The Ultimate California Elopement Locations Guide
California Elopement Locations Guide
Buckle up, adventure lovers! My ultimate California elopement locations guide is finally here! I’ll walk you through dozens of incredible places that you can make your own. Whether you like deserts, islands, volcanos, beaches or stunning mountain vistas- California is your place. California has 8 unique National Parks and a whopping 240 state parks. It’s a huge state, with the northern half being famous for the coastal redwoods and mountains. On the coast, San Francisco, Big Sur, Malibu and Channel Islands are incredible for those seeking the sound of waves.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- How to Elope in California
- Map of California Elopement Locations
- California marriage licenses
- A Beach elopement on the California Coast
- California National Parks
- Redwoods National Park
- Where to Elope in Yosemite
- Lassen Volcanic & Pinnacles National Parks
- Sequoia & Kings Canyon
- Death Valley
- Channel Islands National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Big Sur
- San Francisco
- Eastern Sierras Elopement Locations
- Lake Tahoe
- Mono Lake
- Mammoth Lakes
- San Diego
- More places to elope in California
- Seasons to Elope in California
How to elope in California
California is a wonderful place to elope! As with most states, there is no one blanket rule about where you can elope and what it takes to do so legally. Each national, state, and county park has separate rules. I’ll help you navigate this no matter which location you choose! For the national parks, visit each one’s website and search for Special Use Permits to get the scoop. The same for state parks applies. Outside of parks, you’ll need to do a deep dive on the regulations before planning your elopement in California.
Here is my California Elopement Locations Map:
This map is a virtual tour of California and the surrounding highlights with color photos I’ve taken of each place. So you can see all the great spots without leaving your living room. If you’re planning from afar, this is a visual key to picking out the elopement spot that works for you. Details like what seasons and time of day are best for each location are included. It will help you plan your activities, accommodations, and your day’s itinerary. Lastly, it’s easy to have a great backup location picked out with this map in front of you. Having that Plan B in your back pocket will keep your planning stress-free!
Get the map & start planning your California Elopement Photography with me!
California Marriage Licenses
In order to legally marry in California, you will need a California Marriage license. You can get a marriage license at any county courthouse, even if your ceremony takes place in another county. However you must return the completed marriage license to the county you obtained it from. You will need 1 witness to your ceremony when you elope in California.
Malibu, California Beach Elopement
Hannah and Dave got the “best dressed in beach sand” awards after their beach elopement in Malibu, California. These two already loved the beach, and you can tell they had so much fun! There’s a magic feeling that comes with being just-married and in one of your favorite places. They played in the waves and immediately got swamped with a few big waves. The tide was coming in and the sun was setting. They wrote their new last name together in the sand and screamed as it got washed away. They ran down the beach, dodged the waves and ate a personal pizza right out of the box.
Redwoods National & State Park Elopements
Redwoods National park also includes two California state parks. The iconic trees are found in all three parks, and there are some amazing campgrounds for a real Redwoods experience. I definitely recommend staying inside the park. So you can explore and dig your toes into the mossy forest. Visit the National Park’s website for more information on planning your elopement in Redwoods National Park.
California Yosemite Elopement Locations Guide
The crown jewel of California’s National Parks, Yosemite is a well known destination for adventure elopements. World class hikes and waterfalls tumble into Yosemite Valley, while Glacier point has one of the best views on the continent. My full elopement guide has up to date information on the when, where and how to have the best elopement in Yosemite. I’ve got some incredible unexpected locations within Yosemite especially for those couples who desire a just-us-two elopement.
Yosemite Elopement Photographer
See my map and guide on everywhere to elope in the iconic Yosemite.
Lassen Volcanic and Pinnacles National Park Elopements
Pinnacles National park is a small hidden gem south of San Jose and west of Fresno, California. Towering rock formations, caves, and mountain hikes are waiting for you here. Visit the Pinnacles National Park website for more information on Special Use Permits, which are just $50. Lassen Volcanic National Park has over 150 miles of trails over the historic volcanic landscape of Northern California. See the colorful red earth and black lava beds, steam vents and boiling mud. Their special use permit is here on their website and costs $75 – plan for a summer elopement here to see it all.
Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon NP
These twin parks are located in central-southern California and boast the largest trees in the world. Ancient sequoias appear in groves inside and outside the borders of Sequoia National Park. Tons of California elopement locations that will have your jaw on the floor are in these two parks. If you’d like a backcountry elopement or wish to avoid the crowds of Yosemite, consider eloping at King’s Canyon National Park. See all the locations and details about eloping here in the guide.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon Elopement Photographer
See my map and read the guide all about Sequoia and Kings Canyon elopement locations.
Death Valley California Elopement Locations Guide
Death Valley is the largest NP in the lower 48. It’s vast valleys, colorful mountains, vistas, hikes, and sand dune field make it a great place to elope. The sliding stones would make an incredible 2 day off road elopement adventure unlike anyone else’s. Do not plan to elope in DV in the summer months, as it is so hot that temperatures are dangerous to recreate there. There are too many places to even sum up in this post, so head over to the comprehensive Death Valley elopement guide to see them all:
Death Valley Elopement Photographer
See my map and guide on where to elope in the desolate and colorful Death Valley.
Channel Islands National Park Elopements
Channel Islands national park is a collection of 4 major islands off the coast of Los Angeles. A ferry ride is necessary to visit, but don’t let that stop you. A short hike on Anacapa Island leads to a crazy awesome viewpoint over the ocean and the cliffs below. Spring arrives early on the islands which remain quite temperate year round. Plan for a February or March Channel Islands National Park elopement if you want to catch a blanket of wildflowers. Kayak trips, snorkeling, diving & whale watching trips are great adventure elopement activities for water lovers. And the rare Channel Islands fox might find you if you choose to camp overnight on the beautiful islands.
Joshua Tree NP in California
This has got to be one of my favorite California elopement locations guide posts! Sunset chasers should seek an elopement in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s located in southeast California about 4 hours drive from Los Angeles and San Diego. This is a huge park, but there are just 11 designated sites within the park where you can have your ceremony. See the complete guide to learn more about the locations, see photos, and begin planning your desert elopement!
Joshua Tree Elopement Photographer
See my map and guide on where to elope in the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. For alternative locations, try the Mojave National Preserve and Castle Mountains.
California Elopement Photography Packages
I offer both California elopement photography packages, or All inclusive elopements for a one stop shop option. There are no travel fees, download fees, watermarks or other hidden fees.
2 Day elopements in California – $9900
1.5 Days of elopement photography – $7900
1 Full day adventure elopement in California – $6900
Up to 4 hours elopement in California – $4500
California Elopement Locations Guide – Big Sur
Another super popular place for California elopements, Big Sur is a coastal region south of San Jose on the west coast of California. Just inland, you can wander through the redwood forests. Don’t expect to have your toes on a sandy beach because the coastline here is elevated on cliffs above the pacific. The area is made up of several state parks and county parks. Pfeiffer Big Sur, Limekiln, and Garrapata state parks have strict rules on group sizes and locations where you can have your ceremony. Many small venues are the answer to eloping here, like the Library.
San Francisco California Elopement Locations
This big city is a major hub for accessing all of the great elopement locations. If you’re going to Yosemite, Pinnacles, or Big Sur, you’ll likely fly into San Fran. But San Francisco is home to many great California Elopement Locations of its own! Of course the golden gate bridge is the place to be, and you can see it from both east and west sides of the city. In the bay, there are incredible sunset views of the bridge. On the west side, Ocean beach is as dreamy as it gets.
Eastern California Elopement Locations
The central valley of California gets a lot of attention, but I’m here to tell you that the east side is so incredible too! Lake Tahoe on the border of Nevada and California is a stunning emerald gem and an adventure destination. Mono Lake is a briny salt lake with odd spires of rock-like structures emerging from its surface. Mammoth Lakes is a paradise for easy access to hot springs, lakes with mountain views, waterfalls and hiking. Further south, Alabama hills is a desert landscape of boulders and sheer mountains that makes it a favorite for climbers.
Lake Tahoe Elopement Photographer
This is one huge lake surrounded by mountains! Stunning views in every direction are visible from many areas around Lake Tahoe. Emerald Bay has deep blue water in this California State Park. Don’t be afraid to venture onto the Nevada side for the turquoise blue waters this lake is known for!
Mono Lake Elopement Photographer
The crazy cool and unique Mono Lake has geology you won’t find anywhere else. Read the guide for more information on making this your elopement location – and what time of day might be best! Don’t miss the night sky and abundant stars.
Mammoth Lakes Elopement Photographer
This hidden gem of a town is on the eastern side of the Sierra mountains, south of Mono Lake and east of Yosemite.
Alabama Hills Elopement Photographer
Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48, towers over this sandy desert region. Rounded boulders and sandstone formations dominate the desolate landscape. You won’t find much vegetation here, but the mountain views at sunrise are to DIE for. If you’re a climber, this might be the elopement location for you! Don’t miss Copper Top BBQ in Bishop for the best Barbeque west of St. Louis.
San Diego Elopement Locations
San Diego is probably my favorite of the big cities in California. The laid back attitude and warm climate keep me coming back for more! Interesting Spanish-influenced architecture and vast parks add beauty to this modern city. Palm trees, coastal bays, and county parks make great places to elope – some of them very affordable! La Jolla and the coastal parks are difficult to obtain a permit for, but it can be done if you start the process early and pick an off-season date.
More California Elopement Locations
I’ve barely scratched the surface of amazing places for California Elopements. Places like Red Rock Canyon, Point Dume, Big Bear, Burney Falls, the San Jacinto and Santa Monica mountains are all beautiful. Anza Borrega state park has an oasis of palm trees inside a desert canyon. Aspendell, Chimney Rock, Muir Woods, Big Basin, and Crowley lake are less-traveled spots with big payoffs. Please be in touch if you’re interested in finding your location in this diverse state!
Seasons to Elope in California
Since California spans so many different climate zones, it’s hard to generalize what the weather will be like in each season. For Southern California elopements, temperatures remain in the 60s or above year round. In June, July and August temperatures in the California deserts soar to the 80s, 90s and over 100 degrees. On the coast of California, the moderate climate brings wildflowers as early as February and March, and winters are mild. In Northern and Eastern California, winter arrives as early as October and stays until mid-may.
About your California Elopement Photographer
I’m a nomadic and colorful California elopement photographer with an obsession for mountains, hiking, and my cats. My photography style emphasizes the epic landscape of your dreams and the authentic moments that make you two.. well, you two! I love my job and my nature-loving clients. Maybe I’ll see you out there!
I offer full day, 1.5 day and 2 day elopement photography in National Parks and the wild lands outside of them. See my pricing and package details here. I would love to chat with you and help see if an elopement with me is what you’ve been dreaming of. Get in touch below!
This is a tantalizing guide to the variety of landscapes in California.