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Eloping in Washington: Why You Won’t Regret It

[An all-new 2024 guide by seasoned elopement pros, from right here in the Pacific Northwest ]

The Pacific Northwest (otherwise known as the PNW) is truly one of the most breathtaking places in the entire country. From mountains and waterfalls to rocky coastlines and high desert, we truly have it ALL. Washington State specifically is home to 3 National Parks and 140 State Parks – it’s no wonder why people are stoked over the vision of eloping in Washington. With so many types of terrain and views to choose from, we can promise you this: if you’re thinking of eloping in Washington, you won’t regret it. As local Pacific Northwest elopement photographers, we’re confident that by the end of this guide, you’ll be asking yourself how you hadn’t ALREADY decided to elope in Washington before now.

If you want to skip the research, click HERE for all-encompassing Washington elopement photographer packages (with zero travel fees)


The most cost-effective way to get to Washington from out of state is to fly into Seattle International Airport. Be sure to grab a rental car, because all of the National Parks are a few hours drive from the airport!

There are a few alternative ways to reach Washington! Here’s a list of all of the commercial airports:

Bellingham is a great option to easily access Mt Baker National Forest area, cutting off a few hours of driving time if you were to fly into Seattle instead. Spokane is also a great option for locations in Eastern Washington state. An additional option if you’re planning for a spot near Mt Rainier or Southern Washington would be to fly into Portland International Airport which sits right on the state line of Oregon and Washington.

There are various options for lodging in Washington from hotels, AirBnB, camping, vacation rentals, cabins, tiny homes and more. Here are some of our top recommendations:

All-Inclusive Washington Elopement Packages

If you have a vision in mind for your Washington elopement day but have no idea where to start, book a photographer that is a pro at not only photography, but also in planning elopements – essentially, an all-inclusive photographer (That’s US) 

You’ll want a Washington elopement photographer or team who helps with…

  • Researching and finding the best elopement location options for your day that ACTUALLY fit what you envision 
  • Figuring out and helping you to navigate any required permits
  • Finding + booking epic lodging near your elopement location 
  • Recommending other vendors, such as a hair and makeup artist, florist, private chef + more 
  • Plans out the timing for your day based upon what YOU want to do

If you’re eloping in Washington just the two of you, you might even want them to sign-off on your license as your officiant! (we do that too)

If you love to plan, know exactly what you want/where you want it/when you want it and are just looking for someone to show up on your elopement day to photograph your adventure, then solely booking a photographer will serve you well!

How to Legally Get Married in Washington

Your marriage license can be obtained from any county in Washington State, and can then be used to get married anywhere in Washington State. Applicants do not have to apply for their marriage license in the county where the wedding ceremony will take place. Keep in mind that a lot of location requires an appointment ahead of time to be able to obtain your license. Be sure to check out the county clerk nearest your location to get informed about appointments and documentation to bring with you.

A few things to note:

  • The marriage license is valid for up to 60 days after obtaining it, up to signing and submitting the completed license
  • After obtaining your marriage license, there is a 3 day waiting period before you can use it. For example, if you want to get married on Saturday, you will need to get your license by Wednesday.
  • The make the license signing legal, you’ll need two witnesses and a licensed officiant

When planning for your ceremony in Washington, keep in mind that there are additional rules depending on the location. Many National Parks don’t permit bouquets with florals that aren’t native to the area, don’t allow for speakers or chairs, etc. Be sure to check the park’s website for exact details for the area. Additionally, MOST national parks and national forest require a permit in order for you to hold your ceremony within the park boundaries – many even only allow ceremonies to take place a specific locations within the park. Checking out the permits tab on a national park website can give you all the details about this, or touch base with your photographer to get more information. We always help our couples navigate the permitting process because it can be a bit confusing at times.

Best Time of Year to Elope in Washington

The best time of year to elope in Washington varies a LOT, based on the area. Places like Mt Baker National Forest, Mt Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park and certain areas of Olympic National Park get a lot of snow over the winter, with majority of high elevation hikes and views inaccessible until August. If you’re looking for an epic mountain scenery type of spot for your Washington elopement, then you’re going to want to plan a date from August to the end of September to play it safe in terms of trail and road accessibility. Leavenworth also gets a lot of snow, but they DO have an incredible vibe during Christmas time with their Bavarian Christmas decor and festivals. Other areas closer to the Coast in the Olympic National Park area such as the HOH Rainforest, Forks and Crescent Lake are accessible majority of the year.

Washington Hikes and Backpacking Routes:

The amount of trails in Washington are ENDLESS – including ones that are short and easy to access as well as long backpacking routes through the mountains. Here’s a few of the top trails and routes:

Kayaking, Boat Tours + More

There’s so many things to do on your elopement day in Washington – from fishing charters, whale watching tours, kayaking galore + more, you won’t run out of impressive and breathtaking ways to spend your day together.

Eloping in Washington State is a decision you truly won’t regret.


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