Muir Woods National Park and Marin Headlands Coastal Elopement
This intimate wedding ceremony at Marin Headlands is such a romantic and fun elopement. Brittany and Justin said their “I do’s” on Hawk Hill with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background after taking their wedding portraits at Muir Wood National Park. After that, they explored the gorgeous coastal area. The best part about this elopement? Brittany and Justin found their photographer using our elopement vendor directory (and we love hearing that)! Get all the details from their day below.
Are you thinking about eloping in California? We wouldn’t blame you! California is one of the top places to elope for a lot of couples. Explore our elopement directory to team up with an elopement vendor today.
Planning Your Wedding at Muir Woods National Park and Marin Headlands
Marin Headlands and Muir Woods are two very popular spots for locals and tourists to visit in California, so it’s no surprise that elopements can get a little busy here.
Mary gives us her top tips when planning your wedding day at this location:
- Try to steer clear of holiday weekends where there would be bigger crowds and more out-of-town visitors. If possible, pick a weekday to elope when fewer people will be visiting.
- Consider the weather for when you want to elope at outdoor locations. During the summer, we get a lot of fog around SF and the coast, so it can often feel colder in the summer than in spring or early Fall. Sept-Oct generally has the best weather in this area.
- For National parks, call the local office to find out what permits you need. You’ll also want to make sure if there are any restrictions on where photography can take place, or if reservations need to be made in advance due to limited visitor count during the pandemic. Websites may not have the most up-to-date information. Allow ample time to secure a permit, as extremely popular locations may take several weeks for processing.
Explore our California elopement packages for more location ideas!
Permit Information For Muir Woods National Park and Marin Headlands Weddings/ Portraits
Muir Woods: There are currently no permit requirements for this location if you take your wedding portraits before 10 AM or after 3:30 PM. You do, however, need to book online for park entry and a parking spot. Once you pick a time slot, you can stay up to 2 hours in the park.
Marin Headlands: If you’re planning to elope or have your micro wedding here, then a permit must be reserved online. It can take about 2 weeks to get your permit approved, so plan accordingly when applying for your permit for the Golden Gate Recreational Area, which also includes Marin Headlands.
About This Elopement
Brittany and Justin decided to tie the knot after being together for 11 years. Their original big wedding plans drastically changed as it has for so many couples since 2020. Instead of a big event, they planned an intimate elopement along the gorgeous coast of Marin Headlands.
“Justin has fond memories of Muir Woods during his childhood, so we started off their adventure under the towering redwoods. We then headed off to Marin Headlands and hiked up to Hawk Hill where they exchanged vows overlooking the Golden Gate bridge. Justin’s twin sister officiated this beautiful moment. As part of their send-off, we ended at a coastal trail where they danced, laughed, and kissed during magic hour.” [Mary, the photographer]
Finding The Perfect Elopement Vendors at Wandering Weddings
A huge highlight is when we hear how a couple found their dream photographer using our directory. The groom’s twin sister (who also was their officiant) helped Brittany and Justin by browsing through our site and selecting a handful of photographers in the California area. Based on Mary’s style and experience in the locations they were interested in, it was an immediate match!
“Yes, we found Mary on the Wandering Weddings site. We loved her style of photography, really loved that she was a local, and Mary was the one who helped us ultimately land in our 3 sites. Once we got all the sites and permits ironed out, everything just seemed to work perfectly. My in-laws hosted a pre-wedding get-together in their backyard, and went to the first photoshoot and continued on. Everything truly ended up being pretty perfect.” [Brittany, the bride]
Are you planning an intimate wedding? Browse our elopement directory to find your perfect vendor.
Memorable Moments During This Marin Headlands and Muir Woods Wedding
This wedding at Marin Headlands and Muir Woods is the perfect inspiration for couples who want to explore multiple areas on their wedding day. Mary tells us they ran into multiple families with small children during their adventure amongst the redwoods of Muir, and they kept calling Brittany a princess. This isn’t hard to believe with how stunning she looked in her elopement dress. She loved it, and she twirled in her dress, allowing Mary to capture some gorgeous portraits of her.
Photographer’s favorite moments:
“During the ceremony, these two were literally balling as they were exchanging vows (but still looking great!). I saw just as much tears from Justin as Brittany. I was moved to tears myself watching them laugh and cry at the same time. The absolute highlight of the day was when we went to the Rodeo Beach Coastal Trail during golden hour, right after the ceremony. The sunlight up the cliffs along the coast and all of the reds/greens on the hills were so vibrant. I had them run along the trails and show the camera their dance moves while they stood at the edge of the headlands.” [Mary, the photographer]
Couple’s Favorite Moment:
“Having multiple locations in between events allowed us to really pause and reflect on what was happening and appreciate every little moment of the day. I have heard that people get wrapped up in the excitement of the day and don’t even really remember their wedding day, that was not the case for us…The ceremony felt so intimate and perfect, my sister-in-law (My husband’s twin sister) officiated the ceremony and did such an amazing job. She knows us both so well, incorporated our relationship in, and included part of the vows from his parent’s wedding ceremony making it even more special. Having the sunset photoshoot on the Marin headlands gave us a chance to pause and reflect on the ceremony, and the day as a whole.” [Brittany, the bride]
Deciding to Elope
We have seen many couples change their original wedding plans due to the pandemic, but every single one of them we have featured has expressed their love and gratitude for eloping. After facing such a stressful situation like rescheduling your wedding day multiple times, it’s nice to just let go and have your ceremony together without the extra fluff.
“Without a lengthy timeline and all the stress that can come with large weddings, it’s amazing when my couple only needs to focus on each other. Literally, they get lost in the moment, as if no one else is around. I love capturing that feeling where everything the couple says and does is full of intention. Elopements take me to some of the most beautiful spots where we’re surrounded by nature. I feel I’m with kindred spirits with those who share an appreciation for the great outdoors and who are willing to take the unconventional route.” [Mary, the photographer]
Eloping may not be for everybody, but it does give you the freedom to plan your wedding day how you want to. You don’t have to elope by yourselves either! You can plan a micro wedding instead, or even invite your closest family and friends to a post elopement party.
Are you still not sure if you should elope? Check out our blog on what it means to elope.
Photography | Mary Huynh Photography
Bouquet | Mill Valley Flowers
Suit | R. Douglas
Dress | Davids Bridal
Dress Alterations | Couture Designs
Hair Piece | Etsy GlamourBrideUSA
Wedding Ring Gem Box | Groom’s twin sister
More Photos From This Elopement