These days, most of my couples are hosting intimate weddings of fifty guests or less. And, they aren’t all from Austin—I’ve served plenty of destination couples looking to elope in the area! Intimate weddings and elopements are what I’m all about, and I’ve photographed dozens here over the years. Maybe you’re dreaming of an elopement that’s unique to the city but don’t know where to start. If so, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s my Austin elopement planning guide for pulling off the intimate gathering of your dreams.
Many ask me about the best months to elope here. Conversely, I’m also asked about which to avoid. Weather-wise, you can’t go wrong with March-May and October-December. Of course, this means that everyone else is also trying to book an event during those months. What’s more, the busiest weekends for festivals fall when the weather is most comfortable. I recommend checking Austin event calendars to make sure that you aren’t booking your wedding during a festival weekend. SXSW takes place in early March for two weeks, ACL falls in early October for two weeks, and Formula One racing draws a large crowd and also takes place in October. So, while there are definite weekends to avoid, you’ve also got plenty of open weekends to work with (if you start planning well ahead of time!).
I have found that November and December are gorgeous here. Plus, they’re perfect for avoiding the crazy Austin crowds! April and May are also lovely for a spring wedding. In June the heat starts ramping up, so June-August should be avoided at all costs unless your event is indoors. I would also avoid January and February since the weather can be unpredictable in terms of cold and snow.
Hosting an intimate wedding does not mean that you can’t feature plenty of unique details! In fact, I’ve noticed lately that couples are going all out to create an experience for a few special guests, rather than blowing their budget feeding 200 people. It can be especially fun to feature details that are unique to Austin!
For example, one couple served their guests a cheese course from the best cheese shop in town, Antonelli’s, featuring a huge sampling from around the world. They did so in lieu of cake, but of course, you can have both if you wish. Another couple set up vintage video games for their guests to play, which can be rented inexpensively for the day. If you’re hosting your event at South Congress Hotel, you can take advantage of their milkshake and french fry truck! Champagne towers and cigar bars are always a huge hit, as are bowls of cigarettes sitting around á la Mary Kate Olsen. And, a candlelit dinner experience with unique food and craft cocktails is a real treat for guests. Justine’s Secret House is phenomenal at this, as is Jeffrey’s.
I also love when couples bring loads of personalization into their day. One couple treated their guests to a night inspired by their favorite date, featuring local food and music. And the food doesn’t have to be highbrow—Whataburger is perfect for a surprise late-night snack! Bring your dog along for the fun, or hire Vogue Vignette to take fashion portraits of your guests. I’ve also seen couples decorate their car (or rent one!) for their entrance/exit, and rent a fun bar experience, including one that was inside of a horse trailer! Finally, you can treat guests to elements of your culture. One recent couple brought Hawaiian leis to give to their closest relatives during the ceremony. Then, throughout the night they continued to weave elements of Hawaiian tradition into their celebration. The sky really is the limit!
The availability of Ubers and taxis in the city is heavily dependent on the time of year. In “off peak” months such as November and December, Ubers are very easy to get. However, during busy festival months such as October and March, they’re nearly impossible to come by. During those months I recommend that my couples book an all-in-one venue so that they (and their guests!) don’t have to deal with transportation and traffic.
When searching for a venue in Austin, be aware that many of the venues branded “Austin” are actually 30-45 minutes outside of the city. This area is known as the Texas Hill Country, and is highly scenic! Personally, I love downtown weddings, so East Austin and South Congress are my favorite neighborhoods for elopements and intimate affairs. My favorite small wedding venues include Justine’s Secret House, Hotel Saint Cecilia, Laguna Gloria (when paired with a restaurant like Jeffrey’s), South Congress Hotel, and Malverde at La Condesa. If you’d love to learn more about these venues, I wrote a blog post all about them!
Private ranches have been my favorite venues for an intimate wedding outside the city. Keep in mind that the drive from Austin to the Hill Country is anywhere from thirty minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on location. Accordingly, it’s best to plan your guests’ accommodations before booking your venue or book a venue that has accommodations onsite.
While I don’t require my couples to hire a planner, I always recommend it! A planner will take care of all the minute details that you don’t want to be stressing about. I always love working with XO Moreau Events, since she creates unique experiences for weddings of all sizes! She created the South Congress Hotel wedding featuring vintage video games, milkshakes, and a donut bar. Erica from Justine’s Secret House is also wonderful at curating gorgeous micro weddings and works with that venue exclusively. In addition, I recommend Pearl Events Austin, Bird Dog Wedding (for the colorful and eclectic folks!), Jessica with Uptown Events, and Moonrise Weddings.
It’s my hope that this Austin elopement planning guide will be a useful resource as you plan your intimate event in this gorgeous city! Still in the market for a photographer? Small, eclectic weddings and elopements are what I love, and I’d be honored to capture yours. Just leave me a message and I’ll be in touch with you soon!
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