December 25, 2019
When my parents got married some 24 years ago, eloping meant heading out to Las Vegas on a whim and saying your vows in front of a man dressed like Elvis in a room that smelled vaguely of every type of alcohol. Beautiful. However, as generations have started to change, and with it the things we value most, elopements are becoming less and less about hasty decision making. Elopement, now, are beginning to be seen as something that couples choose to do as a way to make their day just that — theirs. Whether couples make the choice of eloping in the Black Hills or anywhere else, there is no longer a need for this stigma behind the act.
We understand that rather than choosing to have every person you know and love there to support you and cheer you on as you walk down the aisle, there are other options. People who elope are choosing to have the one person who loves and supports them there. They are choosing to spend time celebrating the life that they share. It is about the commitment that they are choosing to make with only each other.
Eloping no longer consists of spending the 70-some-odd dollars in Vegas to get hitched. Now, eloping is as unique as you want it to be. The choice to spend as much (or as little) on your elopement is yours. You can wear whatever you want, choose if you’ll bring florals, and even decide who (or if) you choose to have as your photographer. You can choose to elope in the Black Hills of South Dakota or beneath the mountains of Patagonia. The day we live in is so completely unique. There are so many different options for couples looking to elope; there is no need to be cookie cutter.
If you are eloping in the Black Hills, then chances are that you are looking into the legality of it all. Getting married in South Dakota is pretty similar to that of most other states. What you will need is a license, an officiant, and two witnesses. A marriage license costs $40 in the state of South Dakota. From the time that you receive it, you have 20 days to get it solemnized (the oh so romantic word for making it official).
Making this more specific to elopements, though, there are a handful of options you can choose to use to get yourself all good and legally married. The first of these being having an officiant as well as two witnesses with you on your elopement. Thankfully, though, there are many work-arounds for this. Knowing that you want there to be as few people as possible at your elopement, one option that you can choose to take is to have your photographer sign on your behalf. If there is more than one person photographing your elopement, then you’ve already got everyone you need.
If you do choose to have an elopement with a few of your closest loved ones with you, they can sign as your witnesses. A step further (if you are really trying to keep the ceremony intimate) is to have a friend officiate. They’ll have to make sure they go about it all legally. However, if done right, it can be so special to have someone you both love marrying you.
The third option, of course, is choosing to get married in a courthouse prior to your elopement. If you choose to go this route, your “legal” marriage date would be different than the date of the elopement. However, it is the option that would make the act of eloping the most intimate. You’d be able to elope, just the two of you.
All of these options are plausible, and whichever one you choose to follow is really just taking one step closer to having an elopement that’s completely unique to you.
Alright, so at this point you’ve decided that you are eloping. You are making the decision on how you will go about it legally, and your next step is choosing a location. The best step, really.
Eloping in the Black Hills can look so different for each couple. You can choose to do it at one of our lakes or reservoirs. You may choose to declare your love on a lookout with the rolling hills behind you. The two of you might even decide to go all the way out to the Badlands. There are so many uniquely and completely beautiful places to choose between.
A good place to start your search would be within Custer State Park. You can also search along one of the many hiking trails within the Black Hills National Forest. The Badlands are also an amazing choice. It is important to note that there are fees to getting married in most public places. Choosing to elope in places around here can still take time to plan or coordinate.
There’s so much beauty hidden in each corner of this gorgeous place. Promising your forever to the person you love amidst the big rolling hills and trees that seem to touch the sky really does show you how big and wide this world is.
Yet, somehow, your love is bigger. Congrats.
Also, if you are looking to elope in the Black Hills but aren’t sure where, don’t worry. Here is a link to a previous blog post of mine listing four of my favorite spots.
Information on getting married in South Dakota | South Dakota DOH