How to Plan a Forest Wedding or Elopement in 7 Easy Steps
Dreaming of that Twilight-inspired wedding, or maybe just wanting a simple elopement setup in a lush green forest? You’ve come to the right place. As an elopement photographer, I have shot numerous weddings and elopements within the beautiful U.S. forests. Within this guide, I included everything you need to know about how to successfully plan a forest wedding. I broke it down with step-by-step instructions to help you choose a location, dress, and photography package.
Step 1: Choose a Location
Choosing a location is the most fun part of planning any wedding or elopement (at least in my opinion). With so many different forests around the world, you have so many options to choose from. Check out this entire list of forest wedding venues to choose from all around the United States.
*One thing to think about is whether or not you want a fully outdoor wedding. For example, some of the forest wedding venues included in the list have indoor areas, but I also included some that are simply just forests, like the Redwood National Forest, that make the perfect wedding venue for elopements or small weddings.
Forest Wedding Venues
The Hoh Rainforest
The Hoh Rainforest is one of my personal favorite forest wedding venues in the United States. The Hoh Rainforest is known to be one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States. It’s also known to be one of the quietest as well. Located in Olympic National Park, this rainforest attracts millions of visitors a year to take in its beauty.
Sawtooth National Forest
The Sawtooth National Forest is one of my personal favorite forest wedding venues. The forest is situated within Stanley, Idaho, a small summer town with a population of only 69 people. The Sawtooth National Forest is mainly known for their famous Sawtooth Mountain range. Within the forest, you’ll also find beautiful lakes, tons of hikes, and of course, beautiful trees.
Redwood National and State Parks
The most famous forest wedding venue is Redwood National Park located in Northern California near the beautiful coastline. When you think of a forest wedding, you think of luscious greens, rustic charm, and a whole lot of trees, everything Redwood National Park has to offer for your wedding. Being so close to the coast, it’s a great option for couples wanting both a forest and a beach on their special day.
Tongass National Forest
Located in Alaska, the Tongass National Forest is the largest forest within the United States. This is the perfect venue for adventurous couples. Within the Tongass National Forest, you’ll be surrounded with wildlife, crystal clear lakes, dramatic mountains, rushing waterfalls, and towering pine trees. This forest is spectacular for the couple looking for various sceneries on their wedding day.
Treehouse Point is one of the most breathtaking and unique wedding venues in Washington. Enjoy an intimate wedding or elopement just outside the treehouse in the nearby forest. You’ll truly feel as though you just stepped into an enchanted world when you visit this picture-perfect forest wedding venue just outside of Seattle.
Deer Park Villa
Nestled within the forest near the coast of San Fransisco, California, Deer Park Villa is a popular forest wedding venue amongst couples all around the United States. This enchanting wedding venue is known for their string lights, giant redwoods, and well-known ceremony site nestled between two large redwood trees.
Photo by: Whitney Justesen
Copper Creek Inn
Copper Creek Inn is a mountain cabin situated right outside of Mt. Rainer National Park in Washington State. The entire property is 6.5 acres, making this venue the most secluded and peaceful spot for any ceremony. This unique venue has a woodsy amphitheater that can accommodate all your guests, along with a stunning indoor space as well.
Photo by: Carly Bish
Island Farm is one of my personal favorite forest wedding venues in Southern California. In fact, it’s one of my favorite within the entire United States. Island Farm is located just south of San Francisco near the coast. The entire property is a staggering 586 acres and features a 100-year old rustic cabin. Your breath will be taken away as soon as you see the lush greens, towering redwoods, and peaceful pond.
Photo by: Todd James
White River National Forest
The White River National Forest, located in Colorado, is known for its main river, various lakes, and the colorful fall season. This forest is the most visited within the United States. Granted, most visitors come for the ski resorts, but many couples from all over the United States visit the White National Forest to get married each year.
Mt. Hood National Forest
Mt. Hood National Forest is one of Oregon’s most popular forests. In fact, this forest is one of the most popular ones within the United States. Known for their multiple waterfalls and lush greenery, Mt. Hood National Forest is a great option for any couple looking to have an unforgettable wedding. I personally love the privacy and seclusion this area offers couples.
YMCA Camp Campbell
While the name doesn’t sound like an enchanting forest wedding venue, don’t judge a book by its cover. YMCA Camp Campbell is located within Santa Cruz, California. This wedding venue is famous for its ceremony site. Situated deep within the woods, you’ll be surrounded with giant redwood trees all around you as you exchange your vows. This wedding venue is quiet, enchanting, and simple.
Photo by: Morgan McCanne
Big Sur is known to be one of the best places to elope in California. It’s also known for having some absolutely amazing forests. Within Big Sur itself, there are hundreds of different forest wedding venues, which is why I had to include this entire location on this list. Something I love about Big Sur is the variety of different venues to choose from.
Ko’olau Forest Reserve
When thinking of Hawaii, you tend to think more about beaches than forests. However, Hawaii has some pretty incredible forests on all island. Located in Maui, Ko’olau Forest Reserve is a lush rainforest loaded with waterfalls, hiking trails, and plenty of greenery. Plus, you can still enjoy the world famous beaches if you’re looking for a variety of different sceneries.
Arrowhead Pine Rose
Arrowhead Pine Rose has been named as one of the most unique wedding venues by multiple magazines. Located in Twin Peaks, California, this rustic venue will simply blow you away with its beauty. String lights, tall trees, and small rivers will make you fall in love with this venue. Plus, it’s a great option during the winter if you’re looking for a winter wonderland wedding.
Photo by: James Tang
The Barn at Flanagan Farm
The Barn at Flanagan Farm is known for their indoor reception space, but I believe it should be more recognized for the enchanting outdoor ceremony site. The Barn is located in Maine and has a dense forest right behind the barn that is used for intimate ceremonies. There are plenty of forests around Maine that make the perfect space for weddings and elopements.
Photo by: Fidelio Photography
Burlap and Bells
Burlap and Bells is one of the most popular wedding venues in Wisconsin (and one of my personal favorite forest wedding venues out of this list). This venue has a ceremony space lined with birch trees, pine trees, and rustic seating. This is the perfect forest wedding venue for couples looking to have a smaller wedding or elopement.
Sierra National Forest
Located near Yosemite National Park, the Sierra National Forest is one of the most visited forests in the United States. It also happens to be one of my personal favorite outdoor wedding venues. Within the forest, you’ll be surrounded with large, jagged mountains, deep blue lakes, and luscious pine trees. I highly recommend considering the Sierra National Forest for your forest wedding.
The Roxbury Barn & Estate
While New York is known for their giant skyscrapers and modern architecture, they do have some pretty breathtaking forest wedding venues. The Roxbury Barn & Estate is one these venues. At this venue, you’ll enjoy views of a stunning forest loaded with colorful leaves and intimate spaces for ceremonies. It’s the perfect space for couples looking for a secluded and quiet experience on their special day.
Photo by: Emily Delamater
Sequoia National Forest
The Sequoia National Forest, located in California, is home to the largest trees in world, the giant sequoia. Within the forest, you’ll find the beautiful trees, lots of hiking trails, and dramatic peaks. The Sequoia National Forest is personally one of my favorite venues for forest weddings. With over one million acres, you’re guaranteed to find a secluded spot for your intimate wedding.
Step 2: Hire Your Vendors
I highly recommend hiring your wedding vendors as soon as you get engaged. Vendors are extremely knowledgeable about certain things that will greatly help you plan your wedding. For example, florists know florals that are and aren’t allowed in certain forests, photographers are knowledgeable about hidden gem locations, and hair and makeup artists know all the best tips and tricks for keeping your hair and makeup looking flawless all day long. Below are some of my favorite vendors on the West Coast that have experience with outdoor weddings and elopements.
Styling and Coordination
Hair and Makeup
That’s me! I specialize in adventure elopements on the West Coast and absolutely love shooting in lush forests in California, Oregon, and Washington. I also travel all around the United States and help plan elopements for couples all around the world. If you don’t choose me as your photographer, be sure to hire one that has experience shooting in the forest, which can have hard light conditions, wildlife, and more.
Step 3: Acquire Your Permits
It’s super important to make sure you have all the necessary permits to get married. Not doing so can result in fines and even a cancellation of your entire wedding!
Each location is totally different in terms of permits. For example, national forests will require permits for your wedding or elopement, but forest wedding venues such as Deer Park Villa and Copper Creek Inn do not require permits.
Most of the time, elopement photographers will help with this process and walk you through how to obtain a special use permit for your ceremony.
Step 4: Purchase Your Decor and Attire
Depending on where you decide to get married, you may be limited to decor. For example, national forests don’t allow certain decorations that could ruin the environment such as candles or dried florals. Some forests also prohibit decorations, so it’s always important to double-check what is and isn’t allowed.
If you’re looking to get inspiration for your forest decor, I highly recommend checking out Pinterest. There are tons of modern, bohemian, woodsy, enchanting, and different types of decor styles to help give you inspiration for your wedding. This is especially helpful if you choose to have your wedding at a private location.
Forest Wedding Dresses
If you’re looking for a forest wedding dress, you’re probably looking for something more woodsy, flowy, and bohemian. Luckily, there are thousands of dress shops and dress designers that perfectly match this aesthetic. Here is a list of all the most stunning forest wedding dresses and/or wedding dress shops so you can get inspiration for your own wedding dress.
Lillian West is known for their whimsical and romantic dresses that have elegant details and simple silhouettes. Lillian West has a ton of different bridal gowns that can be worn anywhere. They’re super trendy and look absolutely amazing in photos.
BHLDN is a super popular online bridal shop and one of my all-time favorite shops to buy forest wedding dresses. The different dresses they carry totally match the vibe of the forest. From their selection, you’ll find a variety of different colors, styles, and fabrics.
Rue De Seine
Rue De Seine is my all-time favorite dress shop. Rue De Seine is known for their super unique and modern bohemian dresses. I’ve personally had a number of different brides who bought their forest wedding dress from Rue De Seine, and I’ve been floored by every dress!
Free People isn’t known to be a bridal shop, and while they don’t always have wedding dress options, it’s worth taking a look. I’ve found some hidden gem dresses on Free People that would look incredible surrounded with tall pine trees.
Etsy is another shop that doesn’t even cross most people’s minds when it comes to shopping for a forest wedding dress. However, there are thousands of designers and dress makers that create one-of-a-kind dresses. I personally bought my prom dress off Etsy, and it was one of my favorite dresses I’ve ever worn!
Dreamers and Lovers
Dreamers & Lovers is a bridal shop near Long Beach, California known for their vintage-inspired wedding dresses. At this bridal shop, you’ll find simple silhouettes and designs that will compliment the forest beautifully. If you live near Long Beach and are looking for a forest wedding dress, you definitely need to check out Dreamers & Lovers.
Daci Gowns is a rising bridal shop based in Boise, Idaho. Daci is known for their one-of-a-kind dresses. If you have a certain forest wedding dress vision in mind, you definitely need to take a trip to Daci. They only allow appointments, but it’s the perfect place to get a custom dress made for your enchanting day.
While ASOS might not be the first place you think of to buy a wedding dress, you should definitely consider it! ASOS is a great place to buy budget friendly wedding dresses. Plus, they have a ton of different styles, colors, and patterns that would look great within the forest!
Reclamation has to be another favorite place of mine to buy wedding dresses. When I think of bohemian and whimsical fashion, Reclamation is the bridal shop I think of. If you’re looking for something super unique and jaw dropping, definitely check this place out.
Step 5: Have a Backup Plan
If you’re getting married in a forest, you need to make sure to have a backup plan, because the weather can be very unpredictable. For example, forests in Washington, such as the Hoh Rainforest, can have random rainstorms throughout the day that can put a dent in plans. I personally recommend having a backup location or date in case the weather interferes with your special day.
Step 6: Book Your Flights and Lodging
Often times, forests aren’t incredibly easy to access. There’s a reason that they’re so isolated and quiet compared to the city! It’s important to make sure that you’re budgeting your time accordingly. Make sure you allow yourself extra time for driving and flying if you decide to have your wedding in a forest that’s isolated.
Best Forest Airbnbs
Step 7: Celebrate Your Forest Wedding
Now that all the details are done, it’s time to get married in the beautiful forest! After you tie the knot, soak in the beauty around you and celebrate with friends and family.
From the giant Redwoods in Northern California to the skinny Yellow Birch in New York, wedding venues situated in the forest are some of the most beautiful places in the world. Within this list, I included a variety of different forest wedding venues throughout the United States that will be sure to leave you in awe.
Forest Wedding Packages
I’m an elopement photographer based in California who offers forest wedding packages. I have elopement packages for California, US, and destination elopements. To view all my elopement packages, click here.
Forest Wedding Package Pricing:
- 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage anywhere in CA, WA, or OR
- A hands-on forest planning experience with unlimited assistance
- personalized forest elopement locations
- vendor recommendations
- permit assistance
- customized elopement timeline
- optional complimentary officiant services
- Online gallery with full resolution and printing rights
- 24-48 hour sneak peaks
- Travel fees to anywhere in California, Oregon, or Washington already included
- Starting at $5,500
Yes! You can get married in practically any forest in the world as long as you obtain wedding permits and abide by the rules.
There are thousands of places to get married like Twilight. Any forest in Washington State would closely mimic the forest Edward and Bella got married in.
Yes, you can get married in the White River National Forest.
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.
AN ELOPEMENT EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER
I’m Brianna, a Pacific Northwest elopement photographer who inspires, encourages, and empowers couples to push traditional boundaries and create experiences they’ll remember forever.
I help couples all around the world plan unique and unforgettable elopement days by providing personalized location lists, vendor recommendations, permits, guides, and so much more.