Ahh, the Pacific Northwest! Towering rocky mountains, lush rainforests, gorgeous beaches, alpine lakes and beautiful scenery in any season. The PNW is an epic place to elope! If you’re at square one, you already made the biggest and most rewarding decision– deciding to elope! Now you get to create an awesome day. This guide will tell you everything you need to know for how to elope in Washington. From location suggestions to activities or permits, all of the details are here to help you have an epic, memorable, stress free adventure elopement.
When you picture yourself holding the hands of your partner about to say your vows and you take a deep breath, what does the air smell like? A fresh PNW rain and lush, green, vegetation? Do you see the sun painting alpenglow on the towering peaks of the North Cascades? Can you feel the sea breeze and ocean mist on your skin as you watch for whales and sea life?
Washington is full of so many epic environments. The PNW is packed with stunning mountain landscapes, dense forests, and rocky coastlines– and you can even include more than one location in your adventure elopement. You can find private, secluded cabins to really tuck yourselves away for your adventure, fire lookouts to stay in the night before your elopement, or enjoy the city of Seattle before adventuring to the beach to say, “I do”. Washington is a great location to make your adventure elopement epic and beautiful.
Our favorite section of Washington is the northwestern part of the state, all within four hours of Seattle, give or take. This state does have a few gems in other areas, but the national parks and wilderness areas in this little pocket really provide environments that will make your jaw hit the floor.
There are options for couples that want to adventure deep into the mountains and turn their elopement into a multi-day celebration, or couples who don’t want to hike at all. Depending on your location, you can go whale watching, take a helicopter tour, stay in a yurt, or start your morning in a hot air balloon. Washington is full of beauty and fun! This list only scratches the surface, and you can find even more options in our 100+ page client guide! We can help you narrow down a location, lock in all of your permits, and add fun activites to your adventure elopement in any location.
Artist Point is a gorgeous location full of rugged peaks, mirror lakes, and views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker. This little pocket at the end of Mount Baker Highway is packed with trails and lakes that provide stunning landscapes for an adventure elopement. This area (and along Mount Baker Highway) also has really cute rental cabins to get ready at before your day! Artist point is a drive up location with hiking options, so it is very accessible. That means that other people will be enjoying the wilderness with you! We recommend eloping on a weekday. This area also gets LOTS of snow, so your best bets for accessibility are planning for late summer/early fall.
One of our favorite aspects of Washinton state is the amount of fire lookouts in the area. Washington currently holds 93 fire lookouts all over the state! Some of these structures are reservable via recreation.gov, and there are also some that are first come first serve. The reservable lookouts book up very quickly 6 months in advanced, so you have to be quick with your booking. You could stay in a lookout the night before or after your elopement to add such a unique element to your experience! Even if you’re just hiking for a great view and to soak up the historic aspect of the structure, lookouts are a great addition and should be considered when deciding how to plan a Washington elopement.
Hiking is such an easy way to elevate your elopement. You can increase the sensory experience of your day with more sights, smells, and sounds, and you give yourself more time to live in the moment and make more memories during your elopement. Your day is important and deserves an experience that shows that. One of our favorite parts of elopements is the ability to hike in gorgeous nature and spend so much time in some of the prettiest parts of the world.
Washington is full of gorgeous hiking locations inlcuding alpine lakes. The further you hike, the more likely you are to experience solitude in nature. We are always scouting locations and can help you find a hike with an epic backdrop for your day. A few really popular hikes in Washinton are Rainy Lake and Lake Ann. Diablo Lake is also very popular, but they are currently changing restrictions on the ability to elope there. When you choose to hike in for your elopement, it’s important to keep in mind local permitting regulations as well as backcountry safety. We can help with all of this!
If you are bringing loved ones or individuals who need special accommodations to your elopement, Washington Pass Overlook is for you. This area is ADA accessible (including access to a lake), and is located right off of the highway in the park. Due to the area’s accessibility, you will more than likely be sharing the space with other nature lovers. The views are gorgeous, so this is a great option if you want an epic mountain backdrop but you still want to bring lots of loved ones along.
Washington Pass Overlook is a great option if you are looking for something easy to get to because everything is driveable. You can also bring your dog!
The northwest corner of Washington is full of awesome national parks. They are even close enough that you can create a full day or multi-day adventure. Washington has 15 national parks in total, but our favorites are the North Cascades, Mount Rainier, and Olympic (all in the top corner of the state). A few of the locations we have listed are located within or right next to these parks.
You can pick one park and create a full day adventure by getting ready in one area, having your ceremony at the end of a trail in another area, doing your first dance next to a waterfall, having a luxury picnic overlooking peaks in a different location within the park, and thowing in a few activities like a hot air balloon ride or going SUPing. This allows you to see most of the park and take full advantage of spending an entire day eloping.
These parks are also relatively close, so you could start your elopement in one park one day, and finish your awesome adventure in a different park the next day. Nothing like hiking up rugged, massive peaks in the North Cascades for your ceremony one morning and finishing your elopement with a sunset dance on the beach in Olympic the next evening.
Stehekin is an incredible little town tucked within the North Cascades. The only way to get to this town is by hiking, taking a plane, or by ferry. This means that Stehekin will give you the seclusion of the mountains mixed with the ammenities of town. You can “escape away” and stay in cabins, lodges, or ranches which can include ammenities like home cooked meals with local ingredients. The town is surrounded by mountains, so hiking is abundant, but it also sits on a beautiful lake and has its very own orchard. You can rent bikes, kayaks, and even electric boats! This is a great little town to tuck away and really make the most of your love story.
We already know that Washington is full of landscape variety including rugged mountains, abundant wildflower fields, alpine lakes, gorgeous beaches, sea-life filled oceans, and so much more– but Washinton also holds another type of ethereal scenery. The Hoh Rainforest, located within Olympic National Park, is full of lush, green vegetation and massive trees covered in abundant moss. The old growth and wet environment create such a magical setting for eloping. Its’ proximity to the coast means that you can easily include other landscape settings in your day like sunset with your toes in the sand at Ruby Beach.
One reason people choose to elope is because they want something simple. The chaos, stress, and amount of work a wedding takes just doesn’t appeal to them. We get it. Sometimes permits, licenses, and the legal side of eloping can start to feel a little complicated. Take a deep breath. We are here to help you make sure you have all of your ducks in a row!
Not only do you need one, you should want one. Permits were created to help control traffic and abuse against the wilderness around us. They exist to protect the land we are using. As an advocate for the environment and choosing to leave the spaces better than we find them, I fully understand that securing a permit is doing my part to help take care of the land. We expect our eloping couples to want to take care of the land too. You want the mountains and nature to stay beautiful and cared for so you can continue to visit your elopement location years and years later!
Permits do not give you exclusive use to a space. They exist to regulate the space, but typically not to reserve it for only you. However, we have never had other hikers or visitors show disrespect towards our couples when they are getting married. Typically, the cost of permits goes directly to the preservation, protection, and growth of public lands. It might be an extra step, but you can feel good about your purchase.
Not all locations require permits, but most national parks or public areas do. We can make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row with permits. Some are very easy to get, and some require you to plan ahead. The cost of most permits is dependent on location, typically $50-$300.
If you want to do your own research, some good words to google are “special use permit” “commercial use permit” “elopement permit” or “wedding permit” + the location that you want to elope in. You will find accurate information on national park, national forest, or ranger district websites.
Have more questions? Our client guide and planning process is structured to answer all of your questions when it come to how to elope in Washington.
You can not legally get married without a marriage license, but you can still have a commitment ceremony or a symbolic ceremony. These ceremonies are very real and still unify you as a couple, even if you can’t file taxes together.
In Washington, your license needs to simmer for three days before you can get married. This means that you can’t elope the same day that you obtain your license, so you will need to plan ahead. Licenses are $69, and you can obtain a license from any county in the state. Your license is valid for 60 days, and it has to be returned to the same county that you obtained your license from.
Yes, Washington state requires one officiant and two witnesses when you elope. We can pair you with an awesome officiant, or you can bring someone along who is ordained. You can bring along loved ones to sign as witnesses, we can sign for you, or we can flag down two hikers to sign your marriage license as witnesses.
Absolutely! In some cases, like international elopements, this is what we recommend!
You might even already be married by the time you decide to plan your elopement. Couples make this choice for a variety of reasons, like tax or health purposes, military reasons, immigration, you name it. Your day is still epically special even if you are already married.
Again, the day you get married is spiritual, emotional, mental, and heart guided. It is so much more than when you sign a piece of paper. If the legal aspect is getting in the way of having the elopement of your dreams, sign the documents at home. Your vows will still hold all of the weight.
If you’re not sure what is the best fit for you, we can help you walk through your options. Sometimes legally getting married during your elopement makes sense and adds to the fun. If you feel like it’s taking away from the fun, then don’t let that into your day. You can sign the papers anytime.
When we say, “expect the unexpected”, this is what we mean. Of course, no one can predict every lightning strike, flash flood, or moose charge. However, we do everything we can to take preventative safety measures. For example, we will check the weather far away from canyon locations because it does NOT need to be raining where you are (or currently raining) for a flash flood to happen. Watershed from 50 miles away can create flash flood conditions.
We also will do everything we can to stay below treeline during a storm, and we know the best measures to take if you are about to be struck by lightning. We are educated in wildlife safety to minimize the risk of being hurt by local wildlife.
This only scratches the surface of wilderness safety and first aid, and this isn’t meant to scare you. It’s to let you know that dangers of the wilderness are very real, and you might encounter these adventures during your day. It’s also to let you know that your safety is important to us, and we will stay educated to keep you in good hands. Some things are out of our control. This is a calculated and accepted risk. Don’t let it keep you from the beauty of the backcountry.
Though unlikely, this is a very real possibility. While chances are low that you will actually get struck by lightning, there are inherent risks with outdoor adventures. It’s much more common to experience a sprained ankle, sunburn, or something that involves a quick and easy recovery. We will do everything we can to prepare for and mitigate any risks. Things still happen, and it’s all part of the accepted adventure.
For insurance purposes, we require that you follow all rules for any activities that we participate in. For example, if we rent a canoe, your lifejacket will be required.
If you do get injured, we are first aid certified and will take care of you to the best of our abilities, or call on experienced medical personnel to step in. We care about all of our clients and will keep you in good hands.
This is another opportunity for me to say that what happens and what’s included on your elopement day is up to you. If you want to do your own hair, skip the cake, and say your vows in the cabin back yard, cool. If you want all of the works to take your day up a notch, cool. Your day is immensely special no matter what you do, and we are here to help all of the moving parts come to life.
Your elopement is just as important and deserves just as much thought, care, attention, hype, and everything in between as a traditional wedding day. Instead of going all out on party favors and a venue, you are intentionally going all out on activities that are in line with you and your love story. So, yes, it’s totally okay to make your elopement big and full of fun. This is a chance for you to create a day full of things that you and your partner love.
We will help you coordinate activities, vendors, and anything else you need to have an epic day. We have great recommendations for our clients to keep their day sustainable, to support local, and we have options to accommodate disabilities. The outdoors are for everyone, and we are stoked to help make them accessible.
Want to kick your feet up and just show up to an awesome day? We’ve got you covered. We offer all-inclusive package that cover every vendor you might need, adventure activities like helicopter rides or a sailboat excursion, and even a massage in the morning. Our all-inclusive packages also take care of luxury accommodations the night before and after your elopement. We will have a few questionnaires for you to fill out so we can lock in your vibe, and then you really get to just show up and have an awesome day!
Washington is epic in every season. Some seasons will bring more rain, and others involve road closures. To avoid crowds, we suggest eloping during the weekday no matter the season, and avoid major holidays if you can.
We love springtime in Washington, but, to be honest, this is a tricky time for the mountains. Roads will often be closed, and trails can be snowy or muddy. However, spring brings the moody vibes! This is a great time for a beach elopement if you’re down to soak up some rainy, foggy, PNW weather.
Summer is one of the best times to elope in Washington. The snow is melted off of the trails (so you don’t need to worry about closures), and wildflowers are abundant. You will find warmer weather and longer days to pack with outdoor fun!
Fall is an epic time to elope in Washington. The trails aren’t yet packed with snow (usually), and the fall colors paint their way across the landscapes. The end of fall can bring more rain (before it turns to snow) which can give a taste of spring moody vibes!
Winter is one of our favorite seasons. We love being surrounded by a winter wonderland of pillowy, snow-filled trees, and snow covered mountain peaks. Winter is unpredictable and sometimes intense. If that sounds like you and you are okay with last minute weather changes, winter is for you!
This is another area where you really get to pick your own adventure. Washington has everything to offer when it comes to accomodations. Depending on what your dream elopement looks like, you could spend the surrounding days sleeping in:
That list only scratches the surface! Depending on where you decide to elope, we are happy to give you suggestions on great places to stay to really make your elopement memorable.
You made an epic choice deciding to elope in Washinton. When it comes to HOW to elope in Washington, my biggest piece of advice is to GO ALL IN and really soak up what the state has to offer. You can create a really memorable adventure (even during the surrounding days before and after your elopement) with activities like whale watching, eating good food, or staying in really unique places. Washington provides experiences that you can’t have anywhere else, so take advantage of all the state has to offer!
We would love to go on an adventure with you! Michael and I are a traveling adventure elopement photo, video, + planning team. We chase loving souls and deep emotion, and we go wherever the wind takes us. Check out our blogs below for recent work, or reach out to plan your epic day. We can’t wait to get you in front of our lens!
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