Washington State Elopement Guide
If you dream of eloping in Washington State, you won’t be disappointed! I might be biased, but this part of the country holds some of the most incredible landscapes and lush beauty I’ve ever seen. I love photographing elopements here – there’s always something so moving about two people celebrating their love surrounded by the ancient grandeur of the mountains and towering evergreens. You can truly feel the deep connection between us all in these wild and stunning places.
Top 5 Washington State Elopement Destinations
1. Mt Rainier National Park
2. Olympic National Park
3. North Cascades National Park
4. Central Cascades
5. Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Mt. Rainier National Park
Home to the soaring heights of Mount Rainier, Mt Rainier National Park is a glorious place for eloping in Washington State. Mount Rainier itself is an active composite volcano, making it a geological playground. The park access makes the towering mountain peak feel as though it’s sitting in your lap, the stark white of its snowy glaciers in vivid contrast to the blue sky above and the thick forest of evergreens below. With mountain meadows full of wildflowers, glacial runoff, and vivid alpine lakes, this gorgeous national park feels like a true escape from the hectic noise of the outside world.
Best time of year: End of July/August
In the summertime, Mount Rainier is at its most vibrant, and you will have the most access to all trails the park provides, with the ground free of the deep snow that often covers the land from the end of October until the beginning of July. You could pledge your love here amid fields of wildflowers, and enjoy summer’s moderate temperatures.
My favorite places
There are a plethora of trails that lead to fire lookouts, giving you 360 views of all the surrounding mountains– even Mt Adams, Mt Hood, & Mt St Helens! Tipsoo Lake is great for ceremonies with its open spaces & easy access to views of Mt Rainier. Trails near Paradise Inn are best for Sunrise and have the closest & most grand views of Mt Rainier. Sunrise Visitor Center, just on the other side of the mountain, offers trails most beautiful for hiking at sunset, golden light pouring over the landscape as the sun dips behind the mountain.
Check out this beautiful Mt Rainier Cabin elopement to get an idea of what eloping in Washington State could look like for you. It was certainly a privilege to capture it!
Olympic National Park
You have to consider Olympic National Park for your Washington elopement. This place is nothing short of awe-inspiring. All of the charms of Washington State are on vivid display here with its extremely diverse landscape. Its beauty includes 70 miles of jaw-dropping coastline, dozens of lakes– from the grand and vast to the intimate and hidden, rich forests, and huge mountain ranges! Being the most western point of WA, you may even see the best sunset of your life.
Best time of year: ALL year
Weather on the peninsula can go from rainy to sunny in a day, on any day, in any season. But even with its mysterious weather & drizzles, there are beautiful places to elope outside ALL year-round. Although some months may be more pleasant than others (July & August), I love Olympic National Park because it has it all & there’s something for every season.
My favorite places
Hurricane Ridge has the tallest snowy, mountain peaks. These mountains were the first I witnessed in WA, and they made me want to move across the country to be nearer. Lake Crescent is home to deep, mossy forests great for coverage on rainy days, waterfalls & some of the park’s bluest waters. If you want to be completely surrounded by giant trees, the Hoh Rainforest is the place for you. It’s full of vibrant rainforests and wildlife, specifically herds of elk! On a good day, the Olympic coast will give you the best sunsets and make for great elopement ceremony locations with its open spaces & easy access.
Olympic National Park is something truly special, and it’s close to my heart. If you’re intrigued by the idea of getting married in this wonder, I’ve written up a Guide to Planning an Olympic Park Elopement – this one’s for you.
North Cascades National Park
The glacier-fed lakes here will take your breath away. Some of them gleam a pure aquamarine color! This dramatic landscape of deep valleys and high crests is unforgettable. It makes my soul sing, and I know it will do the same for you. North Cascades National Park has over 300 glaciers, which is more than anywhere else in the United States outside of Alaska! Everything is intensely alive here, and I can’t think of a better spot for eloping in Washington State.
Best time of year: July-Oct
In July-August, the water around the North Cascade will be it’s most vibrant. You don’t want to miss its color! Filled with glacial flour from the snow-melt, the turquoise hue is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. As October comes to a close, the snowfall will begin, making much of the park inaccessible, but there are lower elevations near the waterfronts that will remain open most of the year.
My favorite places
Diablo Lake holds the most brilliant aqua water and has lovely campsites all around. Further down Highway 20 is the wild & rugged Washington Pass. This part of the park is usually less trafficked & the mountain views are the grandest, filled with endless hikes to alpine lakes. I’ve even got my own curated list to share with you upon booking!
Similar to the North Cascades, with its huge peaks & blue lakes, though these mountain ranges tend to be a bit drier in climate as they approach the eastern part of the state. They are home to some of the state’s most unique plant life, such as the iconic golden larch trees. I love this area! It has quaint vacation towns nestled among its canyons and major highways passing through, like I-90, making it easy to visit. It’s a great option for eloping in Washington State if you want to be able to take in the world-class beauty, but you still want to have (some) phone signal and the amenities & activities in town.
Best time of year: Jun-Oct
With the drier climate & warmer temps, some parts of these mountains will be free from snow and covered with vibrant wildflowers as early as June! But my favorite time of year in the central cascades is in the fall because the golden larches will be on full display! After November, much of these areas will begin to cover with feet of snow, so get in town before then if you want to avoid the cold!
My favorite places
The Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth is the cutest mountain town I’ve visited, minutes away from some of the state’s best hiking in Icicle Canyon. These trails include the Enchantments, WA’s most popular backpacking loop. All around the Enchantments are endless, rugged trails to mesmerizing alpine lakes & giant summits.
Another great destination is Snoqualmie Pass. With numerous forest roads, you can get to some of the most incredible private lookouts deep in the mountains. From Keechelus, Kachess & Cle Elum to the popular Gold Creek Pond, I’d suggest that you hold your ceremony on the shores of one of this area’s large lakes, right as the sunsets. Pledging your love as the golden light reflects off of the mountains and ripples across the crystal lake. Sounds perfect to me.
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
If you’re truly seeking adventure and some of the state’s most vast rugged wilderness, you’ve got to visit this National Forest. In the north, giant snowy peaks like Mt Baker- an active volcano, & Mt Shuksan stand tall above the surrounding ridges and evergreens. In the south, you’ll be welcomed by lush forests, roaring rivers, ice caves, and some of WA’s most popular hikes to alpine lakes!
Best time of year: July-Sept
With a big part of this national forest butting up to Canada’s border, winter comes early. Come to the grand peaks of the north in the summer, enjoying mountain meadows of wildflowers and more moderate mountain temperatures, while still enjoying the snowy peak of Mt Baker. This is the best time for hiking the forest’s many humbling trails.
My favorite places
Mountain loop highway holds some of WA’s most iconic A-frame cabins with easy access to the enveloping beautiful scenery. In the North, the vista at Artist point is unlike any 360-degree view you’ll get in the state. You can even enjoy water activities such as kayaking & paddle boarding on the blue water of Baker Lake!
Best Elopement Airbnbs
Washington has an incredible amount of cabins/homes tucked away in all of its vast landscape that would be perfect for hosting your elopement. Here’s my curated list of Elopement Airbnbs!
Eloping in Washington State: Tips and Tricks
If you’re planning on eloping in Washington State, there are a few key things to keep in mind. I’ve photographed some gorgeous weddings and elopements here, so I have a few suggestions for you:
Have your marriage license ready: apply at least a month in advance.
Go on a weekday: many of the best locations for eloping in Washington State are popular with tourists – so dodge the crowds by avoiding the weekend. Peak hours are from 11 am-3 pm, so if you can plan an early morning or evening ceremony, you’ll have more privacy.
Two witnesses: Every state has different regulations, but in Washington, you need to have two witnesses present to sign your certificate, and your officiant can’t be one of them. I (or whoever you book as your photographer) will be able to witness for you – it would be an honor! – but you do need to bring at least one more person along.
Bring a change of shoes: some of the most outrageously beautiful scenes are here, but you might need to hike for a little bit to reach them. Pack your hiking boots and then some wedding shoes to change into, or work a walking shoe into your elopement look – just don’t show up to take on Mount Rainier in heels!
Bring umbrellas: enough said!
Final Thoughts on Eloping in Washington State
I hope you’ve seen just how unforgettable eloping in Washington State could be for you and your love! Any of these destinations will give you a wedding day that is literally picture-perfect – and you deserve nothing less.
Have more questions about eloping in Washington State? Looking for an elopement photographer? Get in touch