How to Elope in Washington

KATIE BERG PHOTO || Washington wedding & elopement photographer

Whether it's hiking through the rugged mountains of Mt. Rainier National Park or exploring the coastal beaches of Olympic National Park, as your personal Washington wedding photographer, I'll be there to capture every second of your love in one of the most mesmerizing parts of our country. Because you deserve more than just incredible photos, you deserve the ultimate adventure in the most perfect and memorable place imaginable.

Ready for your next adventure?

Let me be your guide!

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR AN EPIC DAY

1. Choose your dates and length of trip

2. Send me an inquiry for a FREE elopement consultation

3. Hire me to help you plan your epic day — I’ll help plan EVERYTHING from locations, vendors and timelines to day-of activities, permits, accommodations and anything in between

4. Apply for a marriage license

5. We’ll have an adventure in the location you chose in Washington, create some epic pics and celebrate the start of a new chapter of your lives together!

When planning your elopement, one of the biggest things to take into consideration is the time of year! Personally, I don’t believe there’s a wrong time to elope in Washington where you won’t get the most amazing experience of your life! The weather in Washington can be very unpredictable but whether its snow, rain, fog or sun, rest assured that I got you! My talent is in creating epic photos of you too look beautiful and having the time of your lives no matter what weather conditions we may face. But still — each season will bring its own unique set of elements to the day that you might want to consider when choosing your elopement date.

SPRING: This is rainy season in Washington so make sure you're ready for it! Temperatures aren't are cold as the winter, but still expect mostly overcast days which can be epic for creating a really moody and romantic atmosphere.

SUMMER: This is my favorite time of the year because most of the hiking trails are snow-free and have a higher chance of wildflowers and sunny skies! Peak wildflower time is between July and August, especially on Mt. Rainier. Another bonus – most, if not all, of the mountain pass roads at higher elevations will be open and ready for you to explore meaning more elopement locations available to you!

FALL: Fall colors, cool temps and beautiful autumn foliage – what could be better?! Mid-September through mid-October are prime times if you're thinking about eloping to the Pacific Northwest in the Fall.

WINTER: If you're wanting a snowy elopement, winter in Washington is perfect for you! Some things to note though: a lot of the mountain roads will be closed or inaccessible as it gets later into the winter months so make sure to plan accordingly. Winter at lower elevations might also bring on drizzling rain and some cloudy and overcast weather but if you plan right, a magical winter wonderland will be waiting for you!

Sunrise or Sunset?

SUNRISE

PROS: Less tourists! Most people don’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn (more like hours before dawn lol) and can you blame them? But this is part of why it makes sunrise so special! Not only will you get to start you day of being married, but you’ll be able to hit up coveted locations like Mt. Rainier National Park or the North Cascades without much, if any, disturbance from other tourists. If you plan on eloping in the summer when foot traffic on the trails is at an all time high, you might want to consider a sunrise ceremony! The weather also tends to be the most predictable in the mornings as well, an extra plus!

CONS: Get ready to be tiredddd. In order for you to wake up, shower, do your hair, put makeup on, get dressed, drive, hike and get everything ready for the ceremony, you will have to get up extremely early. If you aren’t a morning person, this might not be the best option for you.

The time of day you plan for your wedding ceremony can greatly impact your elopement day experience! As an elopement photographer, I specialize in finding the most perfect light for my couples and unless its an overcast or cloudy day, I ALWAYS recommend having a sunrise elopement or sunset elopement because this is when you'll get the most beautiful and golden light imaginable! Still, there's some pros and cons – so let's go over those!

SUNSET

PROS: You have the whole day to take your time, enjoy yourselves and get ready! This is also the perfect option is you’re hoping to do a first look before your ceremony. You'll get the same amazing light as you would during sunrise, but without the need to get up super early. If you are also having guests attend, this is usually an easier option for them.

CONS: If you’re wanting photos in multiple locations but are not wanting to do a first look ahead of time, this might not be the best option for you. You’ll be most likely limited to one area as the distances between locations in Washington can take a lot of time to get to and from especially on the trails.

Permits & Marriage License

Eloping in Washington state means you will need to apply for your marriage license ($57-$67) at least 3 days before your elopement. There's a 3 day waiting period after you've been issued your marriage license before you can actually use it so plan accordingly! My recommendation? Pick up your marriage license 1-2 weeks beforehand. The last thing you want is to have to worry about your license the day of your wedding!

If you plan to elope in any of the national parks or forests within Washington, you will most likely need a wedding permit, which can range between price depending on your location. Whether you’re having an official ceremony or not, this permit will be required. After you decide on your locations with your photographer, make sure to review the permit info for more in depth information. Here are some of the most popular ones below:

Mt. Rainier National Park Wedding / Permit Info

North Cascades Wedding / Permit Info

Olympic National Park Wedding / Permit Info

The Best Locations in Washington

WITH SO MANY STUNNING PLACES AROUND Washington, IT CAN BE HARD TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT SPOT FOR YOUR CEREMONY OR EVEN JUST YOUR COUPLES PORTRAITS! WHEN PLANNING YOUR LOCATIONS, MAKE SURE TO DO YOUR RESEARCH. NOT ALL SPOTS ARE CREATED EQUAL AND SOME CAN TAKE OVER AN HOUR TO ACTUALLY GET TOO! BELOW ARE SOME OF MY FAVORITE OPTIONS TO GET YOU STARTED.

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK

Drive Time from Seattle: roughly 2 hours

Mount Rainier National Park is one of the most iconic Washington landmarks you will find and one of the most perfect backdrops for your elopement day that Washington has to offer! It's full of waterfalls, alpine lakes, wildflower meadows, fire lookouts and views of the expansive Tatoosh Mountain Range that surrounds Mt. Rainier. The two most popular areas are Sunrise (accessible from May to September) and Paradise (open year around). The possibilities are truly endless, so whether you're wanting to do a multi-day backpacking trip or a quick in-and-out hike for your wedding day, Mount Rainier National Park has it all! Depending on your vision for your day, I can help provide custom guides and recommendations so you can have all the epic views and the best day ever.

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK

Drive Time from Seattle: 2.5 – 3 hours

Did you know that North Cascades National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the country? Which is crazy because the North Cascades are known as the Alps of America and are packed with the most beautiful snow capped mountains and pristine alpine lakes around! The best locations are only accessible by a hike which means you'll most likely get a remote location all to yourself! The North Cascades are home to some of my favorite spots in Washington including Artist Point (such a dream at sunrise) and Diablo Lake (a bright blue lake overlooking amazing mountains.) Let me know how long of a hike you'd like to experience on your wedding day and whatever you choose, I'll help create!

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

Drive Time from Seattle: 2 – 4 hours

Olympic National Park is one of my favorite places around and one of the only places that offers you a wide range of breathtaking landscapes including beach views, rain forests, alpine lakes, mountain ranges, water and more. Olympic is HUGE and can be very overwhelming if you aren't sure what you're looking for. Let me know what vibes you're searching for and I'll provide you with all the details! Some of my favorite places in Olympic include Lake Crescent, Hurricane Ridge, Ruby Beach, Hoh Rainforest and many others!

SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST

Drive Time from Seattle: 45 minutes – 1.5 hours

Snoqualmie National Forest is one of the closest locations to Seattle and is home to some of the most beautiful views in Washington including waterfalls, turquoise alpine lakes, lush forests and more. Which means it also has a tendency to also be the most crowded, especially in the summer! Some of my favorite places are Gold Creek Pond, Rattlesnake Ledge, Snoqualmie Falls and more. Creating an intimate and remote atmosphere for your wedding day tends to be challenging, especially on a weekend, so if you're worried about crowds, let me know and I can provide you with information on all my favorite hidden gems!

THE WASHINGTON COAST

Drive Time from Seattle: 3 – 4 hours

The Washington Coast is one of the most magical places complete with dramatic and moody vibes, lush forests and rugged beaches! Some of my favorite Washington beaches are Rialto Beach, Cape Flattery, Second Beach, Ruby Beach and Cape Disappointment State park. For the outdoor lovers, there are even some amazing spots for some oceanfront camping on Kalaloch beach (right next to Ruby Beach.)

Some other things to consider

As mentioned earlier, the weather in Washington can be extremely unpredictable, When it comes to eloping anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, make sure to be prepared for anything, embrace the adventure of whatever the day brings and don't let a little bad weather keep you from having the time of your life! I promise Washington is beautiful no matter what the weather is.

Always make sure you’re practicing good Leave No Trace Principles when planning your adventure elopement. Washington state and national parks have taken a serious beating over the recent years with visitors and tourists not respecting the environment and wildlife leading park employees to get more strict about the amount of people let in. Protecting these parks by following LNT best practices are so important to make sure we're maintaining and preserving it's beauty!

As an adventure elopement photographer with lots of experience in Washington, trust me when I say that skimping out on a photographer is something you should definitely not too. Especially not in Washington and ESPECIALLY not on your most beloved and special day.

Washington is gorgeous, but can be difficult to shoot in if you don't know what you're doing. You want someone who knows the in's and out's of the park so well that you can just relax and have the most fun, stress-free, adventure-filled day the two of you deserve!

I'm more than just a photographer. I'm your wedding planner, cheerleader, travel guide, pack mule, best friend and more. Why? Because I'm 110% in this for you! Whatever you need, no matter what, I've got you. I'm the photographer who wants to be with you every step of the way because you deserve a someone who will go all out for you and get to know the REAL you.

Let's create something beautiful together and bring your most wild wedding day dreams to life!

So whaddya say? Are ya ready to start planning your ultimate dream elopement?!

Katie Berg Photo is a Portland based wedding and elopement photographer

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katie is a moab adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer, specializing in photographing adventurous and joyful couples.

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