Filed in Education, elopement, Guides, resources — February 2, 2023

Top 5 Places to Elope in California

Are you considering a California elopement? California has a lot to offer, including rocky deserts, majestic coastlines, gorgeous redwood forests, and hilly landscapes.

While not all areas in California are year-round accessible, several coastal areas maintain comfortable temperatures far into the winter. You can see a range of landscapes within a few hours of travel, and there is something for everyone throughout the entire state – especially for the outdoorsy and adventurous couples.

As someone who is born and raised in CA, I know all about the golden gems this state has to offer. I love sharing my home state with couples that want to elope!

Many of our couples choose CA as the backdrop for their elopement. Once they have decided to elope in California, they can quickly become overwhelmed with, where to elope in California.

Choosing where to elope is one of the decisions our couple struggles with the most in the elopement planning process because there are so many amazing and diverse options to elope in California to choose from.

If you are ready to love fiercely and create your own adventure, I have created a list for you of my top 5 places to elope in California.

Top 5 places to elope in California

Top 5 Places for Your California Elopement


Yosemite has thirteen spots set aside specifically for wedding ceremonies, so there are a variety of backdrops, activities and adventures to choose from for your Yosemite elopement and photos (a dream for a California elopement photographer, like me!).

If your wedding party is smaller than 11, you can choose any site for your elopement ceremony with the exception of riparian areas and open meadows.

There are many wonderful places to elope in Yosemite, so you can choose your own unique adventure. Some of my favourites include Glacier Point, Taft Point and Cathedral Beach

Wedding Permit

Please keep in mind that you must apply for a Yosemite wedding permit if you intend to hold your wedding ceremony there.

Time Of Year For Your Elopement in Yosemite

Any time of year is a fantastic time to visit Yosemite. Whether you’re planning a California elopement for the Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter, Yosemite will be magical at any time of year. 

Most of my couples desire an intimate wedding experience, so to avoid crowds it is best to elope on a weekday or at sunrise in Yosemite.


Yosemite’s winter months bring gorgeous snow and a feeling of a winter wonderland, but some areas of the park are closed at this time of year, but we have you covered!

We know the park well and can help you choose the best location inside the park for your winter elopement. 


Fall in Yosemite is breathtaking and one of the few to elope in California where you can truly experience the changing of the season and have those fall colors in your photos. The sunsets seem to be extra vibrant in the fall as well!


Spring is when the parks waterfalls are at their peak, the Merced River is flowing and the flowers are blooming! It is a magical time to exchange vows in the park.


Summer is the peak busy season in the park and can be extremely crowded. I usually find nearby locations that are less crowded for my summer couples. 

Big Sur

The Big Sur region of California is known for its unique landscapes, which include rocky coastal cliffs with crashing waves below and lush green woods with tall redwood trees.

Mountains covered in lush greenery can be found on one side of Highway 1, while stunning wildflowers cover the rugged coastal cliffs on the other. The way the towering redwoods meet the rugged coastline is majestical and makes jaw-dropping photos.

There are many adventurous places to elope in Big Sur, California.

I grew up exploring this coastline so I love sharing my favourite places with my couples. From lesser-known hikes under the canopy of the Redwoods to the beaches with purple sand, rock formations, waterfalls and breathtaking views at sunset, this part of the CA coast have something to offer every couple choosing to elope. 

Wedding Permit

Ensure you apply for a marriage licence if you wish to elope here.

Time Of Year For Your Elopement in Big Sur

The majority of the year, Big Sur is a safe place to elope in California in regards to its temperate climate.

Anytime between April and November is a good time to adventure in this area. Of course, the Bay Area is known for the coastal fog and rain showers during these times of the year.


The ideal season to elope in Big Sur, California, is during the fall when rainfall and fog are less common.


Rain in the late spring can be mild, wild and raw – especially for those spontaneous photography moments!

Big Sur in California Spring elopement


Big Sur is foggy in the summer, especially in June. Locals refer to this as June Gloom.

However, the fog does lend for some beautiful moody photos and cosy vibes if that is what envision for your wedding day, this can be a gorgeous time on the coast. 


Winter is the best time of year for elopements. January through to March (which is early spring too) is the most intimate time of the year to elope in Big Sur, California because it is not a crowded season along the coast.

This time of the year is also less foggy and you can get some really spectacular sunsets. 

Joshua Tree

An elopement in Joshua Tree, California is ideal for any couple looking for an adventure for their elopement day. For example, most of my couples that elope here choose it for off-roading or climbing. A jeep elopement or rock climbing is perfect here!

You can visit old desert settlements, one-of-a-kind Airbnbs, and quirky local treasures that are dotted around the wide desert landscape and its rocky formations. 

In Joshua Tree, there is a lot to discover during the day, but the best views are at night. Joshua Tree’s distant desert setting is ideal for stargazing, particularly on the park’s eastern side.

What could be more romantic than ending your elopement day by gazing up at the stars?

There are lots of desert roads and views nearby; you don’t need to travel far to appreciate the scenery or hike very far to find a spectacular setting for your elopement.

The desert is filled with flat walking routes, accessible overlooks, boulders, cactus gardens, and, of course, Joshua Trees.

Wedding Permit

You will require a marriage licence.

Time Of Year For Your Elopement in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is a park that is frequented by tourists. I recommend that my couples elope there on weekdays, at sunrise or during the off-season to avoid crowds. The off-season is typically Jan-March.

The weather in late Feb and March is ideal.


Winter in Joshua Tree lasts from December to February, and while the desert landscape makes it so that it rarely gets too cold during the day. It can get cool in the mornings, evenings, and higher elevation spots.

This high desert is known for getting some beautiful snow fall that could make for the most gorgeous elopement photos. 


The greatest months for weather are March and April, with pleasant, sunny days that aren’t too hot. The wildflowers bloom in the early spring, dotting the desert with flecks of purple, red, and blue colour.

I recommend planning your wedding wedding ceremony for a weekday to avoid crowds. 


The temperatures in this region get over 100 in the summer. I suggest renting an Airbnb with a pool and AC for your daytime activities.

You can go into the park for stargazing in the evening!


Fall is also the ideal time for a Joshua Tree elopement. There are fewer crowds and beautiful sunsets in the Spring! Early spring and late fall are my favourite seasons in the park.

Sunset Cliffs

For couples searching for a view without a strenuous climb, Sunset Cliffs might be a simple yet ideal setting for your California elopement. Sunset Cliffs is located right on the coast of San Diego. It’s a really popular spot for surfers, yoga enthusiasts, and cliff divers.

Finding a secluded sport can be a challenge at sunset, so we recommend sunrise elopements at this location. 

There are numerous hikes in this area, and it is easy to see why it is so well-liked. As a local, I can recommend some hikes off the more beaten paths so you can find a way to enjoy the CA sunset without the crowds.

I highly recommend this spot because of the adventurous story it tells, without having to hike too far in your wedding attire.

There are just two locations in the park where an elopement ceremony is allowed. You can choose between Osprey Point and Luscomb Point, both of which are excellent places to elope in California because they’re flat, easy to get to, and have lots of space if you’re bringing people!

As a California elopement photographer, I know the more popular spots for your elopement such as Sunset Cliffs Sea Cave and The Arch. I can recommend a lot of the other hidden gems in the area too!

Wedding Permit

You’ll need a wedding permit if you want to elope at Sunset Cliffs. The money is used to maintain the parks’ beauty for guests and eloping couples like you.

Time Of Year For Your Elopement in Sunset Cliffs


Since San Diego’s temperatures rarely fall much below 50 degrees, there is never a bad day to get married at Sunset Cliffs!

Sunset Cliffs, CA is known for its sunny and beautiful days, even in the winter months. If you choose to elope here in the winter there are a lot fewer crowds.


A Sunset Cliffs elopement in the spring is ideal since the weather is often 72 and sunny and the cliffsides are blooming with colourful wildflowers and succulents.


Summer here boasts long warm days and lots of activities. Summer is a busy time of the year at this location, so I would highly recommend booking your California elopement for a weekday or at sunrise. 


The best time to book your Sunset Cliffs wedding is in the fall because there are much fewer tourists than in the summer. If you consider yourself a foodie, this time of year in San Diego, there are a number of events during Restaurant Week.

Sunset cliffs fall elopement


A little community known for skiing in the winter and hot springs in the summer, Mammoth Lakes is tucked away in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The town is a great place to elope in California and the nearby national park is home to hot springs in the woods, undiscovered alpine lakes, and stunning views!

Mammoth is a magical mountain location with ethereal views that will make your heart flutter. The breathtaking lakeside and mountaintop views at Mammoth Mountain are legendary.

The vast mountain ranges completely isolated the stunning lakes. You can’t go wrong if you choose Mammoth as your location for your California elopement!

Due to its greater distance from cities, this spot is perfect for couples that want to get off the grid for a little. Plus, it is a popular location for snow sports if you are a couple daring for a snowboarding elopement adventure!

Wedding Permit

For an elopement ceremony, some spots in the Sierra Nevada mountains require a wedding permit. This depends on the location you pick because every location has distinct guidelines and limitations, and some locations have none at all.

Time Of Year For Your Elopement in Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes has two main seasons making fall and spring the perfect time to elope here if you want to enjoy the wonder and beauty and avoid the crowds.


The main season is the summer when there are lots of people fishing, camping, hiking, and doing other things between June and August. 


Snow sports are the main focus of the winter season! May and September through October are the best months to go between January and February. 

Planning Your California Elopement

As a California elopement photographer, these are my top 5 places to elope in California.  CA offers a variety of adventures and unique experiences!! There is certainly a spot for every type of couple looking for a spine-tingling adventure. 

Let us document your California elopement!! We will create images that will be a reminder of the devoted adventure, that tells an authentic story and to look back on in years to come. I am a California elopement photographer and I would love to chat!

Top 5 places to elope in California



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