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!
Your guide to finding the perfect Washington Elopement Location and all the planning details you’ll need.
Need to find info on Washington Elopement Locations? Well this complete guide is all about finding the perfect Washington elopement location for you and your love to exchange your vows and get married. There are tons of gorgeous and stunning locations throughout the state so you’re in a good place! This guide is just to help with planning details, weather patterns to look out for, what you might not think about when planning to elope, and so much more. You can’t go wrong with wanting to elope in Washington. You’ve got the beach, Mt. Rainier, rainforests, cliffs that are surrounded by mountains, and even the desert. Washington is totally a go-to elopement location. Below you’ll find my favorite places to elope around Washington state and some planning ideas I’ve learned along the way to help plan your elopement to it’s fullest. So don’t worry- I’ll help you find the most perfect Washington elopement locations.
Mt. Rainier at Paradise or Sunrise
Olympic National Park
…and so much more!
What is an Elopement?
Google defines an elopement as a wedding ceremony with 30 people or less. To me, it’s your wedding day where you can do whatever your heart desires. A typical elopement that I’ve been apart of is usually when a fun couple books an AirBnB, wants to have an epic location as their ceremony and portrait background, and elopes with the two of them, an officiant, maybe a few guests, and a photographer (and/or videographer). An elopement is very small, very personal, and usually involves an awesome location that’s outside of a normal wedding venue.
When is the best time to Elope? Time and Dates.
Usually the best time to elope is a few hours before sunset. Depending how you want to set up your day and how much traveling is involved, you’ll totally want to at least have your main portraits of just the two of you at sunset at whatever gorgeous spot you chose to elope at. Typically in Washington, the best times to elope are June-October when the sun is out, most national parks are open, and you’ll definitely get better weather.
I also recommend going during the week: Monday-Thursday if possible. Gorgeous locations in Washington are always busy so I highly recommend going during the week. Places like Mt. Rainier on the weekends, gets very crowded with tourists when the mountain is out, so during the week at sunset is really the best time.
When should we start our Elopement?
It’ll totally depend on the weather and what all you have planned for your day. Most of the time elopements include getting ready photos, detail shots of your vow books or rings, an intimate first look, and then we jump into your ceremony. So usually an 2-3 hours before sunset so we can get plenty of sunshine/ light and then nice soft golden photos and maybe some blue hour photos as we get into portraits. I absolutely love helping put together timelines, so I’d love to help structure your elopement timeline!
What should I bring along?
I’d bring along obviously your wedding attire, details, comfortable shoes to change out of if you want, some extra makeup to touch up, plastic bags because you never know, paper towels, any cakes or little decorations you want to bring along, flowers, scissors because you always need those, and any personal things you want documented like vow books, momentous, etc. Depending on location and amount of hiking, bring along plenty of water, snacks, a backpack to put everything in, and of course your park permits. Some national parks and locations require event permits (we’ll get more into that below), so be sure to research the location ahead of time to make sure you’re covered in case you’re stopped by a ranger.
Don’t forget your Marriage License!
If you’re traveling to Washington from another state and not quite sure how to obtain a marriage license, check out their website here for more info. Make sure to bring along your marriage license, a pen, and a sturdy folder to keep it from folding or bending while traveling.
For witnesses, usually your photographer is one of them, and then either another videographer or a family member or friend who tags along. Some other state license don’t require you to have witnesses for your wedding if you’re traveling from out of state, so be sure to ask your local registers office.
Here is a great chat that shows the average temperatures in Washington state:
Here is also an excellent chart for the amount of rain and snowfall throughout the year:
Mt. Rainier is a super popular spot to go and elope, so keep in mind when it’s warm and open. Mt. Rainier National Park is mainly open and the roads are clear of snow between the months of June-October. This past year, the Chinook Pass closed early because of so much snow, so be sure to check the weather conditions and the WSDOT Pass coverage before traveling.
Mt. Rainier is everything you want for a mountainous and forest vibe for your elopement. Mt. Rainier has a ton of different parks to visit as well for a variety of images. You’ve got the classics like Paradise and also Sunrise. These visitor centers are gorgeous and there’s plenty of parking for everyone. It’s so peaceful, the smell of the fresh mountain air is unforgettable, and there are so many different little hikes to wonder around that you could spend so many days just adventuring and exploring.
Here are some Mt. Rainier Elopement locations:
Paradise Lodge side of the mountain gets you right on the mountainside to where you don’t have to hike anywhere to see it. Large parking lot with overflow parking as well. Most of the trails are paved up until the first waterfall and then dirt trails. You’ve got Rainier right there, you’ve got valley views, forest vibes, meadows that are filled with wildflowers in the spring, everything you want in a super mountainous elopement. At Paradise, you’re pretty close to restrooms at the lodge, but if you want to hike to the waterfall, there isn’t anything out there to change. I always bring a pop-up changing tent for my couples, so you can use that to change into your wedding attire after hiking, or bring one along yourself 🙂
Paradise is open year round, but definitely check their updated daily twitter feed in the winter for any snowy mountain vibes. Mt. Rainier National Park Pass required. No dogs allowed.
Ahh Sunrise. This spot is a classic Mt. Rainier experience and there are SO many great spots to have your ceremony and take portraits. The first part of the hike is at an angle, but some couples have their ceremony right on the main trail. You’ll totally be hiking to anywhere you want that looks great to you, so for sure bring along some comfortable shoes. As you get higher onto the trail, the more of the mountain you’ll see along with some valleys all around you. It’s so gorgeous.
There’s a large parking lot with plenty of clean bathrooms. Definitely bring along a changing tent after hiking. Mt. Rainier National Park Pass required. No dogs allowed.
This is another favorite of mine. If you don’t want to hike around a lot and just want trees, a view of Mt. Rainier, and a cool pond, Tipsoo Lake is for you. It’s nestled in the Chinook Pass and all you need is a Discover Pass. No Dogs are allowed sadly. This little spot is gorgeous and super easy to get to. There’s bathrooms there and a great view of Rainier on a clear day.
AirBnB’s In Packwood, WA + Ashford, WA
You’ll definitely need a Mt. Rainier National Park Event Permit. These are $60 and has you covered for your whole elopement. You can apply for those through their website here: Permits & Reservations.
You’ll also need to pay an entrance fee upon entering into the national park. Just stop at the ranger station on the way in.
Please also keep in mind the ‘Leave No Trace’ rules. Leave the place better than when you found it and try not to step along the fragile meadows.
A seriously magical side to our gorgeous state of Washington.
Some favorite spots along the Washington Coast:
Absolutely gorgeous and totally worth the walk around the beach. So many cool rock formations, sunlight, and trees lining the beaches. It was so much fun adventuring here for an engagement session last year and I can’t wait to go back this year. Totally recommending going 2 hours before sunset and during the week. We went on a Friday and it was seriously packed with people. They do have bathrooms, but I’d bring a changing tent to change into your wedding attire once you hit the beach.
Another gorgeous beach along the coast. Gorgeous rock formations and the Tree of Life is located just down along the beach. The walk onto the beach itself is gorgeous and has those Twilight vibes so you get a bit of beach, large driftwood along the beach, and some forest vibes along the way.
Totally recommend parking in the Second Beach Main Parking lot and then using that trail to wonder down to the beach. There’s also quite a lot of wind advisories around this area, so be sure to check the parks service website for conditions. They also have an updated twice daily audio recording when you call the number listed on their site. Really awesome updates!
Did you know Washington had a rainforest?! It’s absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to adventure there. There are tons of trails you can adventure down and find the perfect spot for your forest elopement. Recommend parking at the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center and then finding a great cabin nearby to either get ready at, reception at, and stay the night at. Woohoo!
The rainforest is about 40 minutes away from the beach so plan accordingly.
Another awesome beach on the Washington Coast. This beach a little harder to get to and it’s tricky finding parking, but still gorgeous. Don’t be fooled by the Twilight movie either, the beach that was in the movie is actually location on the Oregon coast, so you wont be getting what the movie shows when you adventure there. Typically when going to La Push, you want to make a stop in Forks to compensate for the lack of location accuracy the movie portrays, and then wonder down to Second Beach for those gray and moody beach vibes. The sunsets along the coast are epic and highly recommend.
There are TONS of cabins, resorts, and BnB’s that make for a great trip!
Artist Point is gorgeous and I can’t stay away. It’s about 1 hour drive outside of Bellingham, WA and it’s totally worth the drive. With plenty of gas stations along the way, and a few visitor centers, Artist Point is perfect. You’ve got Mt. Baker, mountain ranges, reflecting lakes, trails to hike all around the area, and most paths from the main Artist Point lookout parking lot are all paved. Anyone who has a wheelchair, totally can smoothly attend your elopement.
You do need an Northwest Forest Pass to park up there, there are also bathrooms but since the pandemic has hit, they have been closed. So be sure to plan accordingly and stop before the main top parking lot. Also bring a changing tent for sure. Or change behind some thick evergreens up at the top! haha
Diablo Lake is another awesome location that has it all. If you’re looking for teal gorgeous water, mountains all around you, and some beach/ forest vibes for your elopement, then look no further. Diablo Lake is stunning and for sure will give you those pic elopement vibes you’re looking for. It’s quite the drive up to the main parking lot, and you don’t need a discover pass or anything. There are regulations and railings around the parking lot to prevent people from going over to the main viewpoints (like the photo above…sorry mom!) but those are to keep everyone safe. You’ll find more Diablo Lake elopements are seen on this dirt lookout spot. Please be careful!
You can also drive back down the highway to little campsites where you can get those beachy vibes with mountains all around you, teal water even closer, and some forest evergreen portraits as well.
They have great bathrooms up at the main vista parking lot and plenty of parking. Totally recommend going during the week at sunset. Most of the time the golden hour timeframe for this location is 2.5 hours before sunset is when you want to go. The sun likes to dip behind the mountains so just something to be aware.
Gold Creek Pond is one of my favorite places to shoot and see people elope at. Honestly, its in the top recommendations for best Washington elopement locations. It’s so gorgeous and in the summer and fall, the sunsets on the surrounding mountains is breathtaking. The reflection in the pond is incredible and even the sunrises there are amazing. This is a super popular spot on the weekends, so totally go during the week and 2 hours before sunset. The sun likes to dip below the mountains a little bit before the official recorded sunset time, so be sure to go with plenty of time ahead. There are tons of spots and a little island to walk out on for all sorts of awesome portraits. Plenty of picnic benches to cut a cute little cake on, too!
Sno-Park pass is required in the winter, but just need a Discover Pass. Big enough parking lot (not on weekends!), and one bathroom. The trail is ADA accessible and easy to walk to. Even around the pond is easy and gorgeous. No permits required, but please clean up after yourselves so permits won’t be required in the future.
Totally a must see, and it’s gorgeous, so totally go!
I’m a Washington state elopement and wedding photographer centrally located in the Yakima Valley. I’ve traveled all over Washington to some of the most gorgeous locations and I absolutely love photographing intimate elopements all over the state. If you’re interested in learning more about my services or want to see more of my work, check out my Portfolio Page and my Pricing Page.
If you’re looking for more information on eloping in Washington, check out my other blog post: How to Plan Your Elopement
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