How TO Elope In Big Bend Stress Free
So you are thinking about eloping or having an intimate wedding in Big Bend National Park but you don't even know where to start because you are going to be traveling in. You know you want to minimize stress and the whole reason for this intimate experience is to avoid all the pressures of planning a huge orchestrated event. Well if this is you, this is the blog post you didn't know you needed.
Most people love the idea of eloping in Big Bend and jump right on in but they soon realize there is still a lot of planning to be done. That's why I am so excited that you are reading this right now and that I can share a little insight on vendors and resources to make your day go smoother than a baby's bum. Aso to let you know, I can always help you with planning, scouting and timeline construction + photograph the whole dang thing.
Texas is big, y'all. Bigger than my accent and love for this Lone Star State - which says a lot.
The first adventure elopement that I shot in Big Bend created an addiction that has never left. Here I am still chasing the thrill of it. I mean the park is big ( 800,000 acres to be exact ) and has so many geographical options as far as photos go. From mountain views to beautiful desert plants and river beds with canyons to climb, Big Bend has it. I am just lucky that I live fairly close to the park ( approximately 2 hours). I know you are thinking "2 hours!" but y'all, that's pretty close as far as West Texas goes!
I think because of the variety and it being easier to get permits ( we will talk about this in a moment ) than some of the larger parks, it's becoming more and more popular. With that said, it's still very remote that you can get an intimate feel and not feel crowded by other groups. My favorite thing about the remoteness is that it's just that, remote and intimate. You make it what you want and create your own adventure your way. My favorite intimate weddings are adventurous and full of candid moments. I'm unlikely to "pose" you because that's just not a style that I prefer. I want the photos to literally feel like it was that day.
Ok, so let's get on with the details so that you can plan the best adventure elopement / intimate wedding!
BIG BEND ELOPEMENT RESOURCES
First thing you should know is this...
Depending on when you want to elope will determine a lot of how your elopement goes in the park. From temperatures to lighting and even the amount of visitors in the park. In the summer there will be longer days but it will definitely be a lot hotter evenings. Also keep in mind if it is a holiday or long weekend. A lot of visitors plan to come to the park on holiday and there will be a lot more families visiting. If you are wanting to see certain plants in bloom that will also depend on time of year and rainfall. For example, the ocotillos bloom anywhere between March and June (however, my best luck has been late April and early May) or if there is a good amount of rainfall. Lastly, the park performs maintenance on roads at certain times and the roads can be closed. It's important to look at that information in advance. Here are a few good links for information revolving around time of year:
Flowers of Big Bend and when they bloom - Info via Texas Highways
Best time to visit Big Bend for nicest weather and fewest visitors
Alerts and Conditions in Big Bend (road work and closures)
Okay, what the hell is a SUP? No we are not talking about stand up paddle boards. To have a ceremony in the park you are supposed to have a Special Use Permit (SUP). The parks website reads: "A special use permit (SUP) is required for activities that benefit an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large.
Such activities include, but are not limited to:
- Weddings and commitment ceremonies
- Memorials and the spreading of remains
- Sporting events, or events conducted by organized clubs
- Worship services
- Trips organized by scouting groups, churches, academic institutions, or other non-profit organizations
- Groups of 40 or more hiking in the Chisos Mountains
- Any organized group conducting an activity in the park"
It's important to know about the permits and how they work. If you do not get a permit, this could result in a fine and added stress to your day. That's the last thing that you want! If you have questions or are unsure about how the process works, I suggest calling the park. However, I am happy to also guide you through these questions myself and reach out as well.
Special Use Permits (SUP) - Info via National Park Service, Big Bend
okay now let's talk vendors,
We have many talented options out here in West Texas! It can be hard to choose or maybe even difficult to find just what you are looking for. Well, I can tell you... if you can dream it up, chances are someone out here can make it happen for you! From makeup to florals and unique stays - we have it! So you want to stay in a teepee and have a donkey carrying cervezas while you sit in the desert on an elegant boho picnic and sip champagne while listening to someone play acoustic guitar? We got you! And say you really do want the above scenario, I can certainly look into making that happen for you!
So let's get down to it! Here are just some of the many options you have in Far West Texas:
Epic AirBnb's + Venues
- Willow House as far as desert aesthetic goes, I'm pretty sure Willow House Terlingua takes the trophy. They are priced a little higher but they are something you would see in a magazine and are absolutely worth it in my opinion.
- Basecamp Terlingua, from tipis to bubbles you can watch the night sky through and casitas... they have it!
- Nuevo Terlingua is part of Basecamp but further towards Lajitas. These are private casitas that are super aesthetic!
- Lajitas Chapel, located in Lajitas, TX is a common place to take photos in front of.
- Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa has everything you need in one location. They have a restaurant, pools, bakery + coffee shop, pizza, rooms, spa and more!
- The Gage in Marathon, TX.
- Quarter Circle 7 in Alpine, TX.
Something to keep in mind with florals, it's important not to bring in real or dried florals to the park. You could potentially bring in seeds from plants that are not native to the park and it is not something park rangers take lightly. Ask your florist if they can make your bouquet out of fake flowers as an alternative. However, even if you are eloping in the park, you can always have an intimate dinner at your Airbnb and the addition of florals could really take a mediocre picnic to another level of romantic!
- Outwest Florals and also Petal Pushers is woman owned and located in Alpine, TX. The owners name is Katiyah and she is super sweet.
- Velvet Mesquite Designs also woman owned but located out of Midland, TX. She is further away but she also does event planning and design. She travels further west very often.
- Cactus Liquors in Marfa, TX. Okay, I know you are confused. Like Kiley, why is there are liquor store on this list? Well, it just so happens that the owner also does florals. I had a bride in Mara who had a beautiful bouquet from her with native florals!
- Mariah Sanchez at The Hair Company in Alpine, TX is super sweet and accommodating! She also does makeup too.
- Mariah Sanchez at The Hair Company in Alpine, TX.
- Brush Makeup by Bri is a beautiful inside and out and is a wizard with makeup!
- Well The Roaming Coyote of course (insert big cheesin emoji here).
- Jeff Haislip with Get Married In Big Bend, 432-294-5101
- Wendel Elliott, cowboy preacher at Big Bend Cowboy Church
Cakes & Treats
What about the Food?
It's all fun and beautiful to elope in Big Bend but what about food afterwards?? It's important to bring along snacks and plenty of drinks but you are going to be hungry after a day of eloping in the park. It's nice to know your options, when they are open and when they close. Letting them know your situation in advance may allow for them to better accommodate your needs.
Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa has a bakery that makes the BEST chicken salad sandwiches and a restaurant that is delicious as well. Plus, their bar, the Thirsty Goat Saloon is pretty fun!
12 Gage Restaurant located at the Gage Hotel in Marathon, TX.
Spicewood at Quarter Circle 7 in Alpine, TX is hands down one of my favorites!
Lastly, The obvious but most forgotten
Did you fill up before entering the park??
A lot of people are busy with all the other details that they can forget to fill up on fuel. It's better to be over prepared than not in this scenario.
Water, snacks and more snacks.
Nothing is more of a buzzkill for your photos like having to take photos while you are hungry or thirsty. Be sure to pack enough snacks and refreshments to stay fueled for the adventure!
Did you bring extra clothing items?
Extra shoes and socks and even jackets get forgotten or overlooked. Don't forget we are in a desert and temps and conditions can change. Plus, if we are adventuring... you are going to want comfortable shoes to go from location to location.