California Elopement Packages
California is one of the top elopement destinations in the world. This state has multiple landscapes including deserts, mountain peaks, Redwood trees, and more. Many of our couples want to elope in California, but there are so many beautiful places to pick from that many feel overwhelmed. This is why we created a comprehensive list of locations, vendors, and tips for you to be aware of when you elope in California, including locations in Northern California and Southern California. From permit questions to location ideas, we got you covered.
You’re here, which probably means you are thinking about eloping and considering California as your location. You decided to elope so you could plan the most amazing adventure day that prioritizes what you want. But, getting down to planning can feel overwhelming between permits in different states, national park restrictions, and vetting vendors from miles away. It might feel simpler to go with a pre-built elopement package, but if you do, you lose what you came here to do. Plan the wedding that YOU want.
We started Wandering Weddings because we want you to be able to have the wedding you dreamt of but make the planning easier on you. So, we’ve put together everything you need to build the perfect elopement package that still keeps your unique vision at the forefront. Let’s dive in!!
In this resource:
- California Elopement Vendors
- Best Places to Elope in Northern California
- Best Places to Elope in Southern California
- Getting a Marriage License in California
- Permits for California Elopements
What You Need in Your California Elopement Package
Here’s where everything starts! What do you actually need to elope in California? California is one of those states where you literally have endless possibilities on both locations and activities you can do, year-round. California is also one of the top states we have featured vendors available to help you plan your dream wedding day. Here’s our list of suggested vendors to check off when putting together your elopement package:
- Hair and Makeup Artist
Disclaimer: While we don’t offer bundled elopement packages at the moment, we do provide you with all of the information and resources you will need to create your perfect elopement package in California. Our Wandering Weddings vendors are also amazing vendors to ask questions. These vendors have plenty of experience curating awesome elopement experiences for couples.
How Much Does it Cost to Elope in California?
- Location: Free to $3,000
- Permits: Free to $800
- Officiants: $300 to $500
- Photographers: $3,000 to $10,000*
- Videographers: $1250 to $7,000*
- Outfits: $200 to $1,500 per person*
- Florists: $200-$1,000
- Hair and Makeup Artists: $100-$200 per person
- Elopement Planner: $1,000 to $3,000
- Accommodations: $250 to $1,200 per night
- Catering: $80 to $1,200
- Travel: $20 to $500 per person
* Indicates a “spend what you want” category. That means, while we have an average figure listed, you can go far above this average if it is an important vendor to you!! Learn more about elopement budgets here!
Example Elopement Packages in California
There are a ton of amazing vendors to choose from in California who could help you out with your elopement. You can really fit your elopement package into any budget. We’ve put together some example packages for inspiration for you, and to show just how much elopement budgets can vary based on what you want to do!
The Local California Elopement
Marriage License: $61
Commitment Ceremony: Free
Local photographer coverage and location planning: $3,000
Hair and Makeup: DIY
Florals: DIY bouquet and boutonniere ($50 in materials)
Travel: $20 in gas to get to a local hike
Dinner afterward at a local restaurant: $100
The Southern California Elopement
Marriage License: $61
Officiant for Ceremony: $400
Permit for Ceremony Location in a National Park: $250
Photographer for half-day coverage with digital images included: $4,500
Florals for two people (like two bouquets, or a bouquet and a boutonniere): $500
Hair and Makeup: DIY
Clothing and Accessories: $400
Ceremony Decoration: DIY ($100 for materials)
Travel: $200 in gas to drive round trip to California
Airbnb for three nights near the National Park: $600
The Northern California Mountain Elopement
Marriage License: $61
Commitment Ceremony: Free
Permit to use National Park: $100
Photographer for a full day of coverage with digital images included: $7,500
Videographer for ceremony only with highlight film: $1,200
Hair and Makeup (not both!): $125/person
Florals for one person (like just one bouquet): $175
Picnic Grazing Board from a Local Butcher: $80
Bottle of Champagne to Pop for a celebration photo op: $40
Travel: $400 for flights + $325 for car rental
Dinner afterward at a nice local restaurant: $200
Vendors For Your California Elopement Package
When putting together your California elopement package, you want to consider your overall elopement budget. Elopements have a pretty big range when it comes to an average price because it all depends on what vendors you decide to include on your wedding day. Please note that you are not required to include every vendor type in your package.
Are you ready to start planning your California elopement?
Check out our vendor categories to consider when thinking about your elopement package:
Many people put a good chunk of their budget towards a photographer for their elopement and for good reason! If you don’t have a planner, your photographer is going to be your go-to local expert for locations, timeline creation, and suggestions for lodging, activities, and more! Not to mention, your photos are what you’ll have left to share your adventures with friends and family. In California, photographers generally range from about $3,000 to $7,500 for 1 hour of coverage to all-day coverage. Your photographer will help advise you on how much time you’ll need for your elopement, and most will have suggested packages for different elopement styles. Take a look at our amazing Wandering Weddings photographers who will love hearing all about your elopement plans below!
Summit and Sur Photography
Aris Ringas Photography
I'm Melissa, your guide to crafting a wild & intimate love story amidst the towering Redwoods. Let's make some magic together!!
Christina Perhac Photography
Azaria Chavira Photography
Traveling photographer for the adventurous, bold, and fun! Defying traditions and crushing expectations, one couple at a time.
Like photographers, videographers create amazing lasting memories of your adventure elopement that are amazing to share after the fact! It can be so special to share your vows and ceremony with loved ones… or just keep it to yourself and cry happy tears every time you rewatch your highlight reel. Videographers also offer a variety of packages from an all-day hike into the mountains packages to ceremony-only offerings that just give you a simple edit including your audio. Many also offer a short emotional trailer-style hype video of your day that is an awesome addition to a longer video that might have audio or more footage of your adventures! In California, videographers range from about $1,200 to $8,000 depending on hours of coverage and deliverables.
Planners for your elopement can be a great option if you are planning from another state, need some help creating your vision, or want specific setups at various locations for your elopements. We have seen planners set up amazing picnic sites for our couples while they’re busy saying their I Do’s, and create amazing arch and flower arrangements for ceremony decoration. So, if you want to take your elopement up a notch, consider a planner to help with the logistics. Elopement planners in California range between $1,000 to $5,000 depending on scope and location of the elopement day. Check out some of our favorite Wandering Weddings approved planners below.
You can find officiants who specialize in a variety of different types of ceremonies, from religious to focused on your dogs and peppering in some quotes from the Office. They range in price from $300 to $800 depending on location and what you want to include in your ceremony. Many planners, photographers, videographers, and florists double as officiants as well. So keep an eye out for vendors who can offer multiple services for you.
Whether you’re just looking for a quick bouquet or a more elaborate ceremony site decoration project, you’re going to need a florist! Most can work with a wide range of budgets depending on the types of flowers and size of your decorations. Keep in mind that florists will need access to your ceremony site prior to the wedding to set up. Make sure you check the rules of the ceremony site you have rented to make sure you can decorate the space with flowers. National parks and local parks tend to have stricter “leave no trace” rules about what you can bring and decorate with.
Catering companies don’t have to be for big parties! There are so many options when it comes to treating yourself to a great meal after your elopement ceremony. Catering companies are a great resource for small private dinners at picnic sites, private rental properties, and farms. Local butchers often offer grazing board packages that elevate your picnic to the next level! If you just want a luxury dinner and don’t want to go out or do the dishes, a private chef would be a great fit for your elopement day!
Places to Elope in Northern California
So you’re ready to start planning your elopement in California, but you aren’t sure where you should exchange your vows with your partner. From the rugged coastal cliffs of Big Sur to the towering redwoods in Muir Woods, there’s no shortage of enchanting spots in Northern California. For an intimate beach ceremony, consider the secluded coves of Point Reyes. The Napa Valley vineyards is always a romantic option for wine enthusiasts, with rolling hills and elegant estates providing a charming setting. Yosemite National Park, with its iconic granite cliffs and cascading waterfalls, offers a majestic and awe-inspiring environment. Whether it’s the quaint charm of historic towns like Nevada City or the dramatic landscapes of Lake Tahoe, Northern California provides so many enchanting options for couples trying to find the perfect place to elope in Cali.
Check out some of our favorite locations below:
Nestled along the rugged coastline of California, Big Sur is known for its dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and majestic redwood forests. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, one of the area’s gems, offers enchanting groves of towering redwoods and picturesque meadows, providing a serene and secluded backdrop for exchanging vows. McWay Falls, a stunning waterfall that cascades onto a pristine beach, adds a mystical element during your ceremony. The iconic Bixby Creek Bridge, perched high above the Pacific, offers a romantic spot with panoramic coastal views. With its ethereal landscapes and natural wonders, Big Sur is just waiting for you to explore on your wedding day.
If you’re looking for an elopement destination off the beaten path and worth the drive, then Pfeiffer Beach is a great place to elope. This hidden gem along the Central California coast is known for its iconic rock formations, such as the keyhole arch that frames breathtaking sunset views. The rugged beauty of the coastline, coupled with the sound of crashing waves, creates a magical and intimate atmosphere for exchanging vows.
Redwood National and State Park
Redwood is a magical dream for couples and photographers alike. Photographers love the streams of light that escape through the tallest trees on earth, and couples get lost in the beautiful landscape. Couples who decide to elope in California’s Redwood also elope near the coastline since there are nearly 40 miles of coast near these magnificent trees. These colossal trees, some reaching heights of over 300 feet, create a cathedral-like atmosphere with their towering canopies and filtered sunlight. Wedding ceremonies among the redwoods often take place in serene groves, surrounded by the scent of pine and the peaceful sounds of nature.
Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake within the Sierra Nevada mountains. This lake is also between the border of California and Nevada, making this destination a perfect one to stop if you both are planning a road trip to both states. This lake is not only beautiful, but it is also close to multiple things to do such as Sand Harbor Beach, Spooner Lake, and Tahoe Rim Trail to name a few. In winter, the snow-capped peaks surrounding the lake add a magical touch, while summer provides opportunities for lakeside wedding vow ceremonies on pristine beaches.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is home to gorgeous waterfalls, deep valleys, ancient sequoias, and grand meadows. This park is almost 1,200 square miles, and it’s one of the most popular elopement destinations in California. Bridal Veil Fall, with its ethereal mist, and the granite monolith El Capitan provide awe-inspiring backdrops for exchanging vows. The Yosemite Valley, carved by glaciers, with meadows and the iconic Half Dome, create a fairy-tale setting for your elopement. We love golden hour portraits here, and we also love it when couples plan epic elopement ceremonies here.
Located within Point Reyes National Seashore, Alamere Falls is a rare and stunning coastal waterfall that cascades over a 30-foot cliff onto the pristine Wildcat Beach below. The journey to the falls involves a scenic coastal hike, adding an element of exploration and seclusion to the elopement experience. Surrounded by rugged cliffs and the rhythmic sounds of the Pacific Ocean, Alamere Falls is the perfect intimate setting for exchanging vows. The dynamic combination of coastal beauty and the waterfall’s unique descent make this location a picturesque spot for couples, so we recommend planning a mid-week elopement for this location!
Sequoia National Park
Adjacent to Kings Canyon National Park you will find Sequoia National Park. Home to the world’s largest trees, including the iconic General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National Park provides a dramatic backdrop for a memorable ceremony. The lush, towering sequoia groves create a cathedral-like atmosphere. The park’s diverse landscapes, from granite peaks to alpine meadows, offer couples a range of breathtaking settings for their special day.
Golden Gate Bridge
Maybe you want an adventurous elopement within the city? California’s Golden Gate Bridge is a great option. Both ends of this epic bridge touch the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Couples can exchange vows against the backdrop of the bridge’s towering orange towers and the expansive Pacific Ocean. Baker Beach, with its panoramic views of the bridge and the city skyline, is a popular spot for intimate ceremonies. The bridge, stretching 1.7 miles, provides numerous vantage points, each offering a unique perspective for elopements. The fog rolling in over the bay and the play of light at sunrise or sunset adds a touch of magic to this already enchanting location.
Places to Elope in Southern California
Southern California is known for its perfect weather, breezy beaches, and desert landscapes. The iconic beaches, such as Laguna Beach and Malibu, offer stunning oceanfront backdrops with golden sands and majestic cliffs. Joshua Tree National Park provides a unique desert landscape, where couples can exchange vows surrounded by otherworldly rock formations and the park’s distinctive Joshua trees. Whether it’s the urban elegance of Los Angeles or the coastal serenity of San Diego, Southern California provides a diverse range of scenic and culturally rich options for couples planning their elopement adventure there.
Check out some of our favorite locations below:
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is perfect for couples who love desert terrain. Known for its striking Joshua trees, ancient rock formations, and vast open spaces, the park provides a dramatic backdrop for intimate ceremonies. The Joshua Tree, a distinctive species of yucca plant, creates a surreal atmosphere with its twisted branches against the desert sky. Iconic rock formations like Skull Rock and Arch Rock are some picturesque locations for exchanging vows. With its dark skies, Joshua Tree is also renowned for stargazing, giving couples a unique and memorable activity to do together.
Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake is a beautiful mountain lake. Here you will also be able to explore the gorgeous San Bernardino National Forest. Surrounded by pine forests, the lake provides a tranquil setting for intimate ceremonies, with the snow-capped San Gorgonio Mountains as a stunning backdrop. The region offers recreational activities in all seasons, from boating and hiking in the summer to snow sports in the winter, providing unique activities for couples and their guests.
El Matador State Beach
This beach is a special one with 3 small cliff-foot beaches. These cliffs make for gorgeous portraits, and we also love how close it is to Malibu, California. El Matador State Beach is a natural beauty with sea stacks, caves, and amazing sunsets. The beach’s unique rock formations, including sea stacks and natural arches, create a stunning and intimate atmosphere for exchanging vows. The secluded location, accessible by a staircase, adds an element of privacy to the ceremony. Sunset elopements at El Matador are particularly magical, with the warm hues of the sky reflecting off the Pacific Ocean.
This Southern California elopement location’s name speaks for itself. These cliffs are amazing during sunset. Sunset Cliffs give you dramatic cliff formations, caves, and a native coastal sage scrub habitat to explore. This spot is also great for its panoramic views! Located in the Point Loma neighborhood of San Diego, Sunset Cliffs offers a stunning backdrop of rugged cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The scenic coastal bluffs and sea caves add a touch of wild romance to the ceremony. As a popular spot for both locals and visitors, Sunset Cliffs provides easy accessibility while still maintaining a sense of seclusion, making it an ideal location for an intimate and picturesque elopement by the sea. We recommend eloping during the week here!
Red Rock Canyon State Park
If you both love desert plains, then Red Rock Canyon State Park should be your Southern California elopement location of choice. Located in the Mojave Desert, the park features towering red cliffs, unique rock formations, and expansive desert vistas. Couples can exchange vows with the dramatic backdrop of rust-colored spires and rugged canyons. This is the perfect spot to plan a glamping elopement day!
Permits for California Elopements
When it comes to permits, you have to do a bit of research to make sure you cover any requirements. We suggest hopping over to the homepages of these locations to find the most up-to-date information for the locations you are loving. Some places only require a permit for weddings with 25 or more guests, which is awesome because you’re planning an intimate elopement!
Make sure to have a witness if you are looking to have a legal marriage ceremony during your adventurous elopement. You will also need an officiant during your ceremony. Acceptable officiants include a minister, rabbi, or priest, current or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages, a U.S magistrate, or a California congressperson. We suggest teaming up with one of our California vendors because not only do they have awesome experience in California elopements, but some of them may be able to officiate your marriage too! Just ask!
Getting a California Marriage License
If you’re planning to have a legal wedding ceremony at Yosemite or anywhere else in California, then remember to apply for your marriage license! The license itself is about $61.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- There is no waiting period, so you can get married the same day you get your license.
- You have 90 days to use your license.
- You can apply for a marriage license in any county of California and use it anywhere within CA. However, you’ll need to return it to the same county you first applied.
- You’ll need an officiant and at least one witness to make your wedding ceremony official. Some elopement photographers double as an officiant, and you can always ask some hikers passing by to be your witness if you want a just-us wedding day.
- Remember if you don’t want to stress the legalities during your elopement adventure, you can always plan a commitment ceremony instead of a legal wedding ceremony in California. You can deal with the paperwork (officiant and witnesses) before or after your adventure together.
Top 5 Things to Remember When Planning an Elopement in California
- Northern California and Southern California have different climates and seasons from each other, so it’s important to keep that in mind when planning.
- California has 9 National Parks and over 118 State Parks! Your options are endless.
- Fog is common year-round, especially by the coast.
- Remember to obtain permits and pay location fees (if applicable).
- Have fun, and enjoy every moment during your elopement.