To some, the term "elope" still conjures images of hasty lovers stumbling into clandestine chapels, or frugal pairs looking to save a few pennies on the guest list.
But elopements have changed.
Today, they've become an intimate alternative to a traditional wedding, where the details matter less than the vows being exchanged. No longer taboo, eloping is an incredibly romantic and wild way for adventurous couples to profess their love in some of the most stunning destinations around the world. Here are a few of our favorite romantic places to sneak away to say "I do."
(Note: Be sure to check out the local embassy's marriage requirements and restrictions before eloping in a foreign country.)
Not only does the country literally have love in its name, but the storybook village of Bled is one of the few destinations around the world with a romantic tradition just as beautiful as the scenery that surrounds it.
In the middle of the town is a lake; in the middle of the lake is a small island; and on the middle of the island is a tiny church, perched high above the water.
Local tradition calls for grooms to carry their bride up the steep 99 steps to ring the wishing bell inside the Church of the Assumption of Mary, before heading back across the lake in a wooden gondola to share a slice of Bled cream cake on the veranda at the Grand Hotel Toplice.
Think the irony of planning a private ceremony in the most populous metropolitan area in the world is lost on us? Not quite. Tokyo is a city of contrasts; it's at once ancient and new, imperial and rustic, quirky and traditional, urban and pastoral.
It's a city where almost anything can happen, from climbing 52 stories to say your vows at the highest stand-alone chapel in the city, to attending a robot wedding, to saying "I do" under an umbrella of pink petals during hanami (cherry blossom) season.
Park City, Utah
Utah's lax legislation on marriage restrictions makes it a piece of cake to elope there, and it doesn't hurt that the state also offers some of the most romantic landscapes and unique activities in the country.
It may be known as a ski resort town, but the slopes around Park City make a picturesque backdrop for a romantic celebration at any time of year.
Opt for a small private ceremony atop Bald Mountain at the breathtaking Deer Valley Resort (accessible via chairlift). Or, exchange vows inside a mountain at the Homestead Crater, before taking a romantic full-moon lift ride up the peak at night. Either way, the beauty of eloping is that you won't have to share the cake!
Gretna Green, Scotland
This little village in the south of Scotland is the unofficial birthplace of eloping. Couples have been running off to make their bond legal in this village since the mid 1700s, when marriage restrictions in England prompted couples to cross the Scottish border to become husband and wife.
The phrase "running away to Gretna Green" has been used in romantic literature for centuries, and it's easy to see that the town's charming pastoral scenes make a great romantic backdrop for any love story.
Despite housing a population of roughly 4.8 million people, this harbor city has an undeniably intimate and remote vibe.
Maybe it's the more than 20 hours you have to spend on a plane to get there, or maybe it's the romantic hidden gems to be found throughout the city.
From the dreamlike QT Sydney Hotel, whimsical custom picnics, starry-eyed outdoor cinemas, and hard to reach heights of the city, it doesn't get much better than fleeing to the secluded shores of Sydney for a one-of-a-kind escape.
Turks & Caicos
Part of the genius of eloping on Turks and Caicos is that it forces you to stay put in paradise. This British territory requires couples to be on the island at least three days before saying "I do," and then pauses their return for three more days after the vows to process the marriage license.
That's six days of "required relaxation" and beachy bliss. Consider it the island's elopement gift to you.
Not sure how to fill your time during your mandatory exile? Might we suggest taking a sunset horseback ride along the beach, spending the day on a secluded island, or even extending your stay to enjoy a free night at The Somerset on Grace Bay with their romance package?
Seal your sacred vows high in the heart of the Andes near the Sacred Valley, in Peru's crowning city of Cusco.
The city is gilded with romantic gems for couples, including the chance to drift to sleep above ancient Incan ruins in the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, watch the lamplights flicker on after dusk at the Plaza de Armas, sip coca leaf-infused cocktails at Limo, or even take a day trip to explore the ruins of Machu Picchu.
Boasting breathtaking sunsets, lush landscapes, and a vibrant local culture, Bali has long been regarded as one of the most romantic destinations in the world.
It's here that couples can get lost together among the butterflies and rice fields at the Campuhan Ridge Walk, bathe in a pool of 500 red roses at the Spa on the Rocks, take a flavorful journey through Indonesia's finest ingredients above the Valley of the Kings at the Cascade Restaurant, and stroll around the temple gardens at the Taman Ayun Temple (pictured).
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe, the stunning scenery alone is enough to make anyone fall in love with this Italian lakefront village on Lake Como.
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo makes it easy for soon-to-be spouses to immerse themselves in la dolce vita. Offering some of the most amazing accommodations in the area, the hotel is without a doubt the best place to book a romantic stay while in town.
There, couples can watch the sun set while sipping Prosecco on a private boat tour, relax in a private spa room for customized couples treatments, and luxuriate in plush robes on a private terrace overlooking Lake Como in the romantic Suite Maria.
Salzburg is steeped in romance and history, from the glistening waters below in the Salzach River to the spectacular spires towering above the city on the Fortress Hohensalzburg.
The city set the scene for The Sound of Music more than 50 years ago, but today it's the perfect storybook setting for couples to write their own romantic tale. Spend the day meandering beneath Baroque architecture, tasting your way through the city's numerous breweries, or cycling among the natural lakes and soaring mountains on the Tauernradweg cycle path.
London, United Kingdom
If London hasn't already seduced you, it will as soon as you disembark the plane. London is one of the most inspiring cities of all time, acting as the birthplace for some of the most romantic writers of all time, from John Keats to Lord Byron.
In fact, English poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning chose London's St. Marylebone Parish Church for their elopement back in 1846.
From choosing a bouquet at the Columbia Road Flower Market to renting a rowboat in Hyde Park before heading to afternoon tea at The Goring Hotel (where Kate Middleton spent the night before her wedding), London offers a poetic start to any eternal romance.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Though often thought of as a party capital, New Orleans is also one of the most amorous cities in America.
Spend the morning splitting beignets at Café Du Monde, steal a kiss on a streetcar, make a wish in the Jackson Square fountain, and rendezvous at Café Amelie for a secluded courtyard dinner. Then, snuggle into a booth on Frenchman Street for some live jazz before returning to the ethereally elegant Windsor Court Hotel for a late-night custom cocktail and a four-diamond night's sleep.
Niagara Falls, Canada
Located right on the U.S.-Canada border (between New York and Ontario), Niagara Falls may bring to mind cheesy, '70s-style wedding suites, but don't buy into that. A number of cute chapels not far from the Falls do offer quickie weddings, but today you can elope in style. We recommend heading to nearby Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, for your I Dos.
Niagara-On-The-Lake is a bit like stepping back in time -- the heart of the town is its downtown historic district, which is full of of well preserved 19th century buildings. In addition to its close proximity to the Falls, it's also a short drive to Ontario's wine country. Book your stay at 124 on Queen, where the staff will happily coordinate the details of your elopement. Or, make like Jim and Pam, and take your vows aboard the Maid of the Mist.
By: Kristy Alpert