A complete guide to eloping in Washington
In last week’s blog on the top five places to elope in the Summer Washington made the list twice! It almost could have made the list as a whole state honestly!! The Pacific Northwest is any couples dream for a romantic elopement surrounded the dreamy greenery, quiet woods on top of a mountain peak or by the waves as the sun sets. While I listed many Washington locations as great places to elope in the summer, Washington can be a year round elopement location. In the summer you are most likely to get a sunny day and have more access to more mountains, while in the Winter you could snow shoe, ski and be in a winter wonderland.
Last summer I told you all exactly how to elope in Mt Rainier National Park, but we are going to break it down a bit further in this blog on how to elope and plan your elopement as a whole in Washington. In the state of Washington there are three National Parks: Olympic National Park, Mount Rainer and the North Cascades. The state also has an abundance of state parks, 154 to be exact! Some of the ones you may know of that are great for eloping includes Deception Pass State Park, Lime Kiln Point State Park and Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park. The state also has many National Forests, State Forests and National Wildlife refugee areas. Why does all of this matter??? With all of these parks and lands comes options! So many epic places to elope in so many different scenic areas, different experiences and different ways to go about planning your elopement.
So first things first before we start getting into the logistics of planning your Washington elopement, as I always tell all of my couples the first thing to do when planning your elopement is to think about what you want out of your day. What type of experience do you want to have? What do you want to be surrounded by? What do you want to do throughout the day together? Where are you staying? Make a date night of it and have fun! This will help you decide where you want to elope or help give you a general sense and we can narrow it down from there.
Here are some the best places to elope in Washington to help you start considering your options: Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier, Mt Baker/North Cascades and the Snoqualmie National Forest.
How to get to your elopement destination in Washington?
If you are coming from out of state you most likely will fly. The main airport in Washington is SEA TAC an international airport located in Seattle. The beauty is that it is pretty centrally located, but you will want to rent a car to get to where you will be eloping. In most cases you can get to your destination in a non 4x4 car in the state of Washington, but there also many options you could off road to. If you are eloping on any of the islands you will need to take a ferry to your elopement destination. If you are eloping in Olympic National Park you can drive from Seattle or take the ferry and then drive. You will want to reserve your spot on the ferry prior and familiar yourself with the Washington Ferry System.
With all of these beautiful parks comes A LOT of places to camp! Tent camping in the national parks you will for sure want to make a reservation during season. Some camp sites in the park will have first come first serve sites and you will want to be there around 9am to snag a spot and have a back up plan! Many of the National Parks have forest service land around them and you can usually find a spot there. In some places in Washington you can camp and have a camp fire on the beach!
Washington is known for some of the most beautiful cabins tucked in the woods! These are great for having a comfortable, roomy place to relax the night before, get ready and/or have a small reception after. If you are planning to have any photos taken at the Airbnb you rent be sure you have permission from the home owner.
Check out some great Airbnb options here:
Outside of campsites and Airbnbs there are many hotels in Seattle and the main towns. Around many of the tourist areas there are many resorts to stay at. You can also stay at some of the fire towers in Washington, by reserving online and hiking in. What a way to elope!!! Wake up in the morning on top of the world, just you two and right were you can elope!
In the state of Washington you will need an officiant and two witnesses to legally become married. Prior to the ceremony you will need to apply for your marriage license, which you can do at at the county government's auditor's office or online. There is a three day waiting period to obtain your license so if you plan to apply for your permit in person you will need to be there several days in advance. You must get married within 60 days of obtaining your license, or it becomes invalid. Fees for your marriage license are different per county. After you have held your ceremony and the documents are signed do not forget to mail them back to the county office!! Since marriage license in Washington are based by county you can visit this goverment site to direct you to the right county for you elopement.
Outside of pulling your marriage license, paying the fee and then mailing the documents back you may need a permit for the location you have selected to elope at. If you are eloping in a National Park you will want to go to the park’s website and go to special permits and follow the instructions. With any questions or concerns it is always best to reach and speak to a ranger of the park. Outside of national parks every where else has there own set of rules, some places you will not need a permit at and some you will. It is best to start pulling permits as soon as possible to be able to get everything squared away properly!
Let’s Talk About Seattle…
While Seattle itself is not an ideal elopement location, unless you are looking for a city elopement it is a great place to visit before your elopement. SEA TAC will take you near by Seattle and you can rent a car to get there or you can take a train from the airport to downtown. While the Public Market is a tourist hot spot, it is that for good reason. If you get there early in the morning you will find it less crowded. It is a great place to grab a coffee and morning pastry and shop for fresh food for your stay in Washington or road trip. The fresh flowers make beautiful, stunning flower bouquets. Over all it is a beautiful city to start your trip off. If you are eloping somewhere like the San Juan Islands you can look into taking a sea plane to your next stop. Your ferry ride to Olympic National Park area will leave out of Seattle as well. If you are coming through at night check out some of the Speakeasy underground bars, Racheal’s Ginger Beer, Beecher's Handmade Cheese and or some of the local bars. There is also a flagship REI store in Seattle so if you forget anything you may need for your adventure elopement you can easily pick it up there!
Are you thinking of eloping in Washington? Reach out to me! I am here to help you plan your elopement from location to timing. It is important to me that you have a wedding day that tells your love story and is true to who you are as a couple. I take great care to get to know you two so I can create artistic images that show your love, tell the story of your day and will allow your memories to last forever.
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