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Eloping in Washington State – The Best Destinations & 2022 Washington State Elopement Guide

Thinking of eloping in Washington state? Maybe it’s the towering waterfalls, high alpine peaks, lush rainforests, or the moody coastline. There’s just something about a Washington state elopement that screams drama, romance, and adventure.  

View of mountains and lake in Washington state

From mountains to bustling cities to national parks, Washington State has everything you could need for a dream elopement. And variety is the name of the game here— beaches, rainforests, and mountains are all on the table for a Washington state elopement.  

No matter what kind of backdrop you want for your adventure elopement, you can find it here. (And why choose just one place? In Olympic National Park, you can elope on a mountaintop and take photos on the beach an hour later!)

Whatever your reason for wanting to elope in Washington, this is your guide! I’ve got all the Washington elopement resources covered, including all the best places to elope in Washington.

(If you need a complete guide to planning your elopement, head right here!) 

Here’s what this Washington elopement guide will cover: 

  • The legal stuff - How to get a marriage license for Washington state 
  • The best places for an adventure elopement
  • Wedding permits - How to get permits for an elopement ceremony in popular spots like Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and North Cascades National Park. 
  • What to look for in a Washington elopement photographer & Washington elopement package

Washington State Elopement Guide

To elope in Washington state, you’ll need a marriage license, an officiant to perform the ceremony, and two witnesses to sign the license. 

Couple on a bridge in wedding clothes on their elopement day

Here’s the breakdown of what you’ll need to legally elope in Washington state: 

  1. Marriage License

Marriage licenses are issued by the county in Washington state, but they’re valid for the entire state. 

Washington state DOES have a waiting period for marriage licenses!! 

In Washington state, you have to wait 3 days after you’ve been issued your marriage license before you can actually have the ceremony. Your marriage license is good for 60 days. 

Make sure you factor the 3 day waiting period into your planning process if you’re coming from out of town!

Your license is issued by the county where you’re getting married (although your license is good for anywhere in the state). You can find the links for your county’s marriage license information here. Marriage license fees vary by county, from $33 to $72. 

In general, you can apply for a marriage license in person, online, or by mail. 

However you apply, you and your fiance will need to pick the license up in person. Make sure to bring a photo ID.

After your elopement ceremony, you’ll need to return your marriage license to the county office within 30 days. (This is usually your officiant’s job, but if a friend or family member is getting ordained to perform your ceremony, make sure you get your license back in on time)

  1. Two Witness

You’ll need two witnesses to sign your marriage license. Your elopement photographer can serve as a witness! 

If you’re trying to have an intimate ceremony, don’t worry too much about the witness requirement. It’s usually very easy to find one or two people at a trailhead or parking lot to serve as witnesses. I’ve never had trouble helping couples find a witness and usually, people are excited to help!

  1. An officiant

People ordained online are allowed to perform weddings in Washington state!  You can also ask your elopement photographer for help finding a local officiant. 

However you’re planning to elope in Washington, make sure you’re planning for the 3 day waiting period once you have your license (Hey, this is a great chance to check out some of Washington’s national parks!) 

  1. Wedding/Location Permits to Elope in Washington

In addition to a marriage license, you’ll also most likely need location permits to elope in Washington state. We’ll cover permits for all the best places to elope in Washington below. (And remember, I can help with all the permit and paperwork requirements!)

Washington State Elopement Destinations

There are so many amazing places to elope in Washington state. With mountains, rainforest, and hundreds of miles of coastline, you can find an elopement location unlike any other here.

 

Here are some of the best places to elope in Washington State!

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park, located just a quick ferry ride from Seattle, makes one of the best wedding venues in all of Washington State. You can have ANY kind of adventure elopement here. 

There is so much variety in this park, from the glacier-topped peaks of Hurricane Ridge to the unique rock formations of Ruby Beach and the dense, enchanting Hoh Rainforest. 

Moss and trees in the Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park

If you’re looking to elope in Washington and don’t want to choose between this state’s famous landscapes, Olympic National Park is the place. Most of the park’s major sites are located within a few hours’ drive of each other, so you don’t have to choose just one elopement location! 

When to Elope in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is surprisingly accessible. Unlike many national parks,  Olympic National Park stays open year-round, so you can elope here in the winter months.  

Only Hurricane Ridge has special restrictions in the winter— the rest of the park is totally open!

Having your Washington state elopement here in the winter will allow you to avoid the huge crowds that come in the warmer months. 

Fall and spring have pleasant but sometimes variable weather. There are also fewer crowds during these shoulder seasons. 

Summer is high season in the park, with amazing weather but LOTS of people. Make sure your Washington elopement photographer can help you find a crowd-free location!

Where to Elope in Olympic National Park

There are SO MANY places in this park for a Washington state elopement ceremony, but here are some awesome choices: 

Hurricane Ridge

Looking for a mountain elopement? This is the place. Hurricane Ridge, at over 5,000 ft of elevation, offers gorgeous views of Mount Olympus and the surrounding mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. 

Mountain views and wildflowers at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park

Hurricane Ridge would make an amazing spot if you’re looking to elope in Washington state during the winter. The road is open during the winter, but only Friday through Sunday (weather permitting), and all vehicles are required to carry snow chains to drive up the road.    

While Hurricane Ridge is amazing, it’s definitely popular. I would highly recommend eloping here on a weekday. Sunset and sunrise are the best times if you want a more private ceremony. 

Hurricane Ridge is less than 20 miles from Port Angeles, so it’s convenient if you’re looking to have a small wedding with a few guests or an intimate elopement on your own before a larger traditional wedding celebration. 

La Push - Rialto Beach

This gorgeous beach is famous for its black sand and unique rock formations. It’s one of the most famous beaches in Washington state. If you’re looking for a moody, dramatic place to elope in Washington, La Push Beach would be perfect. 

Beautiful beach at sunset on the Washington coast

You can walk along the beach for miles here to find a quiet place for a ceremony, and there are loads of great places for photos, including a sea arch and massive trees in some areas. (La Push is the name of the town and community here, Rialto Beach is the beach with a parking lot)

Rialto Beach is a short 20-minute drive from the small town of Forks, so you can easily make it part of a full-day adventure elopement. 

Ruby Beach  

Located south of La Push and Rialto Beach along the coast, Ruby Beach is another one of Olympic National Park’s amazing beaches. It’s one of the most popular places to elope in Washington state. 

Sea stacks on Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington state.

Like Rialto, Ruby Beach also has sea stacks (tall rocks in the ocean), gorgeous forests nearby, and wide, sandy stretches. 

This gorgeous spot is called Ruby Beach because of its famous pink sunrises and sunsets, so it would be a great choice for a sunrise elopement or sunset pictures!  

Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls is a beautiful, 90-foot-tall waterfall located near Lake Crescent at the northern end of Olympic National Park. 

Beautiful Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park- a popular spot for a Washington state elopement
Marymere Falls - Olympic National Park in Washington

The falls make an incredible backdrop for an elopement ceremony. It’s a short, 0.9-mile hike to the falls (1.8 miles round trip), and the forest along the way is beautiful. 

If you want to spend time on hiking trails on your elopement day, but still have time for other activities, Marymere Falls is a great choice. You can also stop at Lake Crescent and take photos along the lake! 

How to Elope in Olympic National Park 

If you want to elope in Olympic National Park, you’ll need a Special Use permit. The National Park Service issues them here. You’ll download and fill out the Special Use permit application, and they also recommend that you email the park office about your plans. 

Mount Rainier National Park

If you’re looking for something truly epic for your Washington State elopement, you couldn’t do much better than Mount Rainier National Park. It’s one of the best places to elope in the mountains in Washington. 

Mount Rainier is a mountain on a scale like few others— it’s 14,000 ft tall and it's an actual VOLCANO. Mount Rainier is also the most glaciated peak in the lower 48 US States with 25 glaciers around its flanks. 

View of Mount Rainier and an alpine lake. A beautiful place for a Washington state elopement

You can find old-growth forests, waterfalls, incredible hiking trails, and, in the summertime, meadows full of wildflowers. Rainier National Park is a true high alpine destination for any couple who wants to elope in the mountains. 

One of the coolest places for an elopement ceremony are the park’s fire towers. These historic towers offer 360 views of the park, which makes them amazing for sunrise or sunset. 

Where to Stay in Rainier National Park

There are quite a few cool Airbnbs around Mount Rainier National Park (think A-frames and woodsy cabins), and the park also has campgrounds and rustic cabins available for rent right inside the park. 

The cabins are a great place to get ready for your elopement adventure, or even host a small wedding ceremony with friends and family. 

When to Elope in Mount Rainier National Park

You can elope in Rainier National Park at any time throughout the year, although the summer is the most popular time to visit. In the winter, Mount Rainier is a winter wonderland of 200-foot pine trees and snow-covered forests. You can also ski at nearby Crystal Mountain during this season. 

Fall season in the park is much less busy, but the weather is less reliable than summer (think huge temperature changes anywhere from sunny and 60 to snowing) Springtime is beautiful in Rainier National Park, but be aware some of the park roads will remain closed until May or June.

Dramatic clouds, pine trees and a waterfall in Mt. Rainier National Park
Myrtle Falls at Mt Rainier National Park in Washington

Eloping in Rainier National Park - What to Know

Like most national parks and national forests, it can get VERY crowded in the high season. I’d recommend planning your elopement for a weekday, and potentially sunrise or sunset if you want an intimate elopement. 

The park is open and accessible year-round, but you’re required to have tire chains to drive in the park during the winter. 

You do need a permit to elope in Mount Rainier National Park, and for lots of other things in the park too, like staying overnight or hiking above 10,000 ft. You can find that information here

The wedding permit for Mount Rainier National Park is a Special Use permit, which you can find information about here. You’ll have to contact the park office to get a Special Use permit. 

North Cascades National Park

Looking for an adventurous elopement location? Want to get married surrounded by mountain peaks in all directions? Want to elope in Washington in a more secluded setting? North Cascades National Park is your destination. 

A gorgeous spot for an adventure elopement in North Cascades National Park, Washington

There are a lot of reasons why North Cascades National Park is a great place to elope in Washington State. For one, it’s one of the less-visited national parks, so you’ll have more privacy and more choices for a 

It’s also incredibly beautiful, which jagged peaks, alpine lakes, and over 300 glaciers! The North Cascades are sometimes called “America’s Alps” and it’s easy to see why. 

When to Elope in North Cascades National Park

This is high mountain territory— snow won’t melt and summer won’t fully set in until July in North Cascades National Park. If you elope here in August or early September, you’ll be treated to fields of wildflowers. 

The colors don’t stop in the fall either, with the North Cascades' famous yellow-gold larches exploding in color. The park does remain open through the winter, but intermittent road closures and variable weather make it a tougher time to visit. If you’re willing to hike and drive in the snow, it’s beautiful in the winter. 

Ross Lake in North Cascades National Park makes a beautiful spot to elope in Washington

What to Know - Eloping in North Cascades National Park

You’ll need a permit to have your wedding in North Cascades National Park, which you can get here

However, many of the most popular spots in this area are actually outside the park, in Mt. Baker Wilderness or  Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. If you choose to elope in one of these locations outside the park, your permit process is easier and cheaper, AND you can have your dog with you at your ceremony location!

Most national parks don’t allow dogs on the trails, so if you want your four-legged family member to be part of your Washington state elopement, I would recommend looking outside of Cascades National Park to Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. 

This is a sprawling national forest that runs from Mt. Baker near the Canadian border all the way to Mt. Rainier National Park. There are SO MANY places to elope here, but here are some of the best:

Artist Point - This is the end of the Mt. Baker highway, which brings you 5,000 ft into the mountains. Artist Point itself is gorgeous, and there are lots of hiking trails branching off from here. 

Skykomish River - This is a short but very scenic river that drains from the Cascades. Think pine trees, deep forests, and mountains in the background. 

Gold Creek Pond - This gorgeous alpine lake with views of the Cascades is actually in Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest. It’s a great spot to elope in Washington in the summer. 

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls is one of the most visited waterfalls in America. At nearly 300 ft tall, this waterfall would make an amazing place to elope in Washington. 

Snoqualmie Falls near Seattle. One of the best places to elope in Washington state.

In addition to the waterfall itself, there’s also a beautiful hotel perched on the edge of the falls! The Salish Lodge (which fans of the show Twin Peaks will recognize as the Great Northern) would make an amazing place to get ready for your Washington elopement adventure, or even for small intimate weddings. 

The hotel, which is owned by the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, features a spa and beautiful grounds overlooking the falls. 

The falls are only a short half-hour drive from Seattle, so they’re a great place if you want to have an adventurous elopement in nature, but still have a good time in the city on your elopement day (think dinner at your favorite restaurant or a small reception at a brewery with friends)

Point Defiance

Another popular spot for a Washington elopement is Point Defiance. Point Defiance is a gorgeous 700+ acre urban park located on the waterfront in Tacoma. The park sits on a peninsula jutting out into the Puget Sound, with views of the water, Mt Rainier, and the Cascade Range. 

There’s a little bit of everything at Point Defiance: old-growth forests, landscaped gardens, a zoo and aquarium, and even 200-ft-tall ocean bluffs. There are plenty of hiking trails as well. 

If you want to elope in Washington state in nature, but not be too far from the city, Point Defiance is a great choice. 

When Should You Elope in Washington State?

You can elope in Washington state year-round! But there are lots of things to think about when it comes to what time of year you’d like to have your Washington state elopement. 

Fall Elopements in Washington State

Beautiful Mt. Baker- a great place for a fall elopement in Washington.
Picture Lake at the Mt. Baker Ski Area,Washington State, USA

Fall is a great time to elope in Washington state, with gorgeous colors, mild weather, and fewer crowds. The major national parks, forests, and mountain roads are still open in the fall, but they’re much less crowded. 

A fall elopement in Washington state can mean getting a classic trail to yourself or eloping in a grove of the state’s famous golden larch trees. 

Be aware that the weather changes quickly in the Pacific Northwest, especially in the fall. Be prepared for big temperature swings throughout the day. 

In addition, snow will start falling relatively early in some high elevation areas (October-November), so make sure it’s still fall at your location on your elopement date. 

Winter Elopements in Washington State

Winter mountain scene in Washington state

Winter is a beautiful time in Washington state— it’s a true winter wonderland here. There is so much to see and do in Washington in the winter months, from skiing and snowboarding to hiking, snowshoeing, visiting hot springs, and soaking in the moody, misty coastal views. However, winters in Washington state are unpredictable. 

While most of the major roads are technically open in the winter, they will shut down if there’s heavy snow, closing off access to the most visited forests and attractions. It can be difficult to plan at this time of year. 

If you’re planning on eloping in the mountains in the winter, ask your Washington state elopement photographer to have some backup locations ready in case bad weather strikes. 

You can also have your Washington state elopement on the coast during these months. Washington’s coastline is absolutely beautiful and much more temperate than the inland regions. As a bonus, there are WAY fewer people this time of year. 

Spring Elopements in Washington State

Melting snow on a trail in Washington state in the spring

What you might call “spring” is definitely still winter in many parts of Washington state. Many of the high mountain areas will hold snow until May, June, or even July. If you’re coming to elope in the mountains, be sure the roads you’re planning to travel are already open for the season. 

Spring is a great time to elope in Washington if you’re here for the rainforests or waterfalls. At lower elevations, the weather is generally mild (but as always in the Pacific Northwest it can change on a dime) and you’ll have much more peace and privacy than you would during the peak summer months. 

If you want to elope in Washington at a popular location, like Marymere Falls, Madison Falls, or the Hoh Rainforest, spring is a great time to beat the crowds (and you’ll get the same scenery as you would in the summer) 

Summer Elopements in Washington State

Summer view of Picture Lake at Mt. Baker
Picture Lake at the Mt. Baker Ski Area,Washington State, USA

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is something else— gorgeous fields of wildflowers, crystal blue alpine lakes, and the most reliable and pleasant weather of the year. 

If you want all the options for your Washington state elopement, this is the best time of year. Roads and parks are open, the sun is out, and the high alpine hikes are accessible. 

The downside if you elope in Washington state during the summer months are the crowds. This is the most popular time of year for a reason. People come from all over the world to visit Washington state, and unless you plan ahead, you’ll be sharing your elopement date with them. 

If you’re planning to elope in Washington in the summer, I highly recommend choosing an off-the-beaten-path location (as your elopement photographer, I can help you find that spot!) or at the very least getting married on a weekday. 

It’s important that you talk to your Washington state elopement photographer about finding a time and location that’s right for you. Elopement photographers have insider knowledge, and they’ll know the best places to elope for you

I’ve shared the most famous locations for a Washington elopement above, but I keep my best, under-the-radar locations for my couples! 

Washington Elopement Packages

If all this elopement inspiration has you ready to pull the trigger and elope in Washington state, head on over to my elopement packages page

Eloping couple on a black sand beach

You’ll find everything I offer to couples, including my pricing for elopement packages. 

In general, a Washington elopement package should cover:

  • The elopement photographer for a specified number of hours (I offer full-day coverage, and I strongly recommend full day coverage to any couple planning a Washington elopement)
  • Assistance with finding a location - Good elopement photographers know where and when to shoot an intimate setting, great lighting, etc. A Washington elopement means the weather can change plans in an instant too— make sure your photographer can help you find backup locations!
  • Permitting help - An adventure elopement should NOT get bogged down by paperwork. Your elopement photographer should be able to help you secure the right permits for your location. 
  • Guidance on paperwork - You don’t want to worry about whether you applied for the right marriage license on your elopement day! As you elopement photographer, I can guide you through the process and help you make sure everything is ready for the big day. Especially if you’re coming from out of town for your Washington elopement, it’s helpful to have some guidance with this stuff. 

No matter what your reason for wanting to elope in Washington state, you can be sure it’s an awesome choice. 

Washington is an adventure elopement gold mine, and I love helping couples find their perfect place in this amazing state. 

Hey! I'm Hillary Joy!

CONTACT ME!!

If you’re interested in seeing more of my work, you can check out my portfolio, and if you’re ready to jump in and elope in Washington state, contact me!! I would love to help make your Washington elopement dreams come true.

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Comments Expand -
  1. Washington State has so much natural beauty – perfect for an elopement. I love Olympic National Park (your photos of it are beautiful), but after seeing Mrytle Falls at Mt Rainer National Park I’m ready to plan a new trip!

  2. I’m torn between Mt.Baker in Fall and huricane ridge. Amazing guide with some useful info, thanks for sharing!

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