How to Plan Your Washington State Elopement

Planning your Washington State elopement can easily be a dream come true when you think of nature as your background location! However, there’s a little more to starting your adventure with your partner than picking a spot and getting on the road. When planning your elopement, there’s a lot to think about that can make your day a little more flawless. Simply put, here are some considerations to making your dream a reality: where, when, adventure/hiking ability and limits, legality of it all (permits, passes, licenses, and laws), and vendors. 

couple hugging each other during golden hour

Where do you want your Washington State elopement?

The big W- where?! When you close your eyes, where do you picture your elopement ceremony? Do you have a special location that you and your partner have a sweet memory at? Is there a dream bucket list location you’ve always wanted to go, but never had the chance? Maybe a dream location that you’ve thought about over the years; the beauty of a small elopement is that you can really think about this particular decision and make it as special as you choose for you and your partner.

The perfect location can make your day that much sweeter, especially with scenery that you can find in Washington from mountain look outs, beaches, waterfalls, gardens, and wildflowers. It’s hard to imagine a more magical landscape to find the perfect location to elope!

couple hugging surrounded by nature
just married couple hugging in nature in Washington

When do you want your Washington State elopement?

The other “w” to consider, when?! Time of year and day are another realistic driven choice you need to make. Think of weather and temperature, like snow/rain – be REALLY realistic about what climate you both enjoy and will leave you feeling relaxed and excited for the big day. If one of you doesn’t vibe with winter, let that be a part of your consideration! And vice versa considering the hotter months. 

No one wants to be uncomfortable due to the elements on one of their happiest days to make memories. With that being said, try and pick the best time for you both and nature to coexist. Also, consider if you want the leaves to be turning for fall, or flowers to be in bloom for spring because these little preferences will help guide you to the right time.

queer couple holding sparkles near a lake

What’s your athletic ability?

When you imagined your location, did you see yourself surrounded by trees, or on the side of a mountain with incredible views? It’s not hard to see why so many are opting for gorgeous and breathtaking scenery over a typical wedding venue. Many locations are quite the trek, but there are TONS of beautiful spots within walking distance from a parking lot! So a hike isn’t always never required. You need to consider how much hiking experience you have and be realistic about what kind of hike you really want to take for your elopement day. 

Don’t let your elopement day be the first day you hike 10 miles, cause to be honest that’s not the best idea. First, try scouting out spots when deciding locations. And then imagine making those hikes with your guests, vendors, and in your wedding attire. Nobody wants to be throwing up from high elevation or overexertion on the day they are getting married. But guess what? You also don’t have to sacrifice scenery and the ambiance of being in nature. Take your time when deciding how much of a hike you want to make your elopement adventure! 

bride and groom walking down a trail in Washington

What are the permit requirements?

First, you’ll want to think about permits, depending on your location there might be permits involved with getting married there. Try not to let it deter you from choosing that spot, most permits are accepted. Exceptions to this would be a location having too many permit requests or part of your ceremony including items that go against the rules of areas. There are some general permits like Northwest Forest Pass, Discover Pass, and the Mount Rainier National Park Pass, but be prepared for the possibility of additional passes for commercial work (your elopement) that we would need to apply for and purchase. While all these little boxes may seem tedious or overwhelming now, they’re one step closer toward the elopement of your dreams! 

bride and groom popping champagne on a trail in Washington

Wedding License and Washington Marriage Laws

You must obtain the license 3+ days before your elopement date, but no earlier than 90 days in advance. I always say get it the month before your wedding so you’ll be good to go! Washington requires an officiant, the partners getting married, and two witnesses for the license to be signed. You can hire an officiant – or I can officiate really easily behind my camera! If you have family or close friends you hope to invite, they can be your witnesses. If it’s the two of you, we can find others to sign, like hikers along the way, someone at the hotel you are staying, or have a friend/family member sign later that day if you see them. It may take a couple extra steps, but it’s not impossible to keep it intimate and elope with just the two of you. 

ethnic bride and groom posing

Choosing your vendors

Choosing vendors that are already accustomed to working with elopements can make the day of go a lot smoother. Some even offer to drop off the day before or late for sunset! Others will come out and set things up for you, but beware that choosing vendors for elopements does differ due to the nature of the surrounding than a traditional wedding.

If hiking is involved for the big day, things like making sure the flowers can be sturdy to travel and getting hair and makeup to stay glowing can take some extra prep. Clothing is also something you want to consider; dresses and suits should be walkable and breathable. You’ll be in nature, so your best bet is to be prepared with vendors who have experience with elopement ceremonies. Check out this other blog for more ideas of specific local vendors! 

While there’s many important decisions to consider, your dream Washington state elopement is just within reach. Soak up the magical landscape and adventure and make your special day even more memorable with an intimate ceremony. Take adventure, life, and your partner by the hand and start planning your perfect elopement today. 

girl in red dress and man in suit sitting on a couch celebrating

March 18, 2021