How to Elope in Washington

Your complete guide to planning an adventurous elopement in Washington State

Looking to Elope in Washington?

If you want an elopement location that is moody and is filled with beautiful scenery, Washington is the place! It’s the heart of the PNW and it’s beauty will leave you in awe. I oughta know, I lived there for over 21 years!

This guide will walk you through everything you need to plan your adventure elopement in Washington State.

I’m a born and raised Washingtonian and elopement photographer, and I help couples plan personalized weddings in the outdoors. I specialize in helping couples like you plan epic elopement experiences to create a stress-free, fun experience then document the day to keep the memories with you forever.

Why Elope in Washington?

I’m glad you asked!


If you haven’t had the privilege of visiting Washington yet, you you’re in for a treat! This state is the heart of the PNW and home to spectacular scenery! It’s a filled with virtually endless elopement locations to make your day feel like a fairytale.

Easily Accessible

Whether you’re looking to elope on the coast or in the seclusion of the mountains, you’ll find that natural beauty is easy to access across the state. The state is home to 3 National Parks with stunning views easily accessed with little to no hiking required.

Stunning Views

Home to 3 National Parks, 157 miles of coastline, and over 64 mountain ranges, Washington’s landscapes will take your breath away! With moody weather and awe-inspiring mountains, the scenery is diverse and will leave you breathless.

Variety of Landscapes

You’ll find more than just mountains in Washington. The state is home to a diverse range of landscapes ranging from rain forests to mountains to coastline to desert.

Frequently Asked Questions About Eloping in Washington

Got questions about Washington elopements? I’ve got answers!

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Washington?

The average cost for an elopement in Washington is between $4,000-$12,000 dollars, much cheaper than the average wedding cost of $23,000 in the same state!

How Quickly Can You Get Married in Washington?

Once you receive your marriage license, there is a 3 day waiting period before you can get married and the license is valid for 60 days.

Where Can You Elope in Washington?

Just about anywhere! Washington is home to 3 beautiful National Parks, not to mentions tons of other amazing locations! As long as you obtain the proper permits, there’s no real limit to where you can elope here.

Keep on scrolling for the locations with the best elopement views in the state!

Before we get started, allow me to introduce myself.

Hey there, I’m Tiana, an elopement photographer that specializes in adventurous elopements in the American West.

As a native Washingtonian, I want to tell you just how beautiful this state is. From the coast to the mountain tops, it is so freaking beautiful! I’m so grateful to have been born and raised in this state, and I can’t wait to share it’s beauty with you!

I wrote this guide to help couples like you learn everything you need to plan the perfect elopement here in Washington. If you’d like a partner to help you plan an epic elopement in the Evergreen State, I would love to help you plan and document your day!

How to Elope in Washington

  1. Hire a Washington elopement photographer
  2. Choose a ceremony location and date
  3. Obtain any necessary permits
  4. Plan your Washington elopement experience
  5. Have an epic elopement in Washington!

This guide is going to walk you through every step of planning your elopement in Washington. It will guide you through the best seasons for eloping in Washington, the best locations for eloping, how to obtain your Washington marriage license, and everything else you need to plan an unforgettable elopement experience in the PNW!

Choose a Location for Your Washington Elopement

One of the first big decisions you’ll need to make is to decide where you want to elope. If you’re working with an elopement photographer that also helps with planning, then you can ask them for guidance in this area.

Take a moment with your partner and envision your day. What kind of scenery do you want to be surrounded by as you share your vows? Do you want to include some exciting activities in your day like a hike or would you rather keep it simple? Keep these things in mind when choosing a location.

If you’re looking for inspiration and help narrowing your location down, I’ve got you! Washington has so many amazing locations to choose from, but here are my top choices:

North Cascades National Park

Located approximately 2 hours north of Seattle is the North Cascades National Park. You’ll find some of the most stunning mountain views in the entire state here! The North Cascades is also home to the largest concentration of glaciers in the lower 48. The area is a popular spot for hiking, camping, and backpacking. It’s less popular than the other National Parks in Washington, making it a great option if you’re looking to avoid crowds.

Check out my full guide to eloping in the North Cascades!

Mt. Baker

Sitting on the west end of the North Cascade mountain range is Mt. Baker, a 10,781 ft. active glacier-covered volcano. Known for its record snowfall in the winter, it is home to hiking trails in the summer and skiing in the winter and stunning views all year round.

Mt. Rainier National Park

Washington’s most well-known mountain, Mt. Rainier. It’s an icon of the state and for good reason. Mt. Rainier National Park is over 369 sq. miles and sits about 2 hours south of Seattle. You’ll find a variety of terrain from lush fern covered forests to the snowcap mountain (even in July!). There’s dozens of options for hiking, backpacking, camping, and wildlife watching.

Mt. Spokane

If you’re looking for a spot with beautiful mountain views, is easy to avoid crowds, and is also pet friendly, Mt. Spokane is the perfect spot! This mountain is 5,883 ft. tall and is part of the Selkirk mountain range. It’s a 40 minute drive from Spokane in eastern Washington, near the Idaho border. It’s home to year round activities including hiking, camping, snowshoeing, and skiing.

Check out my full guide to planning an adventure wedding in Spokane!

Olympic National Park

Washington state’s third National Park, the Olympic National Park is made up of four regions: the Pacific coastline, alpine areas, the west-side temperate rainforest, and the forests of the drier east side. Moody and rainy, the peninsula has beautiful rainforests, subalpine forests, as well as coastal beaches along the Pacific. You could easily spend a week here and only scratch the surface.

Deception Pass

Just under two hours north of Seattle is Deception Pass State Park. This park has some beautiful views of the Puget Sound, rugged cliffs, and old growth forests. It is close to several charming small towns and there’s access to several beaches along the coastline.

Orcas Island

One of the San Juan Islands in the Puget Sound, Orcas Island is another perfect spot if you’re seeking beauty and adventure. This island is a great spot for exploring whether you like to hike or horseback ride, with adorable bed and breakfast in several of their charming small towns.

Leavenworth

A charming Bavarian-styled village in the Cascade Mountains, located in central Washington. This town is a destination for tourists all year round for its alpine-style buildings, authentic German beer and food, and access to the surrounding mountains. This town and the surrounding area is one of the most beautiful areas in Washington!

Cape Flattery

Known for its stunning blue waters and steep cliffs, Cape Flattery is the northernmost point in the contiguous United States. It sits on Washington’s peninsula, not far from the Olympic National Park. It is part of the Makah Reservation and is home to some of the most beautiful ocean views in Washington.

Still Can’t Decide on a Location?

Check out my full guide on how to pick an elopement location for more tips on narrowing down your search.

Choose a Date for Your Washington Elopement

How to Select a Date for Your Washington Elopement

Once you have a location in mind, you’ll want to start narrowing down your date. This will depend on what kind of activities you want to include in your elopement. Washington is beautiful year round and offers fun opportunities year round!

Seasons

Washington may be known for its rain, but contrary to popular belief, the whole state isn’t this way. And typically when it rains there, it’s more likely to be a drizzle than pouring rain. But central Washington and eastern Washington receive far less than the western part of the state. 

Spring

Spring in Washington is known for its colorful blossoms, mild temperatures, and drizzly days (though less rain than in the winter). At higher elevations, snow is still common into late March. This is a great time to visit if you’re looking to avoid crowds while still having mild weather to spend time outdoors.

Summer

There’s a saying in Washington that summer doesn’t start until the 5th of July, because it’s not uncommon for it to rain up-to and including Independence Day. By mid-June, the temperatures average in the mid 60’s with less rain and clear blue skies. This time of year is the most popular for tourists and destinations such as National Parks will be at their busiest.

Autumn

Fall in Washington are unlike anywhere else! Temperatures start to fall quickly, and rain begins again, but the scenery comes alive with beautiful autumn colors! This time of year is less crowded and the weather is still good enough to get out and explore in the mountains.

Winter

Rain increases and temperatures drop into the 30’s and the mountains will become covered in snow. The lower elevations receive some snow with an average of 6.3 inches in Seattle. There’s plenty of opportunities for winter sports in the mountains with ski season kicking off in late November and typically running through April.

Wildfire Season

During the Summer, it’s common for wildfires in central and eastern Washington. The hot, dry conditions in combination with the forests that cover this part of the state create the perfect conditions for fires to start and spread. It’s not uncommon for August and September to have smoky conditions, even in western Washington.

Wildfires are typically the worst in August and September, but they can start in June or July if the conditions are right.

Before heading out to the backcountry, it’s always best to check for active wildfires near where you will be going.

Crowds

Washington may be known for its rain, but contrary to popular belief, the whole state isn’t this way. And typically when it rains there, it’s more likely to be a drizzle than pouring rain. But central Washington and eastern Washington receive far less than the western part of the state. 

Avoid Peak Season

Seattle has a big outdoors culture as well as drawing tourists from all over the world to their National Parks and other outdoor recreation opportunities. The peak seasons in the state are July and August, with June and September following closely behind. If avoiding crowds is a big priority for you, it’s best to avoid holidays and weekends and to stick to the shoulder seasons to get the most privacy.

Book Your Washington Elopement Photographer and Vendors

If you haven’t done so already, you want to start booking your vendors, especially your photographer! Most elopement photographers (such as myself) also help with planning and choosing a location. A good elopement photographer is an invaluable resource for planning because they will guide you through the process, help you find locations you might never of known about, and help you choose the best time of day for your ceremony and portraits to get the best light. All on top of documenting your day!

You’ll also want to start considering what other vendors you want to include in your day and get them booked. Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you can’t have a day catered to you! Some of the most popular elopement vendors you can consider booking include:

  • Florist
  • Caterer or Chef
  • Officiant
  • Hair & Makeup Artist
  • Videographer

How to Get Married in Washington

Now, let’s get into how to legally get married in Washington. Don’t worry, it’s not a complicated process!

No matter what state you live in, you will get your marriage license through the state that you are getting married in. Below you’ll find how to get your marriage license in Washington. Please note that I always recommend looking up the County Recorders Office website for the county you will be getting married in to find the exact steps, as it may vary slightly from county to county.

How to Obtain a Marriage License in Washington

In order to receive your marriage license in Washington, both you and your partner will need to complete a marriage application either in person or via mail. You will need to bring your government issued identification and the price is approximately $72. If you apply through the mail, you must sign the application in front of a Notary Public.

Once the application has been approved, you will be issued a marriage license which will have a 3 day waiting period before you can get married. The license will expire after 60 days.

The exact details can be found on the county website of whatever location you will be getting married in.

Officiant

Your officiant must be an ordained minister to legally perform your marriage. This can be a judge, a retired judge, or an ordained minister.

Witnesses

Washington State requires 2 witnesses be present at your wedding to sign your marriage certificate.

Plan Your Washington Elopement Day

Now’s the fun part, you get to start planning the details of your adventure elopement. Have fun finding activities and ways to make your day special, unique, and memorable. Remember, you can include anything you want in your day!

Don’t forget to follow Leave No Trace when planning your day.

Some Activity Idea’s to Include in Your Washington Elopement:

  • Hike to your ceremony location
  • Rent a cozy cabin
  • Explore a National Park
  • Go on a picnic in the mountains
  • Have an intimate dinner with your closest relationships
  • Watch the sunset over the coast
  • Go kayaking

Check out this list of 50+ elopement day activities for more ideas!

Book Accommodations for Your Washington Elopement

Find and book your accommodations for your trip. Great lodging can make a good trip into a great one, so make sure to find the perfect place to stay to make your elopement that much more special!

Make Your Travel Plans

Once you’ve started planning your day, you need to start making travel plans! This may include booking airfare if you’re flying in from out of state, reserving a rental car, and/or a shuttle to get from the airport to your hotel.

Create a Timeline for your Washington Elopement

Once you’ve decided on what activities you want to include in your day, put together a timeline for your day. Ask your photographer for help with this, as they can help you arrange your day to give you enough time for everything, as well as suggest the best times for photos to get the best lighting. Check out my guide to creating an elopement timeline.

This is a complimentary service I include in all of my elopement packages! If you’re interested in learning more, check out my packages here!

Washington Elopement Packages

Want to take the stress out of planning your elopement? I offer elopement packages that include a whole lot more than just photography! Every single one of my packages offer unlimited planning assistance to help you find that perfect location you’re dreaming of, helping research and obtain any required permits for your day, assistance creating a timeline for your day, and more all on top of documenting your adventure!

Get Married!

The day is here and all of your planning comes together! You get to have the best day every while your photographer documents it. Take your time and enjoy the day!

Eloping in Washington offers the perfect opportunity to create an epic and meaningful wedding experience surrounded by the beauty of nature. With the right location, a bit of planning, and some assistance from your photographer, your day will be a magical, stress-free experience that will become the adventure of a lifetime!

If you’re looking for someone to help you plan and document your day, I would love to help you! Contact me to start planning your adventure elopement.

Happy eloping!