Guide for Planning your Washington Elopement
If you know me at all, you know that I’m a total sucker for nature and anything to do with the outdoors. So, being an elopement photographer in Washington is an absolute dream - and part of that dream is helping couples plan their day. Whether you’re all about celebrating by the coast or partying in the pine trees, Washington has something for everyone. (Seriously - mountains, deserts, ocean cliffs, you freakin’ name it)! If you’re planning your own Washington elopement, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to elope in Washington.
1) Pick a Location to Elope
This one might be the hardest if I’m being honest with ya (which, I always am, duh!). Washington is a big state - with big scenery and big parks and big places. The options seem a little bit endless. So if you’re dealing with some analysis paralysis when it comes to deciding where to elope, here’s my advice.
Close your eyes and picture the best day ever. Imagine a day that you would look back on in 5 years and want to relive a million bajillion times. What do you see?
Do you imagine yourself on top of a mountain, with peaks all around?
Do you see yourself dipping your toes into the ocean, and running away from the incoming waves?
Do you picture a walk through the woods, surrounded by trees and ferns that are older than you can imagine?
After you decide on what kind of scenery you see on your best day ever, congrats!! You just took the first step to plan your perfect elopement day.
2) Washington Weather
One thing to keep in mind is that Washington’s weather is a little unpredictable. One minute it’s sunshine, the next it’s raining. The best time to elope in Washington is definitely May through September, though May and September might still be a bit of a gamble. The good news, though? In Washington, when it rains, it drizzles. It rarely ever pours. This means that if it rains on your elopement day, it’s easy to just roll with it and have fun! And besides, rain on your wedding day is good luck, right?
When you’re choosing your elopement location, the weather is a big factor. While spring is perfect if you want to elope in the desert (not too hot or too cold), most of the mountains will still be covered in snow. Before you settle on a location for your Washington elopement, do a little bit of research on what the weather will be like on your elopement date! And if your date is flexible, consider moving it to accommodate the weather in your chosen location!
3) Washington Marriage Paperwork
Okay, okay. This stuff is kind of boring. But it’s important to make sure your elopement is legal and your marriage is officially official! To legally get married in Washington, you need an officiant and two witnesses. You also need to apply for a marriage license and possibly get a permit for your elopement location.
4) Find a Washington Officiant
You'll want to find an officiant that fits your needs for your ceremony. When reaching out to officiants, you'll want to share the basic details of your day plus if you're hiking, or if you have religious or spiritual affiliations. A professional, experienced officiant will be able to custom tailor a ceremony for you. They’ll get to know the two of you as a couple, and your relationship, and often have questionnaires they'll have you complete ahead of time to get a sense of what you want your ceremony to look like.
Can I have a friend marry us?
Absolutely! Almost anyone can officiate a wedding or elopement. If you like the idea of having a friend or family member perform your ceremony, all they have to do is get ordained. They can do it at Universal Life Church in under 5 minutes.
5) Do you need witnesses to elope in Washington?
Washington requires two witnesses. If you’re bringing guests to your elopement, two of them will just have to sign your marriage license. However, don’t worry if your elopement plans don’t include any guests - you can ask two strangers to sign your license! Anyone you meet at your trailhead or in the park is bound to be stoked to help you out. And, your photographer can be a witness as well.
6) How to apply for a Washington marriage license
If you’re not from Washington state, no worries. You can apply online or in-person! A Washington marriage license is good for 60 days, but you must wait three days between when the license is issued and when you use it. So, make sure you apply for your license ahead of time! Your Washington marriage license can be used to get married anywhere in Washington - and after everything is done, your marriage will be valid in every state. You can click here for more information, and to apply for a Washington marriage license!
7) Wedding Permits in Washington (for outdoor locations)
Most outdoor locations won’t allow you to walk in and have a ceremony. Even if you sign the papers and do the legal stuff beforehand if you’re wearing wedding attire you will most likely need a permit. These requirements differ depending on where your ceremony is being held, so check with the park or the city to find out exactly what you will need! For example, here are the requirements to elope at Mt. Rainier National Park. Permits usually range from $50 - $500.
8) Book Your Washington Elopement Vendors
A great team of elopement vendors can make all the difference in making your elopement dreams come to life. Here are my best recommendations for your Washington vendors!
Share this story