How to Elope in Austin, TX

I’ve recently fallen in love with intimate, small weddings, like elopements or really tiny groups where everyone present could fit into a semi-circle around the couple. Elopements are like big weddings, distilled: all of the pieces are there — couple, officiant, happy witnesses, some flowers and the rings — but everything feels so much cozier somehow. I’d love to shoot more tiny weddings in 2014, so this is going to be a post that continuously gets updated with elopement tips for Austin.

austin elopement photographer

Getting married basics

You’ll need:

  • a government-issued ID like a driver’s license, passport, official copy of the birth certificate, or other approved items that verify the identity and age of the individuals getting married, like a military license or visa.
  • to know your social security number.
  • proof of divorce (if applicable) showing that the divorce has been finalized at least 30 days.
  • $81 in cash for the license.

To receive a license, you must go to the Travis County Clerk’s office on Airport Blvd. — even if you’re going to get married at another courthouse in the city. You do not have to have blood tests or medical exams to get married in Travis County.

The license is valid for 89 days after the date it is issued and there’s a 72-hour waiting period before you can get married. This is sometimes waived for active duty military personnel.

The awesome thing about Texas is that basically anyone can officiate your wedding. We had a friend of ours ordained online for free at ULC and he officiated our ceremony for us.

rose petal shower

Where to elope?

There are a number of places you can get married in Austin. Courthouses are common, as are public parks like Zilker. Some ideas:

  • Some parks are absolutely free, and you can hold a wedding there without any issue. I shot a very small wedding at Zilker dog park and the only thing that we had to worry about was having other people’s dogs in the photos, which isn’t that big of a deal at all! Other city parks are so popular that they operate on a lottery system and do have rental fees.
  • Chapel Dulcinea is incredibly popular with elopements. They do require a deposit to hold your date and time, which is forfeited if you don’t show up (but is returned when you do!).
  • There is a large number of judges who will marry you at the Travis County Courthouse, but they set their own fees for the service.

The best part about having a small wedding is that you can do whatever you want! You do not have to get married at a “typical” wedding venue. So pick a favorite restaurant — Green Pastures? Malverde? Or maybe a pretty spot on the outskirts of town like a Homeaway rental? The Hill Country is perfect for this. Or maybe you’re more into water? How about a boat cruise on the lake? The world is your oyster!

Inn Above Onion Creek wedding // Elissa R Photography

When to hold the ceremony?

Big weddings have a lot of moving parts, especially with hundreds of guests. When I suggest timelines for my couples I always fixate on the sunrise or sunset. The most flattering light is from sunrise +2 hours, or 2 hours before sunset, so I would definitely suggest those times for your ceremony. There’s nothing like buttery light during your ceremony. That being said, if you’re having your ceremony indoors or in any area with a lot of shade (trees, covered patios, and so on) any time in the day is great! Nighttime ceremonies are a bit trickier but can have a really beautiful aesthetic.


Currently I’m so fired up and excited about photographing elopements and small weddings (weddings with less than 20 people in attendance) that I’m offering smaller packages for them! I’d love to hear more from you so please contact me here!

Laurie & Mike | Intimate Wedding at the Inn Above Onion Creek

Austin elopement sunset photo // Elissa R Photography

I’m completely smitten with teensy weddings now. A couple in love, a sweet location, and just a handful of their happiest friends and family make the entire experience absolutely wonderful and amazing. Laurie and Mike chose to get married at the Inn Above Onion Creek in Kyle. Laurie proudly told me that she was the third wedding in her family this year; her two daughters were married earlier in 2013. She surprised Mike at the grassy hilltop altar with a bagpiper announcing the beginning of the processional. And although Laurie was worried that it would be cloudy all day, the sun peeked out right after their ceremony, and right before sunset.

They ended their beautiful day with champagne toasts, cookies from the inn’s kitchen, and conversations on the patio. Just a gorgeous night…

Inn Above Onion Creek wedding pictures // Elissa R Photography Photos of Inn Above Onion Creek in Kyle TX / Elissa R Photography Intimate wedding photographer // Elissa R Photography Bride in short dress // Elissa R Photography Bagpiper at wedding // Elissa R Photography Crying groom // Elissa R Photography Exchanging vows on top of a hill // Elissa R Photography Austin elopement photography // Elissa R Photography Kyle TX elopement photos // Elissa R Photography Cat people getting married // Elissa R Photography Austin elopement photographer // Elissa R Photography Best photobomb ever // Elissa R Photography Second-time bride // Elissa R Photography Inn Above Onion Creek wedding // Elissa R Photography Small B&B wedding // Elissa R Photography Champagne toast wedding // Elissa R Photography Bagpiper playing at a wedding // Elissa R Photography Texas Hill Country wedding // Elissa R Photography

Gift Guides for the Procrastinators

One of the best/worst things I ever did in regards to the holiday season last year was wait until December 19th before I started doing my shopping. I’ve never been big into Christmas except for when I was small and still believed in Santa Claus — a falsehood that my sister revealed to me one year, and when I argued with her she made me stay up with her all night to catch our parents put gifts into our stockings… after that truth was exposed, Christmas kinda fell away — so I’m pretty terrible at getting gifts for people. I end up scouring Black Friday sales and not buying anything; then rushing weeks later to get the things that I could’ve bought for half-price. C’est la vie.

So this gift guide is the stuff that’s caught my eye now, and is probably too late to order before Christmas day, but who cares? The point of gift guides is really to see what people like, isn’t it?

Presenting… gift guides for procrastinators! Ha! If you’re a local Austinite, you can purchase some items locally. Amazon Prime can take care of quick shipping for a lot of the others!

For your bestie, lady friend, (or, cough, if you’re anything like me… for yourself):

gift guide 2013

Clockwise from left:
1. laser-etched wood triangle pendant on a brass necklace from Diamonds are Evil, $38 (Austin local: found at Parts & Labour on SoCo)
2. etched and hand-painted 2GB walnut wood flash drive from Son of a Sailor, $32 (also found at P&L)
3. Stila Stay All Day liquid lipstick in Fiery, the perfect red, $22 at Ulta (recently bought this myself and it stays forever — LOVE!)
4. Out of Print clothing’s Pride and Prejudice sweatshirt: keep her cozy with her favorite book in fleece form, $42 (I have the P&P shirt from here and it’s sooo soft)
5. chocolate ladybugs from John and Kira’s, $29 for 9 pieces (perishable so it ships quickly!)
6. small ceramic compost bin for the lady who wants to reduce her carbon footprint, $25 at Amazon
7. awesome Art Deco shower curtain, $36 at Modcloth
8. a copy of a good book, like The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak, starting at $4.99

For the camera-oriented folks who are looking for a lark or a laugh:

gift guide 2013

Assuming that you don’t want to buy your beloved a brand-new Nikon DF (ahem), here are some more palatable options for the photobugs in your family. Clockwise from left:

1. glass Diana lens for DSLRs (all you need now are some genuine light leaks — and knowing if your giftee shoots Canon or Nikon), $60 at Photojojo
2. Canon’s EOS M compact camera with the fixed 22mm lens
3. an adorable PINK Fuji Instax — don’t forget the film too! $63
4. What the f/ stop t-shirt in Heather by Forty Sixty Photo, $18 (seriously guffawing at their entire selection!)
5. iPhone 4/4s/5 case that looks like a Rollei, $20 by Crafic on Etsy

Disclaimer: most Amazon links are affiliate links, so if you purchase something from that click I will get a few nickels. All product shots are copyrighted to their original creators. 

Happy shopping! More weddings tomorrow! :)