The Best Elopement Locations in Washington State
Washington State is gorgeous almost everywhere you look. There are endless options for elopement locations. Although, these are my favorites and incredible starting places. Especially if you’re not sure what type of landscape you resonate with. Lush forest, jagged peaks surrounding alpine lakes, rocky coast, wildflower covered trails, or cascading waterfalls. You’ll find them here in the Washington Elopement Guide.
Mt. Rainier National Park
Mt Rainier National Park is home to stunning wildflowers, fire lookouts, and a huge snowcapped mountain. It also showcases waterfalls, alpine lakes, and even mossy woods. This is a great location for both couples who want a serious hike, or those who want to just hop out of their car and visit multiple incredibly scenic locations.
Mt. Baker National Forest
Mt. Baker National Forest is a bit more “off-grid” and less busy than the National Parks in Washington. It is 140 miles of glacier covered peaks and old growth forest. If you’re feeling like a true adventure and having some hikes and views primarily to yourself, I would highly recommend this location.
North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park is similar to Mt. Baker Forest with it’s soltude and rugged peaks. There are over 300 glaciers in this park. Located only 3 hours from Seattle, you can go from the city to the true wilderness in a flash. There’s also a decent bit of wildlife in this park such as wolves and bears. This is yet another jaw-dropping location for couples who want a true adventure.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is diverse and known for iconic locations such as the Hoh Rainforest, Sol Duc Falls, and Hurricane ridge. You can even get to stunning coastline from the park. I highly reccomend this elopement location for couples who want to experience all the different types of landscapes of Washington in one place, and couples who are considering multi-day elopements (LINK MULTI DAY ELOPOEMENT POST)
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Wild scenic rivers, stunning views, and some gorgeous waterfalls. This gives you the moody dense forest that encapsulates the “PNW vibes.” As a national forest, Gifford Pinchot gives a lot more opportunities for privacy and overall less foot traffic.
Ruby beach is incredibly popular. And for good reason. It’s only a quarter mile hike to this beach with reddish sand and jaw dropping sea stacks. They’re absolutely incredible as a backdrop for elopement photos. If you’re looking for rigid coastline and a short hike, Ruby falls would be an incredible location for your Washington elopement.
Snoqualmie Pass is only 50 minutes from Seattle. And a gorgeous drive. Wether you’re interested in scenic driving, or doing some hikes, this location has it all. Waterfalls, mountains, rivers, and forest. Franklin Falls and Snow Lake are beautiful options for your Washington elopement, although there’s so much more to be explored in this hidden gem.
Lodging for Elopements in Washington State
There’s a vast amount of lodging for elopements in Washington State. You’re going to want to pick your elopement location prior to deciding on your lodging. Secondly, you’re going to want to decide if you’re having any guests and hosting an intimate reception wherever you book your lodging. Always call first prior to booking your lodging and check in about your plans and amount of guests first.
You can use cabin clusters, campgrounds, hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals such as Airbnbs and VRBO’s. Here is my list of the best Airbnb’s for your Washington elopement!
How to Elope in Washington : The Steps
Step 1: Choose a Elopement Date
Getting an idea of your elopement date is important. You can choose a date that’s meaningful to you, which you can read about here. (ADD BLOG POST) Secondly, this will help you be able to secure a photographer and lodging when you’re ready. I’d consider what season will be best for you as well.
Step 2: Pick Your Elopement Photographer and Package
Choosing an elopement photographer is a crucial element to planning out your day. Not only do they help you pick your location, but they help you figure out what package would be best for you. Maybe you want a short half day elopement exploring the mossy forest. Maybe you want a multi-day elopement where you have a day just for you two, and then a day to explore and celebrate with your loved ones.
Most elopement photographers help with various steps of the planning process, and we’re pros at it. Personally, I include: sending a planning checklist, location selection, vendor referrals, timeline design, help finding ideal lodging, obtaining permits, and more. This is a great step to help you get guidance on planning your big day.
Step 3: Choose Your Location
With the help of your elopement photographer, you should have a ton of ideal locations to choose from. I send my clients a list of about 8 locations that fit all of their needs and specifications. From here, you can pick one or multiple locations for your day. Remember! You can have different locations for different activities.
This is a huge step, and once you finish, everything starts to fall into place with ease.
Step 4: Decide on Your Day of Activities
When I say “activities” I mean things you want to include in your wedding day that will be a special and memorable experience for you. This includes the regular events such as getting ready and the ceremony, but can also include anything that is important to you.
Having an intimate celebration, hiking, going out on a boat, there are so many different options. You elopement day certainly doesn’t need to only include a ceremony and smiling pictures. Make it a day that you would want to re-live over and over by including these special events.
Step 5: Hire Any Additional Vendors
Once you’ve decided on your activities, you’ll know what vendors you need. Maybe you’re having a luxury picnic after your ceremony and want a picnic vendor. Maybe you want a florist to decorate an Airbnb space for a reception. This is the time to book any remaining vendors and get them locked down.
Step 6: Finalize Timeline, Secure Permits, Apply for Marriage License
Once you’re about two months away from your Washington elopement, it’s time to finish up your last major step. Go over your timeline with your elopement photographer, and confirm start and end times with all other vendors. Also make sure any guests that are invited are aware of the timeline for your day.
Finally, you will need to get permits for any public locations that might be involved in your day. I hope my eloping couples with this step, but if you’re doing it on your own you will need to reach out to the national forest service and figure out where to apply for your permit. Last but not least, apply for a marriage license through the county you’ll be getting married in!
How to Get a Marriage License in Washington
the first thing you will need to do is apply online. Once you have applied for your application you will schedule an appointment. The easiest way is for both of you to come into the office in person. Although, if you can’t be there in person, you’re able to submit your application through the mail so long as it’s notarized. There is a three day waiting period in the state of Washington, so keep that in mind when planning your elopement, as it cannot be waived.
Once you are approved, pay the fee, and wait the three day waiting period you’re all set to get married. Although, the marriage license is only valid for 60 days. That’s another thing to keep in mind when planning your wedding day and applying.
Do I Need a Permit to Elope in Washington?
For National Parks, you’re going to need to apply for a special use permit. Generally, you’ll want to get these once you know how many locations you’re going to, and how many guests you’ll have with you. For National Forests, you normally only need a permit if you’re going to have 75 or more guests attending. But this can vary, and it’s always a good choice to call the National Park service and make sure.
Do I Need an Officiant and Witness to Elope in Washington?
Yes, you need an officiant to elope in Washington. Although this can be a friend or family who has gotten ordained online. Just make sure that they know how to fill out and mail in the paperwork! The state of Washington also requires two witnesses for your elopement. Once again this can be friends or family, it can even include your vendors. I’ve also had couples elope with no one, and simply ask other people on the trail to sign for them, which they were happy to do.
How Much Does Washington Elopement Photography Cost
The cost of elopement photography in Washington can vary based on if your photographer is traveling, what’s included in their package, and their skill level. You can expect most experienced elopement photographers to start at $4500-$6000.
Many elopement photographers offering some kind of planning or location scouting in their packages. To read more about what elopement photography costs and what’s included, click here!
What is the Best Season to Elope in Washington?
Every season in Washington state comes with its unique charm and stunning beauty. There’s a lot of different things to consider when choosing what time of year to elope. This includes: accessibility, what you want to see, how crowded the parks are going to be, weather, and much more. Let’s dive into which each season brings.
Summer is the most popular time for elopements and weddings in general. It’s when things are the warmest, most accessible, and the least rainy. Summers in Washington can be truly incredible because it doesn’t get extremely hot. A lot of the national parks are in higher elevation and can stay pretty cool during the day. Another upside is by Summer, all of the snow from the trails are gone.
In early summer, you’ll run into endless amounts of blooming wildflowers. Although, this is peak tourist season and when the parks are the busiest. It’s also when hotels and other services are going to be the most expensive. One last thing to consider is wildfire season, which generally starts in late July and carries into October.
Autumn in Washington is absolutely stunning. With the vast greenery and the change in colors of the trees and meadows. Another great thing about a fall elopement is that you’re still getting days that can be pretty warm, but a lot of the tourism has died down. Most of the time, snow doesn’t start to affect the trails until mid November. That means that most hikes would be accessible to you for a lot of fall dates.
Washington is a true winter wonderland in the colder months. Don’t throw out the idea of a snowy elopement. There are tons of options for winter elopements. You’ll deal with the least amount of people, the most privacy, the cheapest rates, and have a truly unique experience. The roads of course will be harder to navigate and you want to give yourself a lot more time to get from place to place on your wedding day. You’ll also certainly want to consider a back up location due to the unpredictability of snow.
Spring is a super popular time for couples to get married. A lot of times couples want warm weather but for it to not be sweltering hot outside. It’s also stunning when the flowers begin to bloom, and there’s very little chance of any wildfires. Although, spring in Washington can be difficult to navigate. A lot of trails can open late if there was a lot of snow the previous winter. And there can also be a lot of rain during this season.
If you’re interested in a spring elopement, I would absolutely pick trails that open on the earlier side and keep an eye on them and have a back up location in lower elevation. I would also consider having a possible indoor location for a reception since this is the rainy season.
Can I have Guests at my Washington Elopement?
Yes! An elopement never means you don’t have to invite guests. Generally, couples keep it to 25 or less. Once you have more guests, it’s more of an “intimate wedding.” Semantics, right? With that being said, less guests are easier to manage. Especially if you’re looking to have an adventurous elopement. It’s hard to corral 40 people for a hike. Or even get them to multiple locations.
With that being said, you can absolutely have guests at your Washington elopement. I would just consider what you want your day to look like prior to making that decision. Guests can make your day even more special if it’s important to you. And again, most National Forests don’t even require a permit under 75 people.
Activity Ideas for Washington Elopements
There are so many different places to see and explore. I would 100% consider a multi-day elopement in this state. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about you options
- Hike to alpine lakes
- Swim in waterfalls (or just visit them)
- Soak in hot springs
- Have a private chef cook you a multiple course meal in a cabin
- Zipline through pine trees
- Have a luxury picnic in a meadow of wildflowers
- Do a sunset dinner cruise
- Pop champagne at the top of a mountain
- Run around the Seattle fish market in your wedding attie
- Get fancy cocktails (or mocktails) in the city
- Have a big bonfire with all of your favorite deserts
- Dance under the stars and get pictures
- Explore the coast with lanterns and find secret beaches
Washington Elopement Timeline Examples
If you’re wondering what a Washington elopement timeline example could look like, I’ll give you some ideas below. You have the option of booking a half-day, full-day, or even multi-day elopement! This time can be filled with activities, time to rest, eat, and just be present with your parter and possible guests.
- 4PM – Photographer arrives, gets detail shots of bride and groom getting ready
- 4:30PM – First look at getting ready location
- 5:00PM – Leave for hike in Mt. Rainier
- 6:00PM – Hike, ceremony, taking photos
- 7:30PM – return from hike, head to second location for picnic
- 8:00PM – Picnic, exploring, golden hour photos
- 9:00PM – Photographer leaves
- 12PM- photographer arrives, gets detail shots of bride and groom getting ready.
- 1:00PM – First look
- 1:30PM – Couple drives to Mt. Baker
- 2:30PM – Arrive at Mt. Baker, begin hike to ceremony
- 3:30PM – Ceremony starts, exploring and photos after
- 4:30PM – Picnic and celebration in the mountains, Champagne, food, and cake
- 6:00PM – Exploring and couple portraits
- 7:00PM – Head back into town
- 8:00PM – Sunset cruise in Bellingham with food and drinks
- 9:00PM – final sunset photos, cruise ends, photographer leaves
Two Day Elopement
- 12PM – Welcome brunch at Airbnb for couple and guests
- 1:30PM – Leave for hike in Olympic National Park
- 3PM – photos of couples and possible guests exploring
- 4PM – visit hot springs, get photos
- 5PM – return to rental and have a bonfire + dinner, photographer leaves
- 12PM- photographer arrives, detail shots of bride and groom getting ready
- 1:00PM – First look
- 1:30PM – head to ceremony location
- 3:00PM – ceremony, photos, group photos
- 4:00PM – Return to lodging for catered dinner, toasts, cake (reception)
- 7:00PM – head to second location for private time and golden hour photos
- 8:00PM – Sunset photos, exploring, any activities
- 9:00PM – photographer leaves
Washington Elopement Packages
Photography by Emilee Setting Photo, and everything included in my packages
- Explore anywhere within Washington, all travel fees included in the price!
- Packages from half day elopements to multi-day elopements
- Recieve a customized location list
- Included timeline design
- Help obtaining your permits
- A planning checklist
- All of your stunning photos delivered under three months
- Day of polaroid sneak peeks
Washington packages starting at $6400. Want more information on my pricing and what’s included? Click here
Can I Elope in Washington?
Yes! Your marriage will be completely legal, and you can elope wherever you want in Washington with a special use permit and the proper documents (marriage license.)
How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Washington?
You can elope in Washington for $72. This is the cost of your marriage license. You might also need a special use permit, but your location could end up being free to elope. If you plan on hiring vendors, it could range from $6000-$15,000 depending on how lavish you’d like it to be!
Why Should We Elope in Washington?
Washington State has something for everyone. The variety of landscapes are incredibly vast. You also don’t need to be an avid hiker to find absolutely incredible views here. At the end of the day, you should elope wherever you want! Washington is simply an incredible option.
Where Can I Elope in Washington?
You can elope anywhere in Washington state. From the National Parks, to national forests, to mountain towns such as Leavenworth, or the bustling city of Seattle.
Ready to Elope in Washington?
If this post inspired you to have your own Washington elopement, reach out! Wether you’re ready to bite the bullet, or want a free consultation on all of the planning logistics and to ask questions about your options. I’m here to help from start to finish to help you plan a non-traditional Washington elopement!