We are a husband & wife team. Based in the mountains of Montana & Washington State, we’ve been photographing and filming couples since the start of 2021.
Welcome to our blog where you’ll discover elopement planning resources, as well as beautiful galleries from real weddings!
This blog is all about how to elope in the beautiful state of Washington! We love Washington and it’s diverse landscape. You’ve got everything from temperate rain forests and rugged coastline to pointy mountain peaks and alpine lakes. In this guide, we’ve included lots of important information on how to elope in Washington, including what to expect during each season and some recommended vendors. Check out the table of contents and hopefully it helps you plan your perfect Washington adventure!
Adam and I were both born and raised in Washington state, and it’s where we started Venture to Elope back at the beginnging of 2021. We’ve been all over Washington, from the desert to the breath-taking Cascades to the rocky coast. We are both so grateful to have lived in such a beautiful state!
There are 3 amazing national parks (Olympic, North Cascades, Mt. Rainier) and so many state parks! Living about an hour south of Seattle, we’ve mostly explored Olympic NP and Mt. Rainier NP. But we’ve also explored the North Cascades, Mount Baker Wilderness, and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness quite a bit.
The first thing to do when it comes to your special day is decide whether or not an adventure elopement is right for you and your partner. It’s an incredible experience that is solely focused on the two of you and your love. But we totally understand that elopements aren’t for everyone! Check out our blog on Adventure Elopements and 13 Reasons to Elope to help you figure this out.
The biggest thing to consider when thinking about your wedding is what you want to prioritize. If an experience-centered day out in Mother Nature sounds appealing to you, then an elopement might be perfect!
You truly can’t go wrong with any season in Washington! During the winter months, you have a snowy wonderland in the mountains, but you can avoid the snow by heading to the moody coast. We have gorgeous fall colors, especially in the North Cascades! And in the summer, there are endless trails to explore, along with beautiful meadows full of wildflowers. The spring is known to be a bit rainy, but it makes for lush, green forests!
Springtime in Washington is usually a very rainy season, as it rains more than half of the days each month. In the mountains, you’ll still find a lot of snow, and the average temperature is usually between 40-60 degrees. In areas closer to sea level, you’ll start to see a lot of green and new growth! It’s a beautiful time of year, great for adventuring at lower elevations and snowshoeing in the mountains.
There is still snow at high elevations in June, however, the summer heat has usually taken a hold by the middle of the month. It can get pretty hot in the summer, but it’s also prime water time! We recommend planning your elopement in the summer if you want to take advantage of snow-free mountain peaks. Hiking and backpacking elopements are IDEAL during the summer. Plus, if you want to incorporate water activities or you and your partner thrive in warmer weather, this is the best time for your special day.
But fear not, if you don’t necessarily love a mountain elopement, or you want to have cooler weather, head to the Olympic Peninsula. The coast and the rain forests are great during the summertime!
This is truly one of our favorite times to photograph and film elopements! Typically, autumn begins in September and ends in October (occasionally it lasts until the beginning of November). Fall is one of our favorite seasons because it’s often a less busy season than summer, which makes it more ideal for hiking and exploring! The average temperature can range from about 70 degrees in early September to 40 degrees in October/November. The fall colors are beautiful in Washington State, I mean look at the golden tones in the galleries below!
The winter months in Washington are between November and March. While a lot of trails aren’t as accessible in the winter due to snow, there are still a lot of fun winter activities to do! You can visit the coast (which won’t have any snow), or you can embrace the snow and go snowboarding, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and more! Depending on where you are, the temperature usually ranges from 30-50 degrees. The rain definitely starts to pick up in the winter as well, and there are few times when it actually turns to snow in the Seattle area, but it’ll definitely be snowing in the mountains.
We always recommend a weekday if you want to avoid the crowds. Most people have weekends off of work, so weekdays are when you’ll get the most privacy at any National or State Park.
Have a few elopement dates picked out, and then reach out to your ideal vendors to see if they’re available. This is super important especially if you have a vendor that you desperately want to work with. Plus, it helps to have a few dates that you love in case one of your vendors recommends a specific timeframe. For example, we have certain timeframes that we recommend for certain locations (based on weather conditions, crowds, and other factors).
Try your best to avoid any holidays or long weekends! Labor Day, New Years, and Memorial Day are some of the larger holidays that people have off of work. So, the outdoor areas, as well as Airbnbs, are a lot more crowded.
We want to preface this with the fact that you truly cannot go wrong with any of the locations in Washington state. Even if your day is supposed to be sunny and it rains, it’ll be stunning! Even if the tide chart isn’t aligning with your vision of exploring tide pools at sunset, your coastal adventure will be epic. And even if we can’t make it as far along a trail as we wanted to due to unexpected snow, we promise that your elopement will be unforgettable. So, just keep that in mind when picking your elopement location. Nothing in Mother Nature is going to be perfect. We’ll prepare the best we can, but it’s super important to go into your day with an open mind and open heart. No matter what we encounter, your day is going to be beautiful!
Also, we want to emphasize how important picking a location is. Your location is a spot that you will forever remember and love. It’s a spot that will always be unique to you and this amazing time in your relationship. So, don’t just look at a few photos and decide “this is where I want to get married.” Consider your experience at this location. Consider the crowds, the hike to get that epic view of the mountains, and the available lodging nearby. We want your entire elopement experience to be incredible!
On the Washington Coast, there is a variety of different spots to elope. You can get married on a sandy beach or on a more rugged beach with epic rock formations!
There are no entry fees or passes to access the Washington Coast.
Below is a list of some of the best hikes to do on the coast. Please make sure to practice Leave No Trace and take care of the Washington beaches. Don’t leave any trash and clean up after your pets!
Cape Flattery: This is the most northwesterly tip of the contiguous 48! It’s 100% worth the drive and the short hike. It’s about 0.75 miles to the overlook, and you will need a Makah Recreation Pass in order to park at the trailhead since Cape Flattery is on tribal land.
Second Beach: This is a 2 mile roundtrip hike to the beach. It’s an easy hike with an incredible reward! There are some epic rock formations at Second Beach, and a lot of people choose to camp out on the beach overnight.
Ruby Beach: This is probably one of the most iconic Washington beaches! It has tons of rocks and HUGE rock formations! There’s lots of driftwood and the tide is always changing the look of the beach. Highly recommend checking this beach out!
While permits aren’t always required at the beach, it’s important to reach out to the Olympic National Park with your request. Let them know what you’re planning on doing and where. The beach is a beautiful place for your elopement, but make sure to be careful with the environment. A Special Use Permit might be required, so be aware!
This is one of the lesser known National Parks in Washington, but we’re not sure why?! It’s absolutely breath taking, from waterfalls, to Lake Crescent, to epic panoramic mountain views. If you want to explore multiple landscapes, this location would be perfect for you! It’s even close to the coast, so you could visit both the water and the National Park! One of our favorite spots is the Hoh Rain Forest because it has huge Sitka Spruce, Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Western Hemlock Trees. And almost all of them are covered in draping moss!
In order to enter Olympic NP, there is a $30 fee per vehicle. Or you can purchase an America the Beautiful Pass for $80.
Below is a list of some of the best hikes and areas to explore in the Olympics! Please make sure to practice Leave No Trace and take care of this amazing area.
Hurricane Ridge: If you want to see the Olympic mountains, this is the best and most easily accessible area. It’s ADA friendly and jaw-dropping. You can hang out near the Visitor Center or hike the 3.5 mile Hurricane Hill trail.
Quinault Rain Forest Trail: Another great rain forest trail is the Quinault Rain Forest! This is a 0.5 mile interpretive trail with mossy old growth trees.
High Divide Trail: This is a long 19 mile hike in the Olympic National Park. But it’s one of the best ways to see this incredible part of Washington!
A Special Use Permit is required for wedding ceremonies in the park. It’s important to fill out the application and email the park ranger with any pertinent info for your day!
Hands down one of the best places to elope in Washington would be Mount Rainier! Most of our couples inquire and want to get married in the park. And I mean why wouldn’t they?! Mount Rainier is incredible year round. In the winter, you have snow-covered trails, which can be a great opportunity for snowshoeing or backcountry skiing. The wildflowers in the summer are amazing, and the fall colors are absolutely incredible! It’s basically impossible not to have a wonderful time at Mount Rainier.
In order to enter Mt Rainier NP, there is a $30 fee per vehicle. Or you can purchase a Mt. Rainier Annual Pass for $55.
Below is a list of some of the best hikes to do in Mt Rainier NP! Please make sure to practice Leave No Trace and take care of this amazing park. The alpine meadows are extremely fragile and need to be taken care of! Don’t step off trail, even in the dirt patches. Those dirt patches are actually scars from visitors stepping off trail, and prevents new growth from emerging!
Tolmie Peak: This hike is about 6.5 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of around 1,500 feet. The views are stunning, and definitely worth the trek.
Burroughs Mountain: We’ve always wanted to do this hike! You start at the Sunrise Visitor Center and climb 2,500 feet! It’s about 9 miles roundtrip, but you basically work your way to the bottom of Mount Rainier.
Sunrise Rim: If you don’t want to do all of the Burroughs Mountain trail, you can do Sunrise Rim because you start on the same trail. This hike is a 5 mile loop, climbing less than 1,000 feet. Definitely easier than other hikes at Sunrise, and probably more manageable with kids or for a shorter photography session!
Spray Park: Spray Park is not an easy hike, but it can be done in a day. It’s approximately 8 miles roundtrip, and you gain around 1,700 feet in elevation.
Skyline Trail: This hike is about 5.5 miles roundtrip, and you gain 1,700 feet in elevation. This trail gives you incredible views of Mount Rainier, plus you reach Panorama Point, which gives you panoramic views of Rainier and the Cascade Range.
You most likely will need a Wedding Permit in order to have a legal wedding ceremony within the park. Still photography and videography for your small wedding/elopement should be covered under that permit, but we always want to check with the park beforehand just to make sure!
The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is an incredible and underrated part of Washington State! Everything in this area is incredible. There are over 300 trails to explore and 1,500 miles. This is a great place to experience alpine lakes, larch trees in the fall, and sharp mountain peaks, like Mount Shuksan.
There are no entrance fees for the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie area, but you will need a Northwest Forest Pass (or an America the Beautiful Pass) in order to do most of the hikes in the National Forest.
Below is a list of some of the best hikes to do in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest! Please make sure to practice Leave No Trace and take care of this amazing area in Washington.
Bridal Veil Falls + Lake Serene: This hike is challenging! It’s 4 miles one way, and the last mile or two climbs extremely quickly. Bridal Veil Falls is halfway to the lake and it’s an extra mile! It’s well worth it, though, and it’s one of our favorite hikes!
Franklin Falls: If you’re looking for an easy, short hike to an epic waterfall, this is it. It’s a 2 mile roundtrip trail, but the last little section is a bit sketchy, so please be careful!
Hidden Lake Lookout: This is a classic Washington hike with killer mountain views! It’s about 8 miles roundtrip with over 3000 feet of elevation gain. So, it’s definitely NOT easy!
Gold Creek Pond: This short 1 mile loop is worth checking out! It has incredible mountain views without the pain of a steep hike. There’s a pond that freezes over in the winter and lots of little picnic areas!
Artist Point: This is probably our most popular elopement location in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and for good reason! The views from the parking lot and incredible! The hike itself is also amazing with a gain of about 1000 feet.
Most of the time you don’t need a permit to elope in the National Forest, but it’s important to reach out to the ranger district in order to verify this. Reach out explaining your day and ask if there are any Special Use Permits for your ceremony or photography!
This is an epic spot for beautiful views of the Cascades Mountain Range! In the North Cascades, there are 18 peaks, Mount Goode being the tallest at 9,220 feet. If you want to see epic peaks, wildflowers, and amazing fall colors, go here.
There is actually no fee in order to enter North Cascades National Park. Enjoy your adventure!
Below is a list of some of the best hikes to do in the North Cascades! Please make sure to practice Leave No Trace and take care of this amazing park.
Maple Pass Loop: This hike is approximately 8 miles long and you gain about 2,000 feet of elevation. This is definitely not an easy hike by any means, but it’s worth it for 360 degree views of the cascades!
Cascade Pass Trail: This trail is near Rockport, Washington, and it’s a 7 mile out and back hike with an elevation gain of around 1,700 feet. This hike is full of glaciers and peaks, so it’s 100% worth the effort!
Diablo Lake: If you’re wanting views of Diablo Lake, this is the hike to do! This 7.5 mile hike takes you up to an overlook with incredible views of the blue lake!
Desolation Peak: This incredible trail takes you through open meadows of wildflowers to a historic fire lookout known as Desolation Lookout. This 9.5 mile hike is NO JOKE! It’s worth the views, but it’s an over 4000 foot climb, so make sure you’re well prepared.
You most likely will need a Special Use Permit in order to get married in the park, and have both photo + video.
Okay, I know we’ve said how much we love each and every spot in Washington, but if we had to choose one place to explore more, it’d probably be the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. There’s not much to say except for: just google it.
There are no specific entry fees, but if you are parking a vehicle at any of the trailheads within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area, you are required to have a Northwest Forest Pass. A single-day Northwest Forest Pass costs $5, while an annual Northwest Forest Pass costs $30.
Below is a list of some of the best hikes to do in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Please make sure to practice Leave No Trace and take care of Washington.
Colchuck Lake: This hike is the first stretch of The Enchantments. It’s about 10 miles total, and the last little bit gains around 2,000 feet in elevation. The end is a beautiful, blue alpine lake!
The Enchantments: This 18 mile, one way hike is INCREDIBLE. The best way to do this trail is to get an overnight permit and divide the hike into 2 days! However, it’s a lottery system, and it’s extremely hard to get a permit! But if you are willing to thru hike, it’s 100% worth the blisters, back pain, and exhaustion.
Snow Lake: The first part of the hike is grueling, but again, the trek is worth the reward! This trail is about 7.5 miles roundtrip, with an elevation gain of about 1,800 feet.
It’s important to reach out to the permit office to inquire about permits for elopements and small weddings. We will help you navigate this!
We want to preface this by saying that your wedding ceremony doesn’t have to be like everyone else’s. In fact, it shouldn’t be like any other ceremony you’ve ever seen. Your elopement ceremony should be unique to you and your relationship! It can be as long or as short as you want. It can be at a small venue or at the top of a mountain. You can be barefoot or wearing hiking attire. You can choose to self-solemnize or hire an officiant. Include whatever details you want! Read your vows written on Hallmark cards, or you can read them off a crumbled piece of paper. It’s YOUR day. It can quite literally be whatever you want it to be. So, just keep that in mind!
A lot of our couples come to us asking if they need to have an “official” wedding ceremony (with a marriage license and an officiant). And the answer is no. Your ceremony can be whatever you need it to be. Often our couples are already married and want to recite their vows because they got married at the courthouse a little bit ago. Or they’ve been married for a few years and they want to renew their vows. Some of our couples even have their elopement before they make their marriage official with the state. A few of our couples have done this and choose to legally get married months after their elopement.
The point being that your elopement can consist of just your vows. If you want it to “flow” differently, you can still have a guest read something for you or you can say your vows and go right into a first dance or popping a celebratory bottle of bubbly!
You can also choose to have a family member or friend officiate your ceremony. We’ve had a lot of couples go this route! When Adam and I eloped, we asked Adam’s dad to officiate our ceremony. For us, it felt a bit more personal and special to include his dad in that way. But it’s totally your call!
If you want to ask a friend or family member, let them know that they can get ordained online for free. It’s super easy! One of the websites is called Universal Life Church. But keep in mind that if your friend/family member gets ordained through the Universal Life Church, that doesn’t mean that your ceremony needs to be religious if that’s something you don’t want.
Another option is to hire a local or traveling officiant! A lot of couples go this route for many different reasons. Some of our couples are having a private elopement where none of their loved ones know they’re getting married. Or their loved ones might know they’re eloping, but it’s a private event for just the couple. Some couples choose to hire an officiant because it can be easier! A lot of officiants help take care of the legalities of getting married. They oftentimes assist in getting the right marriage license and they help send it to the right office after you’ve signed.
Another HUGE thing about ceremonies is the fact that you can personalize them in any way you want! You can include traditions that are personal to your culture or religion. You can invent your own traditions or include something that’s meaningful to you and your partner.
A few examples of things that our couples have done before: handfasting, knot tying, communion, prayers, had a family member read a poem, gone barefoot for their vows, given gifts before vows, etc.
You can say vows anywhere along your elopement journey. It can be on the deck of an Airbnb or sitting in the sand with your feet in the ocean. It can be along a trail that you’re backpacking or at an overlook that you found along a hike. You don’t have to have a designated ceremony location before your day. You can spontaneously choose where you’re going to say your vows on the day of your elopement!
After you’ve chosen your date and your ceremony location, it’s important to make sure you get the legal things taken care of. We help all of our couples deteremine whether or not they need to apply for a Speical Use Permit. It’s important that we try to get these as quickly as possible, so that the office has time to get back to us. We’ll also want to secure your Marriage License, and anything else that might be important (depending on your location).
Most locations require the couple to purchase a wedding permit to make sure that it is a legal wedding. However, this depends on the location/venue. You’ll read below that oftentimes, a Special Use Permit counts as your wedding permit.
In most National Parks and State Parks in Washington, a Special Use Permit is required in order for you to have photos + video taken of your elopement. We usually help you find this information, contact the National/State Park, and help you fill out the application to make it as stress-free as possible! Sometimes, though, if you’re not having any guests or props, the park won’t require you to purchase a permit.
Mount Rainier Natinal Park: Special Use Permit Information
North Cascades National Park: Special Use Permit Information
Olympic National Park: Special Use Permit Information
You have to have your wedding solemnized in Washington, meaning that you’ll need someone who is ordained to officiate your legal marriage. You are also required to have 2 people over the age of 18 sign as witnesses (hey, that can be us).
You can get a Washington State Marriage License at any County Auditor’s office regardless of whether or not you are a resident of Washington. The are 39 different Washington Counties, and each county will vary on pricing, but it is usually around $60. Both partners must be present and you must show valid photo IDs. You most likely don’t need an appointment (although that might be different due to Covid-19).
You do not have to be a resident of Washington to get a Marriage License here, but you must be having your ceremony within the state. A Washington Marriage License is valid for 60 days. There is typically a three-day waiting period, meaning that you have to apply for a license at least 3 days before your elopement.
If you are unable to apply for an application in-person, the best way to do this is to go online, fill out an application, and have the license mailed to your home. Here is more information about obtaining a Marriage License from Pierce County (they often have Mount Rainier as the background for the license, so I recommend Pierce County over any other county).
For all of our elopements, we encourage our couples to include some sort of activity! This can be literally anything from having coffee in the morning together to backcountry skiing. In Washington, there are endless opportunities for fun things to include on your elopement day. The reason we emphasize this so much is just because we really want your day to feel personal to your relationship! Sometimes that means doing something familiar and sometimes that means trying something new.
Hiking, Overnight Backpacking
Boating, Jet Skiing, Kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Surfing, Skim Boarding
White Water Rafting
Exploring Tide Pools
Skiing, Backcountry or Crosscountry Skiing
Exploring Hot Springs
Depending on where you’re eloping, the best places to fly into would either be SeaTac airport or the Spokane airport. Spokane is in eastern Washington, so this is the best spot to fly into if you want to stay on the eastern side of the state. For the coast, North Cascades, Mount Rainier, or the Olympics, Seattle would be the best place to fly into!
There are a lot of different companies and sites that you can rent a car from, which is helpful! Just for reference, here are a few examples: Kayak, Sixt, CarRentals, and Avis. While Seattle has a pretty good bus system, and Ubers are well utilized throughout the state, we highly recommend renting a car for your elopement. It’s much easier to get around and it gives you a bit more freedom to explore!
You have a lot of options when it comes to accomodations! You can rent a hotel, stay at a lodge, camp, book an Airbnb/VRBO, rent an RV, etc. There are tons of fun ideas! Here is a list of some of the best hotels and lodges to stay at in Washington.
Camping is one of our favorite things to do, and some of the best campgrounds are: Hoh Rain Forest Campground, Ohanapecosh Campground, Colonial Creek Campground, Moran State Park, and White River Campground, just to name a few.
After you’ve picked your location and booked accomodations, you’ll want to go ahead and secure your desired vendors. Some vendors book far in advance, so that’s why we try to figure out the logisitics as soon as we can. Your elopement can include as many or as little vendors as you’d like. Some of our couples don’t enjoy planning or doing DIYs, so they hire everything out. Other couples like to DIY or want to save extra money, so they don’t hire many vendors. Both options are great!
Below we’ve included some Washington + Oregon vendors that we’ve worked with before or that we trust (even if we have yet to work with them). We recommend checking out each vendor’s work and some reviews in order to figure out if you want to work with them. Then, reach out to them via email or fill out their inquiry form. Most vendors prefer that instead of sending them a direct message on social media.
And of course, if you’re interested in eloping with us, contact us here!
Hannah and Adam are a Montana and PNW-based Elopement Photographer + Videographer Team traveling across the US and abroad to capture couples' special days. They firmly believe love is love, Black lives matter, and in respecting our planet.
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