I’m known for capturing those didn’t-know-you-were-there shots and busting a move on the dance floor just to get those perfect candids. I also work with you to ensure we incorporate your style and story into your engagement and wedding photos!
The best thing about eloping in Washington is that you have SO many places to choose from. From the gorgeous mountains and forests, to the sandy moody beaches, you seriously have it all! Today on the Banter, I’m breaking down your checklist and things you should think about to prepare for your Washington Eloepement. Also, if you’re still stuck on where to elope, I’ve made a list of my favorite top 5 locations to elope so hopefully that helps. There are so many options and gorgeous places to elope at, but it all comes down to what fits your personality and fulfills your adventurous spirt.
According to Wikipedia, an Elopement is “colloquially speaking, is often used to refer to a marriage conducted in sudden and secretive fashion, usually involving a hurried flight away from one’s place of residence together with one’s beloved with the intention of getting married.”
But most of the time, Elopements are planned a little more than ‘spur of the moment’ ceremonies, depending on where you want to get married.
#1) Start Small
Elopements are usually no more than 30 people, so don’t think you have to plan to invite everyone you’ve ever met. Think small when it comes to eloping. Simple things like a dress, a location, a couple family members, and maybe cake after. Don’t overthink this! It’s super easy to overthink, but really, you just need to get wedding planning down to it’s bare bones.
#2) Where you want to go. Want to climb?
There are TONS of amazing locations you can go to to Elope. You’ve probably seen those extravagant elopements on mountain tops and along the Grand Canyon, but you don’t have to go that big. If you want to- great! Take me with you! But there are tons of national parks in WA state that you can hike to, climb a mountain, go to the beach, really anywhere that fits your favorite vibes.
If you plan on climbing, I recommend not hiking/ climbing in your wedding dress, but if you want to get that dirty wedding dress vibe thing going, be my guest! It also depends on the length and difficult level of your hike. Elopements are a lot more laid back and chill so really anything goes. Also bring:
Tons of water
Snacks : protein packed and nutritious
Maybe a touch of extra makeup for photos
Paper towels to wipe sweat off lol
Bug Spray/ Sun Screen
Backpack to hold all your clothes, shoes, etc.
Any accessories, hair clips, maybe a hair tie to wear on the hike down after pictures.
#3) Guest List
Like I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to invite the world. Elopements are around 30 people so maybe that could be your benchmark. Elopements are mostly family only, an officiant, and you two getting married! One thing with how many people you plan on inviting: if you plan to have them sit down during the little ceremony, think about renting chairs or having them bring camping folding chairs. But most of the time, people are standing if you’re hiking a mountain. A folding chair might be hard to carry along with all the hiking gear.
Your guest list is just the most important people in your lives that you want to see there when you tie the knot.
#4) What to wear
This is where you can totally get creative! Some brides like the classic white dress with maybe some more flare on the gown to make it more unique, or you can wear literally whatever you’d like. A skirt with a top, a romper, hell, even jeans! It’s totally up to you!
The image at the top of this blog post was a Mt. Rainier Vow Renewal I photographed last fall and she just found her dress online for less than $100. Some brides spend more on a boho-inspired dress or something more unique than the traditional wedding gown just because elopements don’t cost as much as a full blown wedding, so they use that extra money for their custom gown. It’s really all up to you and what you want.
I’ve also heard that BHLDN Brides with a Cause have amazing and stunning gowns for really affordable costs and are trendy/ vintage.
The Foxes have an awesome guide to what kind of fabric to wear and where to find them! Check that out here.
#5) What to bring like chairs, change of clothes, cake, something easy.
I kind of mentioned these things above, but if you wanted to hike in a change of clothes then change into your wedding outfits, totally do that. Maybe bring like deodorant, extra makeup, towels to dry the sweat away, hairspray, basically like a little toiletry kit. haha
Depending on if you want your guests to stand during the ceremony, might want to rent some chairs, or have them bring camping chairs, etc.
Desert after the ceremony is common. One elopement I photographed at Deception Pass had just a little cake and cupcakes mini reception after they had their ceremony overlooking the sound. It was sweet and really adorable! Just something simple that you love.
#6) When/ time of day to elope
The weather in Washington is always nuts, so be sure to look at the weather ahead of time to plan. The spring time in the mountains are usually filled with snow still and are super wet. Late summer and early fall would be super perfect with the sunshine. Even with clouds, it would still be warm. If you want a winter mountain elopement, then you totally have more months to choose from. Mt. Rainier this year had snow around October-April. Snow is still melting up there! But that also means some roads might be closed, too, so just something to keep in mind.
Summer and Spring time mountain/ lake/ or beach elopements would be much warmer and the trails would probably be easier to hike/ climb.
Also want to think about the time of day to elope. Some couples love Sunrise and hike up a mountain and get married right when the sun comes up. Others love golden hour in the evening so they can also have the golden sunshine for epic photos. Keep in mind that if you’re planning to elope in a national campground or somewhere that has “closed at dusk” rules, definitely check into that so you’re not locked out into the wilderness.
Temperatures to keep in mind, courtesy of Google.
#7) Officiant + Paperwork + Permits
Always check if you need permits! Some parks require the photographer to have a photography permit, some require you to rent a campground, maybe even hiking permits, parking permits for your guests, etc. So be sure to check in with the park/ area and ask a park ranger what you may need for you and your guests.
Any paperwork: don’t forget to bring your marriage license (and a pen!) or any other wedding contract you might need. Some couples just wait to sign it all after the hike, but some just bring it with to be officially legally married on a mountain top. Up to you!
Your officiant: Maybe give them the paperwork? These days, you can have anyone be your wedding officiant and marry you anywhere! So make sure they are registered and acknowledged by the state that they are an officiant, and they have the proper paperwork, etc.
Need to get permits or a Discovery Pass? Check out all needed passes here.
There’s no place like Paradise to have your vow renewal or elopement. You can adventure all around Mt. Rainier and get those mountain/ forest shots you’ve dreamt about. Passes are required to head up there/ Mt. Rainier National Day Pass or annual pass, but there is plenty of parking and tons of amazing spots to exchange vows. The beautiful meadows alone are worth taking a few photos in 🙂
Discovery pass is required for all guests for parking, and a photographers pass issued by the state park, but Rosario Beach has all the elopement feels with stunning views up on the Rosario Head outlook, and down by the beach. There is even a little picnic covered area where you can host a mini reception/ toast area that you can reserve. Such a gorgeous area!
You can’t go wrong with Diablo Lake, you guys. From the amazing trails filled with tall evergreens, to the beautiful turquoise lake, there are tons of beautiful ledges to hike to and get your epic elopement vibes on.
Dreaming of those beach elopement vibes? Ruby Beach is where it’s at. I’m dying to shoot a wedding here, but seriously, this is such a gorgeous beach with plenty of camping, sunlight, and beach. Defiantly on my bucket list!
This pond is such an iconic spot in Washington State and you can do so many things there. Plenty of parking for your guests, gorgeous pond with the magnificent view of the mountains in the background, and picnic tables for feasting. During the golden hour in the evening, the sun comes right into this pocket in the Snoqualmie Pass and makes it all golden and gorgeous. Totally one of my favorite spots to visit for sure. And the symmetry of this opening to the pond the the way the mountains line up is almost too perfect.
Discovery Pass required.
So there you have it! Just some things to think about when it comes to planning your perfect Washington State Elopement! Just remember that you can make it to be whatever you want and desire. The sky is the limit and you’ll seriously have an epic and awesome elopement!