope in Australia.

If you want to explore somewhere new and value adventurous experiences over material items and if the thought of going over a wedding plan/agenda a hundred time freaks you out. Or it could be because there’s too much tension and family drama you know is going to put a strain on you and your day, these are just a few of the hundred good reasons to elope.


Elopement couple kissing at their terracotta themed ceremony at the Farm yarra valley, Australian Elopement

Here we come down to the legal side of how to elope in Australia. The great thing is if you are an overseas couple, you don’t need to be a citizen to legally marry here! All couples getting married in Australia just need to complete a notice of intended marriage, at least one month before your wedding date (your celebrant would organise this for you, or you can do this at the registry office). Same-sex marriage is also legal as of December 2017, so you can get married here in Australia!!

A few things to note, you must:

  • Not be already married
  • If you have been married, present documents of divorce
  • Provide things like birth certificates and pasports
  • Not be marrying a parent, guardian, child, grandchild, brother or sister.
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Understand what marriage is and give free consent
  • Give notice of intended marriage at least 1 month before your wedding
  • You will need 2 witnesses (if you have vendors such as a photographer, they can witness for you, celebrants cannot be witnesses)
  • This leads to the question, will you have a legal or symbolic ceremony?

    For example if you want your elopement to be truly private, you can complete all the paperwork at the registry office and then have a symbolic ceremony at your elopement location without a celebrant, including vow reading and ring exchange. Symbolic ceremonies can help alleviate the pressure of finding a celebrant for a remote location, or a location where wedding ceremonies are not permitted!

    There are a number of locations (such as Uluru) where a wedding ceremony cannot take place, but photos can - for this purpose you could conduct a symbolic ceremony. This is also great if you are considering eloping out of the country and don’t want to worry about the legal paperwork overseas.

    If you want a legal ceremony you would just bring you celebrant along to your ceremony and have the conduct it on location. This could be perfect if you also wanted a friend or family member to be your celebrant as something meaningful!


    Once you are certain eloping is for you, it’s time to plan how to elope Australia, and a whole lot of a heck easier than a wedding.

    Couple sharing a kiss under cactuses at an cactus country Australian Elopement

    First, Location.

    Australia has an abundance of stunning locations for you to consider eloping. Sometimes a good start can just be finding a perfect Airbnb and then checking the surrounding locations & national parks. If you are set on eloping in a certain climate, here are a few suggestions to get these climates at certain times of the year.

    Humid - Cairns (Summer & Winter)

    Warm/Tropical - Queensland (Summer & Winter)

    Dry/Desert - Northern Territory or Western Australia (Winter)

    Snow/Alpine - Tasmania or Victoria High Country (Winter)

    As always check the seasons of each state! Tasmania you will be more likely to find snow in July-August, and in the Northern Territory their dry season is May-October (perfect because you can escape the rest of winter in Australia and avoid the extreme high temperatures of summer in the NT)

    Couple hugging in a city alleyway after their first look before their Australian elopement. Both extremely emotional and happy

    Second, Ceremony.

    Will you have a legal or symbolic ceremony? Sometimes you can combine the two in one day. Potentially having you celebrant marry you in your Airbnb with legal only vows, before you go off to hike to the top of the mountain to say your personal vows.

    Three, Photographer.

    Make sure to have a photographer along who knows their stuff. Since eloping is such a personal experience, photos can be the one thing to share with friends and family once you’ve eloped. When you also choose to elope, it means you get to spend less on the things you don’t care for & more on the things you do, such as photos that will last the years until you are old and grey.

    Four, Other Vendors.

    Eloping can involve other vendors depending on your values! If you are eloping in an accessible location you could have a stylist set up a ceremony floor or backdrop, a post elopement dinner/picnic and a floral bouquet for your day, although please note most national parks prohibit non-native flowers & you may need to source an expert at faux bouquets.

    Some people even hire solo musicians such as violinists to play a song for their first dance on location. I’ve seen elopements where they have utilised an Airbnb for their elopement & had a private caterer & pianist along. Eloping doesn’t mean you can’t have a little bit of fancy, it’s just in your way that brings more meaning to you.

    Five, Attire & Details.

    Think about how your elopement outfit will fit with the location you have decided on. Thinking of things like what you will be doing and what kind of climate you will be in. Some couples decide to change into their clothes once arriving in location, where just as many have hiked in their attire (yes, including long dresses).

    Sometimes the perception of eloping means not going ‘all out’ on your wedding outfit, but if anything it means you should! You will be in an incredible location getting married to your partner, your photos will turn out amazing. You can definitely still elope in Australia in a traditional wedding outfit/dress with all the bells and whistles, but if anything eloping means you don’t have to stick to traditions if you don’t want & wear something you love, and will make you feel comfortable.

    Elopement Ideas & Tips in Australia.

    Couple dancing at sunset on flinders cliffs in Mornington for engagement session

    So you want to get good light for your ceremony?

    I would recommend a ceremony either an hour and a half before sunset, or half an hour before sunrise. This means that by the time your ceremony is done, you will still have soft light for your portraits! You can also do your portraits first if you wish to have your ceremony at golden hour!

    Where are the best places to elope in Australia?

    The amount of hidden gems in Australia is uncanny, so if you are willing to do your research and find a never used before location, this is your chance to find some places to elope in Australia! However I have a few locations I have loved photographing.

  • Grampians National Park
  • Cradle Mountain, Tasmania (Check out how to elope in Tasmania, along with recommended locations, here)
  • Big Drift, Wilsons Prom
  • Blue Mountains, New South Wales
  • Mt Hotham, Victoria High Country
  • If you are after a landscape that isn’t mentioned here, please reach out! I can source and search the perfect elopement location for you as part of my elopement planning process with you.


    Do you need a permit to elope in Australia?

    Elopement Package Australia

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    Choose the right photographer.

    Mel Badsey Tasmanian Australian Elopement Photographer

    Speaking as a photographer who photographs all across Australia & the world, choosing someone to capture your day isn't something you want to go cheap on.

    An elopement day is an intimate affair, with few or no guests present. You likely want images to share with friends and family once the day is done, and you'd want those images to tell your day unapologetically real.

    As someone who's taken years mastering my storytelling ability, I know it's not something that anyone can just do. While I know there are probably a million photographers out there who know how to line up an image and click the button, it's so much deeper than that. It's about being able to immerse myself into your day + your moments so I can truly capture the heart of your experience.

    You want someone who can take on the challenges of a hiking elopement (if you choose to do one) and someone who is able to think on their feet, because no elopement day will go perfect! Someone who doesn't just take photos but will help you come up with solutions, even before your day ever happens.

    Choosing a photographer who will support your elopement and help you plan towards something that will be 100% you is something that you will always be thankful for.

    I'm here to capture unapologetic moments, where you get to have the day of your life, completely and utterly yours, with no need to impress anyone else & just be in the company of each other.

    Mel Badsey Tasmanian Australian Elopement Photographer

    Let me help you plan your elopement!