Why eloping in washington is so incredible
The best thing about eloping in Washington is that Washington State literally has it all, from rugged coastlines and old growth forests to vast mountain ranges with glaciated peaks and turquoise alpine lakes to dramatic waterfalls and active volcanoes 👀 If you wanted a little bit of everything for an all day epic wedding, you could even get a mix of all of the above when eloping in Washington! We have been living and traveling on the road for the last four years and let’s just say that there’s a reason why we picked Washington state to be our home base – it’s incredible here and one of the best places to elope.
jump to our most asked questions about eloping in washington:
You’re looking for the best advice to plan your Washington elopement and we happen to be experts on the matter…
We’re a team of dog loving, peak bagging, photography award winning adventure junkies – working together to help plan and document incredible Washington elopements.
Together we’ve photographed 300+ elopements, most of which are in Washington state! This is our quick tips, best advice, and list of the absolute best places to elope in Washington.
Here's everything you need to know about eloping in washington
Keep these pro tips in mind when planning our the best place to elope for your wedding day:
1. How do you elope in Washington State?
You need an officiant to marry you and 2 witnesses to sign your marriage license. You must apply for your marriage license at least 3 days before and no more than 60 days before your elopement. The application is $67. You can apply in person or by mail.
For more details, visit the King County Marriage License website.
All three national parks require a Special Use Permit for wedding ceremonies to get married within park boundaries. Different parks have limitations on number of guests and where you can have your ceremony, so make sure to chat with your photographer (we help with all this stuff!) to get the Special Use Permit details for your Washington elopement.
2. When is the best time to elope in Washington State?
The summer months of June – September are the driest months and perfect for a Washington elopement. You might not even see a drop of rain for 60+ days! It rarely gets too hot, and it’s always about 10 degrees cooler on the coast than the forecast for Seattle. In the fall, the rain starts to move in. October is a toss up – it can be gorgeous and dry with beautiful fall foliage or it can be that classic moody PNW rain. While you can definitely get some gorgeous sunny days throughout the winter, it is overcast with a light rain much of the time. Up in the mountains at higher elevations, this equates to dumping snow. Mt. Baker ski area holds the WORLD RECORD for most snowfall in one season: 1,140 inches in 98-98!
3. How much does it cost to elope in Washington State?
It’s important to consider how much it costs to elope in Washington and what your budget is. Because there are many elopement specific vendors in Washington, Special Use fees are relatively low, and it’s an easy place to travel to, Washington state is one of the more affordable options for an elopement. The total cost of your elopement depends on how lavish you want to go with lodging and styling for your day-of, but here’s a quick breakdown of what to expect.
Photographer $5,000-$10,000 | Hair & Makeup $600-$1,000 | Flowers $400-$800 | Officiant & License $600-$1,200 | Special Use Permit $60-$100 | Lodging $400-$1,200 | Flights & Car Rental $500-$800
The best places to elope in Washington State
The best thing about eloping in Washington state is that Washington literally has it all, from rugged coastlines and old growth forests to vast mountain ranges with glaciated peaks and turquoise alpine lakes. If you wanted a little bit of everything for an all day epic Washington elopement, you could even get a mix of all of the above! If you’re making a vacation out of your Washington elopement, Seattle is a great hub for travelers. There are many fun towns to visit, world class cuisine, and obviously countless epic hikes throughout Washington state. We have been living and traveling on the road for the last four years and let’s just say that there’s a reason why we picked Washington state to be our new home base – it’s incredible here and one of the best places to elope.
1. Mount Rainier National Park
Mt. Rainier is the single most breath taking mountain we’ve ever seen. It is incredibly massive and is easily seen from most cities in the area, including Seattle (but the view from Tacoma takes the cake). There are beautiful forests, lakes, and all kinds of trails surrounding the mountain, making it a perfect place for a variety of scenery for a Washington elopement. Roads in the national park give you access to all sides of the mountain, and each area offers a different view and experience. On the west side, the road to Longmire and Paradise take you right up to the snowy base of the behemoth mountain, and this road actually remains open most of the winter. On the other hand, much of the east side of the park is inaccessible in the winter. But in the summer, the east side is home to some of our favorite spots in the entire park.
Best place to stay for your Mt Rainier: There are tons of cute cabins and lodging options on Airbnb and VRBO all around the park. Packwood, Enumclaw, and Ashford are the best spots to look for cabins that provide great access to the park. There is also lots of great camping in the area.
2. North Cascades National Park
Drive north on I-5 from Seattle towards Bellingham and you’ll be on your way to the North Cascades, home to some of the most epic mountain views Washington (or this country for that matter) has to offer. The North Cascades are known for their steep, jagged peaks, rugged mountain ranges, and the famous volcanic monolith, Mt. Baker. Artist Point is one of the most famous spots in the region, offering absolutely jaw-dropping views of Mt. Baker, and even better views of the Alps-like Mt. Shuksan. Diablo Lake is a rival contender for most popular spot in the North Cascades, offering easy access to a gorgeous alpine lake experience. And if you’re up for a hike, the opportunities for epic views for your Washington elopement are endless.
Best place to stay for your North Cascades Elopement: Bellingham, WA is a cool college town with lots of great options for lodging, good eats, and tasty craft brews (check out this list of all the best Bham breweries). There are also lots of great cabins and rentals on Airbnb within the mountains of the North Cascades.
3. Olympic National Park
The Olympic Peninsula is arguably one of, if not the, most stunning and varied wilderness landscapes in America. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Straight of Juan de Fuca to the north, and the Puget Sound to the east, the Olympic Peninsula is a rugged wilderness complete with glaciated mountains, rainforests, and miles of coastline. You can even hit all three in a day if you really want. Olympic National Park doesn’t make up the entire peninsula, but it is a huge chunk of it. Being a National Park, dogs aren’t allowed on the hikes (sad), but there are also plenty of dog-friendly hiking areas too. If you’re looking for adventure, you’ll find multiple lifetimes’ worth of it here, and you just might even catch a Bigfoot sighting 😉
Best place to stay for your Olympic National Park Elopement: Port Angeles, WA is the biggest city on the peninsula and is a great central location to explore all the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park has to offer. Plus, it’s a port city with ferries to Vancouver Island, BC for extra adventure!
4. Washington Coast
Most of the Washington coast is found on the Olympic Peninsula, but the coast really deserves its own description. The Washington Coast is a dramatic, rugged, and moody landscape. It’s overcast a lot of the time but in the summer you get plenty of blue sky days with some of the best sunsets we’ve ever seen! Old growth forests creep right up to the beaches, which seem to stretch on forever, occasionally broken up by rocky outcroppings jutting up from the sand and waves. The Washington coast has a much more remote feeling than the Oregon coast, with few towns and amenities west of Port Angeles on 101. It can feel like going back in time, which is pretty special. The whole Washington coast is a magical place that we deeply love.
Best place to stay for your Washington Coast Elopement: Port Angeles, WA is the closest city with lots of lodging options. Forks is home to the vampires of Twilight and has a few lodging and camping options. But our favorite way to explore the coast is camping right on the ocean. Kalaloch beach and campground is an awesome spot that is right by Ruby Beach and offers stunning oceanfront camping.
5. Hoh Rainforest
Being such a wet climate much of the year, trees love it here in Washington. And they get BIG. Cedars, Firs, and Hemlocks tower hundreds of feet overhead a lush, fern-covered forest floor. Walking through one of Washington’s many old-growth forests is a mystical, ethereal experience (at least we think so). The Hoh Rainforest is a very popular spot due to it technically being an actual rainforest and within the Olympic National Park, but honestly, every old growth forest in Washington isn’t that much different. Expect bright green moss hanging from giant trees with trunks that are wider than a car, light filtering through a canopy that towers high overhead, and trails that cut through thick growths of a wide variety of ferns.
Best place to look for lodging: If visiting Hoh Rainforest, you’ll probably want to stay in Port Angeles or a campground in the national park.
6. Mt. BAKER Snoqualmie NATIONAL FOREST
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest spans across much of the public land closest to Seattle that offers everything you’d want in a rugged mountain Washington elopement. Hop on I-90 east from Seattle you’ll be at Snoqualmie pass within 45 minutes (if you don’t hit traffic). Snoqualmie is a popular ski area, and is equally beautiful in the summer. You can also drive into the mountains a little farther north on Highway 2, which takes you through Stevens Pass, another popular ski area. Stevens (now on the Epic pass for all your skiers!) is steeper and a bit more rugged than Snoqualmie, and spits you out in Leavenworth, which is a popular mountain town known for being a Bavarian theme town, with access to some of the best alpine lakes hikes in the state. Or take a cruise through the North Cascades Highway for access to the heart of the North Cascades mountains.
Best place to look for lodging: The Seattle area is a great spot to be for these locations, but there are also lots of cabins and vacation rentals within the mountains. Leavenworth is a fun town to stay in as well if you don’t mind the touristy vibes of little Bavaria.
7. Mount st helens
Mount St. Helens is one of the most unique, ethereal mountains in the US. It once was a lush mountain filled with lots of trees, meadows, and alpine lakes, but all of that was decimated in the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The eruption removed 1,300 from the peak leaving a giant crater and a desolate place below it. The mountain now feels other worldly with ash and rock everywhere. Now, 30+ years later we are just starting to see regrowth of the land. In June there are fields of blooming wildflowers as you walk through the barren landscape. It’s an incredible mountain and feels like something other worldly.
Best place to look for lodging: Vancouver, Washington and Portland, OR are the closest cities to Mount St. Helens and are great places to look for an urban experience. If you’re looking for a cabin experience, check out airbnbs and vrbos near Silver Lake, Longview, or Yale.
Check out pics from Mount St. Helens: Mount St. Helens Elopement
There you have it, the best places for eloping in washington!
We’re Gabi and Brandon (aka the Foxes) and Hannah and Zoe. Together we make the Foxpack – a team of adventure elopement photographers. Together we’ve shot over 300 elopements (and counting) and are experts on planning and documenting epic days for our couples. We can help guide you through the nitty gritty details of your dream adventure elopement!