I’d love to be your Basque Country Elopement Photographer.
[ ih-lohp-muh nt ] An act or instance of running off secretly, as to be married.
Elopements are still a bit of a novelty here in Spain. In fact, there isn’t even a direct translation for “elopement” in Spanish so as you can imagine, it’s quite an unusual thing to explain to locals. However, elopements have become increasingly popular over recent years and for good reason. The thing is, a typical wedding, even if it’s a quaint, beautiful civil ceremony, can be a little too much for some couples. The pressure to plan and organise something with potentially hundreds of guests can be a pretty daunting task. Instead, secretly marrying the one you love, all on your own terms, where intimate moments are filled with so much emotion, is an incredibly romantic concept. This is what an elopement is all about.
Why Elope in the Basque Country, Northern Region of Spain?
The Basque Country and the northern region in Spain have always been a popular spot to elope, particularly for food lovers from the Americas and Europe. Combining a love for pintxos and visiting the small towns dotted with Michelin Star restaurants along the way has always been a major highlight for the couples who have got in contact with me. However, over recent years, the Basque Country has also expanded it’s worldwide appeal thanks to Dragonstone and the Game of Thrones.
Each year, I get contacted by more foreign couples looking to elope in one of the most mountainous and lushest regions of northern Spain. The Basque Country is made up of provinces being Vizcaya, Alava and Guipúzcoa and when I refer to northern Spain I’m referring specifically to the surrounding provinces of Navarra, La Rioja, Burgos, and Asturias. Whilst this might not be one of the top elopement destinations in the world, yet. It’s the best in my eyes…
When’s the best time to elope in the Basque Country, Northern Spain?
The best time to elope… Well, the weather in the Basque Country is notoriously unpredictable all year round. I feel like singing Crowded House’s “Four Seasons in One Day” almost on a daily basis. Sure, it’s not quite like America’s Pacific Northwest but one thing is for certain… The Basque Country and the northern region of Spain are not like the hot, dry, and sunburnt landscapes of southern Spain that you might be more familiar with. The region is green and lush for good reason and February is usually our rainiest month but in my eyes, the Basque Country is an amazing region for a beautiful elopement.
If you’re thinking of a wintery shoot amidst the rocky, snow-covered mountains, or a cozy little Basque house in the forests for your elopement, mid-late autumn and early spring are generally great times for this. Around these months there should be enough accessibility in and round the mountains but still enough snow and wintery ambience to make the most of the surroundings.
Daylight saving summertime hours in Spain starts in the last weekend of March and runs until the last weekend of October. Keep in mind that even though we’re in Mainland Europe (GMT+2), Bilbao is west of London so in mid-June, our days are loooooong and the best hours for taking photographs for the elopement are around sunrise and sunset.
August in Bilbao is my favourite time of year to be around my home. This is simply because the majority of businesses close down and force their employees to take this time off and the majority of the population here flock to the southern coastline where the sun is almost always guaranteed. If you’re thinking this is the perfect month to elope, it’s by no means vacant though. The coastal bars, the viewing spots and the hiking trails on a sunny day are usually busy so it wouldn’t be uncommon to come across a few travellers on our elopement journey. Nothing a little photoshop couldn’t fix.
The climate in October in November is generally quite mild and as the summertime hours return to normal, it makes it much easier it much easier to plan for a morning or an elopement without starting and finishing at crazy hours.
Elopement Locations in the Basque Country
1. Flysch Rocks – This is the diagonally layered black rock formations along the Basque coastline made famous by Dragonstone and there are enough secluded spots to avoid the tourists for an epic elopement.
2. Durango – This mountainous region between Bilbao and Sebastian is high and rugged. It’s not an easy walk in but some of the sights are breath-taking.
3. San Sebastian and Jaizkibel – Its called the jewel of the north and it’s worth the journey. Whether you like the idea of an elopement in the beautiful clifftop surroundings of Jaizkibel, in and amongst the sandstone walls of the old town or in the beaches, it’s truly an amazing city.
4. Monte Oiz – If you’re not put off by wild horses and cattle roaming the beautiful tree covered hillside, it’s often private and cloaked in fog for an epic scene straight out of a Tim Burton movie.
5. Otzarreta Forest in Gorbea National Park. Quite simply, if you time your elopement for the autumn fall, then your in for a real treat.
Best Locations to Elope in Northern Spain
1. Los Lagos de Covadonga, Asturias – The Picos de Europa is probably one of my most favourite places in Northern Spain, not just to elope, but in general. A high and wide mountain range with views to the ocean, it has easy accessibility and parking. Take your snow boots in the wintery months for the epic snow lake shot.
2. The Eyes of the Devil, Cantabria – If you don’t mind a little walk up a solid hill, the unique rock formation at the top of the cliff are quite something.
3. Bardenas Reales, Navarra – An elopement in a baron wonderland? Its vast emptiness is its best asset.
4. San Miguel de Aralar – Similar to Monte Oiz in Vizcaya. It’s a beautiful mountain overlooking Pamplona with a few cyclists and many wild horses and cattle. Every time I’ve been there, it’s been blowing a gale… Sooo good for photos.
Some Things to Consider When Planning your Elopement
1. The light
Plan your elopement around the hours of the best light because as a photographer, this is the biggest difference between a good and an amazing shot. This might mean an early start so the ceremony can be around the first light or later in the evening around dusk when the light is softer and the tones are incredible.
2. Don’t forget about the preparation photos
This is one of my favourite parts of the day to photograph. Whether it’s calm or crazy, it’s your time and the anticipation of what’s to come is almost palpable. It also allows your elopement to have an introduction to the beautiful story that is about to happen…
3. Wear comfortable and practical shoes
Surprisingly, it’s not the brides I tend to worry about most. Wedding dresses are usually long enough to cover whatever shoes the bride is wearing so I recommend the bride wears anything from hiking boots to Converse depending on the location of the elopement. The groom’s shoes however are always on display. Typical dress shoes are just too slippery yet hiking boots are likely to bunch up the bottom of your trousers and look unflattering so maybe something like this is useful for both…
4. Be prepared to walk (… at least a little)
Even if you’ve found a cosy cabin in the woods, it’s likely that we’ll have to do little walking to get to an epic elopement spot because finding something suitable on the side of the road is rarely romantic or private. However, given that we’ll often be walking back after dark we can’t walk so far that it makes the journey back uncomfortable. I’ll bring the headlights and carry the jumpers and we’ll just take it one step at a time.
Some Things to Consider When Planning your Elopement (Continued…)
5. Think of the elopement as a “Trash the Dress”
I’m not the type of photographer that will ask you to lie down in the breaking waves at the beach whilst kissing. Why? Well, it’s just not for me but yes, your clothes, particularly the train of the wedding dress, is likely to get dirty and it’s important to not worry about it. The more your dress can “float”, the more movement we’ll have during your elopement and it will make an enormous difference to the photos.
5. An official or symbolic elopement?
Do you want a celebrant? If so, this can be a family member or a friend that can officiate the elopement ceremony and sign the official papers. If so, you’ll also need two witnesses to make it legit and of course, I’m happy to be one of them.
Remember that it’s your day and there are no rules. Weddings are fun but they can also be hard work. I often have couples inquiring to do an elopement session with just the two of them even after their wedding has passed. What a better way to remember the experience…
6. Do you want a wedding planner to help create something special at the elopement location?
Our ceremonies are romantic, minimalist, and beautiful but having a few little pleasures at the primary location can be a really nice addition. If so, let me know and I can put you in contact with some amazing local planners that specialise in elopements and can make the amazing look even more incredible.
An elopement with flowers, even if it’s the most simplest of bouquets is always an amazing addition. They are also an easy way to hide any awkward hands when taking photos.
8. Don’t forget the Champers!
What’s an elopement with your best friend without a bottle of bubbly. Need I say more…
Basque Country, Northern Spain Elopement Packages
5 hour (half day) and full day coverage available.
Personal Printing rights to the fully-edited high resolution digital JPG files.
Online gallery for downloading and sharing.
5 Hour (Half day – Midweek Elopement): 1250€ + VAT
Full Day (Midweek Elopement): 1550€ + VAT
5 Hour (Half Day – Friday / Saturday / Sunday Elopement): 2150€ + VAT
Full Day (Weekends – Friday / Saturday / Sunday Elopement): 2450€ + VAT
An elopement can be whatever you want it to be…
And I’d love to help make yours as incredible as it could be.
Thanks so much if you’ve taken the time to read this far…