So you’ve chosen to elope in Washington State. First off, heck yes! Washington have some of the most incredible national parks in the country (with Mt Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic National Park all being just a few short hours away from Seattle), and gorgeous mountain vistas and hiking trails that are sure to make for the perfect elopement backdrop. Our guide on how to elope in Washington State is here to walk you through the key info you’ll need to know to bring your dream Washington State elopement to life.
The weather and seasons in Washington State can have a huge impact on your elopement day. The Pacific Northwest has very distinct seasonal weather that is bound to have an impact on your elopement day, varying from overcast skies for weeks on end to high elevation seasonal road closures in higher elevation mountain locations.
By no means is this a bad thing, but it’s definitely something you’ll want to consider when choosing to elope in Washington State.
Ultimately, there isn’t really a “bad season” to elope in Washington State. It ultimately depends on what’s important to you as a couple. What type of vibe are you looking for? Do you want sunshine and wildflowers? Then it’s probably best to plan your Washington State elopement for sometime in late July or early August to have the greatest likelihood of seeing them.
If you love the idea of overcast skies and maybe a little bit of moody rain on your elopement day, a Washington State elopement in the cooler months might just be perfect. Unless there’s a thunderstorm or blizzard, no weather is really “bad weather.” Embrace what mother nature gives you on your Washington State elopement day.
PRO TIP: You’ll want to speak with your elopement photographer about when they recommend you elope. Your photographer can talk through the impact of the season on your elopement day and make sure it aligns with your vision.
The location you choose for your Washington State elopement will ultimately depend on what type of landscapes speak to you. The great thing about eloping in Washington State is the immense diversity of landscapes you can choose from.
You’ve got mountains, beaches, rainforest, you name it. And with three incredible national parks all within a few hours of Seattle, there’s no shortage of epic elopement spots.
My biggest advice when finding the best places to elope in Washington State is to chat with your adventure elopement photographer. Your photographer should have lists of epic locations they keep on hand for the locations they photograph elopements at.
Typically, elopement photographers won’t share these locations publicly. And that’s because usually the places you’ll find easily online or shared often are heavily trafficked trails that don’t really allow you to have a secluded and private elopement experience.
A little tip? If an elopement photographer is sharing the name of a specific trail, there’s a good chance that this trail is probably a really busy one. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, if you want to elope in Washington State so you can experience the quiet and seclusion of the jagged mountains or rugged beaches, a busy place isn’t ideal. And frankly some of the best places to elope in Washington State are places off the beaten path.
If you’re planning to elope in any of Washington State’s national parks or even national forests, you’ll likely need to acquire a wedding permit, even if your group is very small. When in doubt, contact a ranger about your elopement.
Once you and your elopement photographer have narrowed down your preferred Washington State elopement location, they should point you in the direction of where/how you can apply for the needed weddings permits.
In busy places like Mt Rainier National Park, you should expect the permit process to take a few weeks at the soonest. Unfortunately the awesome people who work in these offices are really overworked and usually under-staffed, so make sure you get your permit for your Washington State elopement as soon as possible. I recommend applying for one as soon as you have your location selected.
When it comes to elopement timelines, I only recommend two options to our couples: sunrise or sunset. For starters, as an elopement photographer, I specialize in finding the best light for our couples.
Unless you’re dealing with an overcast day (which is definitely possible when you elope in Washington State!), sunrise and sunset will give you that golden, beautiful light that you just won’t find in the middle of the day.
Once you’ve determined the time of day for your elopement, chat with your elopement photographer about crafting your Washington State elopement day timeline. As an expert in all things elopements, part of my job is helping you craft an epic elopement timeline that incorporates all the adventures you’re dreaming up.
Part of figuring out how to elope in Washington State is sorting out the marriage license process. Washington has some important rules you’ll need to take note of as you plan.
There is a three day waiting period after you’ve been issued your marriage license before you can actually use it for your Washington State elopement. And after this three days has passed, you have 60 days to actually use it.
My recommendation? If you already live in Washington State, pick up your marriage license about two weeks beforehand. The last thing you want is to have to worry about this document the week of your Washington State elopement.
If you’re traveling from out of state to elope in Washington State, make sure you give yourself enough time to get your marriage license and account for the three day waiting period. You can take this waiting period as an opportunity to get out and explore Washington State’s national parks while you’re in the area.
There are a few key parties that need to be present to sign your marriage license after you elope in Washington State: you, your partner, your officiant, and your two witnesses. As an elopement photographer, I’ve served as a witness before and would be happy to sign. For the second witness, you can always ask another hiker on the trail to sign. Most people are very excited to do this!
Technically your officiant is responsible for returning your marriage license. They can do so in person or mail it in, but it needs to happen within 30 days after you elope in Washington State.
You have a few options when it comes to officiants for your Washington State elopement. They include the usual suspects you might expect, like justices, judges, ordained ministers and priests, etc. You can find a full list on King County’s marriage license page.
And yes, if you want a friend or family member to officiate, then can! However, they need to be ordained to perform marriages in Washington State.
Elopements have changed a lot these days, and for the better! They are no longer viewed as quick, secretive ceremonies and rather seen as an adventurous one-of-a-kind experience that also happens to include saying vows and signing a marriage license.
So many couples are choosing to make their elopement day “theirs” by including fun activities together that you’d ordinarily never be able to have with a traditional wedding.
Whether it’s soaking in a hot tub with your boo in an a-frame cabin outside of North Cascades National Park after you’ve said your vows, or having a private chef come cook dinner for just the two of you, the opportunities are endless. Ultimately how you elope in Washington State is totally up to you. This is your elopement day after all: you get to make all the rules.
Our Ultimate Elopement Guide is a checklist that walks you through the most important steps in the elopement process. Bookmark this one out and keep it somewhere close so you check things off as you plan your Washington State elopement.
Scared to tell friends and family about your plans to elope? We have an article all about sharing the news of your elopement plans with them and helping them get on board with the process.
Trying to figure out which shoes you should be wearing on your adventure elopement day? No worries, we’ve got you’ve covered on that one as well.
Planning to elope in Washington State and interested in working with me? You can find out more about my packages for Washington on my pricing page, and can click the button below to get in touch about your elopement and schedule your complimentary elopement chat.
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