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This is THE question, isn’t it… How to elope in California?!!! We recently took a trip to Cali and safe to say, we have fallen head over heels in love with it. It has everything: it has its own culture, its own aesthetic, its own FEEL. As a Tic Tok we saw recently said, people who live in California are living in an alternative reality… and SO, why would you not wanna elope there??? We are all in and we are gonna tell you why and how!
Here’s the rundown on everything. You’re gonna be EXPERTS on by the end of this blog!
An elopement is where you and your partner choose to make the brave decision to exchange your vows either just the two of you or with a few guests present. Adding onto to definition, WE define it as an intimate wedding ceremony with 20 people or less! You can bring your fam, bring your besties, or you can do it just the two of you lovers! 🙂 That is the joy of what eloping is! You do it your way – what you want, nothing else.
People choose to elope for many reasons… It might be the intimacy of just exchanging your vows with your partner. OR it could be that you don’t want to spend 30K on a wedding day that isn’t about the two of you (HELLO! That is a lot of money for sure)… There are so many reasons why people choose to elope and all of them are valid. YOU are valid! YOUR LOVE is valid! Keep all of this in mind when going on the internet looking for elopement resources, lots of people have lots of opinions on elopements, and as long as it’s the right choice for y’all… that’s all that matters 😉 Now the bigger question, How To Elope In California? Hahahaha.
Our first question in response to this is, “Why the heck not?” We actually decided to find out for ourselves. California has so much to offer but it was the weather that actually convinced us to visit first. You see, since we are from the Midwest, we escaped our dreary, cold Indiana March temperatures, and headed to Cali! The warm weather greeted us and we knew it was the perfect destination for an elopement year-round. Now, let’s get down to business. Here are a few reasons why “How To Elope In California” is the right question to be asking:
– It’s beautiful, for starters! California is a one of a kind place and we have never seen something quite like it… or maybe that’s just the fact that we live in the great plains of Indiana talking hahaha. Regardless, it feels like there is a never-ending list of places that are ohhhhh so picture-perfect… even just pulling off on the side of the road is a good photo op half the time!
– The weather… nothing beats it! A little cloudy at most… but nothing like the midwest! We won’t have to worry about rearranging your elopement day plans due to a snow storm, praise the lordddd!
– The food!!!!! Self explanatory. Y’all will have no hard time at all finding food on the daily… breakfast, lunch, dinner – expect to be blown away with all the food choices that is offered around the state! It’s incredibly diverse… except maybe we aren’t the best to give recommendations because when we went recently, we had Mexican food every single night. LOL. No regrets!
Elopements can vary in price just like the traditional wedding! The Knot states that the average cost of a wedding in The United States is $28,000. Couples who elope, on average, tend to spend anywhere between $5,000 to $15,000 on their elopement… Clearly, this is significantly below the cost of an average wedding in the United States. RIGHT ON! This lower cost is actually one of the reasons why couples choose to elope and we think it’s easy to see why. The less money you spend on your elopement, the more money you can spend on the honeymoon! When asking How To Elope In California, make sure you’re also asking the important questions about finances so you can enjoy the hell out of your elopement, no worrying allowed.
Things to make sure to budget for in your elopement costs include your flights, accommodations, car rentals, photography, permits, marriage license, meals, wedding attire, florals, officiants, and anything you’d like to do while you are in California. Keep all of this in mind while planning! The worst thing ever is being caught off guard by expenses.
How To Elope In California… make it legal!
Marriage Laws in California
Pasadena Family Law Firm says the following, “California law requires both parties to consent to be married, but mere consent does not a marriage make. Generally, there must be a marriage license issued, a solemnization and authentication following the issuing of the license, and a recordation in the county where the solemnization/authentication took place.”
Documents you need to elope in California
Ohhhkay… this is your list, peeps! Remember a valid driver’s license, passport, military ID, or state-issued ID. If you have been divorced, you will also need to know the date of the dissolution! It can be up to $100 for your application, but alas… this depends on the county!
Such a great question! You need to know this info when you’re researching How To Elope In California. THIS is a very important thing to think about when planning your elopement… Some couples want to elope just by themselves and some want their family and friends there, but not everywhere allows that. In the state of California, you are required to have one witness present during the ceremony… This is pretty typical! BUT, with this being said, there is no age requirement in California for said witness(es), but any witnesses you choose will actually need to be old enough to sign their names on the official marriage license! Keep all of this in mind, y’all! 🙂
How To Elope In California… How to elope… This is such a great question because there actually isn’t a “proper” way to elope… The best part about eloping is that you get to choose when, where, and how you do it. You get to choose how many people you invite (if any). And you get to choose what time. Honestly, you get to choose it all. That is the beauty of an elopement. Your wedding. Your way. Have we convinced you yet? 😊
How To Elope In California, or WHEN to elope in California? Hahaha. Both valid questions. Choosing the right season to elope in is crucial for many different elopement locations in California. Think about how you envision the day and then select the season that appeals the most to you!! Here is a little about each season plus the average temperatures of each one. Just remember, rain or shine (literally hahahaha), it is YOUR day!
Spring – Expect 60’s and 70’s! WOOHOOO! Also expect mild and sunny days that are generally fog-free at the coast until about May. This is the only time of year that the Golden State’s predominant color doesn’t match its name! Hahaha.
Summer – Finally you’ll reallyyyy warm up with temps like 70’s to 80’s… The summer dry season normally runs from May through October, so keep this is mind too! Clear skies, hot temperatures, and very little change in the weather occur from day to day.
Fall – Back down to 60’s and 70’s, peeps! THIS is the golden season of the golden state y’all. Expect golden leaves, nice weather, and clear skies.
Winter – Being from Indiana, we don’t know if we would call 50’s and 60’s cold… but that’s what you’ll get in a Cali winter! Pack some jackets, jeans, and beanies! Expect it to be a little chilly, yet don’t count out a sunny day.
The possibilities of elopement locations in California are truly endless. Honestly, we have no idea HOW anyone actually chooses because you really get the best of both words here. Once you have picked a season/date and determined your guest count, you can start to find your dream locations! Here are a few of our top elopement locations in California. And if you are looking for a more comprehensive list, you can click HERE. Either way, we promise you, you can’t go wrong at any of these spots!
The Mojave Desert and the Colorado desert come together to make the beautiful, so unique, one of a kind Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree’s main site to see. It is home to a fascinating variety of plants to animals to natural structures that make their homes here. This baby was sculpted by strong winds and water, erosion at it’s very definition! You’ll find dark but clear night skies, a richhhhh history of culture, and crazy geologic features that all make up the wonder that is Joshua Tree.
Griffith Observatory is ICONIC! And a must-see of Los Angeles. It is a national leader in public astronomy… you for real have to see this. The Observatory is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park… you can literally see the Hollywood sign! WHAT! It is well known for this priceless view, chances are you will have lots of company around you trying to see the sign as well, so be prepared!
San Luis Obispo is a city in California’s Central Coast region… It is beautiful, seriously! We have no words haha. Named for the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, a 1700s Spanish mission. There’s even a museum. Nearby, in a place called Bubblegum Alley, you can see walls decorated with, you guessed it, bubblegum. You can add to it too… leave your own mark 😉 You can make friends with the vendors selling produce, flowers and food over t Higuera Street for the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market… make a date out of it!
This is your typical Hollywood movie town… you may have even seen shots of it in a favorite movie or TV show! Palm Springs, a city in the Sonoran Desert of southern California, is known for the hot springs, uberrrr stylish hotels, golf courses and OF COURSE their spas. Midcentury-modern architecture is the key to it’s unique beauty. The surrounding Coachella Valley offers hiking, biking and horseback riding trails… what more could you ask for?!
If you’re looking for a more nature-esc getaway, look no farther. Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, riiiight on the border of California and Nevada. It’s known for its beaches and ski resorts… and Emerald Bay State Park that contains the 1929 Nordic-style mansion Vikingsholm. LOL. We can all dream! Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park also is home to Sand Harbor Beach and Spooner Lake, a free ticket to the long-distance Tahoe Rim Trail!
San Onofre State Beach is one of California’s most popular beaches and for good reason!! WOOHOO! It hosts surfers, swimmers, sunbathers, campers, kayakers, birders, fishermen and bicyclists… soooo everyone! HAHA! It sees round 2.5 million visitors per year and it is one of the top five most-visited state parks in California! Cozy impressive! Whales, dolphins and sea lions can be seen offshore from time to time… now THAT is the real reason you’re going right? 😉
One of three beaches within Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach… El Matador is the most popular of the three and the closest to Malibu! Queue the song by Miley Cyrus hahaha, just trying to get into the Malibu mood! With easy to find parking lots, El Matador is a fan favorite beach with lost of picnic tables that look out over the Pacific Ocean. We just knowww y’all are excited bout the view, I mean we re too!
You have definitely heard of this one… and for good reason! Not just a great valley, but “a shrine to human foresight” (says the national park service, LOL), tons of gorgeous granite, made from the great power of glaciers… Yosemite was first protected in 1864! WHOOP! Yosemite National Park is best known for its to die for waterfalls, BUT within its 1,200 square miles (WOW!), you will find incredibly deep valleys, meadows from your dreams, old sequoia trees, and much muchhhh more.
Bishop is FULL of outdoor activity opportunities. Nicknamed “Blue Sky Country” for good reason, this is the Mecca for skiers, hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, and anglers. This place has the highest summit in the U.S. and continues to offer limitless hidden gems of places to discover! When the winter snows retreat, Bishop becomes the starting point for backpacking trips into the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness Areas.
Napa is the heart of Napa County, California! LOVE! Riiiight in the center of the Napa Valley wine region. ALSO A BIG LOVE! Hahaha we are all about this place! Its downtown is known for late-1800s and early-1900s architecture… with a riverfront promenade with shops and restaurants, you can’t beat this. Also home to the The Oxbow Public Market, the farmer’s market and cheese shop bring more character to the already memorable city.
If you’ve seen Twilight.. LOL… you’ve already seen pics of Big Sur! One of the scenes in the first movie takes place on the beach. FUN! Big Sur is a rugged line down the coast of California between Carmel and San Simeon. It’s traversed by narrow, 2-lane State Route 1, known for windinggggg turns, beautiful views of seaside cliffs and crazy sites of the often-misty coastline. The beach is just as mysterious and marvelous.
The unique beauty of Vasquez Rocks makes it for a popular location that the film industry lovessss to recreate or use! The park has a long list of shows and movies that have used it’s likeness, including Star Trek, Blazing Saddles, and The Flintstones! How dang cool is that??? Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is quite the dramatic desert wonderland… striking rock formations that will grab your attention and never let go. This 932-acre Los Angeles County Park is favorited among hikers.
An island… now we’re talking!!! Santa Catalina, one of California’s Channel Islands (so maybe not the island we are all picturing in our heads), is right next to Los Angeles. It’s known for its lovely wildlife, wild dive sites and Mt. Orizaba, its highest peak! On island time… enjoy Avalon’s circular, art deco Catalina Casino’s cultural center with a movie theater, ballroom and museum. This place is bound to be full of your next memories.
WOWZA, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a 68-acre City of San Diego regional park! It runs justttt about 1½ miles along the Point Loma peninsula’s western shoreline… A unique as HELL coastal environment where you can see expansive views of the ocean, dramatic cliff formations and caves, and native coastal sage scrub habitat! Quite unique, no??? Sunset Cliffs have been a well-known and well-loved attraction of the San Diego area residents!
And now we’re queueing that old Train song… won’t you save meeee San Franciscooooo… okay we’re done! 🙂 It may only measure a mereeee less than 50 square miles and have a population that doesn’t even crack a million, but San Francisco 100% ranks as one of the greatest cities in the world! And dammit, we agree! Find all the things it’s known for: old, classic cars. The Golden State Bridge. The houses from Full House. And so much more!! This trendy city is calling your name! We hear it too!
Sequoia (and Kings Canyon) National Park in California will never, ever, everrr disappoint you. It is bound to expand your perspective (on life dare we say), renew your good vibes and CHALLENGE you to wonder like a child again. Trees that seem to pierce the sky will surround you, how could it get better than that?! You’ve defiantly seen pics of this place online, it’s gaining traction and it’s not hard to see why!
This must be the place for tourists…. it MUST BE! Big Bear Lake is located in Southern California! It is a four-season mountain lake escape right in the heart of Southern California… Las Vegas and Phoenix are not that far of a drive, you could totally add this to your list of stops on a road trip! Big Bear Lake is the hidden gem of the San Bernardino National Forest. Well known for fishing sports, great snowboarding and skiing, even better hiking, mountain biking and an insane amount of more things to enjoy!
Let’s (Santa) Cruz through this one…. You do not want to miss it! Close to San Fran, close to Monterey as well, add this to your road trip too. Santa Cruz has quite the wine scene that will be sure to soak up all your attention, beaches to keep you busy for the rest fo forever, and countless national parks that you will actually WANT to get lost in. Put your car on CRUZ control and visit Santa Cruz while you’re in town.
Now if you’re like us… you’re picturing taller than life trees right now. While that is vert true, those giant Redwood Trees do call this place home, that is not all that this national park has to offer! We promise! As a park with 40 miles of coastline, countless wild rivers, many insane trails, and wildlife galore – you won’t ever get bored here. Your eyes will be begging for a break when you’re done hiking for the day because there is endless things to take in and look at. You’re gonna wanna see it all.
Santa Barbara is a city on the central California coast! This city has a super dramatic background, and it’s called the Santa Ynez Mountains! The downtown gorgeous sites are filled with Mediterranean-style buildings… red-tile roofs, baby! All in tribute to the city’s Spanish colonial heritage. We are lovingggg it. You will have your pick of the litter of so many unique, upscale, one of a kind, interesting restaurants… the list is never ending!
Also known as the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area... Glamis is the largest off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation area for sand dunes in the United States! CRAZY! But we could totalyyyy use it for photo purposes… wink wink! Hahaha! The sand goes to the horizon line and beyond, seriously the sand goes as far as the eye can see. So much room to explore! Hell yeah! It’s easy to see why Glamis is a fan favorite location for anyone exploring this area.
Point Reyes awaits your exploration… that lighthouse in particular! It’s GORG. the thunderous ocean crashing against the rocky coastline is quite the sight to see. We are mesmerized, truly. This place is not like any other! Sand beaches to open grasslands, lucious hillsides… Point Reyes has got it all! Literally, it has over 1500 species of plants and animals to discover. The culture of this hot spot is unmatched, you’re gonna wanna see it fro yourself.
Don’t let the name fool you, you might just find the meaning of life in this mystical place. Anything can happen when you’re in nature hahaha! It is a below-sea-level basin, created by steady drought and record summer heat! Each extreme of Death Valley has a striking contrast. The drought in the middle makes the frosted tips of the basis look strange. Snow and drought? Right next to each other? Only in Death Valley, y’all.
Once you have your elopement location and season picked out you can start to plan what you are going to wear. Keep in mind the temperatures and the activities that you are planning to do. If you plan on going hiking, you might want to find light weight attire so that you can easily move. If you plan on having a summer elopement, you might want to make sure to pick something that will not show sweat marks (LOL). Either way, just pick something that makes you feel like YOU!
How To Elope In California… timeline edition! Hahaha! A timeline is so important to keep your day running smooth. Check this sample one out!!
11 AM – Wake up, head out to brunch on the beach!
2 PM – Makeup, hair, start getting ready! LET’S DO THIS!
4 PM – Head to Elopement Location
5 PM – Get in wedding attire! This can take a minute… don’t underestimate this hahahaha
5:30 PM – Hike to your ceremony spot and Ceremony time!!! Say those I DO’s people…. do the damn thing!
6 PM – YOU DID IT! Take an hour just to soak it all in, have some drinks dinner on the beach, relax a little.
6:30 PM – Sunset Photos overlooking the beach! Adventure up and down the coastline with us, your photogs 😉
9 PM – Have a campfire on the beach, enjoy smores. Have one last dance together under the stars before heading back.
10 PM – The day is done, YOU’RE MARRIED!
– Laura Claire Style & Hair, “Laura Claire Style & Hair is a California based bridal styling team. We are passionate about the beauty and fashion industries and how the two influence one another. We are well-versed in the most current trends in beauty as well as the classics. Each look is tailored to the clients desired outcome, whether it is a classic bridal look, a modern take or a soft, bohemian style.”
– Always Pampering Beauty, “Always Pampering Beauty is a wedding hair and makeup business based out of San Francisco, California. As the owner and lead stylist, Artrecia Nicole has been helping soon-to-be newlyweds to look and feel beautiful for years. She uses high-quality products and the latest techniques to give her clients their ideal marital makeovers.”
– Sacred Poets, “Sacred Poets is a unique wedding service based in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. This talented team specializes in custom henna and jagua tattoo designs for couples and their wedding parties to sport on the big day. They are happy to travel to venues throughout the state of California, and choice international destinations, to offer their unique blessings and customized adornments.”
– The Bouqs Co., “The Bouqs Co. Weddings catalog of expertly curated collections are available in Wedding-Ready packages that arrive fully assembled. These packages, including corsages, bouquets, boutonnieres, and more, are available in different sizes, seamlessly scaling to perfectly fit every wedding’s needs. Micro Wedding collections are also available for more intimate ceremonies.”
– Blooms Revased, “Blooms Revased is an eco-friendly wedding florist operating out of San Francisco, California. These experts offer a unique opportunity to get twice the love out of beautiful event blooms. They operate purely out of love for mother nature and are committed to making a positive impact in a one-of-a-kind way”
– Jones Flowersmith, “Jones Flowersmith is a boutique wedding florist located in Roseville, California. They offer complete event planning and floral design services for your special day. They strive to create unique floral designs that capture your personality and passion. Starting with a customized proposal, they work with couples to make their dream wedding a reality.”
– Deborah’s Bridal, “Based in Upland, California, Deborah’s Bridal is a sophisticated wedding dress boutique. Owner Deborah has helped to-be-weds find the gown of their dreams since 1978. The extensive selection of designer dresses in the store includes their very own Mori Lee Boutique, Essense of Australia, Allure Couture, Maggie Sottero, Kenneth Winston, Sophia Tolli and more.”
– Jasmine’s Bridal Shop, “Jasmine’s Bridal Shop is a wedding dressmaker based in Fremont, California. This incredible team of tailors and seamstresses works with clients to help make their wedding attire visions a reality. No project is too big or too small for them, creating custom gowns, veils, and more with budget-friendly pricing. Whether clients want to design their dress from scratch or have a piece in mind that they would love to have recreated, Jasmine’s Bridal Shop is there to help.”
– Le Caprice, “Le Caprice is a premiere Bridal Boutique in Silicon Valley and has been a part of the San Francisco Bay Area wedding industry since 1998. We are a business built on over 30 years of experience, dedication and the expertise of owner Marina Konnikova. Marina’s natural talent for transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, keen eye for detail, and years of experience ensures your dress will be perfectly tailored to fit your figure and your individuality. You will always remember your wedding gown but more importantly how well you wore it!“
–The Copper Key, “The Copper Key is a Los Angeles-based full-service catering and events company that also serves Santa Monica, Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. Their well-designed, mouthwatering and beautifully-presented food, attentive catering staff and unique rental options will make your wedding a memorable event. For years, The Copper Key has assisted wedding clients in forging lasting memories through their strong and knowledgeable event production team. “
– The Taco Catering Company, “The Taco Catering Company is a wedding catering restaurant with locations in Los Angeles, Anaheim, Riverside, and Chino, specializing in delicious homemade Mexican food. Established in 2014 by Alex and Michelle, the restaurant delights couples with their award-winning tacos and high-quality customer service. Passionate about food, these caterers strive to serve gourmet and mouthwatering dishes that entice guests back for seconds.”
– KINSmoke, “These experienced professionals offer full-service catering for soon-to-be-weds celebrating their milestones. The team can take care of rentals, delivery, and setup to help ensure that events run as seamlessly as possible on the big day. Some of the items available from their inventory include tables and chairs, dinnerware, linens, and a chocolate fountain for a sweet end to the celebrations. A range of setup options are available according to clients’ preferred styles, such as buffet service, plated dinners, and food stations.”
– Barbara Boyd Ceremonies, “Barbara Boyd Ceremonies is a wedding officiant service in Santa Cruz, California. Barbara Boyd will collaborate with you to create a ceremony that is unique and that speaks to you both. From honoring traditional or spiritual philosophy, to contemporary and personal she will bring warmth and humor to your special day. Barbara’s warm personality and lighthearted yet meaningful words will transform your special day into a “Celebration of Love!””
– Say Yes!, “Say Yes! is a wedding officiant in the San Francisco East Bay area of California that has been performing ceremonies since September 2007. Janette Shutts is an ordained officiant who has had the pleasure of working with over 315 couples, helping them express their love and commitment in a customized ceremony that reflects them both. Janette has received WeddingWire’s Bride’s Choice Award and Couple’s Choice Award from 2010 to 2021.”
– Rev Genevieve Coleman, “Rev Genevieve Coleman can provide ceremonies for all kinds of celebrations, whether they’re non-denominational, interfaith, or vow renewals. You will be more than welcome to recite your own vows and express your love for each other in your own style. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and can assist in creating the perfect custom vows for your unique celebration. “
Our tips on How To Elope In California:
There are so many activities that you can choose to do to make your wedding in California Special. As wedding photographers, we actually send couples a questionnaire that will help us get to know you and it will help us plan some fun activities that you might want to do on your day. Some of our favorite activities to do on an elopement day include:
All in all, these activities can be catered to the location the two of you are eloping at and the activities you enjoy doing. The possibilities are endless!
How To Elope In California… while leaving no trace! THIS is such an important factor to consider when eloping, when traveling, when doing nothing in mother nature! Leave no trace is an initiative that was created in order to help keep the wild stuff wild LOL and help keep nature as clean as we found it!
One – Plan ahead & prepare
Two – Travel & camp on durable surfaces
Three – Dispose of waste properly
Four – Leave what you find
Five – Minimize campfire impact
Six – Respect wildlife
Seven – Be considerate of others
If the answer is HECK YES, then contact us as soon as you can so we can help you plan your epic wedding! How To Elope In California – we have your answers! Fill out the form HERE for more info!
You can check out our elopement and small wedding package pricing HERE. And what all does that come with you ask?!
Staring at: $3900
Sam + Bryt