Have you made the huge decision to elope? This couldn't be more exciting. If you are considering California for your elopement, you have come to the right place, as we're your go-to duo elopement photographer in California! California boasts every kind of landscape you can think of, and there is an endless possibility to making your elopement dreams come true here in the gorgeous Golden State.
Eloping in California can be a magical experience. Let's explore everything you need to know about why you should elope in California and the best ways to do it!
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What is an Elopement?
Decades ago, "elopement" was a term used to describe a couple running off to get married without loved ones having any knowledge about the union. This relationship might have been frowned upon then, but today, elopements are so much more than that. At Early Night, we're all for a romantic, secluded elopement, don't get us wrong, but you can elope alone or with family – there are literally no limitations to your big day!
Eloping is the desire for couples to be uniquely themselves. They are adventure seekers and want the freedom of getting married THEIR way. Imagine an intimate ceremony and a stunning backdrop that we get to document, and you get to remember for years to come.
Reasons to Elope
There are so many exceptional reasons to elope, and modern-day elopements mean you can have it all:
- Authenticity: Although all eyes are on you, traditional weddings often feels like it is about the guests. How big and grand can you go? Couples often choose elopements over huge weddings because it doesn't feel like who they are as a couple. It's TOTALLY ok to go the non-traditional route! We highly recommend it!
- Budget: It's all about the money, honey! An elopement is significantly cheaper than a wedding, even if you elope with your closest loved ones. The average cost of a reception alone in the US is $22,500. Couples may choose to elope so they can put down a down payment on a new home or have an extravagant honeymoon, or simply to be able to save money! Eloping doesn't necessarily mean you have to sacrifice things for budgetary reasons.
- Stress: Let's face it – planning a wedding is stressful. From flowers and venues to the font on invitations, there is a lot of stress involved in planning a grand wedding. The fun on your big day can easily get lost in the pressure of the wedding day.
- Privacy: Don't like 200 eyes on you in one of the most intimate moments of your life? Eloping offers couples an intimate experience in a magical location for the vow exchange.
Places to Elope in California
There are so many different landscapes to choose from, and it can be intimidating to narrow them down. First, decide with your partner about the scenery, weather, and activities you want to enjoy on your big day. Did you know that there are over 840 miles of shoreline? So, there is a significant amount of west coast beach to say your "I do's," but some of the most popular places to elope in California are state and national parks:
1. Big Sur Elopement
Big Sur has everything a couple could want for their elopement day in California. There are dramatic cliffs, lush redwood forests, and beaches to explore. It doesn't just have to be your elopement location, but your honeymoon destination as well.
- Pfeiffer Beach: Can you picture standing next to the turquoise water on the beach during the golden hour of sunrise or sunset, saying your vows to your love? Pfeiffer Beach is the perfect place for a beach wedding, and no permits are required to marry here.
- Redwoods: The gorgeous tall redwood trees make for a beautiful, fantasy-inspired elopement location. The wooded area is so large, approximately 500 miles, you can easily find privacy and seclusion on your big day.
- McWay Falls: If you want a waterfall in your backdrop and colossal rock formations to take your breath away, the McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is perfect for you.
2. Joshua Tree Elopement
Like Big Sur, there is so much to see and do at Joshua Tree. As an elopement photographer in California and growing up in the high desert, we're a bit partial to Joshua Tree and all its desert-y glory. There are unique rock formations that will have you stunned and jaws dropping on the desert sand.
You can elope at some of the most famous places in Joshua Tree:
- Arch Rock: With 1.2 miles of hiking trails engulfed with wildflowers and massive, smooth rocks, your California elopement in Joshua Tree will make your desert wedding dreams come true.
- Fortynine Palms Oasis: This trail is for the more adventurous couples. There are more than 3 miles of hiking trails, but the views here are out of this world.
- Willow Hole Trail: If you are an experienced hiking couple, this 6.8-mile trail will be worth every second. Have an authentic desert experience on your elopement day in California at this stunning location.
3. Yosemite National Park
Considered one of the most popular places to elope in California, Yosemite National Park has meadows, waterfalls, unusual rock formations, and so much more to explore!
- Glacier Point: This 0.6-mile trail may be short but is packed with amazing views and a waterfall to say your vows. Perfect for all hiking skill levels, you can feel comfortable bringing your loved ones for the ride.
- Taft Point: There are more than 5 miles worth of trails and stunning views of the valley, and the potential to see various wildlife and flowers. You can't go wrong at Taft Point!
The Best Weather to Elope in California
The weather in California is remarkable, which is why there are so many places to elope in California. There are so many different climates between the northern and southern parts, but it is typically sunny and beautiful for the most part.
- Fall: The fall is one of the best times to elope in California. During September and October, there are fewer crowds, and the weather is nicer. Another reason to love the fall is a broader selection of attire because it isn't as hot as the summer months.
- Winter: If you are worried about seclusion, then winter is for you. Remember that it is the rainy season, so have a plan B handy if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
- Spring: Spring is an excellent time of year to elope in California. The wildflowers are in full bloom, and wildlife is plentiful.
- Summer: California gets hot in the summer, and the mornings can be foggy. While the fog does make beautiful photographs, it doesn't subside until around noon.
P.S. Expect summers to get a lot of foot traffic at hiking trails and beaches, and eloping at sunrise to avoid it would be the way to go if you want a lot of privacy. Spring and fall are the best seasons to elope. Plan an elopement between Tuesday and Thursday for added privacy since people tend to take Monday or Friday off to have a long weekend when they're on vacation in California.
Have you heard of golden hour? It's the moment the sun rises and hits the surface of the earth, where you witness the phenomenal red, orange, and yellow colors lighting up the morning skies. Sunrise and sunset are the most magical times of the day to elope, and the California heat has not reached its peak or is coming down from the temperature high.
Elope in California Your Way
From the lush forests, waterfalls, and stunning meadows to the high mountainous peaks, eloping in California is a beautiful place to elope. If you dream of a low-key, stress-free vow exchange, take the leap and elope in California the way you want.
As your go-to duo elopement photographer in California, we have all the tools and resources to help you plan the perfect California elopement.