Unconventional Outdoor Elopement Ceremony Ideas to Make Your Special Day Truly Unique


If you’re anything like us, a typical ceremony with prescribed lines simply won’t do for your one and only elopement ceremony. You need something a little off the beaten path, much like your elopement location!

As a leading Asheville elopement company, we’ve noticed that there is something special about every elopement. But there is something to be said about elopements where the couple has put a little extra intention and thoughtfulness into what they want in their ceremony.

 If you’re seeking something different and a little more you, check out our unconventional outdoor elopement ceremony ideas to make your special day truly unique.



Creative Ceremonial Gestures/Acts

During a wedding ceremony, you’ll often see a unity ceremony like the blending of the sand & hand-fasting. But maybe you want something a little different and more specific to you two. Here are some other ideas that might be a better fit for your outdoor elopement ceremony!

Unity Ceremony Ideas

The unity ceremony takes place at the altar during the wedding ceremony. Typically, it follows the vow exchange and precedes the newlywed’s kiss.  This can vary depending on certain cultures, religions, or unity ceremonies.

Blending paint 

The Unity Canvas Painting Ceremony is a fun and unique way for couples to celebrate their unity ceremony. During the Unity Canvas Painting Ceremony, the couple creates a piece of art that represents their unity in a way that’s personal and meaningful to them. This artistic approach allows the couple to express themselves and their unique bond in a creative and memorable way.

Make sure to pack a small canvas and paint in a compact way that can be easy to carry and fit into a backpack or small bag, especially if you are hiking to a mountain elopement.

Wine pouring 

Including a wine ceremony in your wedding is a wonderful way to symbolize the unity of your two lives coming together. Wine has long been associated with celebrations and romance, making it a perfect choice for this purpose. The wine ceremony can be customized to your personal preferences and can involve the blending of two different wines or the sharing of a single glass between the couple.

Typically, the wine ceremony follows the exchange of vows and rings. The couple pours their wines into one glass and drinks from it. They often toast three times: to their past, present, and future.

Plant a Small Tree 

The Unity Tree Ceremony is a special way for couples to symbolize their marriage. During this ceremony, the couple plants a tree together as a symbol of their love and commitment. The sapling is planted in fertile soil, nourished with water and light, and encouraged to grow deep roots. As the tree grows and flourishes, it represents the strength and resilience of the couple’s relationship. And just like a real tree, it may need to be  cared for along the way to help it continue to thrive.

Make sure to bring a small pot that’s easy to carry if you are hiking to your elopement site.

Native American Blessing of the 4 Directions

A Four Directions Ceremony is a Native American blessing that calls on the Four Directions (East, North, West, & South) to bless a couple’s journey in life.

The blessing is exclaimed as follows:

Blessed be this union with gifts of the East and of Air.

From the east you receive the gift of a new beginning with the rising of each morning Sun, the dawn wind breathing into you both open of heart and purity of mind and body. May you know that each new day is an opportunity to grow in all you establish in this sacred moment.

Blessed be this union with gifts of the South and of Earth. In the south we see the earth that will feed and enrich you, helping you to build a stable home to which you may always return. May you walk upon it with respect, that it may provide sustenance, fertility and security of being, sheltering you for all of your days upon it.

Blessed be this union with gifts of the West and of Water. In the west we see the storm clouds and the oceans, the mystery of water teaching you the capacity to feel emotion through tears of sadness and of joy. May you offer absolute trust to one another, vowing to keep your hearts open and provide for each other in triumph and in strife, and traveling together into the deepest places one can travel to, trusting that everything will come together in Creator’s Time.

Blessed be this union with gifts of the North and of Fire. In the north we see the northern lights, teaching us the importance of energy, passion, creativity and the warmth of a loving home. May you seek and share with one another the light that comes from the fire within, and may it guide you through the darkness; for there is no darkness without light and there is no light without darkness.

May the sun of grandfather bring you new happiness each day that you awake; May the moon of grandmother softly restore you as you dream each night when you are asleep; May the rain of our father the sky wash away your worries and the breeze of our brother the wind blow new strength into your being; May you walk gently on our mother the earth and know its beauty before, beauty behind, beauty above, beauty below and beauty all around; And may all the days of your life be blessed by the Great Spirit. Blessed be this couple.”


Lasso Ceremony 

This tradition is usually associated with Hispanic and filipino families. Lasso (sometimes called, “lazo” or rope) is placed around the bride and groom’s shoulders in the form of an “8” (the infinity symbol) – after they have exchanged their vows – to symbolize their everlasting union.

The wedding lasso, usually made of silk cord, flower garland or an oversized rosary, creates an infinity symbol when draped over the couple, and may feature a crucifix at its center. With just two loops needed to form the eternity symbol, the design possibilities for the lasso are limitless.


Anniversary Time Capsule Box

Time capsules are a way to add some personal flair to your outdoor elopement ceremony and get a keepsake out of it.

You can either snag a kit online or DIY your own if you’re feeling crafty.

Fill it up with whatever your heart desires! Some folks keep it simple with a sweet love letter from each of you and a bottle of vino to share when you crack that baby open.

And hey, if you’ve got an officiant leading the charge, why not throw in a copy of your customized ceremony script?

Or you can take things to the next level and ask your guests to toss in a lil’ something-something – a tiny token or a note with their best wishes for your life together. The possibilities are endless!

Here’s come cute boxes you can get from Etsy.

Warming the Ring 

A Ring Warming Ceremony is a traditional Irish wedding ritual that involves guests in a special way. During this ceremony, the wedding rings are passed around to guests, who are invited to “warm” them up with their good wishes, prayers, and positive vibes for the couple’s future together.

Religious guests can be encouraged to say a silent prayer, making this a good option for those merging religious and secular customs.

Sometimes the officiant will invite the guests to form a circle around the couple while warming the rings.

For an elopement, a really cool idea is to take the rings to guests who can’t be at the wedding, for example, elderly grandparents – to be “warmed up” in the days and weeks beforehand.

You might want to arrange for a piece of music to be played while the ring-warming ritual is taking place, but this is not necessary.

As each guest holds the rings, they are imbued with the love and positive energy of everyone present, creating a powerful symbol of community and support for the couple. By the time the rings make their way back to the couple, they are infused with the warmth and well-wishes of all their loved ones, making them truly precious and meaningful.




Position your Guests in a Symbolic Shape


Circle- Ceremony in the Round

Standing in a circle – or having a ceremony in the round is a setup whereby wedding guests are either seated (and/or standing) around the bride and groom in a full or partial circle. It’s practically a great set up when you don’t want a backdrop or altar and instead all eyes focused on the couple.
It also lends an added sense of intimacy to your vows.

The symbology behind this is that it is a symbol of wholeness. the endlessness of the circle is the perfect symbol of oneness and unity – no beginning, no end. It also represents the sun, earth, universe, holiness, perfection, and peace. Circling up your guests lends itself to the unity of all living beings and also represents the endlessness of your relationship!

Circling around the couple also has Pagan roots, as guests will often gather in a circle around the couple and the officiant, instead of a traditional wedding where couples stand at the front and guests sit in the “audience.” 

The downside to this format is that if everyone is standing in a circle, it may potentially make it slightly more difficult for your photographer or/;and videographer to get good footage of you. Make sure to share your vision and work with these professionals to ensure there is room for them in the circle to get their shots of you.


Half-Circle/ Horseshoe

Arranging guests in a half-circle or horseshoe can be a symbol of good luck.

The Victorians loved their symbolism and sought to fill the wedding day with meaning and omens of good fortune. Female family members would give a horseshoe to the bride in order to bring good luck to the marriage. Horseshoes have long been a symbol of good luck.

So by having your guests stand in a horseshoe you are creating a shape that symbolizes good luck for your marriage together!

The downside to this format is that you probably can only pull this shape off if you have more than 2 guests as it will be difficult to truly form a horseshoe.


Standing on One Side

This is the most common setup at our elopements.

We typically position guests altogether on one side of the couple.

It is a great way to keep everything spacious and allow the photographer and/or videographer plenty of room to move about and capture your memories, especially for those who can’t make it.



Standing as attendants/bridal party

If you are having a bridal party come along for your elopement, perhaps in matching outfits or dresses, having them stand on either side of you during the ceremony is an option that follows the lead of traditional, bigger weddings.

The idea behind this setup is that your bridal party plays the role of supporting you, so they stand with you during the ceremony itself.

The only downside to this format is that you won’t easily be able to connect eyes by glancing out into a crowd as your bridal party will be behind you on either side.



How to Blend Religion & Culture with New Age Spirituality

Are you looking to combine traditional religion or culture with new age spirituality or your love of nature into your ceremony?

If so, we recommend blending it together vs. having to choose one!

Forming a prayer circle, singing a song of your faith, or including a passage or prayer that blesses your marriage, are all moving ways to incorporate your spirituality into your outdoor ceremony. If you want to make sure a family member feels included and you want to invite in their faith to your ceremony, it’s a great idea to ask them to read a passage or prayer out loud. Make sure of course it all resonates with you but it’s a great way to include multi-faiths or even the faith traditions you may have grown up with.

Here are some ideas that include “new-age” spirituality (for lack of a better term).


Include astrology

Your ring box can have both of your star signs or/and birth stones on it. For example, a symbol of a Virgo and a Cancer on it to symbolize both of your natures. This is a less overt way to include astrology without it being the main focal point of the ceremony, if you so choose.

You can also choose to marry on the full moon or new moon. A Bride even adorned the moon cycle on her veil for a mountain elopement we planned and photographed!


Incorporating Pagan Traditions

Everyone deserves a day that reflects who they are. If you’re interested in Pagan beliefs or Wiccan traditions, this guide has some outdoor elopement ceremony ideas that you can make your own.

Wicca, known for its focus on plant magic, earth-centered witchcraft, and reverence for nature, is widely acknowledged as the foremost modern Pagan movement. The Wiccan belief system centers around safeguarding and nurturing the earth while also rejoicing in the natural rhythms of the changing seasons.

One ritual is the exchanging swords or daggers which has roots in both Pagan and Viking traditions, and can be an unconventional alternative to exchanging rings. The couple presents each other with daggers or swords as a symbol of their union. This ritual can be incorporated alongside traditional rings or used in place of them, especially if jewelry is not your cup of tea.

Another ritual is making offerings to an altar, where a couple puts meaningful items on an altar either as a symbolic ceremony signifying unity. These offerings can include candles, incense, or any meaningful items – make it your own!

“Blessing the space” is a ritual that involves creating a spiritual circle around the physical location where you’ll be getting married by lighting incense or sage, ringing bells, or scattering petals or herbs. Typically, this is performed by the officiant, but it can be done by guests or the couple themselves. This practice serves to eliminate negative energy and transform the location into a blessed or sacred space for your ceremony.

It’s worth noting that sage smudging carries significant cultural importance for many Indigenous tribes. Therefore, we recommend only engaging in this practice if you or your partner have Indigenous ancestry, or if you’re confident that the sage you’re purchasing directly supports an Indigenous person or community.

And finally, you can plan your wedding date around the season.
In Paganism, the wheel of the year is an annual cycle of seasonal festivals that consists of solstices and equinoxes and the midpoints between each of them. Many Pagans and Wiccans observe this cycle of the seasons, so you can plan your wedding day around the celebration of one of them.


Weaving the Elements of Nature

Asheville Mountain Elopement

For some couples, religious undertones that normally are the foundation of a wedding ceremony don’t fit their beliefs or lifestyles.

If you want to make the ceremony deeply meaningful and you value nature, consider weaving the 4 elements of nature into your ceremony. This works really well for couples who LOVE being outdoors and don’t necessarily subscribe to or resonate with religious, astrological, or overtly pagan principles.

You can choose the Native American Blessing of 4 Directions and/or you can honor each element by creating an altar with a symbol for each and read a quote about each element that will inspire embodiment of that element’s qualities in your marriage.

For the fire element, you can have a candle or a battery powered candle. Or you might choose to bring a magnifying glass which harnesses the power of the sun and the sun is also tied to the fire element. Your officiant can read a quote about the power of the fire element and how to learn from the lessons of it and apply it to your relationship.

I like this quote by Pablo Neruda – “Of all fires, love is the only inexhaustible one.”

The air element is an energy of movement and change. To represent the air element, you can place a feather or other object that reminds you of the air. Your officiant could read a quote about the quality of the air element and how to bring this into your relationship.

I like this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh –

“Breathing in, there is only the present moment. Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.” 

For the earth element, you could choose an “earthing” ceremony, where you walk together barefoot while your officiant reads words about how we are connected and come from the earth, tying in a quote.

I like this one – “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.

And for the water element, you can have a bowl of water on the table for a rebirthing ceremony or washing of the feet or hands ceremony. This might be nice after the earthing/ barefoot ceremony and feel extra good! Be sure to have towels nearby the dry your hands so you are ready for your ring exchange! Your officiant can read a quote about the water element.

I like this one by Bruce Lee –

“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

Asheville Mountain Elopement

“Don’t dismiss the elements. Water soothes and heals. Air refreshes and revives. Earth grounds and holds. Fire is a burning reminder of our own will and creative power. There’s a certain sweet comfort in knowing that you belong to them all.” ― Victoria Erickson


How to include a Loved One Symbolically

Memorializing a loved one who has passed away is a powerful way to feel their presence and support on such an important day.

A candle lighting might be too windy for an outdoor ceremony and setting lanterns into the sky isn’t good for the environment, but here are some other ideas.

Bring a small plant or flower they loved to remind you of them when you glance over.

Bring a scarf or hanker-chief or other item of theirs to hold in your hand or wear a piece of their jewelry to keep them close

Add a locket into your bouquet with their photo.

Have a pocket watch with your loved ones face in it with a meaningful inscription such as “I am always here with you” or their words from a letter or a quote they loved.

Or you can have the officiant read an excerpt piece of a letter or text they sent you that meant something to you.

Some people don’t like to include this because it makes them upset throughout the ceremony. Everyone is different! Listen to your instincts & try to picture if it would be distracting or too emotional or would it feel incomplete without it.




A  few quotes we love you can insert into your ceremony:

“Find a partner who understands that deepening their healing and expanding their emotional maturity helps them love you better. When you both realize that going inward is the key to building outer harmony, it elevates your relationship into a new and brighter stage.” – Young Pueblo 

 “We allow ourselves to love because it’s worth the risk. Even though there is the chance of loss or hurt, we take the leap again and again because love is one of the best parts of being alive. We don’t do it because it’s easy, we do it because connection makes everything brighter.” Young Pueblo 


Harvest Moon Mountaintop Elopement


Looking to elope outdoors? Come to Asheville and let us plan it all with you!

We provide an officiant for your ceremony and quite honestly have the best line-up of heart-centered people to marry you. 

They customize the ceremony to fit you and are open to your beliefs and cultural wishes. 

Reach out to us today to lock in your date for your outdoor wedding elopement in Asheville, North Carolina!

reserve your elopement date now

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