Alpine lakes, towering meadows, driftwood beaches, fog-covered trees, and breathtaking flower meadows are just a few of the many landscapes you can find in Washington State. Not only is Washington known for its immense beauty, but it’s also known for its diversity in ecosystems, food, and culture. Here, you can enjoy incredible dining in Seattle, the cutest off-grid Airbnbs near Mt. Rainier, hiking trails through the mountains, and some of the most charming coastal towns around. There truly is something unique waiting for each couple in the evergreen state.
As a photographer who specializes and has shot over 100+ adventure elopements in the Pacific Northwest, I’m confident in saying that Washington State is my favorite place to photograph elopements, and after reading this guide, you’ll see why. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about how to plan an elopement in Washington State, including the 21 best places to elope in Washington State, Washington elopement packages, marriage license information, helpful tips, and so much more. Let’s dive in, shall we?
21 Best Places to Elope in Washington State
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is known for being one of the most diverse national parks in the United States. Here, you can find lush green rainforests, snow-capped mountains, blue lakes, foggy beaches, and rushing waterfalls. Its diversity makes it the perfect place to elope, as you’re guaranteed to see more than just one landscape throughout the day. Below are some of my favorite locations in Olympic National Park.
Want to learn more and see other locations in Olympic? Check out my free Olympic National Elopement Guide.
One of the most stunning views in Washington State can be found at Hurricane Ridge. This overlook is one the most popular places in the park due to its accessibility. Hurricane Ridge is a drive-up location. There is zero hiking required to elope here, making it a popular choice for elopements with friends and family. You can find various hiking trails, wildflower meadows, and wildlife here. You can also access the area in the winter if you’re into snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Hurricane Ridge is known for its incredible sunrises and sunsets.
See the elopement I photographed at Hurricane Ridge pictured below here!
This unique beach near the small town of Forks (yes, the famous town in Twilight) is a popular wedding destination for couples all around the world. If you’re wanting that famous Pacific Northwest look of driftwood, fog, and unique rock formations, Ruby Beach is the place for you. The beach is also a dog-friendly location!
Check out this golden hour Ruby Beach elopement I photographed here.
Lake Cushman is an alpine lake on the southeast side of the park. It’s a short drive from the Seattle area, making this one of the more popular spots in Washington, especially during the warm summer months where you’ll see people barbecuing, paddle-boarding, and camping. However, if you visit in the spring, fall, and winter, this location is quiet, peaceful, and absolutely stunning.
See a stunning elopement I photographed at Lake Cushman here.
The most rare rainforest in the Pacific Northwest, the Hoh Rainforest, is a must-see spot, even if you decide against it as your ceremony location. This is Olympic’s most popular location. The Hoh Rainforest is famous for its magical and unworldly appearance. It’s also noted as being the quietest spot in the continental U.S. Prepare for heavy traffic in the summer and lots of rain in the winter. This spot is truly one of the most unique and best places to elope in Washington.
A small walk through a dense forest will lead you to Madison Falls, an enchanting location and great place to cool off in the summer. Madison Falls is perfect for those looking to incorporate a waterfall into their special day. The Elwha River is right across the road, along with a valley that has stunning views of the Olympic Mountains. The base of Madison Falls isn’t huge, so plan to visit this location before or after peak times. This location is also dog-friendly and ADA accessible!
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest/North Cascades National Park
This 1.7 million acre forest is one of the most visited forests in the United States. Filled with hiking trails, jaw dropping mountain ranges, and roaring waterfalls, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a great choice for any adventure elopement. Many people mix up the Mt. Baker area for North Cascades National Park. While they’re practically side by side and used interchangeably, North Cascades National Park is more known for its challenging hikes and seclusion from large towns. The park is less busy than the famous Mt. Baker forest and has many hidden gem locations that are ideal for small elopements.
Artist Point is an extremely popular spot in Mt. Baker. It’s one of the most photographed and visited locations in the area. While I can’t emphasize enough how stunning this area is, it’s quite busy, especially in the summer. With a short season (July-October), many visitors flock to the Mt. Baker area to see Artist Point. I recommend this area during sunset, especially in the fall when the colors are vibrant as ever. If you’re hoping for a more secluded location, reach out! As an elopement photographer, I have secret spots reserved just for my couples without the crowds!
Close to Artist Point sits Bagley Lakes, one of the many accessible alpine lakes within the area (there are over 120 alpine lakes in North Cascades National Park alone). The lake is part of a hiking trail called the Chain Lakes Loop, a hike filled with 6 different alpine lakes. This area is ideal during the fall or early winter months, right before the first snowfall of the season. I personally love this location during sunrise or sunset. Not a single soul is around!
You can find fire lookouts (93 to be exact) located all throughout Washington State. Fire lookouts are some of the most epic elopement destinations in the United States, and one of my personal favorite locations to photograph elopements.vMost of the time, they’ll require some uphill hiking, but the views are always worth it, especially during sunset. You may even get lucky and snag one of these lookouts for the night! Plus, they make great stargazing spots. Some of my favorite fire lookouts in Washington are Park Butte and Mount Fremont.
The 2-mile roundtrip hike to get to Franklin Falls is well deserving to be on this list of the best places to elope in Washington. Located in the Snoqualmie area, this roaring waterfall is just a short drive from Seattle. However, before you visit, be prepared to get soaking wet! The space also isn’t the largest, so expect crowds if you visit during the peak times of day. There are also tons of hidden forest trails nearby that are stunning for pictures!
Gold Creek Pond
This stunning location is a short drive from Seattle and located just off the main highway. Gold Creek Pond is popular for camping, picnics, and more. This spot in particular is known for being one of Washington’s best places to elope. The road to get here is bumpy and there isn’t a ton of parking, but if you come early in the morning, you’re sure to find a spot. This location is open year-round, though best visited during the summer. There is an ADA accessible path around the pond and the perfect spot for those with little ones.
Pro tip: This is Washington’s most popular photo spot. Avoid weekends at all costs if you want privacy!
Check out this gorgeous Gold Creek Pond elopement pictured below here!
Snoqualmie is a small destination town nestled between the mountains. There are tons of different pull-offs and spots around the small town that are perfect for an elopement. The mountain ranges and open fields are ideal for couples wanting something both intimate and picturesque. In the winter, this exact spot pictured below turns into a winter wonderland. This is one of my most hidden gem locations!
Maple Pass is a 7 mile roundtrip hike that passes through forest, open mountain ranges, alpine lakes, and meadows. This is one of the most popular hiking trail within North Cascades National Park, but don’t let this detour you. Hiking the trail will be an extremely memorable experience, especially during the fall when the trees change color and are as vibrant as ever.
If you’re looking for a true elopement experience, Stehekin is the place for you. Stehekin is an extremely small town in the heart of the North Cascades. The only way to reach this community is by plane, boat, horse, or foot. Not only will it be one of the most peaceful places you can visit, but it will also be one of the most beautiful. Take a ferry or a seaplane, your choice!
Mount Rainier National Park
Due to its proximity to Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park is Washington State’s most visited national park. It’s also an extremely popular spot for elopements. With endless trails, activities, and nearby cities, this national park is one of the best for visitors all around the world.
Check out this complete guide all about how to elope in Mount Rainier National Park. There are more locations in this guide as well!
Tolmie Peak Trail
This incredible 5.6 mile hike will guide you past subalpine meadows, alpine lakes, and will eventually lead you to a fire lookout. The Tolmie Peak Trail is a must-do in Mt. Rainier, even if you decide against it for your ceremony. You’ll feel so close to the mountain, almost as if you could reach out and touch it. The hike is rated as moderate and includes some fairly steep inclines.
Tipsoo Lake is a popular alpine lake in Mount Rainier due to its accessibility. As most locations are, this area is especially beautiful during wildflower season in August. The lake is framed by Mt. Rainier, the perfect backdrop for any photo. If you’re bringing guests to your ceremony and want a location with easy access, Tipsoo Lake is a great choice, though as with all locations, consider sunrise or sunset. This location in Mt. Rainier is particularly busy year-round.
Silver Forest Trail
There are beautiful views right from the start of the Silver Forest Trail. If you’re wanting to get up close and personal with Mt. Rainier, this is the trail for you. This specific trail is also known for it’s beautiful wildflowers, but it’s more narrow than others, making this the perfect spot for portraits or elopements without any guests.
Grove of the Patriarchs
If you love redwood forests, Grove of the Patriarchs is a perfect ceremony location for you. Consider having an early ceremony here, as this is one of the most popular places in the park and one of the best places to elope in Washington. The trail is very easy to access and great for all ages, though it’s especially kid-friendly!
If you’re looking for something a bit closer to Seattle, I’ve got you covered. There are tons of beautiful spots just under an hour from the city. Whether you’re looking for forests, lakes, or overlooks, you’ll be sure to find them all. If you’re hoping to stay close and enjoy everything the city has to offer, here are some locations you need to check out.
Be sure to read more about planning an elopement in Seattle in my Seattle elopement guide!
What better way to stay close to the city than to elope in the city? There are tons of unique and fun backdrops for your ceremony, including all the touristy areas like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. When it comes to the downtown area, plan for traffic, and if possible, elope during sunrise to avoid all the crowds.
If you’re hoping to get an epic landscape close to the city, look no further than Rattlesnake Ledge. This is a 5.3 mile hike up to one of Washington’s most famous overlooks and is one of the best places to elope in the state. If you’re not up for hiking, skip the hike and drive up to the shore of the lake where you can have a ceremony with friends and family.
Alki Beach is a popular place to visit in Seattle, especially during the warm summer months. The beach is most well known for its sweeping views of the skyline. Here, you can find picnic tables, restrooms, and walking paths. It’s a great place to watch the sunset and play a game of volleyball or two.
Lake 22 is hands-down one of the best places to elope in Washington State. The trailhead is a short hour drive from Seattle. The trail is 6.8 miles long and will take you through an old growth forest across some creeks. The lake itself is stunning and can be accessed year-round. This location is extremely busy though, especially during the summer, so plan your ceremony to be around sunset or sunrise if possible. This location is also dog-friendly!
What Time of Year Should I Elope in Washington State?
Due to the immense variety Washington has to offer, each location will have a different ideal time to elope. Check out the information below to get a general idea of when the best time to elope for you would be. To get more detailed information, I always recommend asking your photographer or doing a bit more research on Google.
July – September is the best time to elope in Washington State if having good weather is important to you. In the summer, there’s lots of sunshine, no snow, and all hiking trails are accessible. However, this also means that the national forests and parks are extremely crowded, regardless if it’s a weekday or weekend. If privacy is important to you, consider a fall elopement instead.
- Olympic National Park: June – late-September
- Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest/North Cascades National Park: late-July – late-September
- Mt. Rainier National Park: July – late-September
- Seattle: June – September
October – November are Washington’s fall months. The fall season here is short, but sweet. The fall colors in the state are absolutely beautiful and well worth checking out. This is the perfect time to elope if you want an elopement without the crowds and semi-good weather (prepare for rain and snow, especially in higher elevations during the month of November). Personally, I think all the best places to elope in Washington really shine in the fall.
- Olympic National Park: late-September – October
- Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest/North Cascades National Park: late-September – mid-October
- Mt. Rainier National Park: late-September – mid-October
- Seattle: October – November
December – March make up the winter months in Washington State. If you’re hoping for Washington’s famous mountainous terrain, consider eloping during the summer, as many of the higher elevation locations are completely inaccessible until the late summer. However, if you want something without snow, consider checking out lower elevation parks and forests like Olympic National Park or Seattle. Keep in mind that this is the rainiest season in Washington, but also the season that gets the least amount of visitors.
- Olympic National Park: November – March
- Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest/North Cascades National Park: late-October – May
- Mt. Rainier National Park: mid-October – mid-April
- Seattle: December – March
April – June is another great time to elope in Washington. The weather is usually still rainy during this time of year, but the waterfalls are at their peak and the greenery is lush and vibrant. Most of the roads to higher elevation areas are still not open, but in lower elevation areas, specifically in Olympic National Park and Mt. Rainier, most locations are empty and perfect for a private ceremony.
- Olympic National Park: April – May
- Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest/North Cascades National Park: June – late-July
- Mt. Rainier National Park: mid-April – June
- Seattle: April – May
How to Get a Marriage License in Washington State
A marriage license in Washington State has a three day waiting period, meaning you can’t elope until three days have passed after picking up your marriage license. The marriage license expires in 60 days. If you want to see when your marriage license will be valid, check out this super helpful calculator on King County’s website.
*Note: I am using King County in this example. Each county may have a different process and price to obtain a marriage license. You do not need to get a marriage license from the county you’ll be getting married in. You can get a marriage license from any county in Washington.
- Fill out the online marriage license application.
- Pick up your marriage license at least 3 days before your elopement. You must bring photo ID and $69 to pay for the application fee.
- After your elopement, the officiant must drop off the signed marriage license to be processed.
- Fill out the online marriage license application.
- After the application has been completed, email the recorder’s office (KCROMarriage@kingcounty.gov) with the transaction number on your application and a good telephone number.
- In three business days, you will receive a call to pay for the $69 application fee with your debit/credit card. Your marriage license will then be mailed to the address on your application.
- After your elopement, the officiant must drop off the signed marriage license to be processed.
- Fill out the paper application.
- Have the application notarized. King County does not provide notarization services.
- Mail in the original notarized application with the $69 check or money order to the following address: King County, 500 Fourth Ave., Suite 430, Seattle, WA 98104. Checks are payable to King County Recorder.
- After your elopement, the officiant must drop off the signed marriage license to be processed.
Check out the official website for more helpful information here. If you have additional questions, the recorder’s office can be reached at 206-477-6620.
Do I Need an Officiant and Witness for My Washington State Elopement?
Yes. You will need an officiant and two witnesses for your Washington State elopement.
Pro tip: If you want a friend or family member to be your officiant, they can get ordained for free online through the Universal Life Church in less than 5 minutes.
Pro tip: I am ordained and officiate ceremonies for free in all my elopement packages! Already have an officiant? I can be a witness!
Do I Need a Permit to Elope in Washington State?
Yes. In order to elope in Washington State, you’ll more than likely need what’s called a “special use permit,” a permit that allows you to have a ceremony on national park/forest land. Most national parks and forests require this type of permit. Usually, it’s around $50 – $100.
After choosing your location, ask your photographer about how to obtain special use permit and they should know where to send you. In most cases, you’ll usually fill out a form listed on the website of the national park or forest you’ve chosen as your location, email it in, then pay the fee online.
Permits take a few weeks to process and may come with late fees if submitted too late. I always encourage my couples to submit their permit applications as soon as they’ve chosen their location. 3 months before your elopement is a safe time to submit your application, though each park has different rules.
To get more detailed permit information about each national park in Washington, check out my free elopement guides below.
- Olympic National Park Permit Information
- North Cascades National Park Permit Information
- Mt. Rainier National Park Permit Information
Pro tip: I handle the permit process for my couples, because what’s more of a mood killer than paperwork?
Best Airbnbs for Your Washington State Elopement
One of my many favorite things about Washington State is the amount of amazing Airbnbs there are to choose from. From off-grid cabins and a-frames, to modern homes and apartments, there are options for everyone.
Below are some of my favorite Airbnbs you can find in Washington State.
Olympic National Park Airbnbs
- Epic Treehouse on the Water (one of my favorites!)
- A-Frame Getaway
- Pond Cottage
- Mountain View A-Frame
- Lake Crescent Cottage
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest/North Cascades Airbnbs
- Retro A-Frame Chalet (I stayed here and it was incredible!)
- Secluded Mountain Cabin
- Mt. Baker Forest Cabin
- Industrial Chic Chalet
- Glacier Chalet
Mt. Rainier Airbnbs
- Designer Home in Enatai
- Olalla Forest Retreat Storybook Cottage (so unique!)
- Water-View Home
- Alki Beach House
- Modern Designer Home
Washington Elopement Vendors
Below are some of my favorite elopement vendors in Washington State that I’ve worked with and/or have heard amazing things about that I highly recommend for your elopement.
Pro tip: I give detailed vendor recommendations to each of my couples upon booking!
Hair and Makeup Artists
Lucky for you, I know a pretty awesome Washington elopement photographer and planner that specializes in adventurous elopements around the Pacific Northwest (wink, wink). I help craft and capture elopements for couples all around the world wanting to explore the immense beauty Washington has to offer. I help by providing personalized location suggestions, permits, licenses, timelines, vendors, and so much more. Check out my Washington State elopement packages here!
If you choose to hire a different photographer, make sure they’re familiar with the state, especially when it comes to weather.
Activities for Your Washington State Elopement
The main reason I love elopements is because they’re so unique and personalized to each couple. Here are a few different activities you can incorporate into your Washington elopement to make it unique and special.
- Soak in the hot tub before getting ready
- Enjoy a brunch picnic in your Airbnb while wearing matching robes
- Hike to one of Washington’s iconic fire lookouts
- Buy a bouquet of flowers from Pike Place Market
- Have a bonfire and eat s’mores
- Hire a personal chef for an intimate dinner with family
- Go paddle-boarding on Lake Crescent
- Hit the slopes on Mt. Baker
- Go on a waterfall spree around the state
- Explore Seattle’s art museum
- Take a Washington State ferry
- Book a private boat dinner
- Take a scenic bike ride through a national forest
Washington Elopement Timeline Examples
Here are a few timeline examples to see what your elopement day could look like in Washington!
12-Hour Elopement Example
- 9:00am – Brianna meets the couple at their A-Frame Airbnb to photograph a hot tub soak.
- 9:30am – Begin a brunch picnic outside with coffee and blankets.
- 10:30am – Begin hair and makeup. Brianna photographs details.
- 11:30am – First look outside in the forest with some portraits.
- 12:00pm – Leave and meet family for a private ceremony at Hurricane Ridge.
- 12:30pm – Begin family and couples portraits.
- 1:30pm – Leave for lunch at a nearby cafe.
- 2:30pm – Leave for couples portraits at Rialto Beach.
- 4:30pm – Arrive and begin pictures.
- 6:00pm – Leave for an intimate dinner with friends and family in Forks.
- 7:30pm – Finish dinner, begin a bonfire in the backyard and have a first dance.
- 9:00pm – Photo coverage wraps up, Brianna leaves.
8-Hour Elopement Example
- 12:00pm – Brianna meets the couple at their Airbnb for getting ready pictures.
- 1:00pm – Leave for a hike in Mt. Baker.
- 1:30pm – Arrive and get ready for the trail.
- 3:00pm – Arrive at an isolated alpine lake for an intimate ceremony and portraits.
- 4:30pm – Head back to the car.
- 6:00pm – Arrive and cut cake/FaceTime family to celebrate.
- 6:30pm – Leave for an intimate candlelit dinner.
- 7:00pm – Enjoy dinner while watching the sunset.
- 8:00pm – Photo coverage wraps up, Brianna leaves.
Washington State Elopement Packages
I’m Brianna, a Washington elopement photographer who is extremely passionate about helping couples plan their best day ever. I offer a variety of different Washington elopement packages for couples looking to elope, from basic planning to full-blown booking of travel and vendors. Each elopement package comes with an unforgettable experience in an unforgettable place.
Washington State Elopement Package Pricing
- 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage anywhere in Washington
- A personalized elopement planning experience with unlimited assistance
- Personalized elopement location recommendations
- Vendor, lodging, and activity recommendations
- Assistance and information to help you with permits, licenses, etc.
- 90+ page elopement planning guide filled with tips and tricks
- Customized elopement timelines
- Optional complimentary officiant services
- Online gallery with full resolution images and printing rights
- 24-48 hour sneak peeks to share with the world
- Travel fees to anywhere in Washington are already included
- Starting at $6,500
You can elope anywhere in Washington State. The most popular places to elope include Olympic National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, and the Mt. Baker forest.
It costs $69 to elope in Washington. This is just for the marriage license. If you want to hire vendors, expect to pay around $10,000 for an elopement in Washington State.
Yes, you can elope in Washington.
DON’T FORGET YOUR FREE ELOPEMENT GUIDE!
An all-in-one planning guide for all things elopements! Whether you’re hoping to hike through the mountains of Washington or sip a margarita on the beaches of California, this comprehensive elopement guide has everything you need to know about how to plan the perfect elopement.
YOU? YOU’RE THE KIND OF PERSON THAT GETS A LIL’ TEARY EYED LOOKING AT AN EPIC VIEW.
That moment when you turn to the person you’re with and ask, “Are you seeing this?” I live for it. Places with trees and mountains and soft breezes that make you say, “I can’t believe this place exists,” I spend pretty much all of my free time searching for and exploring them.
These places have always felt like home to me. And if you’re the kind of person who also feels more at home surrounded by trees than by people? Then we’ll get along really well. The Pacific Northwest is full of secret spots that are too special to share with just anyone. But it would make me happy to share them with you on your wedding day.
(I promise you won’t regret it.)
P.S. I’m Brianna, and I plan, craft, and capture elopements around the Pacific Northwest. My mission is to create custom, one-of-a-kind elopement experiences in the Pacific Northwest that allow couples to fully immerse themselves in the highest levels of excitement and wonder on a day designed exclusively for them.