Yosemite elopements are some of my favorite. This park is massive and grand, everything about it is beautiful. There are a ton of things to keep in mind like seasons, trail closures, crowds, park rules on ceremonies, and more. This Yosemite elopement guide is going to go over all of those things, as well as exactly how to plan a elopement in Yosemite, and the most beautiful Yosemite elopement locations.

Yosemite elopement

Where is Yosemite

Yosemite is located in Eastern Central California, within the Sierra Nevada’s Mountain range. The easiest way to get to Yosemite National Park is by flying into Fresno Yosemite International Airport. After that, it’s just a 41 minute drive to the park!

When to Elope in Yosemite

The best time to get married in Yosemite is through June to October. This is when all of the roads are open, however, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons to each season and figure out which best suits your need. Including what temperatures you’re most comfortable in, and when there are the least crowds. Here is info on all of the different seasons in Yosemite!


Spring is a gorgeous time to elope in Yosemite National Park. All of the waterfalls will be flowing at their peak. Keep in mind though, higher elevation locations might not have open road access yet. This includes places like Taft point, and popular Yosemite elopement location.


This time of the year, the park is fully open and the wildflowers are abundant. This of course means that this is when there are the most crowds. Almost an unbearable amount of crowds. Parking lots are full and it feels like walking through a crowded airport in certain areas. However, a lot of the park remains unexplored by guests. So if you’re looking to elope in a remote part of the park, this season can still be an option for you. Just remember the traffic around the park will lead to long drive times.


Fall is my favorite time of the year for a Yosemite elopement. Crowds have severely died down, and the weather is still nice during this time of year. Not only that, but all the roads are still open prior to new snowfall. Not to mention, the beautiful fall colors!


Winter in Yosemite is honestly stunning, and it’s when the park is almost completely empty. You’ll have a ton of locations all to yourselves. However, there are a bunch of spots that are inaccessible. Especially the more “iconic” spots in Yosemite such as Glacier Point and Taft Point. Getting some snow on the ground in Yosemite is one of my favorite things, and makes for beautiful photos.

Yosemite elopement

Yosemite Wedding Permit

You will need a special use permits to be able to have your elopement in Yosemite National Park. You can get that here! You now need a reservation to drive through the park at peak season. Your wedding permit covers that, but everyone driving into the park (guests and vendors) will need a copy to be able to enter the park.

The permit application fee is $150, and there’s an additional fee of $50 an hour if you’re having 30-50 guests for your elopement. Things like chairs and any decorations such as arches and arbors are not permitted for ceremonies within the park. Lastly, you’ll want to try and get your permit as soon as possible! You can apply for it within a year of your elopement date.

How to Get a Marriage License for Yosemite

Getting a marriage license for your Yosemite elopement is actually pretty easy and straightforward. You do not need to be a resident of California to get a marriage license. You will need to apply online through a county clerks office to start the process. This is where you’ll also pick it up in person, so make sure the office is close-by. I recommend the Mariposa County Clerk’s Office.

Make sure you both appear in person to pick up your marriage license, and pay the $90 fee. If you want to use your marriage license right away, be sure to call and ask about waiving the three day waiting period to use your license.

Yosemite elopement

How to Elope in Yosemite

You plan a Yosemite elopement in similar ways as you’d plan any adventure elopement. There are a few major steps, and you can read about those here on my thorough guide on how to elope. For this Yosemite elopement guide, I’m going over the major things you’ll need to consider!


This is an imperative part of the planning process for elopements. This is because some guests won’t have the hiking ability, some might not want to drive or forest roads, and others will be apt to altitude sickness. Choosing a location will be much easier once you’ve determine who you’re inviting, and how many guests total you’ll have.


This might feel early in the planning process, but bear with me. Elopements don’t have wedding planners. Most elopement photographers have taken it upon themselves to help couples with some of the planning. Many actually help you find your location! And they will think of things you might not have considered, such as: lighting, elevation, difficulty in hiking in a dress, permits, and so much more.

Each elopement photographer offers something different. Personally, I send my couples a customized list of locations based on their preferences, hiking ability, who they want to invite, and what they want to see. I also help them determine lodging options, get permits, get their marriage license, recommend vendors, and create a comprehensive day of timeline, and offer unlimited guidance calls for any questions along the way.

The being said, hiring your Yosemite elopement photographer early is going to take a massive amount of planning stress off of your shoulders. Wanna chat? Contact me here!


This is going to help you choose a date and location. There are rainy seasons, dry seasons, and busy seasons that bring in more crowds. As well as seasons where being high up would still be a lot colder. So, when you’re doing that research, you’ll want to decide what season and temps you’d enjoy the most so you can pick the right time of year to elope.


Once you’ve decided on how much you’d like to hike, how many guests are coming, your ideal weather, and the landscapes you want, you’re ready to deep dive into researching Yosemite elopement locations. Finding the perfect spot will be a lot simpler after considering all of your needs and logistics.

This is information I collect from my couples through a questionnaire, and then use to make a customized list of Yosemite elopement location options for them.


Once you have your location, it’s time to consider if there’s anything you need vendors for. Do you need any event rentals? Do you want a friend or family to officiate, or do you want to hire an officiant? Will you go out to eat, or do you want something catered, like a meal at an Airbnb from a private chef?

Figure out what extra services you may want, and hire your vendors in advance!


You will need to get the correct permits for your elopement. These are usually “special use” permits that you apply for on the National Parks website, or National Forest/BLM website.

Personally, I get all permit information for my eloping couples that hire me. With that, all you need to do is fill out the application when it’s sent to you and pay the fee. Fee’s vary, but are usually around $150 or less.


Activities are such a fun part of an elopement. When you choose to elope, you’re opening yourself up to having a wedding day celebration that feels unique and resonates with you. Incorporate things that will elevate your elopement day experience. Here’s just a few ideas to get you brainstorming:

  • Going on a hike
  • Having a bonfire
  • Having a picnic on a mountain top
  • Star-gazing or astrophotography
  • Swimming
  • Cliff jumping
  • Visiting waterfalls
  • Camping
  • Glamping
  • Hiring a private chef
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Helicopter tour (landing on glaciers, mountains, etc)
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Sightseeing
  • Scenic driving with time to stop for pictures
  • Exchanging gifts
  • Reading letters from friends or family


Making a timeline is an important part of any elopement. It strings together all of your locations, activities, and lets guests know where to be and when. Creating a well thought out timeline will help you feel relaxed during the day, instead of stressed or rush. Make sure to include drive times as well as buffer times between each “event.”

Here are the things I include in the timelines I make for my couples:

  • All addresses
  • Sunrise time
  • Sunset time
  • Drive times
  • A linke to Accuweather
  • A list of all names for group shots
  • Vendor info
  • Emergency contact info
  • A packing list

Lodging in Yosemite

When it comes to elopements, picking where you’ll be lodging is important. This is because couples choose to use their accommodations for other parts of their elopement day. This includes getting ready, first looks, intimate receptions, cocktail hours, private chef catered dinners, etc. Of course the choice is yours, but make sure to choose accommodations that will suit your needs. You can pick from resorts, hotels, cabins, and airbnbs.

If you plan on hosting an intimate reception after your elopement, I highly recommend going with an Aribnb. Just always make sure to check in with the host about your plans to make sure it’s okay. Here are some lodging options near Yosemite National Park:

Yosemite elopement lodging

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Yosemite

Your marriage license will be $90, wedding permit is $150, photo permit is $150, and entrance fee is 35, which totals up to $425 to elope in Yosemite National Park. That being said, most couples spend an average of $5000-$20,000 on their elopement. This includes flights, lodging, permits, vendors, wedding attire, meals, and anything extra a couple might want.

Yosemite Elopement Locations

Yosemite is filled with endless options for elopement locations. Some being more remote, and some being the more popular spots that provide the “iconic” views. One thing to consider is visiting more than one location. A lot of couples choose to be in multiple spots for their elopement. This park is massive and actually has five entrances. So you’ll want to make sure to pick spots that are all closeby to each other! Here are all of the park entrance:

  • Hetch Hetchy Entrance
  • Big Oak Flat Entrance
  • Arch Rock EntranceSouth Entrance
  • Tioga Pass Entrance
  • South Entrance

Now, here a list of some amazing elopement locations in Yosemite:

Glacier Point

Yosemite elopement locations

This is one of the most popular Yosemite elopement locations, and for good reason. It’s stunning with amazing views, and they even provide seating here. There’s other trails nearby to get a variety of views in photos, and you can have 50 people. This location can be crowded and isn’t a good choice if you want privacy. It isn’t open to weddings in July or August.

Artist Point

Yosemite elopement locations

This is an awesome location because you can see the valley, half dome, and el Capitan. It also is less crowded than other locations on this list that have similar views! It’s also a fairly short hike for a great payoff.

Taft Point

A stunning location Yosemite elopement location with views of half dome, el capitan, and Yosemite falls. This can be a pretty crowded location, and only allows up to 11 people for elopements.

Cathedral Beach

This elopement location in Yosemite is beautiful, and can host up to 50 people. This is a great option for couples who want a “no-hike” location with a water feature, and amazing views of El Capitan.

Tenaya Lake

This lake is not only a beautiful location all on its own, but it’s surrounded by many trails and other locations on your way into it. This is a great place to have guests, and even have a picnic.

El Capitan Meadow

Yosemite elopement locations

This Yosemite elopement location is a great place to get views of El Capitan and isn’t as busy as other locations that provides views of the mountain. It’s open year round, and 11 people are allowed to be here for an elopement ceremony.

Sentinel Dome

If you’re looking for views that are comparable to Taft Point and Glacier Point without as many crowds, this Yosemite elopement location is a great option. You’re allowed to have 11 people at this location!

Tunnel View

Yosemite elopement locations

Tuennel view is one of the most famous spots in Yosemite National Park. And because of that, it is extremely crowded. Personally, I only recommend this location for a sunrise elopement or the colder months. This location allows up to ten people for ceremonies.

Yosemite Falls

This is an epic Yosemite elopement location. You can’t have your ceremony at the base of the falls, but there’s a designated location where it’s still very much in the background and close-by. Plus, you’re allowed to have up to 50 people here!

Yosemite Elopement Packages

Elopement photography by Emilee Setting Photo, and everything included in my packages:

  • Explore anywhere within California, all travel fees included in the price!
  • Packages from half day elopements to multi-day elopements
  • Receive a customized location list
  • Help finding lodging that suits your needs if you’re having an intimate reception
  • Included comprehensive timeline design
  • Help obtaining your permits
  • Help obtaining your marriage license
  • A planning checklist
  • Unlimited planning and guidance calls 
  • All of your stunning photos delivered under three months
  • Day of polaroid sneak peeks

Yosemite elopement packages starting at $5800. Want more information on my pricing and what’s included? Click here

Ready to Elope at Yosemite?

This Yosemite elopement guide is a way to get you excited about all the possibilities of what your day could look like. Although, this amount of information can be overwhelming. I’m here to help. I can answer any and all questions you have on a complimentary low pressure consultation call. If you then choose you’d like to work together, I’ll do all of this planning right by your said to alleviate any stress, and bring your Yosemite elopement vision to life. We can chat here!

Don't forget your free elopement planning checklist


You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

I'm Emilee

I'm an elopement photographer who specializes in planning, crafting, and documenting untraditional weddings. I believe a wedding day should be filled with traditions that resonate with you. I'm here from start to finish to make that happen. Want to chat about your plans? Click below to set up a free consultation! 

You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

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