Sexiest Places to Elope
All the joys of arranging long-lost relatives peaceably around tables and the mass ordering of embossed napkins aside, opting to elope over planning a traditional wedding can be a refreshing and fun way to tie the knot. And for over-the-moon lovers who also happen to be afflicted with serious wanderlust, there's no better excuse for hitting the road together.
Eloping isn't for everyone, but for some, there's endless appeal in taking your vows in a vacation-like setting. And when you choose to elope over planning an elaborate wedding, you're guaranteed to free yourself from a boatload of organizational stress.
Sure, running off to France and eloping in the town of Champagne while toasting your nuptials with said tipple or making tracks for a remote beach in Bali are very romantic propositions. But remember, when you elope, it's all about making things as fast, fun and stress-free as possible. And you'll face far fewer logistical hassles if you opt to do the deed closer to home. Rules for Americans acquiring wedding licenses are easier to satisfy stateside than they are in most foreign locales, although particular license requirements vary from state to state (call local license bureaus for information).
We've sussed out the best US destinations for saying "I do" in a hurry, so you can head straight to the honeymoon.
Reno, NevadaNevada makes it insanely easy to tie the knot -- there's no waiting period, no blood tests, and marriage licenses are notoriously cheap and accessible. Las Vegas -- with all its kitschy chapels and luxurious lodging options -- is a great place to get hitched in a hurry. But if you're looking for something more down to earth, where Mother Nature finds her place alongside the happy couple -- with gambling and debauchery never far away -- make tracks for the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains surrounding Reno instead.
The myriad ski resorts and public parks perched over crystal-clear Lake Tahoe mean scenic views are standard with any Reno marriage ceremony. And getting a license is as easy as popping into the Reno courthouse, which conveniently stays open from 8 a.m. until midnight every day. Elopements are such big business, in fact, that there's even a resource guide on the city's official tourism website.
Park City, UtahUtah is another state that makes it a cinch to make it official, with no waiting periods or must-be-a-resident requirements. And if it's a union between a city slicker and an outdoorsy type, Park City -- with Main Street's bustling cafes and quirky boutiques in the shadow of the rugged Wasatch mountain range -- could be considered the perfect marriage of interests.
With what you'll save in floral arrangements and bridesmaid updos, you and your sweetheart can plant yourselves in a luxury apartment at the sophisticated Sky Lodge, newly opened in December 2007. The 5-star property's haute-design edge purportedly attracted the eye of the Jolie-Pitt clan pre-Sundance. Most rooms have multiple private whirlpools perched on terraces with views of Main Street and the mountains.
Calistoga, CaliforniaWith the dollar's free fall against the Euro making marrying in the real Tuscany a distant dream for most Americans, why not do the next best thing and head to California's wine country? The elopement path to Napa is a well-trodden romantic road, but you can divert from the marrying masses by heading northwest to the bohemian enclave of Calistoga, known for its healing mineral pools.
The Calistoga Ranch offers elopement packages in the setting of a secluded canyon. The resort's private vineyard and lake make beautiful backdrops for saying "I do." And rooms at the ranch are actually freestanding love nests with secluded decks, outdoor fireplaces and al fresco rain showers with lush forest views.
Florida KeysDespite all her quirkiness, you've got to love Florida. The Sunshine State, laid-back lass that she is, is another place where getting married is a simple recipe -- again, no blood tests and no waiting periods for out-of-state residents (Florida residents must wait 3 days or take a pre-marital class to have the law waived). For simple toes-in-the-sand weddings, the choices are limitless -- from deserted Panhandle beaches and island settings in the Gulf of Mexico to urban beach spots like Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
But when it comes to the quirkiest place to elope, you can't beat renting a convertible and road-tripping your way toward happily-ever-after in the Florida Keys. You can set nuptials to a Hemingway theme in Key West, complete with a Papa look-alike to do the honors. Or say your vows in a saltwater lagoon alongside dolphins on the private island of Duck Key, where Hawks Cay Resort runs special elopement packages.