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!


      Hello! I know this is an old post, but I am so interested in the Zilker Dog Park small wedding? Could you please show me those pictures and I’m wondering your availability to photograph a small wedding/reception on December 2, 2016? I am estimating 12-16 guests. Thank you!

      Emailing you in a moment, Casey! Thanks!

      Tahia Washington

      We will be eloping on June 17th and was wondering if you do 1 hour shoots. It will be just the two of us and I really don’t think we will need longer then that.

      Look forward to hearing from you!
      Thank you,