How to Elope in Washington State
Tips for making your Washington State Elopement as magical and adventurous as you!
From the towering Sequoias, to the mystic waterfalls, if you have a dream to elope in Washington State, you are not alone. But if the mountain tops and misty beaches don’t yet have you convinced, the beautiful Pacific Northwest has more up her sleeve! From alpine lakes, rivers, waterfalls, fire lookouts, rainforests and islands, you may just find that eloping in Washington State could be one of the best decisions you ever make.
Why Elope in Washington State?
With such a bright, beautiful world before us, it is difficult to decide on one place for your special day. Despite the jaw dropping natural beauty, there are several benefits of eloping in Washington. Consider the following:
Washington State Accessibility
One of the main benefits if you chose to elope in Washington state instead of some far off and remote island is the accessibility. Accessibility is crucial to consider if you are on a budget. Furthermore, this is helpful if you want a few people to attend your elopement that may not be able to travel far. Washington state elopements provide a remote, exotic location. This is done without breaking the bank. Also, it doesn’t require guests to set out on an eight hour plane ride!
Seattle’s airport is international and has flights in and out of all major hubs daily. This is a benefit whether it is just you and your sweetheart, or a few special friends who want to join in on the big day.
Many people picture their elopement in a picturesque spring meadow, or in the midst of snow covered evergreens. If key seasonal features are top of mind for you, Washington state elopements are exactly what you are looking for. There are few places with more traditional weather than the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
From orange and golden leaves in the fall, to lush green springtimes, Washington has it all from a seasonal perspective. Many people have even suggested that summers in Washington provide the best weather… in the world! Whether your goals are natural features or dynamic weather, Washington truly does have it all.
Washington State Marriage License and Rules
Another reason to elope in Washington? Straightforward marriage license rules (that of course, I help you to navigate!). Washington state requires a three day waiting period before you can use your marriage license. You’ll need a certified officiant (I just happen to be one!) and two witnesses. If you don’t want to have anyone else at your elopement, that’s ok. We can always find some friendly hikers or locals at a coffee shop to ask to be your witnesses. What does that mean for you? All you need to do is fill out the license and I will make sure it gets in the mail shortly after your ceremony.
It is also good to note that licenses are valid for sixty days after the three day waiting period. This is beneficial in case the unexpected happens. In case this occurs, there is time to pivot and make sure the license is still viable for your Washington state elopement!
Where Should We Elope in Washington State?
Let me guess, you are intrigued. The snow capped mountains and lush rainforests are calling. You and your partner are considering eloping in Washington state. Now the next question is… where?
Elope in Washington State: Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park could be one of the most majestic outdoor elopement locations in Washington state. Do a quick Google image search and you will see why. This park is home to the highest and most notable mountain in all of the Pacific Northwest: Mount Rainier. It is also close to Seattle, which is beneficial for you and your guests who are traveling from out of town.
Furthermore, the park provides accessibility to Longmire and Paradise visitor centers most of the year. This means they plow the road to these specific locations, and restrooms are available. Whether your dream Washington state elopement has mountains, waterfalls, lakes, or fire lookouts – Mount Rainier National Park has you covered.
Paradise and Sunset are two of the most popular elopement locations at Mount Rainier National Park. The exquisite wildflowers in the summer, and the year round (epic) mountain backdrop could be the reason! Both locations can be reached by car, which is helpful for carrying up food, clothing, and other elopement essentials.
Feeling intrigued? Check out the information on permits and reservations. If logistics aren’t your strong suit, don’t fear! They just so happen to be mine, and I can help ensure everything is pulled together before your big day. Who knows? You could be saying “I do” from one of the most iconic places in Washington.
Elope in Washington State: North Cascades National Park
From neon teal waters to the splash of wildflowers, eloping in North Cascades National Park provides a fairytale setting. Known by many as the American Alps, this location provides a sense of adventure. If you and your partner are the venturesome type, this elopement location could be right for you. This is because the North Cascades provide a vast area for exploring. Miles of trail with mountains, waterfalls, and lakes create the setting for a one of a kind Washington state elopement.
Diablo Lake and Maple Pass are popular areas for eloping in the North Cascades. The lake provides vividly blue water surrounded by dynamic mountains and rolling hills. The pass proves to be a favorite in the fall, when the reds, yellows and oranges of the season pop on the trail with unprecedented intensity. If bright colors draw you in – this may be the location for you.
Special use permits for the park can be obtained with a short application process. It is also worth noting that the park is big and diverse. Do your research! Understand what features you are looking for in your Washington State elopement, and plan accordingly!
Elope in Washington State: Olympic National Park
From moss covered rainforests, to misty beaches, to jagged mountains: Olympic National Park provides beauty and inspiration. Whether the vision for your Washington State elopement consists of ocean views, or hemlock prairies – you will not be disappointed by what the Olympics have to offer.
Lake Crescent, Hoh Rainforest, the Coast and Hurricane Ridge all continue to be popular destinations for eloping in the Olympic National Park. Ask yourself what mood you are searching for in an elopement. Is it a serene and sentimental place? A wild adventure? A cozy getaway? Understanding the mood can help us choose the right place in a park that amazingly has it all!
Furthermore, the Olympic National Park protects one of the largest remaining blocks of old growth forest and temperate rain forest in the lower 48 states. Because of this, it is more important than ever to ensure you have the correct permits. Questions? Feel free to reach out and ask! Elopements in Olympic National Park are some of my favorites.
Elope in Washington State: The San Juan Islands
For a unique and memorable elopement away from the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the city, the San Juan Islands are a dream. The islands provide temperate weather, marine life, ferry rides and amazing seafood.
While the San Juan Islands are comprised of 172 different islands, only three are accessible by ferry. San Juan Island, Orcas Island and Lopez Island provide different opportunities for elopement venues. However, in traditional island fashion, the San Juan Islands as a whole are thought to be mellow, laid back and rejuvenating. Looking for an even bigger adventure when you elope in Washington state? These and other islands can be reached by seaplanes.
As always, make sure your permits and reservations are in order! It could be you who has a pod of gray whales who make a surprise appearance at your Washington state elopement.
Elope in Washington State: Fire Lookouts
If you’ve never been to the PNW before, you may not know about Fire Lookouts or why they are so popular for hikers and elopements alike. Fire towers started gaining popularity in the early 1900s as the primary way for spotting wildfires. Perched high on the mountain top, these manned towers provided an excellent view point for smoke columns and flames. Today, we still have manned towers with hardworking men and women spending countless hours watching for fires.
Why are fire lookouts a perfect location for your Washington state elopement? For one thing, the 360 degree views! There are still 93 fire lookouts in Washington. Finding one that has the views and accessibility you are looking for is crucial for planning your epic Washington state fire lookout elopement. But don’t just take my word for it, see how other couples have incorporated fire lookouts into their big day.
Elope in Washington State: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is one of the most visited forests in the country. Glacier-covered peaks, spectacular mountain meadows and old-growth forests are only a few of the attractions you will find in this forest. This region is also rich in history and outdoor opportunities, perfect for a couple itching for adventure!
Artist’s Point is one of the most popular areas to get married in Mount Baker- Snoqualmie National Forest. However, the whole park provides an inspirational backdrop. Picture Lake provides another beautiful elopement location for winter or early spring weddings when the snow is still capping the mountains.
Don’t forget to apply for your special use permit! Regardless of what season you choose to visit (or elope!), Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, it is sure to delight and inspire.
Elope in Washington State: Snoqualmie Valley
Snoqualmie Valley is another personal favorite for a Washington state elopement location. Not far from Seattle, Snoqualmie Valley is tucked in a wooded area just outside of the city. Because of this, it is an oasis from the bustle of Seattle. The Valley is surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and my personal favorite, rainforests!
Popular areas for eloping in Snoqualmie Valley include Snoqualmie Falls and Treehouse Point. Whether your dream Washington state elopement includes a picturesque waterfall or a treehouse that reminds you of childhood, Snoqualmie Valley provides a setting straight out of a storybook.
As always, check on rules and regulations for permits and reservations at this location. And remember, the sky’s the limit when it comes to your Washington elopement (don’t be afraid to dream big!)
Planning Your Elopement in Washington State
First, you were drawn to Washington and its ease of access. Then, you fell in love with one national park in particular. Now, your partner is on board. What’s next?
The moment we have all been waiting for (drumroll please). It is now time to officially plan your elopement! (If you are intrigued by the planning process and want to learn more, I have covered the planning process extensively in my blogpost Planning an Elopement in the Pacific Northwest.) Otherwise, see the summary below!
Envision Your Ideal Elopement
Take some time to dream and imagine what your ideal elopement in Washington state looks like. Are there waterfalls, treehouses, ocean views or sunsets? What season is it and who is involved? Is there a special activity that you and your partner would like to participate in after the ceremony?
Use this time to dream! It is not the time for “logical” and “practical.” Now you have the opportunity to envision the elopement of your dreams (and to see if we can make that a reality!)
Plan the BIG Details of Your Big Day
Now is the time to get down to business… making the big decisions of your big day. Determine:
- The elopement destination
- The time of year for your elopement
- And who to invite to your elopement
Finalizing these larger decisions will help you to solidify the smaller details of your big day.
Plan the Smaller Details of Your Big Day
My personal favorite… planning the small details. These are fun items to consider, and a wonderful time to bond with your partner. Consider:
- Elopement Activities
- Necessary elopement reservations
- Elopement attire (swoon!)
- Special gear (think snowshoes, skis, or hiking boots!)
- Elopement permits and licenses
Check out this Ultimate Elopement Packing List for everything you’ll need to have the best elopement!
Need ideas, have questions, or want to understand if something is feasible in the elopement world? Reach out an ask! (I love talking about these things.)
Create an Elopement Timeline
Ok, this may be my actual favorite part. It is imperative that your timeline is solidified. Then, this must be communicated to any guests, vendors, or others who are involved in your special day. This is one of the areas where working with an elopement planner such as myself can be exceedingly beneficial.
Managing a timeline that incorporates all of your goals, supplies and guests can be difficult to manage. This is especially true on a day where your head is filled with so many other items. A good planner will create a timeline for you, and ensure all of the boxes get checked.
Prepare for your Elopement (Both Mentally and Physically!)
Drink plenty of water. Get plenty of rest. And relax… because this will surely be one of the most memorable days of your entire life. Ensuring you are well rested and hydrated will make it all that more memorable and sets your Washington State elopement up for success.
Have the Most Epic Fun Day of Your Lives
This is the easy one. Be present and have fun. In addition, allow yourself to bask in the beauty of the great outdoors. Welcome nature into this new journey you and your partner have found yourself on. And Congratulations!
If you are considering a Washington state elopement let’s connect! I would love to hear more about your goals and ideas, and support you in making this dream a reality.
Contact Stacy – your Washington Elopement Photographer
Do you love having new adventures together as a couple? Then what better way to start your life together than adventuring on your own terms on your wedding day.
I am here to help you work through the details, envision your special day, find the perfect location and activities, and then be there to make it happen! My approach as a photographer is to capture those loving moments that you will want to remember forever. I keep things light and fun.
I am also ordained! So, if you need someone to perform your ceremony, I’ve got you covered.
I believe that eloping is the most authentic way to start your life together. If you’re looking for a photographer to be your biggest supporter and help you have a stress-free day, then you’ve found her!