This winter elopement in the Belgian Ardennes was absolutely adorable. Nimue + Pieter got ready together in the warmth and cosiness of their own home and drove off for an afternoon filled with little adventures.
“We just know that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy an entire day filled with socialising (being introverts and all) while making sure that everybody was having a good time too. What we loved most about eloping is that the day was truly about us.”
Eloping doesn’t have to be something that you do far away from home in an exotic country. And it doesn’t have to be something you do in spring or summer. Nimue + Pieter chose to elope in the middle of winter in the Ardennes, less than two hours drive from their home. Avoiding long-distance travel takes a lot of stress and planning work out of your elopement adventure. Elopements are generally more relaxed than traditional weddings. But there are still all the packing lists and hoping that your luggage arrives at your destination with you.
Eloping in the Ardennes
The Belgian Ardennes are literally filled with beautiful hills, vast forests, meandering rivers and picturesque little towns, villages and castles. You’ll find the highest summits of Belgium in this region, and even though, in an international perspective, those summits aren’t very high (think in the range of 600-700 metres) they offer quite some pretty views.
Loving yourself some adventure? The Ardennes are perfect for hiking, canoeing or kayaking and cycling. In a cold snowy winter, you can even go snowshoeing and cross country skiing as well! And if you decide to rent a cottage for your elopement, there are many lovely holiday homes and (Air)B&B’s in the area. Here you can warm up by a romantic fireplace or wood stove afterwards.
“we had a whole afternoon of gazing into each other’s eyes, giving kisses, drinking champagne and enjoying the wonderful scenery.”
The perks of eloping in winter
Avoiding the crowds
Eloping in the “low” season can definitely impact how crowded your elopement location will be. If you prefer a quiet and secluded spot for your vows, a winter elopement is a great solution. The spot that Nimue + Pieter chose for their elopement can get quite busy in the summer. Especially since it has become one of Belgium’s “insta-famous” spots in recent years. On their Sunday afternoon in January, we were almost the only people there, and Nimue + Pieter got the views all to themselves.
If you prefer cooler weather over hot summer days a winter elopement is definitely worth considering. If you get lucky you might even be treated to a dash of powdery snow.
All the yummy light
Sunrise and sunset are so much closer together than in summer, which means that you can more easily take advantage of ALL of the best light. Without having to get out of bed at an ungodly hour. In November, December and January the sun doesn’t get too high, which means that you get a softer, more photogenic light all throughout the day as well.
Winter is “low” season for the wedding industry too. If you’re planning on hiring a photographer, florist, or hair and makeup artist, chances are higher that your vendor of choice will then be available for your date. Especially when you choose to elope on a weekday or Sunday.
How to keep warm on your winter elopement
There’s always a risk of bad weather with outdoor elopements, even in the summer, and especially in temperate climate regions with lots of rain like Belgium. When you’re planning a winter elopement, the most important thing is to always be prepared for bad weather, both mentally and practically. Make sure to consider backup locations in the surrounding area, leave a lot of flexibility in your schedule and be ready to go with the flow.
“I have to confess that by the end of the day my hands felt like ice lumps (despite hand warmers and heating pads), my nose was runny and it took me half the ride home to warm up again.
But it was totally worth it. The cold gave a sort of magical, mystical, dreamlike allure to the whole day. Like nature was asleep and we got to walk through its dreams, just the two of us.
Also, cuddling together and giving kisses was extra nice because that meant benefiting from each other’s body warmth :-)”
7 things to pack for your winter elopement
Here’s a handy list of 7 practical things to bring along on your winter elopement:
1 | Extra layers
Make sure to choose extra layers that match your outfits and that you like being photographed so that you don’t have to worry about that during the day! Bring a cute jacket or cosy wool sweater, cardigan, poncho or scarf that you love. Don’t forget to put on woollen or fleece-lined leggings or thermic underwear under your dress or suit. Fleece-lined leggings come in a wide variety of nude tones and I swear that they are magic things. They almost look like bare skin in photos, so you don’t have to worry one bit about them showing!
2 | Footwear
Choose a pair of comfortable shoes or boots that will keep your toes dry, warm and toasty during the day. Also: warm woollen socks can make a world of difference.
3 | Hand warmers/heating pads
These come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. I personally love the reusable ones because they are more friendly for the environment. But you can also get single-use heating pads to put in your shoes, or stick on the inside of your clothing to keep you warm.
4 | Rain gear
Rain gear such as a cute umbrella and rain ponchos, as well as a set of dry clothes (in case you get totally soaked). Keep towels in the car just in case. Better be safe than sorry!
5 | Blankets & plaids
Blankets are great to take along with you as well. Not only for creating human burritos but also to sit down on when you’re ready for a drink or snack. Which brings me to the next point:
6 | Warm drinks & snacks
Hot cocoa, tea or coffee can do miracles for your mood on a chilly day! And having snacks handy is a great idea too – there’s nothing as miserable as being cold on an empty stomach.
7 | Lip balm
To keep your lips looking pretty and hydrated throughout the day. Chapped lips happen when you’re outside in the cold for a few hours.