If you’re considering eloping in Washington State, then I think it’s fair to say you’ve made a fantastic choice! It’s pretty difficult to go wrong when choosing a location to elope in Washington, because it’s all so gorgeous! No matter if you want the ocean, a forest, a mountain or waterfall as your back drop as you say your vows you can get it all in Washington State. When eloping in the outdoors there are things to consider and a mindset you should go in with as even during the summer weather can be a bit unpredictable, but that’s half the fun right?! So, here are my tips and advice on eloping in Washington State!
How to Elope in Washington State
1. The Best Time of Year for Eloping in Washington State
As you start to plan your Washington State elopement one of the first things you’ll be doing is picking a date. Now, make sure choose your date that aligns with the type of weather you’re hoping to have on your elopement day. Of course, when eloping in the outdoors the weather can be unpredictable especially in the mountains so it’s important to be prepared for anything and to have a mindset to embrace the weather no matter what it looks like!
However, there really isn’t a bad season to elope in Washington State! They all come with something unique. So, as you decide what time of year you want to have your Washington Elopement, consider what you’re for!
Eloping in Washington State in the Summer
If you’re hoping for a sunny day then eloping in Washington State in the summer would be the best choice for you! You’ll have a better chance of having the sun shining versus the well-known overcast during the winter months in the Pacific Northwest.
There are also many incredible mountain roads at high elevation that will be open during the summer which are typically closed during the winter. This means you’ll have some more elopement locations to choose from! During the summer months, wildflowers at Mount Rainier National Park are blooming like crazy which creates an incredible opportunity for you!
Eloping in Washington State in the Fall
If you’re all about the fall colors then choosing to elope in Washington state during the fall will be perfect for you. If you want those fall colors then choosing a date from the middle of September to the middle of October would be best. You’ll have the best chance of having all of those stunning colors in your pictures!
Washington State Elopement in the Winter
Are you dreaming of having a winter wonderland elopement? Then choosing to have a winter elopement will be the best time for you to elope in Washington State! During winter certain roads will be closed so that’s very important to keep in mind when planning your Washington State elopement. Winter elopements are perfect to stay in a cabin with a fireplace and have that hot cup of tea or coffee afterward to celebrate! You should also be prepared for some light or heavy rain and for the cold. It’s all about those layers!
Washington State Elopement in the Spring
The springtime is known to be the rainy season so unless you want pictures like The Notebook then choose another time of year to elope in Washington State. However, if you don’t mind a bit of rain then go for it! The temperatures won’t be nearly as bad as winter as that is a perk, too! If you love the fog and want a more moody vibe for your day then either Spring or Fall will be your best choice!
When it comes down to it, it really depends on what you two want and the type of couple you are! All types of weather can be awesome (unless it becomes dangerous) to elope in. So, take a minute and really think about the vibe that you want for your day and based on choosing your date around that! In the end, you just have to be able to go with the flow and embrace whatever comes your way and with an attitude like that, it’s going to be an epic day no matter what!
2. Best Places to Elope in Washington State | Where to elope Washington
Eloping in Washington State comes with a vast choice of amazing locations! Whether you want the rugged coastline, stunning mountain peaks, a forest, or a beautiful alpine lake–Washington State has got it!
Don’t worry if you can’t decide exactly where yet. Part of what I do is personal location scouting for my couples! You tell me what you’re looking for an I’ll narrow it down for you. I want you to be able to have a relaxing, fun, and stress-free planning experience! Be sure to head on over to my Airbnb Elopement page to get an idea of a few epic places to stay as well.
Here’s another quick tip! While certain hikes and spots are well-known and popular that can mean that crowds come along with that. Of course, there are always ways to avoid crowds when eloping outdoors, but some of the best spots are the ones that are off the beaten path and aren’t well-known! That’s what I’m here for! I’ll be able to help you find the perfect spots that fit what you’re looking for and avoid the crowds!
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is one of the most stunning locations ever! This park also has the most variety of landscape options to choose from. If you want cliffs, the ocean, a mountain peak, alpine lakes, rain forests, etc. You name it, they got it! If you really wanted to you could hit up the coast, the mountains and the rain forest all in one day. A few of the best places to elope in Olympic National Park would include Ruby Beach, La Push Beach, Lake Crescent, Cape Flattery, Lake Cushman, and Hurricane Ridge. The list could on and on, but you get the idea!
It’s about a 3-4 hour drive from Seattle and Port Angeles would be the best place to stay to explore Olympic National Park and the rest of the Peninsula!
Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
Snoqualmie Pass and Mt. Baker are the closest to Seattle and provide some seriously gorgeous PNW views. Snoqualmie is a pretty popular ski area, but it’s also equally as gorgeous during the summer! However, because of the easy access to stunning alpine lakes, it tends to be on the busier side especially during summer. The best time to elope in Washington State here would be during a weekday. You have incredible hikes and locations like Franklin Falls, Snoqualmie Falls, Rattlesnake Ledge, Stevens Pass, and Gold Creek Pond.
This area is only about 30-90 minutes depending on where you go! There are some great areas to stay depending on where you elope, but Leavenworth has easy access to some of the most beautiful alpine lakes in the state.
Mount Rainer National Park
Mount Rainer is a single jaw-dropping mountain that can be seen from many cities including Seattle. This is a great location for a dreamy winter elopement, but during the summer you’ll be greeted with loads of wildflowers. The hiking trails here are endless giving you many options for locations and places to have a more private spot to say your vows. The road to Longmire and Paradise on the west side of the mountain will take you right up to the snow on behemoth mountain, and this road typically remains open throughout the winter. Then, the east side of the mountain typically remains closed during the winter, but in the summertime when it’s open has some of the most gorgeous views!
Mount Rainer is a 2-hour drive from Seattle. If you want a more central location for your elopement check out Enumclaw, WA. However, be sure do look on Airbnb and VBRO for some incredibly cute cabins and places to stay for a cozy mountain vibe!
North Cascades National Park
If you want a true PNW adventure then the North Cascades is the perfect choice for you! It’s known for its epic jagged mountain views. I think it’s the prettiest during the summer months when you’ll get the sun shining (hopefully)! Artist Point is one of the most popular viewpoints in the area and for a good reason. You’ll get stunning views of Mt. Baker as well as Mt. Shuksan! You also have Diablo Lake, Nooksack Falls, and Withdrop. However, the hiking trails are never-ending here for a more personal and unique experience!
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Gifford Pinchot is a beautiful National Forest filled with waterfalls, mountain views, meadows, and well, forests. You can find some super cute a-frame cabins to stay in and explore the gorgeous area! You have Mt. Saint Helens, Packwood Lake, Mt. Adams and so many more options to choose from.
It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Seattle. However, it’s only 1 hour and 15 minutes from Portland, Oregon!
Hoh Rainforest is actually located in Olympic National Park, but I thought it deserved it’s own category, because of how unique it is. It’s a fairly popular spot since it’s actually a rain forest. The moss that grows on these trees is so cool and bright green color. It’s filled with loads of ferns and huge trees! It’s pretty awesome.
It’s about a 4-hour drive from Seattle, so if you want something a bit more accessible checkout Point Defiance Park in Tacoma.
How to Elope in Washington State
3. Make sure you get all the permits you need for your Washington state elopement
If you opt to elope in one of Washington State’s stunning national parks or state parks, it’s safe to assume that you’ll need to acquire a wedding permit to get married there. Even if it’s just the two of you along with your photographer, it’s still necessary. It’s better to be safe than to get kicked out of the national park you wanted to elope in! If you’re not sure if a wedding permit is necessary for your location contact a park ranger and they’ll be able to guide you in the right direction!
Make sure that you apply for your permit with plenty of time to spare, because it can take up to a few weeks or even longer depending on the location you apply for. The offices are quite busy so if you want a specific date and aren’t flexible apply for your permit as soon as you’ve chosen your location so that you’ll have a head start and the best chance of getting approved!
4. How to legally get married in Washington state
Every state has different marriage laws so be sure to look into Washington’s marriage laws. If you don’t live in Washington State and want to make things a bit simpler for you, you can always get legally married in your state and have your ceremony be symbolical. However, if you are from out of state and want your elopement day to be the day you legally go married and don’t have enough time to arrive and wait, the absolute best thing to do would be to apply online and have it mailed to you making the whole process so much easier!
After you’ve been issued your marriage license in Washington State you have to wait 3 day to use it, and then there’s a 60 day expiration on it. So, if you already live in Washington State I would suggest to pick it up about 2-3 weeks before your elopement to give yourself enough time.
In order to be legally married in Washington you will need an officiant and 2 witness. If you opt to have a “just us” elopement then I’m happy to sign as a witness and am able to recommend some amazing officiants to you!
5. Eloping in Washington: Plan Your Epic Activities and Adventures
This is the fun part! This is where you start to plan your day and figure out everything you want to include on your elopement day. I wrote another helpful article on creating the elopement timeline of your dreams so be sure to check it out! When it comes to deciding on activities remember that there are no rules to eloping–however you want to celebrate, you can do it! The sky is your limit.
Hiking on Your elopement day
Eloping in Washington State gives you a wide variety of hikes all throughout the state! You can go on an epic hike to a stunning mountain peak or alpine lake and say your vows there! If you love hiking but want to include other things on your day as well then you can go for a short little hike that won’t take up all your time! It doesn’t need to be a crazy long hike. It can be short and sweet as well.
Check out my guide on How to Pack for a Hiking Elopement!
Jeeping on Your elopement day
If you love adventure and want to get multiple locations in on your elopement day then going jeeping on a mountain pass or through a national park is such a fun way to spend your day! You’ll be able to hop out of the jeep whenever you want to explore and destinations that you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise!
Take a boat ride or canoe along the river
If you love the water then a sunset or evening boat ride would be an incredible way to celebrate your nuptials! If you want more adventure then why not hop in a canoe and paddle along a river or a lake with a beer in hand?! Sounds pretty epic to me!
Going on a helicopter tour on your elopement day is an epic way to reach the tippy top of some incredible mountains in a short time frame. It’s a great way to reach multiple locations and get a birds-eye view that you’ve never seen before!
I could go on forever with ideas and things to include on your day, but don’t ever thing think that you’re limited to this! If you can think it up you can do it! This is your wedding day and you deserve to have the adventure of a lifetime. This is the day that you’ll look back on and celebrate for the rest of your life so why not go all out?!
6. Eloping in Washington State at sunrise or sunset
Choosing to elope during sunset or sunrise will heavily depend on the location and activities that you decide on. I go over this with my couples after they’ve decided on a location and we start to put together their timeline, but here are a few points to consider!
Reasons to Elope at Sunrise in Washington State
If you decide to go on a popular hike then a sunrise elopement will be a great choice. National Parks in Washington tend to be a bit busier during the summer months so if you elope during the summer then choosing sunrise will be a great way to avoid all the crowds which will allow you to have a more private ceremony. Another reason to elope at sunrise is if you choose to have an all-day elopement! Yes, it’s a thing and nobody has ever regretted doing it.
Reasons to Elope at Sunset in Washington State
At sunset, you’ll get the same gorgeous light as sunrise, but you won’t have to wake up super early. So, if you’re naturally not a morning person then sunset will probably be the better choice for you! If you opt to have a few friends and family celebrate with you then a sunset ceremony would be good. You can always have a sunrise adventure session the morning of your elopement day if you want to be able to have more intimate experience and pictures with just the two of you with the epic light as well!
Well, I hope this guide has given you some incredible insight into Eloping in Washington State! I’m sure you’re so stoked and ready to get started planning your elopement. If you’re searching for an elopement photographer I would be so stoked to hear from you! You can contact me >HERE< and I can’t wait to connect!!
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