Southern California Elopement Guide

When you think of Southern California, you probably think of iconic stops like Disneyland, the Santa Monica Pier, Laguna Beach, and San Diego. However, Southern California also has a ton of incredibly places to elope. From mountains and beaches to cities and deserts, you have endless options for your elopement. As a Southern California elopement photographer, I created this guide filled with everything you should know about eloping down south, including Southern California elopement packages at the end!

A couple playing on the beach during their sunset elopement.

Southern California Elopement Locations

If I were to list all the stunning elopement locations in Southern California, this blog post would never end! If you want to see more Southern California elopement locations, check out this blog post!

El Matador State Beach

El Matador State Beach is becoming a much more popular beach in Malibu due to the sheer beauty of the cliffsides and rock formations. I personally love this location during sunset, but due to the crowds, I recommend having a sunrise ceremony. Plus, it’s near three other state parks that are stunning for photos!

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is one of the lesser known parks in California. If you’re looking for a vibe like Joshua Tree or Death Valley, I highly recommend checking out Anza Borrego. This state park has slot canyons, wildflowers, and beautiful galaxies once the sun sets for the night.

Walker Canyon Poppy Fields

The Walker Canyon Poppy Fields are one of the best places for an elopement, especially if you love vibrant wildflowers. There are multiple trails around the area, and it’s extremely popular amongst the locals. If you’re looking for something a bit more intimate, I recommend eloping here during sunrise.

Mount Baldy

Mount Baldy is a popular mountainous area near Los Angeles where locals go every year to see some snow. The mountain is a nice chance from the city, as Mount Baldy has a variety of trees. There are also dozens of different hiking trails around the area that are worth checking out for your Southern California elopement.

A bride and groom exchanging vows at Sunset Cliffs in California for their California elopement.

Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs is one of the best places to elope in Southern California. Known for their sunsets, this place is absolutely incredible for a Southern California elopement. However, this spot is very popular. If you would prefer something more intimate, I would stray away from this location or have a sunrise elopement!

See a sunrise elopement at Sunset Cliffs here!!

Catalina Island

If you’re not local to the area, you may have never heard of Catalina Island. The only way to reach the island is by boat or helicopter. There are numerous hiking trails and things to do on the island. If you’re looking for a small getaway location for your Southern California elopement, definitely look into Catalina Island.

Big Sur

Big Sur is one of the best places to elope in all of California. It’s filled with state parks, meadows, huge cliffs, waterfalls, and so much more. While this area is increasing in popularity for elopements, it’s still completely possible to find a private area for your ceremony. Plus, it’s close to epic Northern California locations as well!

Joshua Tree National Park in California, one of the best places to elope.

Joshua Tree National Park

If you love the desert, Joshua Tree National Park is a great Southern California elopement location for you. Here, you’ll find amazing Airbnbs, incredible Joshua Trees, and unique rock formations. You can also check out the Mojave desert and Death Valley National Park if you want something a bit more secluded.

Southern California Weather

Southern California is known for their temperate climate and year-round warm weather both during the day and during the night, making Southern California the perfect location for an elopement anytime of the year. Keep in mind that the weather can vary depending on where you go, but that the majority of Southern California has the same temperature in various cities.

California Marriage License and Laws

If you want to see exactly how to get a California marriage license, check out this article.

The process of getting a marriage license is very simple. To get a marriage license, you have to head down to the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office with your partner with the required paperwork, pay the fee, and then you’re done! To see all the required documents you need, check out this article.

Best Places to Stay in Southern California for Your Elopement

If there’s one thing Southern California is known for, it’s their luxury hotels, 5-star resorts, and epic Airbnbs. Below are a few of my favorite Airbnbs that you can find in Southern California!

The Oceanview Treehouse – If you’re wanting something unique, check out this beautiful treehouse overlooking the ocean. It’s modern, unique, and has everything you need for an amazing stay.

The Crystal Cabin – This romantic getaway is nestled amongst giant oaks. It’s equipped with a reading nook perfect for enjoying the sunshine, outdoor seating and hammock.

Joshua Tree Chalet – Joshua Tree is known for having some epic Airbnbs, the Joshua Tree Chalet being one of them. This rustic chalet has a ton of modern touches and is close to fun attractions.

Lake Arrowhead A-Frame Cabin – This bright and beautiful a-frame cabin is a photographer’s dream. With so many different areas for pictures, this a-frame is the perfect place for any couple.

Dome Life House – The Dome Life House is one of the most unique Airbnbs I have ever seen. It’s futuristic, bright, and close to the coast.

A couple playing around during sunset on the beach in Hawaii.

Southern California Elopement Activities

  • Try authentic Mexican food in San Diego
  • Spend the day at Disney
  • Check out the San Diego Zoo
  • Walk down the Santa Monica Pier
  • Have a bonfire at Huntington Beach
  • Hike up to the Hollywood sign
  • See a star show at Griffith Observatory
  • Ride the rollercoasters at Six Flags
  • Hike the trails at Mount Baldy
  • Try some famous cuisine at a Michelin star restaurant
  • Rent some bicycles and cruise on the beach

Southern California Elopement Tips: What You Should Know

#1: Leave early. The traffic in Southern California can get very bad, especially during 5:00pm. Be sure to have lots of extra time between locations.

#2: You’ll never be bored. There are SO many different activities around the area. It’s impossible to be bored!

#3: Do some research. The area of Southern California is very large. Before visiting, it’s worth doing some research to find great restaurants and activities.

A bride and groom hugging by the coast of California on their wedding day.

Southern California Elopement Packages

Southern California is one of my favorite places to photograph. I specializes in elopements in California and around the world. Check out my Southern California elopement packages, tailored by a Southern California elopement photographer.

  • 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage anywhere in Southern California
  • A hands-on elopement planning experience with unlimited assistance
    • personalized elopement locations and questionnaires
    • vendor recommendations
    • permit assistance
    • customized elopement timeline
  • Online gallery with full resolution and printing rights
  • 24-48 hour sneak peak images
  • Travel fees to ANYWHERE in California are already included
  • Starting at $5,000

Want more elopement inspiration? Check out this Olympic National Park Wedding Guide, Northern California Elopement Guide, and Alaska Elopement Guide.


Snag your FREE elopement guide to help you plan your dream elopement in California, Alaska, or even Spain! Learn everything you need to know about how to plan a “just us” experience.

A free guide all about how to elope, created by a California elopement photographer.
A girl holding a camera and smiling.


I’m Brianna, a California elopement photographer who inspires, encourages, and empowers couples to push traditional boundaries and create experiences they’ll remember forever.

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