Cleveland Ohio Elopement Photographer
Your guide to planning the perfect Ohio Elopement
I want to focus on your love story.
If you are reading this guide, it probably means you have recently said "I want to spend forever with you" to the love of your life. You are now trying to plan your special day. Maybe you are already set on eloping and wondering just where to start, or maybe it is just an idea floating around in your head right now. As you look through all the glammed up wedding blogs, you realize you do not want all of those extras. Regardless of how you found this, I am glad you are here!
I am Art, a photographer who specializes in documenting the best day of your life. I have called Ohio my home for more than 40 years. So I can lead you to some beautiful locations in Ohio that most people either do not know about or would have never considered.
I think it is high time to abandon the stigma around not having a "traditional" wedding and start doing things the way that makes you and your partner HAPPY. More often than not, people think an elopement only needs to be a tiny, short, insignificant thing. That idea makes me sad. On the flip side, We are starting to see a lot of elopements in the media now, but they sometimes make you feel like you have to go across the United States (or the world) to have a beautiful elopement. The truth is, Ohio is incredibly diverse and the perfect spot to start the perfect adventure.
DECIDE ON A LOCATION AND DATE:
This is a crucial first step, but it's only the beginning! You can't move forward with any part of the process until you can set the date in your calendar! If you're eloping, I believe the first thing you should know is that the sky is the limit.
I recommend beginning with what your favorite activities to do together are. If you find it difficult to come up with a location, I advise you to start by looking up landscapes. Examine photos from nearby parks, Google Earth, Pinterest, other photographers, and so on. Most people will know it when they see it. When you can envision you and your partner standing there, pronouncing your vows, gazing into each other's eyes, THAT'S THE PLACE!. For some people this is lakeside, and for others, this is your living room. There is not one option that is superior to the other, just pick whichever one brings you joy.
For Ohio elopement locations, I recommend doing your research on Hocking Hills, Cuyahoga Valley, Lake Erie, or even taking a short drive to the shores of Michigan.
Cleveland, specifically, has some great downtown locations such as the bridge in the flats, right on the shores of Lake Erie, at the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, and right on the rocks in front of the Mentor lighthouse! All cities in Ohio, regardless of size, have amazing and unique elopement offerings.
I currently reside in Median, Ohio, and I cannot stress enough how wonderful the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is to my new friends. The park has an abundance of trails, waterfalls, lakes, creeks, cliffs, trains, and bridges—it’s truly a sight to behold!
If you are ever in need of suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I take joy in celebrating love and all of the planning that comes along with it.
PICK AND BOOK! YOUR VENDORS:
Some couples elope with just themselves and their officiant, while others go all-out with a catered brunch and fully decorated venue. This is a “you-do-you” thing. The only thing you need is someone to marry you – whether this is myself, a friend, trusted pastor, or random person you found ordained on the street. I can help you check that they are legal with the state.
There are several vendor types that can make your elopement extraordinary. I would recommend considering a florist and hair/make-up artist at the very least. Other luxurious add-ons include a classy mode of transportation to your ceremony site (vintage car, limo, horse?) or a private chef to cook you an unforgettable meal afterward.
After you have secured your vendors, you can relax knowing that they will be in contact with you to work out a timeline for the day. This will not only reduce stress for you, but it will also ensure that your day goes as smoothly as possible.
THINK ABOUT THE DESTINATION(S):
While it may not be a bad idea to invest in a local planner, it is important to be aware of the local legalities, have an officiant, and be able to connect with other vendors. Furthermore, they may know of locations for your vows or portrait session that are not common knowledge. As such, it may be beneficial to take advantage of their expertise. You don't want to spend your trip looking for the right contacts.
ROCK SOMETHING GORGEOUS:
It is not necessary for your attire to be white or formal. You are not required to wear a dress or a suit. Your choice does not need to be classified as "wedding appropriate". But it is important that you wear something special to you on your wedding day, whether it be a sequin bridal jumpsuit, a little white dress, or full formal wedding day attire. Have fun with your look and make sure you feel incredible on your day. Even if you're only dressing up for yourself and your other half, your choice can help set the mood for your elopement.
THE LEGAL SIDE OF ELOPING:
Some locations may necessitate a photography permit for your elopement. Don't fret, this is something I can help you take care of! On the topic of permits and legalities, let's talk about a marriage license! Every state has different requirements regarding the number of witnesses needed, how to apply, and how long the license is valid. We will talk through these details as we plan your elopement, and if you need a witness, I would be more than honored to sign on that dotted line for you!
PICK UP YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE BEFORE YOUR ELOPEMENT:
I am not a lawyer. You will need to visit your local courthouse to apply for a marriage license. Some County's will let you apply online.
Important notes on the process:
- You have 60 days from the issuing of your license to have your legal ceremony before the license expires.
- You should bring a form of ID with you such as a birth certificate or legal driver’s license- you can check out the full list of acceptable documents at the link above.
- You do not need witnesses on your Marriage License in Ohio, but there are two lines for witnesses to sign if you would like to! I think it is a fun way to remember who else was there if there was anyone.
- The blank marriage certificate you walk out with will be signed and legally taken care of by your officiant (be sure to check if they mail it for you or not) after your ceremony.
- After your elopement, you will receive your actual copy of your marriage license (along with a cute decorative one) in the mail.
DO IT FOR THE ALL RIGHT REASONS & MAKE IT SPECIAL:
Eloping is quite the statement in itself! If you're planning to get married without your friends and family by your side, then ensure it is something you want, as well as doing it for the right reasons. Saving money, avoiding drama, keeping it intimate and personal, are all valid reasons to elope - just make sure you have given your decision a lot of thought, and that it is what you both want.
Just because you are not going to have 200+ guests to wine, dine and entertain does not mean your elopement day shouldn't be special. Whether you write personalized vows, go all out on a fancy limousine, eat cake for breakfast, or go to a 5-star restaurant for dinner after, do whatever it is that will make your wedding day feel special and truly memorable to you both. The best fact about eloping is the fact that you can do whatever you want, so make sure you do!
DON'T FEEL BAD ABOUT IT:
There is often a lot of guilt associated with elopements at first. With that said, this might be easier said than done. Do not feel bad about your decision, because you do not have to justify it to anyone except you and your partner. Of course, there will be some friends and family members who might be initially disappointed with the idea, but once they get over the initial shock, chances are, they will be nothing but excited and happy for you both.
I always say that "Preparing yourself for the worst but expecting the best" is the key mindset for eloping. Hopefully, everyone you know will be supportive of your decision, but try not to be too upset if a couple of people are not as excited about your news as you had hoped.
HAVE A REVEAL PLAN:
Ideally, you should inform close family members in person about your elopement, rather than through the grapevine or on Facebook. I would highly recommend having a script ready to go. You don't need to explain yourselves, but it's important that you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to letting the family know about your big surprise.
You will feel rewarded when you view your photographs and all of your efforts will be worthwhile. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me before your session.
I look forward to seeing you at your ELOPEMENT!
I am a LGBTQ+ friendly, body positive, elopement and portrait photographer located in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.
My mission is to create beautiful, authentic images that reflect my clients' uniqueness and celebrate love in all its forms.