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Creating Your Mount Rainier Elopement Story

August 29, 2021

Why a Mount Rainier elopement may be one of the most magical parts of your love story

When friends come to visit Washington, I will often ask, “Did you see The Mountain? Did you see Mt. Rainier?” Sometimes, on a cloudy day, they will shrug and say, “I’m not sure. I think I did.” If that’s their answer, I know they have not yet seen The Mountain. She is so big and majestic, there will be no doubt in your mind when you finally catch a glimpse of her snowy peak. The grandeur makes a Mount Rainier elopement one of the most breathtaking moments I have witnessed.

Why Consider a Mount Rainier Elopement?

As a Mt. Rainier elopement photographer, I understand her infamy. Native Americans referred to her as “Tahoma” which means “snowy mountain peak.” And anyone who has stepped foot on Mount Rainier National Park knows the positive energy you feel when you get close to this special place. This magical feeling always translates into an incredible Mount Rainier elopement experience.  

Another added benefit of a Mount Rainier Elopement? This majestic mountain can be seen from almost anywhere on the trail. From Mt. Fremont Fire Lookout to the green wildflower meadow, chances are Mount Rainer will be peaking through the background.

Finally, the diversity of landscape makes a Mount Rainier elopement stunning with epic panoramic views, fire lookouts, forests, alpine lakes, waterfalls, epic wildflowers and snow most of the year (October through July).  But don’t just take my word for it. Visit Rainier has great information about why a Mount Rainier Elopement may be perfect for your big day. 

How to Plan your Mountain Rainer Elopement

Whether it is the views, the adventure, or the fresh mountain air, I hope you are feeling excited about a Mount Rainer Elopement. What’s next? You will need to navigate a few details of your celebration at Mount Rainier National Park. Here are a few questions we will go through together as you start to consider your big day!

  1.         What location creates an ideal ceremony for a Mount Rainier Elopement?
  2.         What time of year works best to elope in Mount Rainier National Park?
  3.         What should I pack to elope in Mount Rainier?
  4.         Where should we stay before and after our elopement?
  5.         What does an elopement package consist of?

Not yet sold on Mount Rainier for your elopement celebration? There are plenty of places throughout the Pacific Northwest that provide the same moody views and mystic outdoor appeal. Check out my tips for planning an elopement in the PNW if the thought of exploring more Washington mountain elopements appeals to you.

Mount Rainier Elopement Photographer

Mount Rainier Elopement: Ceremony and Adventure Locations

There is good news and bad news when it comes to choosing a location to say your “I Do’s.” The bad news? It’s going to be hard to choose your Mount Rainier wedding venue! The good news? You can’t go wrong.  No matter where you choose to have your elopement ceremony in Mount Rainier National Park or your sunrise or sunset hike…the views and the photos will be epic! 

Mount Rainier Elopement National Park Entrances

There are four entrances to Mount Rainier National Park. The entrance you choose will help determine which hike you take on your special day. It’s a good idea to take a look at trip reports (wta.org is a good resource), evaluate your desired views and the length of the hike for your special day. Then, determine which area creates the perfect Mount Rainier wedding venue for you!

Carbon River Entrance (Northwest) 

For incredible sunrise and sunset views – this entrance is for you. If you choose the Carbon River Entrance, Mowich Lake and Tolmie Peak Lookout are going to be your best bet for ceremony locations and then awesome alpenglow on the mountain at sunrise or sunset. 

Nisqually Entrance (Southwest) 

This Southwest entrance takes you to Longmire and Paradise, two of the most iconic locations for a Mount Rainier elopement. If you choose to enter the park through Nisqually, Panorama Point provides an unforgettable location for a winter or spring snowshoe elopement. Furthermore, Reflection Lake and Pinnacle Peak Trail provide breathing backdrops in the Summer and Fall. 

White River/Sunrise Entrance (Northeast) 

This is the entrance of choice for Mt. Rainier elopement photographers! (As well as my personal favorite entrance!) Sourdough Ridge and Mt Fremont Fire Lookout provide a tranquil and intimate Mount Rainier wedding venue location. Meanwhile, the Silver Forest Trail and Sunrise Point provide the Pacific Northwest majesty that Mount Rainier National Park is known for.  If you want to see stars and the milky way on your elopement, a sunset hike to Mount Fremont Fire Lookout is the best choice. I promise you won’t regret it!

Stevens Canyon Entrance (Southeast)

As I mentioned before, you can’t go wrong with any location within the park for a Mount Rainier elopement. The Steven Canyon Entrance is representative of exactly this! Silver Falls and Grove of the Patriarchs Trail provide timeless natural features for your Mount Rainier wedding venue.

What time of year is best for a Mount Rainier Elopement?

Similar to the fact that there are no bad locations in Mount Rainier National Park, there are also no bad times of the year for your celebration! You can elope any time of year at MNRP. The only thing you must decide is what kind of photos you are hoping for your Mt Rainier elopement photographer to capture. Then, you can determine what types of activities and locations pair well with your desired style!

Mount Rainier Elopement: Winter 

If you dream of capturing elopement photos with a glistening snowfall background, or moonlit slopes, then Mount Rainier is the place to do it. The Mountain gets approximately 670 inches of snow per year! Paradise is open year-round, as long as the roads are plowed. Furthermore, snowshoes provide a fun way to travel to your Mount Rainier wedding venue.

Mount Rainier Elopement: Spring

Due to so much snowfall, Rainier National Park is often a snowy oasis for much of spring. If a spring elopement is on your radar, the Nisqually entrance is your best bet. Other park entrances are generally not open until later in the year. In terms of gear, microspikes and snowshoes aren’t just for winter! If you plan to hike around Paradise on your elopement, be sure to bring snow-appropriate footwear and warm coats.

Mount Rainier Elopement: Summer

One word to describe a Washington mountain elopement in the summer: EPIC! All entrances to Mount Rainier National Park open around Independence Day. The snowmelt on the mountain creates vibrant colors for wildflowers in both July and August. Check out Tipsoo Lake and Naches Peak Loop Trail for the biggest burst of color. Furthermore, summer nights are highlighted with a fantastic chance to stargaze after saying “I do.”

Mount Rainier Elopement: Fall

For a more intimate Mount Rainier elopement ceremony, I recommend celebrating in the fall. It is a less busy time to visit because kids are back in school and everyone has gone home from summer vacations. Light snow and moody, foggy days make for some very dynamic photos. (The Mt Rainier wedding photographer in me loves the fall elopements!) Pinnacle Peak Trail and Bench Lake and Snow Lake serve as ultra-intimate hikes for special ceremony locations.

What to Pack (for an Epic Mount Rainier Elopement!)

If the thought of packing for your elopement makes your head spin, don’t worry! “Always be prepared” just so happens to be my specialty. Take a look at my list below and remember to have fun with it.  

Permits and Passes and License, Oh My!

Make sure you have the important stuff when you begin your packing! That all starts with purchasing your National Park Pass which will be required to get you into Mount Rainier National Park.

A ceremony permit will also be on your list for a Mount Rainier elopement. Weddings at Mount Rainier will vary greatly depending on the month, the number of guests, and desired scenery. Based on the time of year, how many people are in attendance, guests’ range of walking distance and ability levels, and scenic backdrop will be the primary deciding factors on where you take your first kiss as a married couple.

Groups of twelve or less can choose almost anywhere in the park including most Sunrise Visitor Center trails and overlooks. Reflection Lake and Tipsoo Lake are limited to a maximum of eight people. It is also important to note some “rules of the park.”  Disbursement of rice, flowers, confetti, or releasing of wildlife, (e.g. butterflies) is prohibited. Items may not be dispersed onto ground surfaces, in, or onto the resource.  Furthermore, flower bouquets should be of native type. Pets are not allowed inside the park.  However, there are many locations outside of the park where you can take them and still have amazing views of Mt Rainier. (PS, I can help you find those, too!) 

I pride myself in being a Leave No Trace Mt Rainier elopement photographer. Because of this, I know I must help my eloping couples respect the gift of nature, and I will be sure we come prepared with options and elopement decisions that respect our planet.

Last, but not least, and potentially most important of all – don’t forget your Washington Marriage License! For details on applying, check King County’s website ahead of time so you are prepared for the big day.

The {Other} Important Stuff

Master planner here!  I bring supplies and come prepared so you can have an adventure elopement that prioritizes safety as well as keeping our beloved National Parks wild. Whenever I go on an outdoor adventure (Washington mountain elopement or otherwise) I always pack my ten essentials:

  1. Navigation
  2. Headlamp: plus extra batteries
  3. Sun protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes, and sunscreen
  4. First aid including foot care and insect repellent
  5. Knife plus a gear repair kit
  6. Fire matches, lighter, tinder, and/or stove
  7. Shelter carried at all times
  8. Extra food
  9. Extra water
  10. Extra clothes

There are also a few additional items I will bring to help your elopement be as fun as possible:

  1. Search and Rescue Phone (just in case)
  2. Extra water and snacks (you can never have enough snacks!)
  3. Bluetooth speaker to play your First Dance music (for a little Leon Bridges)
  4. Hand and toe warmers (for a toasty snowshoe)
  5. Glasses for your toast (because this is a celebration!)

{More} Fun Stuff 

You are eloping for the adventure of it all! Don’t forget these key items to make your Mount Rainier elopement the adventure you imagined:

  1. Trekking poles
  2. Microspikes or snowshoes if you are embarking on a snowy journey
  3. Champagne/Beer/Sparkling Juice
  4. Sunscreen, no matter the season! 

Where to stay if eloping in Mount Rainier National Park

Let’s recap: your date is set and the snowshoes have been ordered. You have written your vows and can’t wait to commit to your sweetheart in front of nature. The next item on your list…. Where are you going to stay? Lucky for you, I have some of the quaintest little towns and cozy AirBnb’s to relax in before and after your ceremony.

Packwood

Packwood is a tiny little town near Mount Rainier National Park with some pretty incredible views. Not to mention this Cozy Forest House that will have any nature lover swooning.

Ashford

Ashford is only six miles to the entrance of MRNP, and often serves as the basecamp for those climbing Rainier! This A-Frame cabin with a hot tub could be the perfect place to spend your first night as a married couple after a snowy adventure.

Greenwater/Crystal Mountain

Nestled at the base of the Crystal Mountain ski slopes, the Greenwater/Crystal Mountain area is an ideal place to stay before and after your Mount Rainier elopement. This River Rock Cabin (complete with twinkle lights!) will have you dancing under stars long after dark.

Mount Rainier Campgrounds

If camping during your Mount Rainier elopement is more your style, we have you covered! There are several areas to camp near the base of the mountain. (And PLEASE don’t forget the s’mores.)

Mount Rainier Elopement Packages

Once you have decided that yes, the epic Rainier is the perfect location for your special day, you will need someone to document it! That’s where I come in. Not only am I a Mount Rainier adventure photographer, but also a planner, officiant, and friend for this special day.

A full day adventure elopement package includes:

  1. Full-day photo coverage
  2. Detailed how-to guides 
  3. Unlimited planning calls and support
  4. Professionally edited, full-resolution photographs
  5. High resolution online digital gallery with unlimited downloads
  6. Single photographer, option to add second photographer or videographer for an additional cost
  7. I am also an officiant & that service can be added to your package for free!

Put simply, I am your one-stop-shop for all things elopement-related. But, if you want to truly envision yourself at your Mount Rainier elopement, read on.

Sample Mount Rainier Elopement Itinerary

Ready to picture yourself the morning of your Mount Rainier elopement? It may go a little something like this:

  • 7:00 am – Hair & Makeup Artist arrives at a cozy Airbnb at the bottom of the mountain
  • 7:30 am – Couple gets ready while snow falls gently out their window
  • 9:00 am – Photographer arrives at Airbnb
  • 9:30 am – First Look photos
  • 10:15 am – Enjoy picnic lunch
  • 11:00 am – Depart Airbnb
  • Noon – Arrive at Reflection Lake & Hike up to the ceremony location
  • 1:30 pm – Ceremony at top of Pinnacle Peak
  • 2:15 pm – Hike back down
  • 3:30 pm – Photos at Reflection Lake (Champagne toast here)
  • 4:00 pm – Depart Reflection Lake
  • 5:30 pm – Arrive at Sunrise Visitor Center – Have another snack and cut the cake!
  • 6:00 pm – Hike to the desired location for sunset and star photos (~3 miles to lookout)
  • 8:00 pm – Golden hour starts – Portraits at golden hour with Mount Rainier in the background and on Fire Lookout
  • 9:20 pm – Photos under the stars
  • Midnight – Hike back down – Return to Visitor Center & drive to Airbnb
  • 1:30 am – End of day

If the thought of this experience sends shivers up your arms and makes you smile ear to ear, then a Mount Rainier elopement may be the exact way to celebrate your love story. 

Additional Resources

If you’re still trying to decide if you want to elope or elope in the PNW, these resources may be of help. For more details on the planning process, check out Planning an Elopement in the Pacific Northwest. If you want to elope in Washington State, but still aren’t sure where check out this blog post about eloping in Washington state. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth mentioning again: when it comes to nature, adventure, and celebrating the one you love, Washington mountain elopements can’t be bet.

You’ve decided to elope in Mount Rainier National Park…now what?

If reading through this resource has filled you with a resounding, “I want to do this!” then I am here to help you plan and photograph your amazing elopement! When you are ready to start planning your big day or have any questions, please reach out! There is nothing I love more than making your big day uniquely yours.

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This is so thorough and wonderful! Mt Rainier is my very favorite place– and I totally know what you mean about The Mountain.

Absolutely amazing resource for couples looking to elope in Washington. If I had it all to do over again I would elope in the National park as well. Mt. Ranier is one of the most easily recognizable mountains I’ve ever seen and to have portraits of me on my wedding day —> would have been epic! Thank you for sharing + for brining extra snacks for your couples haha.

This is such a thorough and helpful resource! I think any couple considering a Mount Rainier elopement definitely needs to read this post. Great work!

So much great info here for planning everything Mt. Rainier! One day I’ll get there…

This is SO jam-packed with information, what an incredible resource! Seriously, it’s rare that I see guides that are so thorough and I adore it. Your couples are lucky to work with you 🥰

Thank you for your kind words!

Mt Rainier is such a dream location! This is a great blog post and I love how you’ve covered some info on all the seasons. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks so much and I’m happy to share information about eloping in Mount Rainier National Park.

So many useful information! I guess this place is amazing any time of the year though. All the photos I have seen are so incredible, it’s such a magical place! I’d love to visit it someday <3 your tips will probably help a lot!

This is like the guide of all guides to eloping in rainier!

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