Our license plates proudly state “Beautiful British Columbia” and we’re not exaggerating. Beyond a doubt, B.C. has stunning nature. Each year, the number of tourists who want to experience it for themselves rises. And as local wedding photographers, we see this trend reflected in the increasing number of destination elopements. 

adasdPhoto by Jelger and Tanja

Why is British-Columbia so popular for destination elopements?

Our clients love eloping in British Columbia, because of the unique nature and diverse landscapes. One of the most popular location choices is what we call the ‘West Coast forest experience’: an intimate wedding celebration in the midst of a lush rain forest of evergreens, moss and ferns. A close second is the backdrop of ‘very Canadian’ lakes and mountains. And British Columbia offers so much more than that: epic waterfalls, glaciers, rock formations, the ocean, pebble beaches and even desert landscapes.

While the peak season for destination elopements is between May and September, intimate wedding ceremonies have expanded into any time of year, including winter. Each season brings out different qualities in the environment. From mesmerizing snowy pines and frozen lakes to vibrant, green spring forests or comfortably warm days with blue skies at the beach and gorgeous fall colours. There’s something here for everyone. 

Vancouver, the unofficial tourist capital of British Columbia,  is the perfect starting place for a destination elopement. The international airport (YVR) offers  easy access to downtown for people from all over the world. And from downtown Vancouver, you can be in the middle of B.C.’s stunning nature in less than an hour’s drive. For instance, some favourite locations for our clients include Stanley Park, Lynn Canyon Park and Golden Ears Provincial Park. Each of these locations will surprise you with diverse, beautiful, backgrounds (within a five minute walk). 

If you’re up for something more adventurous, or prefer absolute privacy, you’ll love a helicopter elopement. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a helicopter flies you to (and from) a remote location of your choice, where you’ll tie the knot and have a photo shoot afterwards. Mountain tops, vast panoramas and glaciers: they can all be part of the backdrop for your wedding ceremony. Not even the sky is your limit.

Last but not least, a great perk that comes with choosing British Columbia for your destination elopement, is that it combines your wedding and honeymoon. The exchange of vows and rings is only the beginning of the experience. No need to pack bags, because you’ve already arrived. Stay in Vancouver or explore all the best that B.C. has to offer as newly-weds.  Make it an experience for just the two of you, or bring along a group of guests to make it one big celebration!

asdasPhoto by Jelger and TanjaPractical tips for your British Columbia destination elopement in B.C

Getting married in B.C. is easy! To make it legal, all you need is a marriage licence, a commissioner (or officiant) and two witnesses. That’s it! 

  1. Marriage licence

You can purchase a marriage licence for $100 in one of several stores found here. You’ll need to present the passports of both partners getting married, so make sure to bring these.

  1. dfgfgsfgPhoto by Jelger and TanjaMarriage commissioner/officiant

In British Columbia, there’s a difference between marriage commissioners, and officiants. The former are government appointed officials who only fulfill the legal marital requirements. Marriage commissioners cannot include religious aspects in the ceremony, and there’s not a lot of room for customizing your ceremony. But they are generally cheaper, because their fees are fixed by the government.

Officiants on the other hand, are endorsed by a religious organization, and powered by the province to fulfill ceremonies. You’ll pay a higher fee for their services, but officiants will allow and help you to customize your ceremony as much as you like.

B.C. marriage commissioners are appointed to a region, so make sure to pick based on your wedding ceremony location. They can be found per region on this website. For officiants, you can do a simple search on the internet. 

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  1. Two witnesses 

The final legal requirement is that you have two witnesses (of the age of majority, which is 19 in B.C.) present during the wedding ceremony. If you are planning on getting married with just the two of you, hiring a photographer duo like us solves the problem of finding two witnesses. That said, any random person can be a witness, which can create funny and spontaneous moments to remember.

dasdasPhoto by Jelger and Tanja

  1. Prepare for changing circumstances 

We highly recommend being prepared for any kind of weather, even when travelling in summer! The mountains are especially notorious for quick weather changes. Bring a warm jacket and an umbrella. If it rains, you can still get married outside, but you’ll need some protection! (and yes, umbrellas, especially clear and white ones, are cute in photos!) 

Also, think about your shoes! It may seem strange, but if you only consider aesthetics, you’ll feel uncomfortable sooner or later, especially when it’s wet or cold. Of course, you can always wear comfy shoes while walking around and change them for the photos.

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Excited about eloping in British Columbia?

An elopement gives you the opportunity to think outside of the traditional wedding box. Anything goes, so you can focus on what is important to you! By choosing for a destination elopement, you create even more opportunities to truly follow your heart’s desire. Do you want the most exclusive and private nature location? A helicopter wedding can do that for you. Want to paddle around in a canoe before you say your ‘I do’s’?  You sure can. Do you love waterfalls? Go chase one (with your photographer). B.C. has so much to offer, and it is beautiful.

Whenever we photograph a destination elopement, we ask our clients what made them to pick British Columbia for their wedding celebration. All of them have travelled from places near and far: Canada (Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia), USA (Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, New York, Louisiana, Florida), South America (Brazil) and Europe and Their answers are always the same: B.C.’ s amazing nature. Coincidentally that’s the exact reason why we moved to Vancouver from Belgium in 2011. Because B.C. is beautiful.

adadfdfPhoto by Jelger and Tanja