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How to Elope in Washington from A-Z | Full WA Elopement Guide

Table of Contents:

I recently published another guide to alllll the Best Washington Elopement Locations, but I just felt like it wasn’t enough for couples who want the whole inside scoop – so here we are, with a COMPLETE guide to how to elope in Washington from A-Z! I’ve compiled all of my top tips, tricks, & advice from my years of living in WA + photographing elopements across the state, so that you can plan your dream day as effortlessly as possible. Because let’s be real, planning your elopement shouldn’t be something that stresses you tf out or makes you dread the big day – it should be fun, for god’s sake! Hopefully once you leave this guide you’ll be a total pro 😉

Pros & Cons of Eloping in Washington

Let’s start this thing off with a little pros & cons list, in case you just came here for help making a quick decision about whether you should even CONSIDER eloping in Washington or not. If you’re a list person and get overwhelmed by lots of info, feel free to skip the rest of this guide and just use these pros & cons to make your decision (I get it)😂

Also I should note that there are SO many more reasons you should elope in WA besides the ones I listed below, as well as potential reasons why WA might not be the location for you – but I tried keeping it as simple as possible for ya to start out. I will be listing a lot more pros & cons when it comes to what the best time of year is to elope, so keep your eye out for those later on in this guide!

Pros of eloping in Washington:

  1. I mean. . . it’s f**king BEAUTIFUL. Even if you’ve never been to Washington yourself, there’s a good chance you’ve seen photos of it somewhere on a postcard, a painting, or even one of those default screensavers that come with new laptops, because sooo much of our scenery is absolutely iconic. It was named the Evergreen State for a reason, because everywhere you go you’ll find some variety of gorgeous trees!
  2. You have sooo many different landscapes to choose from. We seriously have some of the most breathtaking mountains in the country, plus a billion gorgeous alpine lakes, moss-covered rainforests, deserts, and even beaches!! So not only is Washington a 10/10 in terms of looks – it’s also diverse in its scenery. You’ll never be bored, and you always have access to a variety of incredible locations! We even have a big city if you’re more of a night-out-on-the-town and bar-hoppin’ kinda couple 🙂
  3. We have 3 national parks, and they’re all insane. A lot of people automatically think of Mount Rainier when they think of Washington national parks, or even Olympic. But it’s shocking how many people don’t know that there’s a third – North Cascades National Park! Our national parks encompass some of the most epic mountain scenery in the U.S., along with gorgeous coastal & peninsula views, magical rainforests, and sparkling bodies of water galore.
  4. It’s a literal paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. While your girl is notttt a big hiker and would much rather drive to a gorgeous view than hike 8 miles up the side of a mountain, I can appreciate the insane amount of opportunities that Washington has for those of you who do love that sorta thing! Honestly, even if you’re not a huge hiker, we’ve got plenty of options that are still incredible but don’t require you to break as much of a sweat, including walks through dreamy rainforests, rad slopes for skiing and snowboarding, water sports on alpine lakes, bike rides through the trees, and we do have a really good amount of easier hikes/trails!
  5. The elopement industry is poppin’. I know that elopements are definitely becoming increasingly more popular everywhere in recent years, but Washington is definitely one of the states where elopements are popping off right now, along with Oregon, California, Arizona, & other spots on the west coast! That means that we have SO dang many incredible elopement vendors who know their shit, and who are ready at the drop of a hat to serve you + help you plan your dream day. It’ll be super easy for you to find experienced elopement vendors who you connect with and who you trust to bring your vision to life!

Cons of eloping in Washington:

  1. Many outdoor spots close down in the fall/winter. If you want to elope in the mountains in Washington, you have a fairly brief time period where you can do so without being affected by snow and winter weather. A lot of folks are shocked at how early places like Mount Rainier close down for the winter, with popular trails and roads sometimes closing down as early as late September and opening up as late as early June depending on what the weather is like that year! The weather also affects other highly-sought-after landscapes such as wildflower meadows, which are really only at their peak for a few weeks in late July-August at places like Mount Rainier. So beware that Washington is NOT the place for a winter elopement if you want to be in the mountains – I’ll go more into this later!
  2. Popular locations can get really crowded during peak season. Because the window is so small for experiencing the beauty of the mountains, popular spots at Rainier, Olympic, North Cascades, and Mount Baker can get reallyyy crowded during the summer. You’ll have to work a little harder if you want to elope in the summer at a busy location and might have to go more off-the-beaten path if you want to avoid crowds.
  3. There’s a 3-day waiting period to get married. If you want to get married as quickly as possible, you might want to opt for a place like Colorado where there’s no mandatory waiting period! In Washington once you get your marriage license, you have to wait 3 days to have your ceremony – so you can’t get married on the same day, if that’s something you really want to do. You’ll have to plan with this in mind!

FAQ’s About Eloping in Washington

Time for some FAQ’s that I hear couples ask ALL the time, and that I saw people asking on Google nonstop! This section should answer all your burning questions about eloping in Washington – and if it doesn’t, then keep on makin’ your way through this guide for more info.

Can you elope in Washington state?

ABSOLUTELY you can!! Eloping is 100% legal and isn’t so stigmatized anymore – it’s not something to be ashamed of or that means you’re “rebellious” (unless you want it to). It’s exactly the same as getting legally married with a traditional wedding, except your experience looks different and is more unique to you 🙂

Where can I elope in Washington state?

You can elope anywhere that wedding ceremonies are legal in Washington! This includes Washington’s national parks and state parks, as long as you follow the proper rules and regulations for having a legal ceremony in your park of choice. You can also get married at public parks (again, as long as you follow the rules), in your own backyard, on a ferry, at your hotel, the world (well, Washington) is your oyster!

What are the requirements to elope in Washington state?

To legally elope in Washington state, you’ll need to follow the same marriage laws as you would for a traditional wedding.

Here’s a breakdown of the basic Washington marriage laws & requirements:

  • You do not need to be a WA resident
  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You do not need to do a blood test
  • You need 2 witnesses over the age of 12
  • There’s a mandatory 3-day waiting period (starting on the day you sign your license)
  • Your license is valid for 60 days
  • Licensing fees range from $20-$100 depending on the county
  • Once you have your license, you can use it anywhere in the state

How much does it cost to elope in Washington state?

The total cost of a Washington state elopement completely depends on your budget, your priorities, and what you want your special day to look like – so unfortunately, I can’t give you a solid number! But what I can do is give you a few estimated costs that may be applicable to your elopement.

  • Marriage license fee: $20-$100
  • National Park entrance fee: $0-$30
  • National Park Special Use Permit: $50-$175
  • State Park entrance fee: $11.50
  • State Park Special Use Permit: $45

Here’s a list of possible vendors & services to keep in mind when budgeting for your Washington elopement so you don’t forget any important costs! Again, keep in mind that some of these may not apply to your elopement, so ignore whatever you’re not planning on hiring/booking and just take what you are.

  • Vendors:
    • Officiant
    • Photographer
    • Videographer
    • Planner/coordinator
    • Stylist
    • Rentals
    • Dessert
    • Caterer
    • Hair stylist
    • Makeup artist
    • Stationery
  • Travel:
    • Gas
    • Airfare
    • Rental car
    • Public transportation
    • Parking
    • Accommodations
  • Activities/excursions
  • Monitoring fees for national/state park Special Use Permits
  • Additional certified copies of your marriage certificate
  • Elopement attire
  • Accessories
  • Meals + snacks

How quickly can you get married in Washington state?

Once you get your marriage license, sign it, and pay the licensing fee, you can get married in 3 days! For example, if you get your license on Tuesday, you can use it starting on Friday.

Do you need witnesses to get married in Washington state?

Yup, you need 2 witnesses who are at least 12 years old.

What documents do you need to get married in Washington state?

Here’s what you’ll need to bring with you when you apply for your Washington marriage license:

  • Valid government ID (e.g. driver’s license, passport, etc.)
  • Proof of divorce from previous spouse if applicable

What are the steps to get married in Washington state?

Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to get a Washington marriage license:

  1. Pick a county to get your license through (if you’re local, this can be your home county; if you’re coming from out-of-state, this can be the county you’re eloping in).
  2. Save time by completing an online application through the county website before you visit the office, if available.
  3. Contact the county auditor’s office to see if there’s anything else you need to do before coming in, such as making a payment over the phone.
  4. Finalize your license by visiting the office (both of you) with valid photo ID and the application fee payment if not paid already.

If you’d rather apply fully in-person, make an appointment with your county auditor’s office if necessary, and then visit the office to go through the process. Some counties will also let you apply by mail, then come into the office to pick up your license, if you’d prefer that!

Who can marry you in Washington state?

Anybody who is legally certified to perform marriage ceremonies can marry you, including pastors, judges, or even a friend or family member who gets certified!

Can you get married at a Washington National Park?

Yup! You can legally get married in any of Washington’s three national parks as long as you follow the park’s rules and regulations, pay the entrance fee, and obtain the proper permit. For each of the parks, you’ll need a Special Use Permit, which I’ll give you more details on a little bit later. Some parks have a list of specific locations where you can/can’t hold your ceremony, and others allow you to have your ceremony anywhere as long as you respect other visitors & stay on trails!

Can you get married at a Washington State Park?

You can! To get married in a Washington state park, you’ll need to have a valid Discover Pass and get a Special Activity Permit, plus follow all the park rules, of course.

When is the Best Time of Year to Elope in Washington?

As I mentioned earlier in this guide, Washington isn’t the best winter elopement destination if you want to take advantage of the amazing mountain landscapes & outdoor opportunities, so it’s important to pick the right season according to what you want your day to look like, what weather you prefer, and what activities you want to incorporate! 

In general, the best time of year to elope in Washington is the summer, between July-August if you want the nicest weather, the best chance at clear + sunny skies, and access to locations at all elevations. However, if you’re not too set on hiking up a mountain or visiting wildflower meadows, then that opens up the rest of the year to you!

Below, I’ve put together a list of pros & cons of eloping in each season to give you a quick glance at what time of year might be best for your unique day.



  • Best weather – sun, blue skies, and comfortable temperatures
  • Low chance of rain
  • All locations are accessible unless there’s some insane snow that stays at high elevations!
  • Best time for water sports
  • Roads/trails typically won’t be closed unless for construction or other random exceptions
  • Wildflowers are at peak bloom


  • Popular spots get very crowded due to it being peak season
  • Campgrounds are harder to book
  • Travel/accommodation costs may be higher
  • It can get hot in certain parts of the state

Where to elope: 

  • Mountains (all elevations)
  • Wildflower meadows
  • Alpine lakes
  • Waterfalls
  • Rainforests
  • Beaches
  • Deserts



  • Mild temperatures are great for hiking + outdoor activities
  • Stunning fall colors
  • Fewer crowds than the summer
  • You can usually still access some high elevation locations unless snow comes early


  • It gets a lot cooler at night
  • Higher chance of rain and cloudy skies
  • Snow can come earlier than expected and close down trails/roads

Where to elope:

  • Mountains (lower elevations)
  • Alpine lakes
  • Rainforests
  • Beaches
  • Deserts



  • Least crowds
  • Lower travel/accommodation costs
  • Magical winter wonderland
  • Epic skiing + winter sports


  • Locations in the mountains aren’t accessible
  • Many roads/trails are closed
  • Cold temperatures and snow + rainfall!

Where to elope:

  • Alpine lakes
  • Rainforests
  • Beaches
  • Deserts



  • Flowers start to bloom
  • Trees & greenery become more lush
  • Waterfalls are at their peak thanks to rainfall
  • Temperatures start to warm up
  • Fewer crowds than the summer


  • High chance of rain
  • Most higher elevation locations aren’t open yet
  • Snow can fall/melt later than expected

Where to elope:

  • Mountains (lower elevations)
  • Alpine lakes
  • Waterfalls
  • Rainforests
  • Beaches

Top 10 Most Beautiful Washington Elopement Locations

As you can probablyyyy tell from reading this guide up until this point, there are literally hundreds of phenomenal places to elope in Washington and honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of them!! As long as you pay attention to weather, know what to expect, and get the proper permits, you’re golden😎Buuut to help you get a headstart on your search for the perf Washington elopement location, I’ve gather up my top 10 fave locations that I ALWAYS recommend to my couples. I’m going to keep this section pretty short with just the basic info you need to know, because I actually published a full guide already with all the deets about the Best Places to Elope in WA 😉 Def go give that a read as well!

1. Mount Rainier National Park

Entry requirement: Park Pass

Entrance fee: $30

Permit needed: Special Use Permit ($175)

Best time to elope: Summer (July-August)

Obviously Mount Rainier is at the top of this list, only one of the most iconic places in the entire PNW! Rainier is actual heaven for mountain-lovers, exploding with wildflowers in the summer and offering some of the most incredible hiking trails in the country. And if you’re like me and would rather take a slow-paced walk to get somewhere pretty than backpack 12 miles, there’s options for us too! Waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, sparkling alpine lakes, lush greenery everywhere you look. . . what more could you dream up for a mountain elopement?

Check out Leah & Ben’s Mount Rainier Engagement to see some glorious mountain inspo!! 

2. Olympic National Park

Entry requirement: Park Pass

Entrance fee: $30

Permit needed: Special Use Permit ($50-$100)

Best time to elope: Summer for the mountains, any time of year for the forests/lakes/beaches!

Olympic National Park is probably THE most diverse location on this list as far as landscapes go, being that it has not only epic mountain ranges and hiking trails, but also the most insane rainforest, deep blue glacial lakes, waterfalls nestled in the trees, and incredible coastal scenery (with beaches that get the dreamiest golden hours everrrr). The park spans over nearly a million acres along the Olympic Peninsula, so the locations are pretty spread out – meaning you probably won’t be able to hit them all unless you plan a longer trip with plenty of time to drive around to different areas of the park! Every part of ONP is stunning, though, so don’t worry if you can’t make it everywhere during your elopement. Anywhere you go will 100% take your breath away 🙂

3. North Cascades National Park

Entry requirement: None!

Entrance fee: $0

Permit needed: Special Use Permit ($50)

Best time to elope: Summer (July-August)

And the third national park that this lovely state has to offer is North Cascades National Park! This park stretches across more than 500,000 acres across north central Washington and boasts not only a massive collection of epic hiking trails, but also an amazing scenic highway if you just want to take in the views from your car. This is where you’ll find some of the most vibrant blue lakes you’ll ever see that sort of look fake – like you just bumped the saturation up on your camera settings – and are surrounded by lush hills + trees galore. You’ll have a magical experience whether you explore the lakes, hike through the mountain trails, or check out all the forested valleys!

4. Mount Baker

Entry requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

Entrance fee: $5

Permit needed: None for groups of under 75 people

Best time to elope: Summer (July-August)

Now Mount Baker is commonly confused as being part of the North Cascades because it’s so close to the western part of the mountain range, but it’s actually not! This glacier-covered volcano is part of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest and is the third-highest peak in the state with soooo much to offer, including wildflower meadows and the most spectacular fall colors. Honestly, the scenery completely matches the beauty of Mount Rainier and the area is usually a lot less crowded than Rainier, so it’s a great alternative if you want to be more on the west side of WA!

5. San Juan Islands

Entry requirement: N/A

Entrance fee: N/A

Permit needed: Location-dependent

Best time to elope: Late spring-early fall (April-October)

I cannot recommend eloping in the San Juans ENOUGH, especially on Orcas Island!! There are literally over 450 islands to explore, the three most popular being San Juan Island, Orcas Island, & Lopez Island. They all have a massive variety of outdoor activities (hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, & more!), whale watching tours, delicious local restaurants and bars, shops and boutiques, and historical sites – plus amazing views of Puget Sound, of course. The islands are such a great option if you want to elope outside of Seattle but not too far away!

Take a peek at Marina & Ryan’s Orcas Island Elopement at Outlook Inn for allll the dreamy island elopement inspo + my top reccs of what to do nearby 🙂

6. Snoqualmie

Entry requirement: N/A

Entrance fee: N/A

Permit needed: Location-dependent

Best time to elope: Spring (March-May)

The Snoqualmie/North Bend area is a bomb af area to elope in if you want to escape the bigger crowds that places like Rainier and Olympic get, but you still want all the gorg outdoor scenery that Washington has to offer😍Gold Creek Pond is one of my fave spots for elopements in the area (although it does get crowded on weekends) as well as Snoqualmie Falls and Rattlesnake Lake.

7. Leavenworth

Entry requirement: N/A

Entrance fee: N/A

Permit needed: Location-dependent

Best time to elope: Summer (July-August)

Now if you’re looking for somewhere SUPER unique to elope that’ll make you feel like you’re not even in Washington, check out Leavenworth!! It’s this wildly beautiful Bavarian town near Wenatchee, offering some of the most amazing outdoor recreation, mountain scenery, and a totally one-of-a-kind German-village-style atmosphere. You can walk around and peek into all the little shops, go skiing or sleigh riding in the winter, drink some German beer, or lounge by the water on the shores of Lake Wenatchee! It’s super beautiful in the summer obviously, but it also turns into an enchanting winter wonderland once the winte months roll around.

8. Chelan

Entry requirement: N/A

Entrance fee: N/A

Permit needed: Location-dependent

Best time to elope: Summer (June-August)

Want to head a little further east into central WA? Look into eloping in Chelan, a town full of world-class wineries, incredible cuisine, cozy lodging, and gorgeous lakeside views! It’s the perfect place to celebrate if you’re a wine connoisseur (or just enjoy a good wine tasting in a beautiful orchard), you love the sunshine, and you want to relax at a beautiful lakeside resort as you look out at the water + surrounding mountains. 

9. Seattle

Entry requirement: N/A

Entrance fee: N/A

Permit needed: Location-dependent

Best time to elope: Any time!

Obviously Seattle is one of my favorite parts of Washington – I literally am in the city almost every day, so trust me when I say I know allll the best spots to hit up! Maybe you’re the type of couple who wants to find the most exquisite restaurants in the city and then bar hop at night, or maybe you’d rather relax at a local park and take portraits inside a lush botanical garden. Either way, Seattle has something to offer EVERYONE and I’d be more than happy to give you all my top reccs (food, drinks, shopping, all of it) once we start planning your elopement 😉

If you’re looking to have an intimate wedding in Seattle instead, don’t miss my guide to the Best Intimate Wedding Venues in Seattle!!

10. Vantage

Entry requirement: N/A

Entrance fee: N/A

Permit needed: Location-dependent

Best time to elope: Late summer-early fall (July-October)

Last but not least is an area you might not recognize, Vantage! It’s a part of Kittitas County, located in south central Washington, east of Ellensburg. It’s home to some pretty gorgeous desert scenery that’s popular for rock climbing, as well as the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. It’s an awesome area not just for climbing but also for hiking and mountaineering if that’s your thing – orrrr you can just rent a gorgeous Airbnb up on the cliffs and sip on a glass of wine as you look out at the views of the Columbia River🥂

Best Places to Stay for Your Washington Elopement

Lookin’ for a cozy place to stay during your time in WA? I gotchu, whether you’re the kind of person who wants to stay in a warm lodge in the mountains with a fireplace to cozy up next to, a tiny log cabin in the woods with just your partner, or a luxurious lakeside resort with a whole-ass spa & 5-star cuisine. Here are some of the top places to stay near each of the elopement locations I went through in the section above, including Airbnbs, hotels, lodges, and resorts!

Where to Stay Near Mount Rainier

Where to Stay in Olympic National Park

Where to Stay in North Cascades National Park

Where to Stay Near Mount Baker

Where to Stay in the San Juan Islands

Where to Stay in Snoqualmie

Where to Stay in Leavenworth

Where to Stay in Chelan

Where to Stay in Seattle

Where to Stay near Vantage

25 Kickass Washington Elopement Activities & Ideas

There is literally a never ending amount of things to do in Washington no matter what your hobbies are or what kind of elopement experience you’re dreaming of – and every damn one of them would be a killer addition to your timeline!! Buuut that can also make it hard to choose wtf you even want to do. So here’s a list I put together of 25 of my favorite Washington elopement activities and ideas to make your time in Washington as incredible as possible!

1. Go whale watching in the San Juan Islands

2. Visit LaPush (for all the Twilight fans!)

3. Spend a night at TreeHouse Point

4. Walk through the Hall of Mosses

5. Drink a Rainier at Mount Rainier

6. Stay in a little mountain town in the North Cascades

7. Take a scenic drive along the North Cascades Highway

8. Explore the Columbia River Gorge

9. Visit Mount St. Helens

10. Be a tourist in Seattle & walk through Pike Place Market

11. Take a ferry across Puget Sound

12. Go wine tasting in the Columbia Valley

13. Hike Snoqualmie Falls

14. Visit Deception Pass State Park

15. Enjoy a magical golden hour at Ruby Beach

16. Explore Port Angeles and Hurricane Ridge

17. See the beautiful fall foliage at Mount Baker

18. Relax in the Sol Duc Hot Springs

19. Go berry picking

20. Go stargazing

21. Take a helicopter ride over Seattle

22. Have a post-ceremony picnic at the top of a mountain

23. Visit the bright blue alpine lakes in the North Cascades

24. Say your vows in front of a waterfall

25. Ride the Mount Rainier Gondola at Crystal Mountain Resort

Washington Elopement Photography Packages & Pricing

It’s me, hi 😉 I’m Almida! I’m an elopement photographer based in Seattle and I am completely obsessed with photographing amazing couples elope in this beautiful state I get to call home. I’m most known for making my sessions fun and laid-back, and for helping my couples’ true personalities shine through the lens – so mark my words, you will never be uncomfortable in front of my camera! I’d so love to help you plan your dream Washington elopement, and to create beautiful images for you to look back on forever. Learn more about what to expect while working with me here, and if you’re feelin’ like we’re a match made in heaven (just like Washington + elopements), reach out here! I cannot WAIT to hear everything you’re dreaming up!!

If you haven’t quite landed on Washington as your elopement destination yet & want some more options on this side of the country, pop on over to my guide to How to Plan a West Coast Wedding!

The Journal

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