Want to get married on a mountain, tie the knot in a temperate rainforest, exchange vows in front of a waterfall, or even drive out to the desert? Washington’s scenery is incredibly diverse, making it an incredible elopement location for any couple! If you want to ditch the traditional wedding and have an adventure instead, this guide will tell you everything you need to know to elope in Washington. We’ll talk about the best places to elope in Washington state, when to tie the knot, and more tips for planning your one-of-a-kind wedding.
The Best Places to Elope in Washington State
Choosing a place to say your vows is one of the most exciting things about eloping, so let’s talk about it first! The scenery in the PNW is absolutely jaw-dropping, and there’s so much diversity in the landscapes you can see. Part of my job as an elopement photographer is helping you find the perfect spot – so here are just a few ideas for the best places to elope in Washington state!
Washington’s National Parks
Washington has three incredible national parks – all of which offer some of the most amazing views in the state! Mount Rainier National Park is a great one, named after the state’s most iconic snow capped peak. This is a great place for couples who want to elope in the mountains, those who want to see blooming wildflower fields, and couples who want to explore gorgeous pine forests.
Olympic National Park is the biggest park in the state, covering much of the Olympic Peninsula. This park has a huge variety of scenery, and you’ll find the mountains, a temperate rainforest, and the rugged coastline all within a few hours from each other.
The last (but certainly not least) national park in Washington is North Cascades National Park. This is one of the least visited parks in the country, but only because of its remote location! The park is unbelievably beautiful, with mountains, alpine lakes, wildflowers, and some of the most amazing scenery in the state. You’ll have an easier time finding a private place to say your vows, so this is a great elopement location!
While national parks are incredibly beautiful, they also tend to be pretty popular! For your elopement, you probably want a little bit of privacy, and luckily Washington has plenty of more secluded views. In the national forests around the state, which are typically close to national parks and offer similar landscapes, you’ll find mountains, forests, waterfalls, and more! For jaw dropping mountain views, head to Artist’s Point located in the Mount Baker National Forest. For waterfalls (like Snoqualmie Falls and Franklin Falls), mountain trails, and forest views, check out Snoqualmie National Forest, which is just an hour’s drive from Seattle! The Olympic national forest, located close to Olympic National Park, has incredible mountain hikes, lakes, and waterfalls.
A Cabin or Airbnb
Washington also has tons of adorable cabins tucked away in the most remote parts of the state. Whether you want to have your ceremony at the cabin, or just find a place to stay and to come back to after your adventures, check out adorable A-frames near Mount Rainier, tree houses in the North Cascades, and cute cottages on the Olympic Peninsula!
When Should You Elope in Washington?
You’ll need to set a date for your elopement, and Washington is pretty infamous for moody weather and lots of rain. For most couples, the best time to elope is going to be in the summer, especially July and August, when the sun is shining and temperatures are warm.
If you want to elope in the mountains, but don’t want to see any snow, you’ll definitely need to plan for a summer elopement – but, spring and fall can be gorgeous as well. Especially if you elope towards the end of spring or the beginning of fall, you can explore a lot of Washington’s nature with fewer people around. This will help you get some more privacy when you exchange your vows, but you should definitely be prepared for some drizzle!
The eastern side of Washington state is a little bit less traveled, featuring a lot of vast desert landscapes. If you want to elope in the desert, spring and fall are perfect! Summers get really hot, so it can be a little too toasty if you want to explore outdoors.
Marriage Licenses and Elopement Permits – Getting Legally Married When You Elope in Washington
While planning amazing adventures and scouting locations is a big, and exciting, part of your elopement day, you’ll also need to think about some paperwork!
Getting a Washington Marriage License
To get legally married, you need a marriage license in the state of Washington. You can get this at any county clerk’s office in the state, so if you live here I recommend finding an office close to you. If you’re traveling here to get married, Washington makes getting a marriage license easy! You can apply online at the King County office, and receive your marriage license in the mail before you get here. There is a three day waiting period, which means that once you get your marriage license, you need to wait three days before your ceremony – so be sure to apply a little bit early and get your marriage license ahead of time.
Elopement Ceremony Permits
Depending on the elopement location you choose, you may need a permit to have your ceremony. This varies from location to location, so I’ll help you figure out if you need a permit or not, and how to apply!
National parks tend to have the strictest rules, while national forests usually don’t require a permit for small ceremonies (but there are exceptions to every rule, so this isn’t always the case). You can usually apply for a ceremony permit as far as a year in advance, so if you do need one for your location, I recommend applying as soon as possible to give the rangers time to process and issue your permit!
Washington Elopement Packages
The day you get married should be about you – and once you’ve made the brave, bad ass decision to elope, I’m ready to be your cheerleader, adventure buddy, and planning assistant. As your Washington elopement photographer, I’ll handle everything from giving you location recommendations, to finding the perfect vendors, making a timeline for your day, and everything you need!
If you’re ready to elope in Washington state, contact me!