If you are thinking about getting married in the Florida Keys, here are 4 reasons why you should have a Key West Elopement. Plus, discover what your elopement could look like at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park as we walk through Chase and Hannah’s elopement day. Throughout this blog post, learn what you need in order to have your Florida elopement there too!
Why You Should Choose to Elope in Key West
1. Tropical Destination Without Needing a Passport
Chase and Hannah always knew they wanted to elope and wanted somewhere tropical. When they started to dive into looking into an international elopement, there were so many moving parts and pieces that made it complicated. Eliminating international travel, it came down to the Florida Keys and Hawaii! Key West is the perfect elopement destination for those wanting a tropical wedding without international travel. You don’t need a passport, and it isn’t as far as Hawaii. It checks a lot of boxes for people looking for a destination wedding or elopement!
2. Great Location for Central & East States
The Florida Keys location is great because it’s not that long of a flight for people on the Central to East side of the country, and it isn’t as far as Hawaii! Yet you feel like you’re in a total different world because you’re on an island in the middle of the gulf with those perfect turquoise waters.
3. You Can Have Your Honeymoon There!
When you get married in Key West, you can also honeymoon there! It’s perfect! Hannah and Chase’s elopement was also their honeymoon. They stayed in Key West for a week, and they got married on a Monday. The Monday was their dating anniversary, so now their dating anniversary and wedding anniversary is all the same date. That’s another cool thing you can do when you’re eloping! Instead of needing two different locations to celebrate your marriage, you can get married and enjoy your honeymoon all in the same place.
4. Key West is a Popular Destination for Weddings!
Hotels and Resorts are popular places to get married at in Key West, or if you want to go the more historic route, the Audobon House is a great option. You can check out what your destination wedding at the Audobon House could look like and discover Key West wedding vendors I recommend in this blog post! I know you can also get married at Ernest Hemingway’s house as a historical option if you don’t want to get married at a resort. Plus, you could get married at a state park like Hannah and Chase! Key West is huge for weddings!
Chase + Hannah: How They Met
Hannah and Chase first met in high school, but they didn’t start dating until later! Chase was a freshman in high school, and Hannah was a senior. Hannah was actually friends with Chase’s older brother. Eventually, they both went away to college. After 7 years, they reconnected and went on their first date to a brewery! Chase later proposed at Jump Off Rock, a well-known place in their home state of North Carolina. They even had one of their 4 dogs (which happens to be Hannah’s favorite dog) present at the engagement in his very own stroller.
Then, they started planning their Key West elopement! Check out what their wedding day looked like below.
Even though you’re eloping, you don’t need to cut out all of the traditional things (if you don’t want to)
Hannah always knew she wanted to elope. She doesn’t like being the center of attention, and it was always the dream. They eloped just the two of them! I was the only other person as their wedding photographer, and officiant married them legally during their ceremony. However, just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you have to cut out all of the other stuff! Hannah still had a bachelorette party and did the bridal things, but eloping took off the pressure and a lot of nerves and expense of planning a big wedding. It’s your wedding day and your engagement season! When you’re eloping, you get to decide to stay with tradition or, since you’re already doing things untraditionally, you can do whatever you want.
The Day Before
The day before was very minimal prep, so they were able to enjoy their time together instead of feeling stressed! The night before their Key West elopement, Chase and Hannah went to TJMaxx and Publix for some wedding props and details. They got champagne glasses from TJMaxx, and got a giant cookie at Publix! They asked if they could write “Just Married” on the cookie which was a perfect little addition. It was a such a beautiful, yet simple alternative, instead of getting a wedding cake!
They also bought flowers at Publix as Hannah made her own bouquet. She even picked some flowers from outside of the hotel to add to her bouquet and made Chase a pocket square boutonniere out of it. Don’t they look great? I love the pock square boutonniere trend!
Getting Ready for Their Key West Elopement
Chase & Hannah got ready in their hotel room together in Key West. She did her own makeup and got her hair done by BellaLuxe Hair and Makeup! After getting ready, Chase drove over to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park to get ready for their first look. He had already seen her hair and makeup, but he had not seen her dress!
Key West Elopement First Look at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
She had her dress shoved in her carryon which never left her sight (so smart!). After she had her dress on, I picked her up at the hotel, and we drove over to the Fort. We did the first look inside the fort before taking other elopement photos around the state park. Would you have a first look for your elopement?
Intimate Wedding Ceremony on the Beach
The beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park the best beach in Key West. It has perfect sunset views and has a pubic beach! Public beaches are actually hard to come by in the Keys, which most people don’t know, so having access to this beach is amazing! Their officiant met us down by the beach for their ceremony, then they did private vows under the palm trees. If you want to get married on the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, all you need is a permit! It’s truly so easy to get married at such an incredible location.
After Wedding Ceremony Key West Elopement Events
1. We took Key West Elopement Photos
Their wedding was the day before Hurricane Idalia was coming up! I was so worried it was going to rain on us and thought it was going to downpour, but I only felt 2 raindrops. You can see in the pictures the storm passing us in the distance! While it did take away from our sunset, it was still beautiful in its own way with all the different shades of blue. Sometimes when you have harsh light, it takes away from the beautiful color in the water, but the storm made the water a vibrant blue green! We took more pictures until it got dark. We ran into an iguana (the first one they got to see of the their trip) and almost stepped on a giant hermit crab while we were taking photos!
2. They FaceTimed Their Families, Popped Champagne, and Ate Their Cookie!
After celebrating with their families over FaceTime, they popped the champagne and ate the cookie lady in the tramp style. It was hilarious! It was the perfect way to celebrate.
3. A Cruise Ship Congratulated Them
As we were walking, a giant cruise ship went by and there was a bunch of people on the top deck. They could clearly see a bride and groom on the shore, and they were all cheering and yelling, “Congrats!” It was really cute!
Although, Hannah said it was her worst nightmare. She’s expressed, “I didn’t want anybody at my wedding, and now, thousands of people are crashing it!” It was so funny. I literally could not breathe I was laughing so hard! It was great. Then, they got all ready to be at their honeymoon location for the rest of the week and enjoy all of the typical Key West things! They explored the beach and found more iguanas, went to Dry Tortugas National Park (I did that too the day before the wedding), and had lots of key lime pie.
Chloe Marie Photography | Florida Wedding & Elopement Photographer
Check out more elopement photography from this Key West elopement below! Then, check out everything you need to know to elope at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park at the bottom of this post.
Inspired to have a Key West elopement at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park? Book with me to capture your wedding day here!
What You Need to Know for Your Key West Elopement at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
As mentioned previously, all you need is a permit to get married at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park! You can get married in the fort, on the beach, and if you want to have a full blown wedding there, there’s lots of options! Get more details about what your Florida elopement or wedding could be like at this park here. I’ve always wanted to shoot underneath the palm trees at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, so this was a very huge goal that I got to cross off my business bucket list! It was just as amazing as I thought it would be, and I would be honored to be able to capture your elopement there!
Ready to Start Planning Your Key West Elopement?
Let’s make some magic! As a wedding photographer who prioritizes your client experience, I will capture the candids and the classics, be creative and true to you, and be professional while being your friend. Learn more about what your elopement experience could look like here! Ready for the next steps? Fill out my contact form, and I will be in touch with you soon!