How to Elope in California

California has so much to offer from beautiful coasts, deserts, forests, and snow capped mountains. There’s 8 national parks, with some of the most famous in America including Yosemite National Park. There’s so many unique locations in California with scenery for everyone! In this blog I will be sharing how much it costs to elope in California, if you need witnesses to elope, and locations. With all that California offers you’re probably wondering how to elope in California?

When to Elope in California

Luckily, California’s weather is pretty mild so even though the weather varies depending on the area of California you’re in.

Spring: Wildflowers in California are blooming during this time and weather can vary but usually isn’t too hot at this point.

Summer: Usually this is the time where all the beaches are crowded in socal and all the national parks get crowded too. Norcal is a bit cooler and offers mountain views.If you’re looking to elope in a national park I would avoid this time or depending on how popular the park is you can elope at sunrise. 

Fall: Up in norcal, the fall colors are popping with the mountains with orange, red, and yellow hues. In socal, the weather can still be kind of warm which makes the mountains and the beach enjoyable. 

Winter: Socal winters aren’t too cold with temperatures dropping into the 50’s. The cold is very mild unless you’re in the desert/mountains where temperatures can get pretty chilly. Norcal offers beautiful snow-capped mountains this time.

Elopement photographer California

Where to Elope in California  

If you’re looking into eloping in California there’s so many beautiful locations to elope in! Your elopement location should feel somewhere authentic to you. Remember, this is your wedding day! 

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the US and for good reasons too! You cannot go wrong with this park. From the beautiful meadows in Yosemite Valley to the iconic Glacier Point. The park is very crowded during summer so if you’re eloping here I would recommend going during fall or spring to avoid crowds. Keep in mind there can be snow storms that close Glacier Point road down if it rains. The park is closing Glacier Point road for spring 2022 until fall due to construction. In 2023 there will still be 30 minute road delays. If you’re looking to elope during that time you can always elope in the beautiful valley of Yosemite. Permits are required for this location since it’s a national park. Click here to apply for a permit.

Joshua Tree National Park  

This desert oasis is the perfect spot if you’re in the socal area and not looking to drive too far. You can rent a unique Airbnb that’ll add to your elopement experience! Summer months here are very hot with temperatures reaching over 100. The best time to elope here is spring and fall. I wrote a whole blog post you can check out on how to elope in Joshua Tree for more detailed information! Permits are required for this location since it’s a national park. Click here to apply for a permit.

elopement photographer Joshua

Big Sur

Big Sur is such a dreamy destination from coastal views to beautiful redwoods. There’s plenty of places to get eloped here including really cool venues. You can elope on either private or public land. There’s a lot of state parks that do require permits, but other private locations that do not. 

Redwoods National Park

If you’re looking to have magical forest wedding this is the place for you! Not only does it have some of the tallest trees, but you can also enjoy the beautiful coast which is nearby. So you get a little bit of everything! Permits are required for this location since it’s a national park. You also must obtain a threatened and endangered species addendum before eloping here. Click here to apply for a permit.

Big Bear Lake

If you’re looking to elope in the mountains this is the perfect location for you! There’s so much to offer here. In the winter, this place becomes a snowy winter wonderland. The other seasons here are pretty mild. There’s lots of activities to do here from hiking, off-roading, and boating on the lake. You can book a cute Airbnb cabin to complete your stay!

elopement photographer California


Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes has a lot of variety in scenery to offer! Not only does it have gorgeous mountain locations, there’s hot springs, postpiles, waterfalls, and a unique salt water Mono Lake. The fall time is one of my favorite times of year to visit due to the beautiful yellow, red, and orange hues. Since Mammoth is so spread out you can definitely find some private spots to say your vows here. 

California Marriage Laws

Officiants/Witnesses: You are only required to have one witness over the age of 18 at the ceremony to make it official and legal.

Marriage License: You are required to get a marriage license in order to get married in California. You both must be 18 or over and apply and sign for it in person. There’s no waiting period for it so you can get it the morning of getting married. Fees will vary from $35-$100 depending on the county. 

Permitting: If you’re eloping in a national or state park a special use permit (or wedding permit) is required. Cost will vary depending on the park. 

Elopement Packages in Northern California 

If you are looking for elopement packages in Northern California, you have come to the right place. I offer California elopement packages that’ll help you with all of your elopement planning needs! 

elopement photographer California


What is included in elopement packages in Northern California? With my elopement packages I offer location scouting to help you find the perfect elopement location, a 100+ page elopement planning guide, couples gear list, in depth questionnaire to get to know you better, a Leave No Trace guide, unlimited planning consultations, vendor recommendations, permit assistance, and a personalized location list for your elopement. 

How much does it cost to elope in Northern California? Cost varies depending on your photographer, where you get married, the activities you do, etc. It can range anywhere from $3,000-$8,000. 

Where to find elopement packages Los Angeles? I offer elopement packages for California to fit your needs! 

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