Yosemite Elopement Guide and Packages [Updated for 2021]

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How to Elope in Yosemite

Are you considering eloping in Yosemite? If so, you’ve made a great choice. Yosemite National Park is one of the best places to elope in California. It sits right in the middle of California near the border of Nevada and lies within the Sierra National Forest stretching over 1,200 square miles. It’s no surprise that Yosemite is considered California’s most famous national park. With dramatic cliffs, towering waterfalls, luscious meadows, and tons of wildlife, Yosemite is a perfect place for an elopement. To find everything you need to know about the legalities of eloping in California, check out this article all about how to elope in California!

#1: Choose a Time of Year to Elope in Yosemite

Fall

Fall is definitely the best time to elope in Yosemite. More specifically, in October. The weather is still pretty nice, the fall colored trees are present and beautiful, and the biggest perk of them all, there are no crowds. You seriously can’t go wrong with a fall elopement within Yosemite. November is also a good month to visit the park, but you get a much higher chance of snow, and therefore, less accessibility to all areas of the park.

Winter

Winter is a great time to visit if crowds are your main concern. The park is close to empty during the winter, but for a reason. In the winter, most of the iconic Yosemite wedding venues, like Glacier Point, are completely shut down. However, the entire valley is open and is a great spot to elope, especially if you want the magic of the snow.

Spring

Spring is also another great time to elope in Yosemite. This is when all the waterfalls in the park are at their peak. If you’re lucky, you might see some wildflowers during late May. It’s much more peaceful than summer, and much more accessible than winter. Again however, some of those higher elopement locations might still be closed due to the snow.

Summer

Summer offers the best weather in Yosemite, and the park is fully open. However, this means that there are tons of people. I’m talking 5 million people in July and August. Not even a sunrise or sunset elopement could lessen the crowds, so I personally recommend not eloping in Yosemite during the summer months if crowds are a main concern.

#2: Choose a Yosemite Elopement Location

One of the best parts about Yosemite is its natural beauty. Around every corner of Yosemite, you’ll find amazing views, dramatic cliffs, and rushing waterfalls. You should have no problem finding a Yosemite wedding venue, but here are some of the most popular elopement locations you can find within the park.

Glacier Point

Glacier Point is one of the most popular elopement locations in Yosemite. It has two different areas on the cliff you can choose from for your ceremony. It’s a beautiful spot and extremely accessible. All you need to do is drive up to the point and then walk a few yards to the scenic overview. However, because this spot is so accessible, it’s extremely popular with crowds and may not be the most secluded area for your Yosemite elopement. It’s also a good idea to have a sunrise or sunset elopement here, as the altitude is around 8,000 feet and produces pretty harsh light during the middle of the day.

*Glacier Point will be closed for 2021 but is still accessible through hiking.

Taft Point

Taft Point is another very popular elope location in Yosemite. I recommend this area more for portraits rather than a ceremony, simply due to the danger of this location. A handful of people have recently fell from this location, so it’s strongly encouraged to stand at least 15 feet away from the cliff and book a photographer who knows how to shoot in an area like this one. 

Half Dome

Half Dome is a great Yosemite elopement location for those who seek adventure on their wedding day. The hike up to Half Dome is 16 miles round-trip and requires a permit which can be hard to obtain. It takes around 12 hours to complete the hike, but it offers incredible views and is a bucket list hike for many people. If you don’t want such a long hike but love the view at the top of Half Dome, consider Taft Point to get similar views.

El Capitan Meadow

El Capitan Meadow is another great Yosemite elopement location right on the way out from Yosemite Valley. It’s a great spot for couples portraits. It’s also great if you want room to move around. Plus, it offers a great view of El Capitan and the Cathedral  Rocks as well.

Sentinel Dome

Sentinel Dome offers 360 degree views of everything within the park and is one of the prettiest views within Yosemite. In order to reach this outlook, you’ll have to hike about 1.1 miles. The total hike is 2.2 miles and is very accessible from the Taft Point parking lot. Both sunrise and sunset at this location are absolutely amazing, making it one of the best elopement locations in Yosemite.

Yosemite Falls

It’s no surprise that Yosemite Falls is the most popular waterfall within the park. While it is always busy, it’s still a great spot from some photos. However, it’s very loud and can be extremely hard to hear each other. You’ll also get quite wet by the waterfall, but if you’re really wanting a waterfall on your elopement day, I can’t recommend Yosemite Falls enough!

*Keep in mind that each elopement location only allows a specific amount of guests. Check all the maximum occupancies and location details here.

#3: Get a Permit for Your Yosemite Elopement

In order to elope in Yosemite, you’ll need to obtain a permit from the park. The permit costs $150 and can be obtained anywhere from 1 year to 21 days before your elopement ceremony. In order to get a permit, you must download the application from the park’s website and mail it in with a check or money order. I recommend sending your permit in as soon as possible, as processing can take a few days. You can find all the necessary information you need to obtain a permit here.

#4: Book Your Yosemite Elopement Vendors

Booking vendors for your Yosemite elopement should be done as soon as possible, as some of them may need to obtain permits, which can be a lengthy process. Below are vendors I recommend hiring for Yosemite elopement, and why you should!

Photographer

A lot of photographers who specialize in elopements may have Yosemite elopement packages. This is great news, because you may be able to get some assistance with planning your Yosemite elopement out of these packages. For example, I personally include location scouting, timeline planning, vendor connecting, and much more in my elopement packages!

Officiant

You’ll need an officiant to marry you as a couple in Yosemite. If you decide to hike on your special day, be sure to book an officiant who is okay with hiking. I have a personal recommendations list, but if you’re wanting to find some of your own, I recommend checking out a list of Yosemite officiants in the area here.

Florist

Florists really help tie everything together on your wedding day. Not only do the florals look great in photos, but they provide color and texture to your special day. Plus, the florist (or someone they have connections with) will be able to tell you a ton of different ways that you can preserve your wedding day florals forever. Check out a huge directory of florists in California here.

Hair and makeup artist

I highly recommend booking a hair and makeup artist for your Yosemite elopement, especially if you decide to hike somewhere for your ceremony. Not only will they make you feel absolutely beautiful, but they know all the tips and tricks for keeping your makeup looking fresh all day long for pictures. Check out a directory of makeup artists in California here.

#5: Book Your Flights and Lodging for Your Yosemite Elopement

Flights

In order to get to Yosemite, you’ll want to fly into the Fresno-Yosemite International Airport then make the 1 hour and 30 minute drive to the park. You can also fly into the San Francisco International Airport or the San Jose International Airport then make the 3 hour drive from either location to reach Yosemite. These two major airports are easier to access, as Fresno can be more expensive and may not have a direct flight from your area.

Lodging

Yosemite and the surrounding area has a variety of different lodging options you can choose from for your elopement. If you want something within the park, I recommend checking out The Ahwahnee. It’s a 4-star hotel and a romantic place to stay that’s close by to most things within the park. I also recommend the Yosemite Valley Lodge. This is a 3-star hotel that offers everything you’ll need for your stay in the park.

If you prefer to camp for your elopement, Yosemite has a ton of different campsites around the park, but they sell out super fast. Be prepared to book your camping site 4-5 months before you arrive, You can check out how to reserve your spot and the camping calendar for Yosemite here.

There are also plenty of areas to stay within Yosemite West on Airbnb.

If you prefer to stay outside of the park, look for Airbnbs and hotels in Oakhurst and Ahwahnee.

#6: Celebrate and Announce Your Yosemite Elopement

Now that you’ve tied the knot in Yosemite, it’s time to celebrate and announce! There are multiple ways you can announce your Yosemite elopement. From social media posts and mailed cards to large parties and fancy dinners, there are multiple ways you can celebrate and announce your Yosemite elopement with friends and family. 

Yosemite Elopement Packages

I’m an elopement photographer based in California, and offer elopement packages for California, US, and destination elopements. To view all my elopement packages, click here.

Yosemite elopement pricing:

  • 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage
  • A hands-on Yosemite elopement planning experience with unlimited assistance
    • personalized Yosemite elopement locations
    • vendor recommendations
    • permit assistance
    • customized elopement timeline
  • Online gallery with full resolution and printing rights
  • 24-48 hour sneak peaks 
  • Travel fees to anywhere in California already included
  • Starting at $2,500

Want more elopement inspiration? Check out this Big Sur elopement guide, beach elopement at Sunset Cliffs and more resources to help you plan your elopement!

Need help planning your YOSEMITE elopement?

Snag your FREE elopement guide! The same exact one I send to all my couples, filled with tips and tricks about how to prepare for your dream elopement, whether it’s a sunny elopement in California or a cold elopement in Alaska!

A free guide all about how to elope, created by a California elopement photographer.
A free guide all about how to elope, created by a California elopement photographer.

Snag your FREE elopement guide! The same exact one I send to all my couples, filled with tips and tricks about how to prepare for your dream elopement, whether it’s a sunny elopement in California or a cold elopement in Alaska!

Brianna Parks, a California elopement photographer.

Hey there, I'm Brianna!

I’m a California elopement photographer who had a big traditional wedding, and I can’t tell you how many arguments there were about my day.

I was pressured to pick a certain venue, certain colors, certain guests, and it felt like I was spending thousands of dollars to play host at a party that had nothing to do with the connection between my husband and I.

Don’t fall into the trap society has constructed around big weddings. Instead, buy the plane ticket, get the wedding dress  dirty, and turn your stressed out wedding day into a carefree, adventure filled elopement experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Brianna Parks, a California elopement photographer.

Hey there, I'm Brianna!

I’m a California elopement photographer who had a big traditional wedding, and I can’t tell you how many arguments there were about my day.

I was pressured to pick a certain venue, certain colors, certain guests, and it felt like I was spending thousands of dollars to play host at a party that had nothing to do with the connection between my husband and I.

Don’t fall into the trap society has constructed around big weddings. Instead, buy the plane ticket, get the wedding dress  dirty, and turn your stressed out wedding day into a carefree, adventure filled elopement experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

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