Planning Your Dream Alpine Elopement
With its poetry-inspiring scenery, delectable cuisine, and quaint, storied towns, there really is no other place in the world like Switzerland — and no experience like a Switzerland elopement.
From mountains to lakes and villages to busy cities, Switzerland truly has it all.
But I know it isn’t always easy to plan an adventurous elopement, especially if you want to go to another country, so I put together this guide to help get you started.
*If you know exactly what you are looking for, use this table of contents to get you to the right place fast.*
As a native of Switzerland (and speaker of six languages), I have an intimate and fluent knowledge of the culture, topography, and “secret” places of the region. And I love nothing more than sharing this with couples looking to celebrate one of the most important moments of their lives in my homeland.
As you look through this blog, please let me know if you have any questions or would like to chat more about a Switzerland elopement. This really is such a beautiful and diverse country — and I am excited to share more about it with you.
What Is an Elopement?
First of all, what exactly is an elopement? By definition, an elopement is when two people decide to get married without all of the stress of planning a huge wedding attended by many people. Generally, there are only a few guests (or sometimes none at all) in attendance. Elopements are simple and straightforward, have minimal to no decor, and generally forego a reception or any sort of formal gathering afterward.
Elopements are intimate and low-stress and can be a great experience for everyone involved. It is easy to make elopements personal and fun by picking a location that means something to you or offers adventures and activities that are indicative of you and your partner’s personalities.
It is important to note that there is also a difference between an elopement and a micro-wedding. A micro-wedding is larger than an elopement (usually under 50 people) and usually necessitates more planning, more details, and more of a structure. It can still be personal, more laidback, and lower stress, but it does usually involve more work.
Why You Should Consider Switzerland for an Elopement
As you start narrowing your options down for your elopement, here are some aspects that make Switzerland the perfect candidate for an elopement.
Switzerland is highly regarded as one of the most beautiful countries on earth. With the awe-inspiring peaks of the Alps, pristine, clear glacial lakes, and historic cityscapes, Switzerland offers so much in the way of aesthetics. There is beauty everywhere you look which lends itself well to both your images and your experience.
If adventure is one of your love languages, Switzerland speaks it. From treks into the clouds to world-renowned skiing to my private helicopter photo sessions, there are so many options for adventures in Switzerland.
And even if you desire a less active experience, Switzerland is home to some of the greatest spas in Europe — such as the Mont Cervin Palace. With endless views and the comfort of a five-star resort, you can feel like you are in the elements, without actually having to be in it.
Cheese and Chocolate
Swiss food, in general, is divine, but since you will be on vacation, indulging in the absurdly delicious cheese and chocolate is an experience you can’t miss. Switzerland is known for — and very proud of — these delicacies.
There are over 400 cheeses and fondues made in Switzerland, and some of these are actually protected by law so they can not be produced outside of Switzerland. As well, many of the well-known chocolate brands actually started in Switzerland. It isn’t hard to find local, gourmet chocolate (or cheese) shops to try them out.
Legal Requirements for a Switzerland Elopement
If you are considering an elopement in Switzerland, there is one main factor to keep in mind.
Unless you are a Swiss citizen or a legal resident of the country, you can’t legally get married here. This shouldn’t discourage you though. You actually can’t legally get married in a lot of countries outside of your home and, even when you can, it can be a huge undertaking.
Most people who elope in a different country find it much easier to get legally married at home and then have a symbolic ceremony at their destination. This cuts down on a lot of paperwork, red tape, and hassle.
The biggest question that I hear from people about this is, if they get legally married one day and then have a symbolic ceremony another, what date is their anniversary?
The answer is — whatever one you want. It can be the day you go to the country clerk to get your license, the day you symbolically elope, or both! You can celebrate your wedding and your marriage however you want on whatever day you want.
And make sure you talk to your local officials about your plans. Some states will allow your marriage license to be dated the day of your official elopement (these will have certain stipulations).
Considerations for an Elopement in Switzerland
As you dive deeper into planning your Swiss elopement, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The Best Time For an Elopement
Since most elopements take place outdoors, weather and seasons are a huge factor in when you plan your Switzerland elopement.
But first, there really is not a bad time weather-wise to be outside in Switzerland. It really all depends on what you are looking for.
The winters in Switzerland are probably its most famous season. With the snow-covered Alps literally surrounding the entire country, skiing and winter sports are never lacking. Winter in Switzerland is magical – but definitely cold so be prepared with your clothing and accessories.
Spring, while still stunning, is considered the wettest and least spectacular of the Swiss seasons. The snow has started to melt and the ski resorts are closing, but the enchantments of the green summer months haven’t quite arrived yet.
The great thing about spring is that it is less crowded and less expensive and, if you travel at the end of spring in May, you will get warmer weather and greener trees, but still have to contend with fewer people.
Summer in Switzerland is exceptional. With snow-covered peaks still surrounding you, the world has awakened and is open for exploring. The weather is generally mildly warm — making it perfect hiking weather.
The downside, besides winter, summer is full of tourists. So be prepared and have hotels booked and restaurant reservations made.
While one of the least busy times, fall can be one of the most beautiful seasons to visit. With the gorgeous, colorful foliage and the mild temperatures, fall is both great for photos and is less crowded.
Transportation in Switzerland is very efficient and reliable but, unless you are renting a car, you will need to put in some time planning your transportation within the country. Trains run between most larger cities and towns and are the best mode of transportation. I recommend looking at this website to plan and book your train travel within Switzerland.
As a little side note, keep in mind you can come across fairly high elevations in Switzerland, and with high elevation can come the threat of altitude sickness. My advice is to adjust slowly to the elevation and, if you are concerned or have had issues in the past at higher elevations, talk to your doctor to see what they say about preventative measures.
Stay tuned for the second part of this blog, Where to Elope in Switzerland, with all of my best recommendations for where to elope and where to stay during your visit.