How to Elope in Mount Rainier National Park
(Updated for 2023)
Getting married at a National Park is a dream come true when you as a couple love the outdoors, hiking, camping, and being fully immersed in the towering evergreens and epic mountain landscapes. Mount Rainier National Park is one of those parks that blows your mind and exceeds all expectations with miles and miles of trails, endless waterfalls, stunning glaciers, and astounding quiet nooks.
John Muir said it best of all….”Of all the fire-mountains which, like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.”
- Can you get married at Mount Rainier?
- How do you get married in Mt. Rainier National Park?
- Where can you elope at in Mt Rainier?
- How to get to Mount Rainier?
- How much does it cost to elope in Mt Rainier?
- What is there to do in Mt. Rainier on your Elopement Day?
- Mt Rainier Elopement Photographer
Can you get married at Mount Rainier?
Yes, you can get married at Mount Rainier! However, it is important to know this comes with rules + regulations. Check out this blog for an entire guide on how to get married within Mount Rainier. In this blog post we will answer all of your logistical questions on getting married in the park!
Can you get married ON mount rainier?
Mount rainier national park has many, many peaks within it. Most elopements in the park take place around the mountain or on it up to some elevation. However, you could elope ON Mount Rainier at the summit if it is just you two (permit regulation) and if you have the the physical capability of getting to the top. Most people that summit Mt Rainier do so with a guide. If you plan to summit the mountain you will need a permit to do so. You will also still need a wedding permit.
How do you get married in Mt. Rainier National Park?
Legal requirements for getting married in Washington State:
First things first, let’s get things set on the legal side. Mount Rainier is located within Washington state, so you will need to follow WA state laws for your ceremony no matter where you live. You will need an officiant and two witnesses who are 18 years old or older to legally become married in the state of Washington. When you decide to elope with Adventure + Vow you either get yourself two witnesses or an officiant and one witness! Officiating services are included with all of our packages, free of charge. We’ve never had any trouble finding a second witness somewhere along the trail, so don’t let that stress you out if it will just be you two and no guests.
Prior to the ceremony you will need to apply for your marriage license. The rules vary from state to state and most states within the United States require you to obtain a marriage license from the state where you will be getting married in. The process is usually quick and easy and typically only requires about 20 minutes of your time if you’re doing it in person. We 100% recommend making an appointment if they’re available with the county where you’re looking to obtain the license so that you don’t run into any problems leading into your wedding day.
Specific to Washington state, there is a three day waiting period before your license can be used for your ceremony, so if you plan to obtain the certificate in person, be sure to plan your travel plans around this! Most county offices have bank hours and are closed on the weekends, so it’s definitely something you need to be mindful of.
Once you have the license in hand and 72 hours have elapsed, you must get married within 60 days or the license becomes invalid. Fees for your marriage license are different per county. After you have held your ceremony and the documents are signed, your officiant is legally required to turn it back in for you!
If you’re having family or friends along for the elopement, it’s actually a very simple process if you’d like someone close to you to officiate your wedding. All it takes is a quick moment by visiting The Universal Life Church online and registering as a minister. If you want to feel fancy, there is an option to have the hardcopy credentials mailed to you, however the state of Washington doesn’t actually require seeing any of these items and so whoever you’d like to hold your ceremony can sign up for free.
So what if you’re travel plans, time off from work, or any other reason doesn’t allow you to be in Washington State Early enough to obtain a marriage license before your wedding? Well fortunately, some counties do allow mailing options for people from out of state. One county which allows this is Whatcom County. Be mindful that the same rules apply, so while everything is being done in transit of shipping, this time counts towards the valid period of your license. It may be a bit to think about, but once you have your dates locked down, it’s not too difficult of a process.
Mount Rainier Wedding Permit
Next step is getting everything squared away with the National Park! You and your photographer will need a permit to hold a wedding in Mt Rainier National Park. This process is simple, but you want to plan with enough time to get everything done correctly. While Mt. Rainier may not be as busy as Yosemite for example, the growing interest in elopements is being felt at every National Park across the country and as such is extending the turn-around time hearing back from the officers in charge of permits. Because of this, you will need to apply with the National Park Service as early as you know your plan, but preferrably at least six weeks in advance. The requirements change per national park, but with Mt. Rainier, your wedding permit covers bringing along a photographer!
If you decide to elope with less than 45 days of time prior to your wedding, then our suggestion is to call and email the park ranger to see if you will have enough time to receive the proper paperwork. There isn’t a guarantee that they’ll be able to push the permit through, but being friendly and supplying as much information as you can definitely goes a long way with their willingness to help. There is an application fee of $175. Keep in mind it is $30 to enter the park (per car) unless you have a yearly pass. To apply for your Mt Rainier Wedding permit click here.
Where can you elope at in Mt Rainier?
Other things to consider when planning your wedding day at Mt. Rainier and when applying for your permit directly from the National Park Service Webpage:
Party size determines which locations may be used for wedding ceremonies. Note that while this is current, this can change at anytime and you need to directly pull this info when planning from the park.
- 1-12 participants: may use certain pre-determined locations, which may include select trails, picnic areas, roadside locations, and campground amphitheaters.
- 13-24 participants: may use certain pre-determined locations, which may include picnic areas, roadside locations, and campground amphitheaters.
- 25-60 participants: may use certain pre-determined locations, which may include roadside locations and campground amphitheaters.
- 60 + participants: may use campground amphitheaters.
We highly suggest if you are planning an elopement in Mount Rainier National Park to plan to elope with 8 people total or less in order to be able to get married at the best locations, for the best experience and in order to follow leave no trace.
The park lays out some basic rules to that will guide you down the path of selecting your location, but the park is huge and you may be asking where to say those vows to each other! If you have been to Mount Rainier before, consider trails and spots you’ve hiked that made you feel the happiest, most in awe or most connected. Think about places that were your favorite and you shared great memories together or what are some locations you haven’t hiked to yet, but have always wanted to!?
If you have never been, seek advice from your photographer, share with them what you envision and do research on the trails. Consider the time of day, are you willing to set out and get to your ceremony location at sunrise or are you more of a sunset chaser? Just as their names point out the Sunrise area of the park is beautiful at sunrise and vice versa for Sunset point. The National Park rangers are great resources for locations within the park and are plentiful with information as well.
Ceremonies in the park may not:
- Impede the activities of other park visitors.
- Areas may not be roped off or blocked in any way to the general public.
- Modest decorations may be allowed (additional permissions required).
- Additional permissions may be required for professional photography/videography; please include photographer contact information in the application form.
- The setting up of chairs, tents, or awnings is not permitted.
- Throwing of rice, confetti, etc. is not allowed.
ALWAYS, always practice Leave No Trace when visiting or saying ‘I Do’ in the National Parks. When planning and thinking of guests, decor and more keep in mind that you are in a park that other folks and critters are inhabiting and enjoying.When visiting Mt Rainier it is SO important to never stand in the meadows!
Best Spots for Portraits in Mt Rainier
If you are eloping just two people you can do your ceremony (almost) anywhere. If you are eloping with a group before for after you can go to other parts of the park for portraits of just you two.There are some of our places:
- Mount Fremont
- Tolmie Peak
- Different sections of the Wonderland Trial
- Several of the waterfalls
- Off the beaten path trails on the South side of the Park
- Trails off of the Sunrise Visitor Center
- Tipsoo Lake Area
I would say on average you can expect to hike 5-8 miles for some of the very best locations in the park!
Mount Rainier Wedding Venues
If you wanted to have an arch at your wedding, tables, chairs, etc. then there is still the option to hold your event at an airbnb. This of course 100% depends on the owners approval for your event, so be sure to verify this with the owner.
I will mention, that we have definitely been to airbnb’s with far more than 16 people and that our couple had received the permission of the host to hold their event there. There is typically light music but they weren’t celebrating like a full blown college party. So with the official rules in mind we can not advise an event greater than 16 people on someone else’s property, but we aren’t the rental property police. So if you receive permission to have your guests there and the owner tells you you can have photographers on site, Adventure + Vow is happy to come along.
If you want a traditional wedding venue near Mount Rainier here are our top suggestions:
Forest Service Land around Mt Rainier
If you do not want to deal with the permit process, don’t want to deal with the business of the park or it’s too late to pull one, there are definitely other options. There are an abundance of trails right outside the boundary of the park that still provide beautiful views of Mt. Rainier, has fire towers and waterfalls. Many of these locations being in National Forest, which would not require a permit for your ceremony so long as it is below 75 people. One of the most epic views of the Mount Rainier we have seen is located on FS land outside of the park, it is a six mile hike that you can back pack to, which we highly recommend!
How to get to Mount Rainier?
Traveling from out of state to get married at Mt Rainier, the best airport to fly into is Sea-Tac in Seattle. The park is only an hour and half drive from the city. Be sure to enter from the right park entrance for your ceremony’s location! The different entrance points are well over an hour from each other, and the only way to drive is around the mountain. If you are choosing to stay in the park, there are several camp grounds you can camp at like White River campground or Cougar Campground. To find neat camping near by the National park or places to stay try Hip Camp or Airbnb. With a short drive from the city you could also stay in Seattle. Keep in mind that during season, the park is busy and places can book out early. Plan ahead!
The main entrances to the park: + where to stay for each
- Southwest side, closest to Paradise and we recommend staying in Ashford
- Southeast side, close to things like Tipsoo or Reflection lake and we recommend staying in Packwood
- Northside closest to Sunrise visitor center and we recommend staying somewhere near Crystal Mountain or Emclauw
- Northwest side which is closest to Mowich Lake area and Spray Park and we recommend staying in Buckley or closer to the park entrance in the tiny towns.
Best time to elope in Mount Rainier
This active volcano creates its own weather conditions due to its massive size and high elevation compared to the surrounding mountain ranges. Choosing when to visit really depends on what you’re looking for. People often underestimate how much snow cover this mountain gets, and think that there will be wildflower galore in late May or Early June. While certain roads in the park are accessible year round, some do not open up until early or mid summer. Depending on the winters snow that season, certain areas of the park can be covered until early August, or indefinitely! Fortunately, in some of the higher areas, there can be a beautiful mix of snow and meadows if you don’t want to wait quite so long into summer.
The best time to elope in Mt Rainier is from Late June (lower elevation) to Mid October. You can also consider a Winter date if you are open to snow shoeing, skiing or back country skiing. Mt Rainier is a wonderful winter wonderland place to be, just plan a few extra days in case of bad weather conditions in the winter.
The Pacific Northwest is known for being gray and rainy, but that is not really the case in the Summer. If you pick a date from late August to October just know you have a higher chance of rain, but that does not take away from the beauty here.
Wild Flower Elopement in Mt Rainier
A lot of people choose to elope in Mount Rainier for the stunning wild flowers. I would say Mt Rainier is the best place in Washington to see wild flowers in general. There are a wild variety of flowers in the park like lilies, daisies, fireweed, lupines and more. If you want to plan your elopement around wild flowers this is the date range I would consider: July 20-August 15th. The wild flower season is always dependent upon snow fall that winter, rain that spring and temperatures for the year.
How much does it cost to elope in Mt Rainier?
The average cost of an elopement tends to be between $8,500 to $18,000 based on a poll I conducted in early in 2023 from past eloping brides.
If you’re flying in, it is important to consider the cost of a rental car, as there is no adequate way to get around the park the way that you’d like without your own transportation. Also, prices for the typical necessities are on average higher than the rest of the United States, and maybe much higher depending where you are traveling in from. Staying closer to the park often costs more money, but it will get you out of the hustle and bustle of Seattle and provide you with the stillness of nature and save you from driving two and a half to three hours of round trip driving.
Since plane tickets and rental cars can be so variable depending on who you book with, what you get, and the time of the year, it is difficult to factor in just how much that will cost. With booking a rental either through a hotel or a luxury Air BnB, you should consider the range to be between $150 and $500 a night. Some of our couples will book larger estates for all of their friends and family nearby the park, and those are the rentals that tend to cost towards the higher end of things. The benefit of booking a full home rather than a cheaper hotel would be the ability to make all of your own food. Eating out for three meals a day for two will quickly add up, sometimes making the seemingly pricey rental actually cheaper in the long run.
Cost break down that you can plug in your own costs:
- Travel including driving, gas, flight, stay, food (this greatly depends but lets say $500 – $3000)
- Officiant (our services include this, but outside of that it could cost $300 – $1500)
- Flowers ($25 from the market or by a florist could be $500)
- Photo/Video (Our packages start at $6000)
- Paperwork $72
- Permit if needed $175
- To get into the park $35
- Your attire ($500 – $5000)
- and any random thing! Every elopement looks different so it’s hard to come up with exact numbers unless helping you plan your day.
Mt Rainier Elopement Packages
We are an elopement photo + video team based in Washington. Our Elopement packages for Mt Rainier are available between June and October yearly. If you are up for some wild weather and snow shoeing we are open to Winter dates as well. Our elopement packages start at $6000 and include:
- Officiant + 1 Witness
- In person + Virtual location scouting
- The most in depth welcome package to elopement planning guide
- Vendor recommendations
- Assistance on pulling your own permits
- Timeline Planning at least 30 days in advance
- Sneak peaks sent the day of the elopement
- Printing rights to high res downloads from your client image gallery.
- Guidance on preserving your images for ever and printing them.
What is there to do in Mt. Rainier on your Elopement Day?
The great thing about escaping to this mountain wonderland is that there are so many options and opportunities of things to do! The choices span all four seasons and include everything from easily accessible for family and friends, to a private getaway in the woods with just the two of you!
Here are some adventurous ideas for your elopement day in Mt. Rainier
- Go backpacking
- Snowshoe through the park!
- Of course, hiking
- Share a picnic on a mountain peak
- Summit Mt. Rainier!
- Kayak – there is one lake in the park you can kayak on
- See a waterfall
Here are some ideas for activities nearby Mt. Rainier
- Go for a horseback ride with a view of the mountain
- Take the gondola ride up to Crystal Mountain
- Visit BaseCamp bar and grill in Ashford, WA for food and drinks right outside the park
- More of a coffee person? Visit The Mountain Goat in Packwood, WA
Really, this barely scratches the surface of all of the things that you can do here. Whether it be peeping at fall leaves, enjoying the wildflowers of the summer, embracing the sun of spring, or having a snowball fight in the winter, the only limit is what your vision is for the day!
I hope this information is helpful to you. Please feel free to reach out or comment below with any questions you may have. We are always happy to help!
Mt Rainier Elopement Photographer
Hi, we are Traci and Bill!!! Your elopement photographers that are deeply invested in creating a day perfect for your love story.
Why should you hire us for your big day in Mt. Rainier? We got married here too! We did our own 74 mile, 5 day backpacking adventure, pulling all types of last minute permits, planning for our photographer all of the locations, and adapting on the fly when weather turned ugly.
We can not wait to help you also experience the magic of this mountain on your big day. Say hello!
Review from a past Mt Rainier Bride
“The day of our elopement was an absolute DREAM. Traci made sure that we did every single one of the activities on our list, without making us feel rushed at any point in time. They gave us the space and freedom to truly enjoy every moment of our day together (both spontaneous and planned). Traci and Bill are truly a power couple (I swear they can read each other’s minds)… they work together seamlessly to capture every candid and intimate moment without anything feeling staged or overdone.
And the final products… our highlight video and gallery were both breathtaking. They captured every moment of our day so perfectly… the artistic vision behind each image and the way Bill wove our personal vows together in our video… we don’t have the words to describe how incredible it is. Working with Adventure and Vow was a 10 out of 10, 5 star experience…if you’re considering an elopement, you can’t go wrong with Traci and Bill!”– Monica + Sam | Packwood Elopement