// Mount Rainier National Park Elopement // Washington State Elopement Photographer // Mount Rainier National Park Elopement Planning Tips //
Having your elopement at Mount Rainier National Park is a magical experience, but requires some thorough planning ahead of time! Here are a few things to know and prepare for when you start your journey of planning your Mount Rainier National Park elopement!
How To Elope at Mount Rainier
Picking your Elopement Date
One of the first things to do when you start the planning process of your elopement is deciding what time of year you want to elope! Are you a big fan of the snow, or do you prefer spending your time cooking in the hot summer sun?
Snow/Cooler Climate: my recommendation for if you want snow during your elopement is do plan for somewhere between November-March. These are generally the months you would find snow in more locations at Mount Rainier. Paradise Visitor Center sees a lot of snow, so this is a great location to visit during the winter months for a snowy elopement!
Sun/Warmer Climate: the beautiful thing about Mount Rainier is that it never really gets *too* hot in popular locations like Sunrise, Paradise and Tipsoo Lake. The average temperatures around Mount Rainier between April and October range from 36-60 degree Fahrenheit; and if you go to locations that are lower elevation they oftentimes will be higher temperatures as well.
Acquiring the proper Elopement Photography Permits
Making sure you acquire the proper permits is critical to having a successful and legal elopement at Mount Rainier. Not only does it ensure that your event is legal and would not be shut down, but it also provides funding to the National Parks Service to ensure they can continue to upkeep the parks and allow them to be visitable for years to come!
For any type of wedding ceremony, a wedding permit is required by Mount Rainier National Park. On this website page, you will find the application under “Permit for Weddings” which costs $60. MRNP recommends that you submit your application to later than four weeks before your wedding, but you can also contact the Permit Coordinator via email to try to expedite the process. All of this information can be found as well on the website I linked above!
Travel and Accommodations around Mount Rainier
Getting to Mount Rainier can be tricky (or super easy) depending on the time of year you are eloping, and depending on road closures. This past year (2020) there was a large road closure around Enumclaw due to local forest fires that damaged the roads, so some of the routes to Mount Rainier were quite a bit longer than usual. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to check multiple map apps and websites, and WSDOT for any road closures on your route to your elopement; and plan to give yourself plenty of extra time (I recommend 1-2 extra hours) to make sure you arrive on time! (In the winter it is also important to remember that chains are required to be in your vehicle at all times in the park between Nov 1 and May 1)
There are many BEAUTIFUL places you can stay at around Mount Rainier if you want to spend more than a day trip. At the bottom of this blog post, I will have a widget that shows many of the cabins and A-Frames that are available through Airbnb. I personally recommend booking a cabin-type space for your stay at Mount Rainier to get the full Pacific Northwest experience versus finding a nearby hotel. There are also spots along the mountain that you can tent/camper camp as well! Click here to book a campground spot!
Picking Washington Local Vendors
Elopements can be just as elaborate when planning the details as a larger wedding, or super-duper simple; it’s a beautiful opportunity to express so much creative freedom!
When eloping on National Park lands like Mount Rainier you want to be sure that you pick vendors who are experienced in the world of Elopements! This could mean having options for you to do things like picking up flowers the day-of or day prior to your elopement, a service that could travel to your location and set up a table spread for you and your partner (catering or event planning vendors), or having a lower minimum purchase of items like floral arrangements, desserts or meals. Below you will find some of my recommendations of vendors who work around or are willing to travel to Mount Rainier for your elopement.
Local Washington Florals:
Keira Grech Design Co. – Keira is one of the SWEETEST people I’ve ever met, and she actually did the florals for my own elopement! She is based out of Ellensburg, Washington and has been working in floral design for over 5 years but recently created her own studio this year! She has a variety of options starting at $300 for elopement packages, and up to whatever your heart can dream! You can visit her website here.
Rusted Vase Floral Co. – Carlee at Rusted Vase Floral Co is an incredible florist who has very extensive experience creating floral magic for elopements! She focuses on creating floral arrangements that include seasonal flowers to help her continue to locally source her products! She offers a few service options like Elopement packages, partial and full-service florals!
Unique PNW Desserts:
Sift & Gather – Amber is the cake maker behind Sift & Gather, based in Olympia, Washington. Her business is veteran owned, Black owned, and female owned and operated! The best way to describe her cakes is simple extravagance; a beautiful blend of simplicity but with powerful elements like florals and unique color palettes. You can find her business here!
Lemon Thyme Macarons – Charmaine is a sweet small business friend of mine who makes the most incredible and unique macarons in Ellensburg, Washington! For weddings she has created incredible macaron towers, but you can also order them custom by the dozen if you just need a little spread. She offers delivery for a fee, but I can also pick them up on my way to your big day! 😉 Find more information about what she offers here.
Brides For A Cause – BFAC is hands down probably one of my favorite wedding vendors for a multitude of reasons. Brides For A Cause carries dresses donated by past brides, bridal shops, and dress designers that are used to raise funds for women-focused charities and organizations. To this date, they have donated over 1 Million dollars over the past 8 years, and are not stopping anytime soon! They have three locations (Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland) and have a constant rotation of beautiful gowns, separates, accessories, and even bridesmaid dresses! I have personally bought multiple dresses and separates from them including my OWN wedding dress.
The Black Tux – I recently came across The Black Tux, but I am totally intrigued by the business model! They offer an at-home purchasing process by having you choose your favorite fits and styles, answer a few questions about your body shape/fit and even try the tux on at home! You can rent and purchase tuxes directly from them; they will send rental tuxes two weeks prior to your elopement so you can check the fit, and purchased tuxes are sent immediately with no fees for exchanges until you find the perfect fit! The Black Tux makes it super easy to find an awesome tux for your big elopement adventure!
Get Your Washington Wedding License
Each state in the United States has different rules when it comes to wedding licenses. So depending on where you are traveling from, you might have to check what your specific state’s laws are! In Washington State, you must get married in Washington in order for your license to be valid, but in Texas, you can get married anywhere in the country with your Texas marriage license! Mount Rainier National Park is located in Pierce County so you can learn more information about how to obtain a marriage license to get married on Mount Rainier!
One thing to note about Washington State Marriage Licenses: make sure that you apply and obtain your license more than three days before your marriage ceremony. Washington requires a three day waiting period after you obtain your license before you are able to use it. So if you are getting married on Christmas Eve (December 24th) you want to make sure you have your license in hand no later than December 21st! I always suggest getting it a couple of weeks up to a month before the big day!
Leave No Trace Principles at Mount Rainier
One of the MOST important things to plan and prepare for when you elope at Mount Rainier (or just whenever you go to visit) is to understand and follow the Leave No Trace Principles. The LNT – Center for Outdoor Ethics is an organization that created a simple set of principle to learn about to help you enjoy your favorite outdoor locations while also being sure to take care of it and preserve it for years to come! We all love visiting these outdoor locations and I bet many of you would love to take future generations there as well, so this is how we do it! Here are the 7 Leave No Trace Principles and how they can be utilized in an Elopement setting:
- Plan Ahead & Prepare: This may seem like a given, but it is VERY important to plan ahead of time a prepare for the environment you will be in! An example of this is checking to make sure the location you want to visit is opened for visitors, and hiking/camping is permitted. The North Cascades in Washington closes in certain areas when snow hits the ground, so make sure you don’t plan an elopement up there in the winter! At Mount Rainier, many places stay open through the winter, but it is very important to double-check weather conditions, location openings and be ready to change plans quickly if Mother Nature decides to make it unsafe to travel!
- Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces: If you are wanting to do a multi-day elopement adventure or camp before/after your elopement, it is important to utilize designated camping areas around Mount Rainier National Park. There are four distinct campgrounds around MRNP and you can learn more about their specific rules and availability here. When you use the designated campgrounds around the park you are preventing things like plant damage and destruction, as well as keeping yourself safe in areas that wildlife is less likely to be around.
- Dispose of Waste Properly: I wish this portion of Leave No Trace was more obvious, but it is SO important to remember. On a normal hike, you might just think of things like remembering to pick up your granola bar wrappers, water bottles, or body waste (you gotta do what you gotta do hehe) but there are some things that are elopement-specific to keep in mind! For example, if you decide you want to do a champagne pop (I would recommend a sparkling water pop to protect the foliage) make sure that you pack with you the metal cage and go find the cork after it pops! If petals fall off of your bouquet you should also pack those out with you, especially if they are not a native plant of the area.
- Leave What You Find: In many areas of Mount Rainier you will find unique foliage like bright rainbows of wildflowers and as tempting as it is to want to pick one and take it home DON’T! The wildflowers up on Rainier are incredibly fragile and can take multiple decades to recover from being picked or stomped on by hikers. If there is something you find incredibly beautiful and you don’t want to forget it, take a picture! That way you can keep it visually in your mind without harming the foliage.
- Minimize Campfire Impact: Long story short, if there isn’t a human-made fire pit put in place by the Park Services, DON’T MAKE A FIRE. Mount Rainier provides closed fire grates at some of their campgrounds for overnight camp use but besides that, just DON’T do it.
- Respect Wildlife: This section is pretty obvious, but please don’t try to become best friends with little squirrels or giant bears. Just don’t do it. I would love to have you come home in one piece after your elopement!
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Being considerate of other visitors can look like a few different things; making sure your elopement doesn’t happen on a spot on the hike that people can’t get around, avoiding blaring super loud music, as well as keeping your voice level at a decent level. Although it is a very special day for you and your partner during your elopement, the other hikers and visitors are valuable as well, and we would like them to have a pleasant experience as well!
The magic that is present on Mount Rainier is truly one of the most incredible things I’ve experienced, and I would love to help plan your big day for you and your partner on this majestic mountain. I hope that this blog helped give you an overview of some of the important things to consider when planning your elopement! You can hop over to my contact page on the bottom of my website if you are ready to plan your big adventure.
Below you’ll find an elopement that I got to officiate and second shoot for Works by Sarah Jane Photography. D + A flew up from Texas to experience the beauty of the Pacific Northwest while they tied the knot, and it was so much fun!! Enjoy!