How to Elope in Key West
Just imagine: You’re barefoot, with your toes in the sand and a tropical breeze blowing past palm trees and through your hair. The sun is starting to set over the ocean, and next to you is your honey. That’s what a Key West elopement is all about. After all, everything is better when you’re in paradise! A Key West elopement can be a wedding and a honeymoon all in one. Key West is famous for beautiful beaches, water sports, and wildlife, but also for its incredible nightlife, history, and Instagram-worthy pastel-colored architecture. In one trip you can take a day excursion to Dry Tortugas National Park, lounge on a white sand beach, swim in crystal clear water, visit Ernest Hemingway’s old Spanish colonial house, and even bike along Duval Street to the southernmost point in the continental U.S.
Whether you’re interested in eloping in the Florida Keys or having a small wedding, we’ve got you covered. This guide will outline the best places to elope in Key West, provide options and pricing for all-inclusive elopement packages, and answer all your questions about everything from getting your marriage license to what time of year is best for an intimate Key West elopement.
Where are the best places to elope in Key West?
Smathers Beach is a Key West favorite, with a half-mile long stretch of beach that’s available and is totally free for your elopement – no permit required! That being said, it is first-come, first-serve, so if you’re looking to avoid crowds, we recommend a sunrise ceremony. If you don’t mind having a few on-lookers in the background, the sunsets here are great, too! There’s plenty of parking on-site to accommodate up to 18 guests, all of whom will share in the excitement as they watch you exchange vows with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop.
Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden is the only frost-free, natural conservation habitat, botanical garden in the continental United States, and is one of our favorite locations for a Key West elopement. Not only are there several spots to choose from—including a lakeside terrace, butterfly garden, nature pavilion, and courtyard—but the garden highlights flora and fauna native to the Keys, Cuba, and the Caribbean. The maximum guest count here is 20 and a reservation and rental fee are required ($325 for 10am-4pm or $455 4pm-midnight, with a refundable $300 security deposit). Rentals include an hour before and after for setup and breakdown, as well as an onsite staff person to answer questions the day of. Although Key West can get hot, there’s plenty of shade and privacy to be found at this location.
Just under an hour’s drive from Key West, Bahia Honda State Park boasts palm-lined beaches and crystal clear waters without the crowds. Although there will likely be other visitors, this location can feel incredibly intimate, perfect for your beach elopement! Setup anywhere along the beach you want, just note that the only restrooms on-site are portable. Ceremonies here must be held between the hours of 8am and sunset (guests are asked to leave promptly after sunset) and there is a rental fee of $53.75 for up to 25 guests, good for three hours (with Covid-19, that number is currently 16).
Then, there’s the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservancy – hands down, this is one of Key West’s coolest indoor wedding venues. The walls are made of glass at this conservancy, which is filled with cascading waterfalls, colorful birds, tropical plants, and hundreds of butterflies! The maximum guest count at this venue is 13 people, but you’re guaranteed to have the whole place to yourself. The total reservation cost is $376.25 and includes a ceremony held after 5pm, a bottle of champagne, two keepsake butterfly-embossed glasses, and a butterfly release. You are responsible for reserving your ceremony time and date.
Are you a lover of history? Then West Martello Tower might be the Key West elopement venue for you. This tower was first constructed by the U.S. Armed Forces in 1822 and later was used as a symbol of defiance when Key West was the only southern city allied with the Federal government during the Civil War. The grounds offer a gazebo with shade and ocean views as well as several cozy enclaves, all ideal for an intimate ceremony. West Martello Tower’s rental fee is $455 for two hours from 9:30am-5:00pm, and $520 for all other hours. Since the tower is open to the public from 9:30am-5:00pm, the higher fee buys your privacy. The maximum guest count at this location is 18 people (due to Covid-19, that number is currently 16).