Yosemite Elopement Guide
If you’re thinking about having a Yosemite elopement, then you came to the right place for all the inspiration and information you need to make your wedding day perfect.
Our team put together tips and tricks and paired them up with a real elopement, so you can see what it’s really like to elope in Yosemite from start to finish.
Yosemite National Park is within the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Surrounded by ancient Sequoia trees, granite cliffs, and gorgeous views. It’s no wonder it landed a spot on our best places to elope list.
Laura Harding, the photographer featured, captured Brittany and Brian’s epic adventure at Yosemite. They planned their first look near Cook’s Meadow and enjoyed their first sunset together standing hand in hand at Glacier Point.
If you’re set on eloping in gorgeous Yosemite, then feel free to jump to the section you are most interested in to build out your Yosemite elopement package.
How to Elope in Yosemite
- Places to Elope in Yosemite
- When to Elope in Yosemite
- Yosemite Elopement Photographers
- 5 Tips For Eloping in Yosemite
- Real Yosemite Elopement
Places to Elope in Yosemite
There are plenty of nooks and crannies to plan your elopement ceremony and portraits in Yosemite, including thirteen designated wedding ceremony locations within the park. If, however, your wedding party is fewer than 11 people, you can plan your elopement ceremony at any location with the exception of riparian environments and open meadows.
If you are planning your wedding ceremony at Yosemite, even if it’s an elopement, you will have to register for a Yosemite wedding permit. This permit is $150, but we suggest checking their website for the latest information.
Here are some of our favorite spots for ceremonies and portraits:
Glacier Point is easily accessible. You can park your car and walk a couple of feet to get some of the most scenic canyon views you will ever see. This is a popular spot, so we always recommend weekday elopements. You’ll be standing at an altitude of around 8,000 feet, so make sure your veil is pinned tight! Also, keep in mind that you can’t schedule your wedding in the Glacier Point Amphitheater during July and August.
Although the couple featured admit there was a moment when they felt the absence of their families, both Brittany and Brian were without regret at the end of the day. Standing hand in hand at Glacier Point, they took in their first sunset as husband and wife and felt certain they had chosen the right path. “Eloping means there are no rules [or] expectations,” Laura says. “You can truly make your day reflect exactly who you are as a couple and make it that much more meaningful!”
Location Closure: Glacier Point Road will be closed to all traffic from spring through fall in 2022 and 2023 to rehabilitate and improve the road. The only access to Glacier Point will be via the Four Mile, Panorama, and Pohono Trails, all of which are strenuous hikes. Please check the Yosemite website for the latest updates.
This is a popular spot for elopement ceremonies at Yosemite National Park. It’s quite the hike though, so this is a good option for those adventurous couples. This 16-mile round-trip adventure is full of epic views but does require a permit. If you are looking for something similar, then we suggest checking out the areas near Taft Point, which has easier access with similar views.
This is an epic point, and it does require knowledge from both your photographer and yourself. Please keep your distance if you are wanting to have your elopement portraits taken here. This point is intense! This is the epic point that defines Yosemite, and it’s gorgeous sunsets and sunrises.
Bridal Veil Fall
If you are looking for an epic waterfall to be the backdrop of your elopement ceremony, Bridal Veil Fall is the perfect waterfall. This area is gorgeous and misty. There is also a woodsy area to give you that magical boho vibe.
When to Elope In Yosemite
If you are thinking about eloping in Yosemite National Park, then you have to think about what time of year and time of day you will be getting married.
During the winter, some roads will be closed due to the weather including the road leading up to Glacier Point. We think the best times of year to have access to all parts of this national park is Spring and Fall. Summer months are gorgeous too, but June, July, and August are known to be the peak times, so you’ll see a lot more visitors.
After you decide which time of year, then you’ll have to decide if you want a sunrise or a sunset elopement at Yosemite. We love both of these options. Sunrise can be a good option for the hotter months in the year to beat the heat and stay away from crowds, but you’ll have to be ok with waking up at 3 am to start your hair and makeup!
On the other hand, a sunset Yosemite elopement allows you to have the whole day to get ready and explore like this couple did. After their first looks and ceremony in the valley, they explored Yosemite’s epic views. The downside to this option is the crowds, but days of the week and time of year does make a difference.
Yosemite Elopement Photographers
If you get together with one of our California photographers and other wedding vendors, they can put together a Yosemite elopement package for you. For a full day of coverage, photographers typically range from $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the specific photographer and what you are looking for. Aside from the permit fees, you would then have to worry about any wedding attire or details you would like to bring along.
If you are wondering what to include in your cost of eloping to Yosemite, our how to elope section breaks down some elements you may want to consider to include in your budget.
5 Tips For Eloping in Yosemite
- Settle all permits and fees ahead. You may schedule up to a year in advance.
- There is one main road that goes around the valley in Yosemite, so plan ahead and prepare for some traffic.
- Get together with one of our Wandering Weddings photographers and map out your day to make the most of it.
- You can’t get a wedding permit during holiday weekends or holidays.
- You can plan to camp at Yosemite, but there are also a lot of fun lodging accommodations nearby including Yosemite Lodge, Tenaya Lodge, and Ahwahanee Hotel to name a few.
Real Yosemite Elopement
This couple didn’t want any distractions or pressure during their wedding day. These two spent their day surrounded by nature being their genuine and authentic selves.
“I had been following elopement photographers through Instagram for a while and had fallen in love with the idea of a National Park elopement… As a couple, Brian and I bond over anything and everything outdoorsy… Not to mention the struggle we experienced every time we tried planning a full-blown wedding – nothing quite felt like us. We wanted intimacy, and we wanted to 100% enjoy our day without the stress and expense of a 100+ guest wedding. We live simply and aren’t super glamorous or formal people, so a fancy wedding didn’t make sense to us, and to be honest, neither of us enjoyed even entertaining the idea of being the center of attention, being overwhelmed with the hectic mess of a wedding, or being swamped with greetings from guests. It would have taken away from us bonding and sharing our day, moment by moment, together.” [Brittany, The Bride]
Choosing an Elopement Location Within the National Park:
“When choosing our location, the options were infinite! I personally had never been to Yosemite. Brian had, but he was fairly young when he visited, so Laura was capturing the purest amazement we were experiencing amongst Yosemite’s grandeur. Yosemite is such a majestic, breathtaking masterpiece. I’m also a devoted admirer of John Muir, the greatest advocate Yosemite has ever known. We actually had a favorite John Muir excerpt read during our ceremony. It brought on the waterworks for sure.” [Brittany, The Bride]
Planning an Elopement:
“It was actually much simpler than I ever imagined… We simply coordinated with Laura, and she was amazing at finding the best spots for breathtaking photos… I Googled and booked the best of the best – a highly rated stylist, florist, and officiant. Since we flew across the country from the East Coast, we needed to be able to trust in who we hired – we didn’t have room for error. We got our marriage license two days before our wedding, [and] that process was a lot simpler than I thought it’d be… The planning wasn’t stressful because we were passionate about our wedding vision and excited about the entire trip in itself. Experiencing the vision manifest in real-time still feels surreal. It was wise on our end that we strayed from the norm for the sake of our happiness.” [Brittany, The Bride]
Advice to Other Couples Who Want to Elope in Yosemite:
“During the ceremony, we were missing the element of having family and our closest friends there to celebrate with us, but to be honest, the day was still perfect. Our advice for couples who are considering an elopement is that at the end of the day, just be sure to put yourselves first. Do what makes you happy as a couple… Our day was carefree and felt so natural [because] we were in our element… it didn’t surprise people we knew one bit that we chose to elope in one of the most beautiful places in the world.” [Brittany, The Bride]
Photos from this elopement:
Vendors Included in This Yosemite Elopement:
Florals | Jennifer Lyster of The Enchanted Florist and Whatnots
Hair & Makeup | Grace DeMasters of Bellissimo Brides
Bridal Designer | BHLDN
Suit Designer | Polo Ralph Lauren
Officiant | Reverend Jack Climer with Mountain Valley Ministries
Thank you to Laura Harding for sharing this session, and congratulations to Brittany and Brian.
If you are loving Yosemite, then check out our California Elopement Packages.
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