Tucked in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and Fiji, and north of New Zealand, is a lesser known, off the beaten path archipelago – a gorgeous, tropical place full of cascading waterfalls, towering mountain peaks and active volcanoes, lush rainforests, and glistening turquoise beaches. Get married in Vanuatu, and you’ll find endless adventures, jaw dropping scenery, and a wedding experience unlike any other!
If you’re dreaming of an elopement that’s all about you, whether that means exchanging vows all alone by a roaring waterfall or celebrating with friends and family with your toes in the sand, this guide is all about Vanuatu elopements, and everything you need to get married in Vanuatu.
Tips for Eloping in Vanuatu
When you’re planning to get married in Vanuatu, there are a few things you need to know – and as an elopement photographer who was born and raised here, I’ve spent most of my life exploring these incredible islands. I know them like the back of my hands and cannot wait to take you to all my secret -and not so secret spots! I’m excited to start planning an adventure of a lifetime with and for you, and here are just a few of the tips to keep in mind when you elope in Vanuatu.
Get Married in Vanuatu on a Weekday
For any adventure elopement, or destination wedding in Vanuatu, it’s a good idea to tie the knot on a weekday. Wherever you go, there will be fewer people around, and you’ll have a much easier time finding some privacy as you exchange vows – you’ll often even have the beach, or the waterfall, or the mountaintop all to yourselves!
Along with privacy, you’ll also find it easier to book vendors on weekdays – since most weddings happen on the weekend, venues, photographers, and other vendors will often have more availability on weekdays. You might even get cheaper rates for venues!
One thing to look out for is days when cruise ships are in town. If you’re able to schedule your ceremony for a cruise-free day, you can avoid the crowds that often come into town on these days.
Planning for Sunset Photos
Sunset is an absolutely gorgeous time for photos, and while Vanuatu is no exception, there’s one mistake that a lot of couples make!
Our sunsets are incredible – they set the sky on fire and give you an incredible backdrop for photos, but because Vanuatu is so close to the equator, our sunsets happen really quickly. We don’t get a “golden hour” like some other places around the world do, it’s more like 20 “golden minutes”: We have about 20 minutes of soft, golden light, then a few minutes of blue, and then it’s dark!
So, it’s really important to plan your ceremony with this in mind – don’t schedule it too close to sunset, or you won’t have enough time for photos. For this same reason, the sun is pretty strong in the sky all day, so I recommend planning your ceremony around what’s convenient for you and how it fits in with your dream day, rather than trying to score amazing lighting for this part of the day!
Elopement Locations & the Best Places to Get Married in Vanuatu
Choosing a location for your elopement is going to be a bit of a challenge – because the islands are so beautiful, it’s hard to decide! There are 13 “main” islands, and many more smaller ones.
Efate is typically considered the hub of Vanuatu – it’s where you’ll most likely arrive if you’re getting here by plane (but you can take a connecting flight to one of the other islands), and is home to the nation’s capital, Port Vila. Tanna and Santo are popular islands as well, and they’re home to some incredible elopement locations – but if you want to get even further off the beaten path, and to find a spot that you’ll have all to yourselves, the outer islands, like Ambrym, Maewo and the Banks, offer some amazing views and unique experiences.
There are countless elopement locations, but here are just some of the best places to get married in Vanuatu! You can find even more of my favorites in my free elopement guide.
Port Vila is the capital city on Efate, and it’s an amazing Vanuatu elopement destination for couples who want to make their special day an adventure they’ll remember their whole life. It is also the most convenient location in Vanuatu for those who wish to have an adventure, but still want to have a few of their nearest and dearest around. The island is small, and you can usually drive anywhere within half an hour – so it’s really easy to have a ceremony with loved ones, then take off for an adventure that’s just the two of you, or the way around. It’s the best of both worlds!
I’ve had couples start their day paddling out to watch the sunrise, have a cup of coffee on the beach, hike up to a waterfall, exchange personal vows, and splash around in the water before getting back to have a ceremony surrounded by their friends and family, followed by photos and an intimate reception, light up a bonfire on the beach and dance away under the stars. They didn’t have to sacrifice the part of their day that was just the two of them, and they were still able to share the joy and love with the people they love most!
The Yasur Volcano is located on the island of Tanna, and it’s a truly breathtaking place to marry your best friend. You can get there on a 4×4 adventure, driving through lush rainforest and lunar ash plains that will get you close to the crater rim of the volcano. From there, it’s just a short walk to the rim – how close you can get depends on activity levels and weather, but the view is one you’ll remember forever!
Matevulu Blue Hole
The crystal clear blue water of the Matevulu Blue Hole on Santo is absolutely breathtaking, and one of the best places to get married in Vanuatu. You can get here by car or by kayaking up the river, and it’s an incredible place for couples who want to take some unique underwater photos!
These waterfalls are incredible for those who crave a little extra adventure. They’re tucked in the island of Vanua Lava, and the journey to the waterfall is where the adventure begins. You’ll take a boat ride, and when you get to the falls, you’ll see two gorgeous waterfalls that cascade into a fresh water pool located right on the beach, so you’ll have the waterfalls on one side, and ocean waves crashing onto the shore on the other. Since this area is quite remote, you’re likely to get it all to yourself!
How to Get Legally Married in Vanuatu
Along with the adventures and once in a lifetime experiences you’ll have, you’ll need to do some paperwork to make sure you’re legally married when you elope in Vanuatu!
The process is fairly simple for couples traveling here, as you don’t need to go to the Registry Office in person and you can handle just about everything before you arrive.
At least a month before your ceremony, you’ll need to email copies of these documents:
- Passports and birth certificates
- Completed Notice of Intention to Marry form
- Divorce papers or death certificate of former spouse, if applicable
- Completed witness forms (you’ll need two witnesses, but if you don’t have guests, I can help you organize this!)
You’ll have your ceremony, sign the paperwork, and register your marriage.
Many couples book their elopement ceremony at a resort – and this can seem like a convenient option, since the resort will take care of all the paperwork and logistics. But, something that a lot of couples don’t realize is that you don’t have to get married at the resort if you don’t wish to! Instead, I can help you find a secluded waterfall, a quiet beach, or another incredible, scenic spot to exchange vows (Vanuatu has plenty of those!), which offers a more unique, more private, and more adventurous elopement day experience.
As your elopement photographer, I can handle the formalities for you, the same way a resort would – I’ll help you with paperwork, guide you through making things official, and make sure that you can have the elopement day of your dreams. You’ll still need a celebrant to get legally married in Vanuatu, but they can officiate anywhere around the islands! The celebrant will just need transportation, which I can also help you arrange. So, you aren’t limited to resort locations – we can get out there and explore all the wild, untouched beauty that Vanuatu has to offer.
One thing to note is that unfortunately, and embarrassingly, Vanuatu still does not recognize same sex marriage. But, I will gladly take you on an adventure – whether it’s for an engagement session, a symbolic elopement ceremony, a vow renewal, or just because!
Ready to Get Married in Vanuatu?
The day you get married should be your absolute dream day – it should be unforgettable, magical, adventurous, and it should be crafted just for you. That’s why, as an elopement photographer, my job goes beyond documenting and snapping photos. I’ll be by your side through it all, giving you personalized ideas for amazing ceremony spots, recommending places to stay, guiding you through logistics and marriage laws and anything you could possibly need, and making sure that your day is nothing short of incredible.