Best Low to No Cost Places to Elope in Raleigh/Durham

I’m a wedding officiant living in Durham, North Carolina and over the past year COVID has increased demand for Elopements and Micro-Weddings. People often ask me if I have any recommendations for where they should hold the ceremony. I have officiated at least one elopement in each of these beautiful locations. I highly recommend hopping in your car and checking out any public park that’s conveniently located to you, there are so many good options, you might find a hidden gem! However, if you don’t want to do a lot of searching, I personally know from experience that all of these locations are lovely.

Carly, Kaitlyn, and Nick, standing against one of the picnic shelters in Umstead Park. Credit: Rachel Abi Photo

At the time of writing, these locations all have either a small or no fee for having your elopement there. You are required to follow the COVID guidelines of each county and should confirm with each individual location whether or not they are currently charging fees at the time of your elopement and confirm any rules you must follow.

Umstead Park, Raleigh

This has always been a popular location for Elopements or Micro Weddings, I’ve officiated weddings here even before the pandemic. There are quite a few trails you can get married along if you want a more woodsy feel to your ceremony, and there’s also a beautiful lake if you want to be by the water. There are shorter and longer trails, though most weddings require at least a small degree of hiking. There are also picnic shelters available in case of rain.

Umstead Park Website

Carly, Drew, and Kayla standing in Umstead Park, greenery in the background, they’re all wearing masks, but smiling with their eyes

Duke Park, Durham

Duke Park is a great little park in Durham to elope at if you don’t want to do a lot of walking/hiking. There are pretty trees you can use as a backdrop, or a picnic shelter if it rains.

Duke Park Website

Carly marrying a couple under a picnic shelter in Duke Park

Anderson Point Park, Raleigh

This park is similar to Duke Park, but located in Raleigh. It’s a beautiful little park with not as much hiking required and also has shelter in case of rain. Just take a short walk and decide if you want to get married in a wide open field or next to beautiful old trees.

Anderson Point Park Website

Sand Ceremony setup in front of a large tree in Anderson Point Park. Photo Credit: Magical Weddings By Carly

WRAL Azalea Gardens, Raleigh

The Azalea Gardens are particularly lovely in the spring and fall when the azalea’s are blooming, but the park is full of other North Carolina trees and flowers that brought back fond memories of childhood growing up on the Outer Banks for me. There is generally a pricier fee for renting the space for weddings, but recently they have waived their fee for small elopements because of covid. (Always confirm the current rules/prices for all of these locations as things are often changing due to covid.)

WRAL Azalea Gardens Website

Stefanie, Carly, and Cas stand in the Azelea Gardens

Lake Crabtree County Park, Morrisville

Another lovely park, similar to Umstead in some ways, with both forest and lake views as options, there are also longer trails than some of these other options, though locations accessible to the parking lot are also available.

Lake Crabtree Park Website

Carly marrying Rikki and Liz at Lake Crabtree Park. Photo Credit: Kivus and Camera

Duke Forest, Durham

Duke Forest is another expansive area with many trails and ponds and all sorts of beautiful natural backgrounds for your ceremony. Dogs enjoy it too! Check out the area and decide if you want a long hike or a short one!

Duke Forest Website

Carly marrying a couple in Duke Forest while their golden retriever watches

NC Museum of Art, Raleigh

For those in the Wake Forest Area, Falls Lake offers an expansive variety of woods, trails, and ponds as well, just make sure everyone is on the same page about which access point you’re meeting at!

NC Museum of Art Website

Carly marrying a couple under the metal tree at the NC Museum of Art, the couples bikes are off to the side. Photo Credit: Kivus and Camera

Falls Lake Park, Wake Forest

I recently officiated a covid elopement on the grounds of the art museum and it was gorgeous. We stood in front of the metal tree, but there are so many lovely outdoor areas and art you could get married near. The museum is not allowing folks to get married inside at the time of writing, and as for every location make sure you check the details of allowable crowd size and any fees at the time of planning your elopement.

Falls Lake Park Website

Photo on Falls Lake. Credit: Magical Weddings by Carly

Bonus: Windy Hill Farm, Cedar Grove

If you want to splurge a little, Windy Hill Farm offers low cost elopement packages on their beautiful farm. Every time I drive out there I can feel my body relaxing as I take in the sights of the open fields on the road. Just a short drive from Durham, but enough to make you feel out in the country. There are all sorts of animals that might join your elopement too, from barn cats to goats! There are multiple indoor and outdoor locations you could stage the ceremony, with barns in the background, trees, animals, you name it!

Windy Hill Farm Website

Sonya, Kevin, and Carly at Windy Hill Farm, a large tree and barn in the background. Photo credit: Windy Hill Farm

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