Elope. Elopement. What does the word "elopement" conjure up for you? For me, I grew up hearing the stories from my parents about how they snuck away in the middle of the night to Las Vegas and got married without telling their parents. So, for a long time, I thought elopement meant running away and getting married in secret. I promise you are not alone if this is what you have dreamed of at some point in your life and yes those things, though they may have been true in the past, no longer describe the modern elopements. After over 10 years of photographing big weddings, in 2018 I had the honor of photographing my first true elopement in Big Sur and I must admit I fell in love with the concept of eloping, the beauty of the day being just about the two of them, the intimate moments, everything being so meaningful, I could see that it was more like an authentic wedding experience that represents the couples love and focuses on them and their relationship. I'd never seen a couple on their wedding day who were so relaxed and carefree, and I thought to myself, "That's how all wedding days should be." So to me, the definition of an elopement is:
- An intimate, meaningful celebration that is a genuine and a true representation of your love and relationship, with the day's emphasis being solely on the two of you.
Eloping is all about letting go of any stress, anxiety, or obligation of what anyone else thinks your wedding day should be. An elopement gives you complete freedom and control over how and when you decide to marry.
Well, that depends on the couple, but one of the best things about California is there is pretty much an option for everyone. If you are reading this, you might be thinking about eloping here, with beautiful blue coastlines with cliffside bluffs, spacious deserts, mountain peaks, gigantic redwood trees, California has so much to offer it’s easy to see why it is a popular destination to elope to for adventurous couples and not to mention a destination wedding photographers dream. So, what speaks to your heart? Some couples may choose a quiet cliffside elopement in Big Sur or maybe the warm desert wedding in Joshua Tree is more for you, good news is with 8 national parks and more than 100 state parks to choose from you have options when it comes to choosing your adventure.
California is a crowd-pleaser thanks to its diverse landscape, plenty of things to do, and pleasant weather all year. California has more parks and coastline than any other state in the world, making it an ideal place for couples planning an outdoor elopement on the West Coast. What do you do first if you're thinking of eloping? You have to choose the perfect location. With so many choices in California, this can be a difficult choice. Here are some links for information on what you need to elope in those locations.
Yosemite National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
I'm here to help you plan your dream elopement, from personalized day-of timelines to vendor recommendations to assisting with permits, whichever venue you want.
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A wedding ceremony on most public lands and private properties require a permit. Many places also need one so that the photographer can take pictures there. So in some cases, you have to purchase two permits. If you're not told otherwise, presume you'll need permission— and keep in mind that laws and restrictions can change at any time.
Winter: December to February
SoCal: Winters are usually pretty mild around the coastal areas, the mountains and the desert can get pretty cold to freezing at night and there is sometimes even snow in both locations.
NoCal: It can be cloudy a lot during this time and the weather can get to some chilly temps, normally lots of snow in the mountains
Spring Time: March to June
SoCal: It’s normally pretty nice with 65 to 80-degree weather around the coast, and the hills have normally turned green and we do occasionally get some rain. However, if you are heading out to the desert it’s normally in the 50s still in March to early May.
NoCal: It’s normally in the 50s to 70-degrees most of the time, however can get very cold in the evening depending on the locations. Normally the hills are green and lush with wildflowers.
Summer: July to October
SoCal: Really one of the best times, we are known for the hot-but-perfect summer weather. however this is the peak time that a lot of people head to the beach and other outdoor activities, so keep that in mind. Also, the desert can get up to 120-degrees so if you are wanting a Joshua Tree or Palm Springs elopement think about having it at sunrise.
NoCal: Normally has some very pleasant weather, you can typically expect sunshine and cool breezes with slightly cooler temps in the mountains.
Fall: October to December
SoCal: Not a lot of fall leaves unless you head up to the mountains, my favorite is in Lake Arrowhead however it is short-lived so you just have to plan and hope. The weather is normally starting to cool off and we sometimes get some rain showers.
NoCal: Lots of Fall Colors and sometimes moody fall weather, the chill starts and sometimes you get some foggy days too and rains showers. It’s one of my favorite times there.
California is notorious for its sunny weather all year, but the weather in southern and northern California is very different, so keep that in mind when preparing your elopement. Also, consider the time of year; summer is not the best time for certain locations; The coast and parks bring in the summer crowds, if you want a private wedding on a seaside cliff plan around that, if you're focusing on the desert, think about having a sunrise ceremony because the temperatures will reach over 120 degrees.
Other then the photographer here are some of the other vendors you might want to consider hiring.
Hair & Makeup:
Will you doing your hair & makeup yourself or hire a professional? How will you touch it up?
Is a bouquet important to you for your elopement? Is it possible to have one close to your location make it, or would you have to go to a larger city to get one?
Most couples do want an officiant to run everything but you can also just make it the two of you saying your own vows to each other.
A Few Other to Consider:
Music, Musicians, Videographer maybe a private chef to make the perfect dinner to end the night.
• Have fun getting ready together, or get ready separately and do a first look with each other. Your elopement
doesn’t have to start at just the ceremony, it can be a full day.
• You can still have guests, anything under 10 people is still considered an elopement, so friends and family
members could attend, make one a bridesmaid and a groomsman and they can also be your witnesses.
• Write your personalized wedding vows to each other.
• Get a small cake, cupcakes, or maybe some gourmet donuts for after the ceremony.
• Do a shot of your favorite alcoholic or non-acholic drink together.
• Seal an anniversary box.
• Pour Sand For Your Unity Ceremony or maybe think of gathering sand from the ceremony site to use.
• Bring a small Bluetooth speaker, save a song on your phone, and have that first dance.
• Handfasting by fastening hands together or tie a unity knot.
• If you are staying at an Airbnb, think about maybe hiring a private chef to cook for you the perfect meal.
• Depending on the location you can still decorate the ceremony site.
• Have some of your friends and family write you letters and read them out loud to each other.
• If you’re having a small number of guests you can do speeches or ring blessings at the ceremony or even a
• Choose a location that is special to the two of you, that has meaning.
• It’s your day so make it unique to you.
How can I make my elopement more special? If you have decided to elope you may be wonder what you can do to make the day more special. Here are some ideas to get you started:
One Photographer with an assistant
Day of Elopement Timeline and Location Scouting
Full Image Resolution Download
Image Printing Rights
Password Protected Online Proofing
Free Retouching on Images
Don't see what your looking for listed, looking for a custom package or maybe you are eloping outside of Southern california? contact me today for pricing, I look forward to talking with you!