California offers so much for eloping couples who want an adventurous elopement. There’s an endless variety in landscapes and scenery, boasting nine stunning national parks and hundreds of beautiful state parks. Whether you’re from the golden coast or you’re planning a destination adventure wedding, we created this California elopement guide as a resource for the best places to elope in California and how to get married in California.
Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days after issuance. You must apply in person at the county clerk’s office. You will receive your license when you apply and there is no waiting period. You’re required to have an officiant and one witness. Application fees vary by county.
For more information, visit the county clerk website where you plan on eloping.
The climate throughout California varies greatly between Northern and Southern California as well as the coast versus inland. You also have to consider elevation and how that can impact the temperature. Even winter evenings in the desert can be extremely cold, so plan your day and what you bring with you accordingly. Road closures due to snowfall are common in national and state parks. You can check for updates on the parks’ websites.
Weather charts sourced from Google
Big Sur has some of California’s most iconic coastal highway views and beautiful state parks. The Big Sur area even has groves of redwood trees! A Big Sur elopement offers so much in a variety of views and experiences all along the famous Pacific Coast highway.
This Big Sur Elopement Special Use Permit PDF explains specific permit information regarding how to obtain an elopement permit at Andrew Molera State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and/or Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
There really is no place like Yosemite. Jawdropping granite peaks, evergreens, waterfalls, and valleys make Yosemite National Park an epic place to elope. The summer months have the highest traffic in the park, even at sunrise! We recommend aiming to elope in Yosemite in the late spring or fall. However, be mindful of road closures due to snowfall.
Calling all desert lovers out there, this is the place for you. Joshua Tree National Park and the local towns may be in a fairly remote area but it truly is teeming with life. Jumbo rocks, Joshua trees, cacti, local rock shops, quirky thrift stores, starry nights, and amazing Airbnb’s make the Joshua Tree area a unique place to elope.
Where to Stay in Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree and the nearby towns Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms offer an array of Airbnbs with incredible design and style. We highly recommend staying in one for your elopement trip.
Imagine enchanting Redwood groves, golden sunlight peeking between the trees, and a mystical fog that dances through the forest. Sounds pretty magical, right? The oldest Redwood groves are primarily found throughout Northern Calfornia where you’ll find the Redwoods National and State Parks. There are also several national forest and state reserves that can offer a quieter elopement experience.
Death Valley has an abundance of beautiful landscapes and geographical features that make it a stunning place to elope. From sand dunes, salt flats, and colorful canyons, it is a unique landscape for an adventure elopement.
We are Sydney and Ryan Kroll, a husband and wife adventure elopement photographer and videographer team. We are currently based in Joshua Tree, California, but travel for work and leisure throughout the US and beyond. Our work is best described as candid, true to color, storytelling that blends images of love and natural beauty in the great outdoors.