Bride & Groom hold lanterns in the fading light with Yosemite Valley and pink skies in the background.

7 Best Places in California to Elope

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Best Places in California to Elope

If you’re looking for the best places in California to elope, you’ve come to the right place! As destination vanlife elopement photographers, we’ve seen a lot of California over the years. Lucky for you, there is no shortage of amazing views in California with rugged coastlines, forests blanketed with giant trees, remote deserts, rolling dunes, and mountain peaks hovering around every corner. You really can’t go wrong with any location you decide on but we understand it can feel overwhelming! This blog will help you narrow down which place in California is best for you. 

Best Time of Year to Elope in California

Because California has so many different types of landscape and most of the state sees all four seasons, there really isn’t a bad time to elope in California! There are some locations like Joshua Tree or the Glamis Sand Dunes that we would recommend visiting in the spring or fall because summers can be so hot. Locations like the Central Coast and Big Sur are amazing in the spring because everything is so green and there are tons of wildflowers! If you’re interested in a snowy elopement, winter is breathtaking in Yosemite and Sequoia. 

Where to Elope in California

It’s no surprise to us that you’re looking for the best places in California to elope. With 9 National Parks (3 that make our list), 20 National Forests, and tons and tons of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, there are tons of ideas for elopement locations. Here is our list of the best places in California to elope:

  1. Yosemite National Park
  2. Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains
  3. Big Sur
  4. Joshua Tree National Park
  5. Central Coast 
  6. Glamis Sand Dunes
  7. Sequoia National Park

Are you ready for your California elopement?? And maybe have some ideas of where your elopement will be (if not, no biggie!)? We can’t wait to hear what you’re thinking!

Eloping in Yosemite National Park

Ok, you had to have known Yosemite National Park would be on this list! It’s a truly magical place that is overflowing with insane views, hidden mountain lakes, wildflowers, and some of the country’s tallest waterfalls. If you’re hoping to escape the crowds that Yosemite National Park can often see, we definitely recommend reaching out to us so we can chat! Brian lived in Yosemite for over 15 years, so he knows all of the local, hidden spots to help you have an intimate, private elopement.

Eloping in the Eastern Sierras

The Eastern Sierra has a spot on our best places in California to elope list for a handful of reasons. Sitting just outside of Yosemite lies the Eastern Sierras; the prettiest mountain range we’ve ever seen. Not only are the mountain views breathtaking, but there are also tons of hidden alpine lakes to explore and a handful of natural hot springs to soak in. If you’re hoping to get away from the crowds in Yosemite, this is the place to go.

Eloping in Big Sur

Big Sur is one of those places that words just can’t describe. But I’ll give it a try: close your eyes and picture this. The deepest blue in the ocean, the waves crashing against the ragged cliffside, the rolling green hills covered in wildflowers, the hiking trails wrapping around canyons leading back into the wilderness. Oh and beautiful sandy beaches! It’s a really special place and one that we love going back to time and time again.

Eloping in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is on our list of best places in California to elope because of how unique it is. The vastness of the desert, sprinkled with crazy rock formations, and giant cacti is so different from the mountains we usually find ourselves in. We would recommend eloping here either in the spring, fall, or winter so you’re not overheating! However, we should mention that the high desert can get really cold in the winter, so keep that in mind when planning your elopement.

Eloping in the Central Coast

The Central Coast of California is a big area but definitely deserves a spot on our best places in California to elope list! Spanning from Monterey Bay down to Point Mugu (just north of LA), the Central Coast is full of incredible places for your elopement. Some of our favorite areas are Morro Bay, Montana De Oro, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. Springtime in these areas means rolling green hills and tons of wildflowers. Consider eloping here from January – May.

Eloping in Glamis Sand Dunes

Ok, imagine this: standing on top of a giant sand dune, with mountains behind you and your person reading their vows in front of you. Once used as the stage for Star Wars movies, Glamis Sand Dunes is an incredibly unique place in California and would provide a lot of fun activities for your elopement day (think dune buggies, riding side-by-sides, sledding down the dunes) plus there are hot springs close by to visit.

Eloping in Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park had to have a spot on our best places in California to elope list because of the big trees! A visit to California isn’t complete without seeing some of the oldest trees in the United States. Imagine having your ceremony under an awning of huge trees and then going for a walk amongst them.

California Elopement FAQs

How much does it cost to elope in California?

The number can vary greatly here depending on where in California you decide to elope. The National Park wedding permits can range from $50-500 so it’s important to look into that before you decide.

How do you legally get married in California?

You’ll have to get your marriage license from a county clerk’s office in California. Fortunately, it can be in any county and there is no waiting period after you get the marriage license. Since Becky is an officiant in all 50 states, she can help you figure out all of the details for this!

Where should you elope in California?

With so many national parks, national forests, and BLM land there are tons of options. As your California elopement photographers, we’ll work together to help you pick out the best place in California for your elopement.

Do you need a witness to get married in California?

Yes, you need at least one witness to sign your marriage license. If you’re not inviting any guests, no worries, Brian can act as your witness!

OK, now are you ready to start planning for your California elopement?! Whether it’s one of our Best Places in California to Elope (or maybe it should be!) get in touch and we’ll help you plan the perfect adventure elopement — and we’ll capture every moment of it!

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