10 Best Northern California Elopement Locations

10 Best Northern California Elopement Locations

California Elopement Dreamin’?

Are you planning a Northern California elopement? You’ve got incredible taste! Northern California has some of the most stunning scenery, epic backdrops, and endless adventure possibilities for your big day. We’re talking gorgeous rugged coastlines, old redwood forests, majestic mountains, and lakes. Seriously, we have it all! 

But with so many options, how do you choose just one? I hope my guide to the 10 best Northern California elopement locations will help you find the perfect spot for your day!

Here are the top 10 places to elope in Northern California

Explore the map more here!

San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the most iconic big cities in California. Known for its stunning Golden Gate Bridge, diverse neighborhoods, and outstanding views, there are plenty of options for your elopement! Whether you choose a rooftop overlooking the city skyline, the elegant San Francisco City Hall, go adventuring in Golden Gate Park, charter a boat or even a seaplane, this city has something for every couple.

San Francisco eloping couple walking on Baker Beach
couple sharing a kiss while eloping in san francisco

When to Elope in San Francisco

Summer in San Francisco can be chilly, windy, and foggy. The locals have even named the fog “Karl.” So if you’d like a moody, hazy vibe to your elopement, summer might be for you. However, the fall and winter months are much more comfortable weather-wise. 


The permits you require depend on your chosen location. Most locations require a permit, especially for larger gatherings. The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department website provides resources for specific site permits. When you choose me as your Northern California elopement photographer, I’ll help you find and get the permits you need!

Things to Consider

The city’s microclimates mean that you may experience a variety of weather within a single day. A warm sunny day can quickly become cool and bring a bit of rain. The same goes for just walking block to block—some areas are a bit warmer than others while being right next to each other. I recommend wearing/bringing layers! 

Consider the time of day for your elopement to avoid crowds at popular spots.

Big Sur

One of the most well-known locations in Northern California is Big Sur. Big Sur is a dreamy elopement destination for couples seeking a romantic elopement experience with its majestic redwoods, secluded beaches, and stunning coastal views.

couple running on beach at big sur
Big sur elopement Location bixby bridge
couple kissing in the wildflowers in big sur

In Big Sur, you’ll find several State Parks, each offering different scenery, as well as hiking trails for your adventure elopement here! Some of my favorite parks in Big Sur region you could check out are:

When to Elope in Big Sur

Spring here offers mild and comfortable weather, great for hiking and roaming through the blooming wildflower fields! September and October are the next best choices because the weather is still nice after summer, and it’s not as crowded.


Most sites require a permit from California State Parks, and each location has specific rules. You can find all the rules, regulations, and fees here.

Things to Consider

Big Sur can be busier on weekends, especially during peak seasons. Choosing a weekday for your elopement might provide a more private and intimate experience. The region is known for its breathtaking sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. If possible, plan your elopement around sunset or sunrise for the most magical elopement experience!

Point Reyes

I don’t see this location on too many best spots lists, but it is one of my favorite places in Northern California. You could call it a hidden gem for elopements around here! Point Reyes has beautiful views of rugged cliffs, beaches, and the ocean, and it also has diverse wildlife. It’s particularly pretty in spring when all the flowers are blooming and covering the fields.

Point Reyes eloping couple overlooking beach
couple eloping in point reyes

When to Elope in Point Reyes

Consider eloping to Point Reyes during the spring or early summer when wildflowers bloom, and the weather is mild. Weekdays are ideal for a more private and intimate ceremony.


Check with the Point Reyes National Seashore for any permit requirements for your elopement, especially if you plan to use specific locations within the park.

Things to Consider

If you choose a beach location for your elopement, be mindful of the tides. Dress in layers, as the coastal weather can be unpredictable, and prepare for potential wildlife encounters.

Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay is a cute little fishing village that offers beautiful ocean views, picturesque cliffs, and an overall chill, laid-back atmosphere. Here, you’ll get to eat a lot of seafood, enjoy the Pacific Ocean, and there are also great local camping opportunities!

couple eloping in bodega bay walking the cliffs at sunset
close up of couple eloping on california coast

When to Elope in Bodega Bay

Same as with most coastal regions in Northern California, summer will bring cooler and windier weather, as well as some fog, however, late August until November is really nice! Weekdays will also offer more privacy.


Permits for beach weddings can be obtained through Sonoma County Parks, which manage many of the local beaches.

Things to Consider

If you choose a beach location for your elopement, keep an eye on the tide schedule. Also, check for any local events or festivals that may impact your plans. 


Mendocino is a charming coastal town known for its rocky coastline, wineries, and artistic community. With its stunning ocean views, gardens, and old-timey inns, Mendocino offers a backdrop for a whimsical and romantic elopement day. 

couple running the beach eloping in mendocino california
elopement couple on beach at sunset in mendocino california

When to Elope in Mendocino

Spring and early summer are my favorite times for elopements in Mendocino. The wildflowers are blooming, and the weather is very pleasant. Summer, as with most places in Northern California and other tourist locations, brings more crowds, but other than that, it’s beautiful. 


Mendocino is made up of many State Parks, so depending on the place you choose, you’re going to need a specific permit to elope there. 

Things to Consider

Mendocino can be foggy and cool, so bring layers. During summer, when it is brimming with visitors, your visit will also likely be more expensive with increased accommodation prices.

Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks is one of the most underrated elopement locations in Northern California. Here, you’ll be surrounded by ancient, giant redwood groves, fern canyons, black sand beaches, and plenty of trails for adventuring.

Redwood elopement couple enjoying their day

When to Elope in Redwood National and State Parks

Overall, Redwood National Park is less busy than some of the other popular spots in Northern California, except for the summer – summers always bring people. Weather-wise, it’s a good location all year, but each season brings something different. 

Spring brings lush greenery and blooming wildflowers to the parks. The weather is generally mild, and the forests come alive with vibrant colors. Spring is a beautiful time for elopements, with fewer crowds compared to the summer months. Winter is nice if you want to enjoy some peace and quiet and don’t mind some rain. 


Eloping in Redwood National and State Parks generally requires special use permits for certain activities, especially if you plan to have a ceremony in a specific location within the parks and you have a larger group size. However, the permit process and requirements can vary based on factors such as the size of the event, the location, and the specific activities involved. For more information, visit this site!

Things to Consider

While there are visitor centers and facilities, services such as restaurants, hotels, and other amenities can be limited in certain areas, so bring your own well… Everything! Just in case! Cell service can also be really limited, so make sure you download your area map and let others know you might be unreachable (but an unplugged elopement is probably what you were after anyway!)

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite has lately become one of the most popular Northern California elopement locations, and honestly, I can see why. With all those beautiful cliffs, waterfalls, giant sequoia groves, lakes and meadows, there are so many beautiful spots to serve as a backdrop to your big day!

eloping at taft point at sunset
Yosemite sunrise elopement at Glacier Point

When to Elope in Yosemite

Choose to elope to Yosemite during the spring or early fall for mild weather and fewer tourists. Spring is great if you want to visit the waterfalls and frolic through wildflower fields, and fall brings that beautiful, colorful foliage. Summer brings really great weather, but the park is going to be SO BUSY! Even on a weekday or at sunrise, you’ll not get a lot of privacy.


Check with the National Park Service for any permits required for your elopement within Yosemite National Park, especially if you plan to use specific locations for your ceremony. The permits are first-come, first-serve, so make sure you apply as early as possible. You can apply for your permit here

If your group consists of 10 people or less, you may request a specific location not listed on the Yosemite Wedding Ceremony Locations. Ask for an exemption when filling out your permit. Please keep into consideration that park visitors may use the locations at any time. Early morning weddings are recommended from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. 

Things to Consider

Eloping in Yosemite has very specific rules and regulations. Unfortunately, you can’t bring your fur babies to the ceremony location, and as with many national parks, you can’t bring any decor or furnishings. For the full list of rules, check out the site here.

If you’d like more information about eloping in Yosemite, check out my Yosemite Elopement Guide!

Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta is a majestic, snow-capped peak surrounded by lush forests. Nearby, you’ll find waterfalls, lakes, and hiking trails to explore during your adventure elopement. And if you’d like to be close to amenities, the Mt. Shasta downtown is really cute, filled with cozy shops, cafes, and places to stay.

When to Elope in Mount Shasta

As with the other places discussed on the list, summers bring a lot of people, and here in Mt. Shasta, it can get really warm, with temperatures going from 77°F to 86°F. I’d consider eloping here in the spring or early fall for pleasant weather and fewer tourists. 


As of this moment, you don’t officially need to get a permit for an event involving less than 75 people here. But keep an eye out if there are any changes using their site here!

Lake Tahoe

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, you’ll find Lake Tahoe. The area is known for its crystal waters, snow-capped mountain peaks, and charming lakeside towns. You can choose between lakeside ceremonies, mountaintop vows, or forested settings for your elopement day. Lake Tahoe is a popular tourist location all through the year, because it has so many fun activities to do in every season, so a truly private experience will take a bit of work to achieve here. Overall, this is a great location if you’d like a bit of luxury for your adventure elopement!

Lake Tahoe eloping couple overlooking Emerald Bay
Tahoe winter elopement couple

When to Elope in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe experiences all four seasons, so you should choose the setting that speaks the most to you and what kind of activities you’d like to include. In my opinion, late spring and fall are going to be the best seasons for your elopement because the weather is great, and it is not as crowded as the rest of the seasons.


You’ll need to look up the specific location and its permit requirements online, but most places do require a permit to elope in Lake Tahoe! I help all my couples find and apply for permits, so you should definitely ask your elopement photographer for help if you can’t find the information!

Things to Consider

If you’re planning a winter elopement, you’ll experience a lot of snow, which is great—but note that it can often lead to road and trail closures. 

Also, Lake Tahoe is separated into North and South shores and each of the locations offers a different experience when it comes to the landscapes and activities available. The North Shore, known for its serene mountainous landscapes and peaceful ambiance, is ideal for couples seeking a quieter and more secluded elopement experience. With access to outdoor activities and charming towns like Tahoe City and Incline Village, it provides a mix of nature and convenience. 

On the other hand, the South Shore is more about iconic lake views, especially at Emerald Bay, and a livelier atmosphere with casinos, entertainment options, and a more vibrant nightlife. Depending on the side you choose, you’ll also need to get either a California or Nevada marriage license, and different marriage laws will apply.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is another hidden gem for elopements in Northern California. With its hydrothermal sites, diverse wildlife, alpine lakes, and stunning mountain views, Lassen is an amazing location for your adventure elopement. 


When to Elope in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Fall is definitely the best season to elope in Lassen because the weather is great and you get to experience beautiful foliage. Summer is the most popular tourist time, and it also gets really hot here. So be prepared for crowds and take proper precautions like taking extra water with you if you really want to elope here in summer. Spring can be a good time to visit as well if you’d like to see amazing waterfalls, however, the weather and trail condition will often still be unpredictable after the winter.


To elope here, you will need to apply for a special use permit. The application process is really simple, and you can find out all about it here!

Things to Consider

Some geothermal areas are hazardous, so stick to designated safe areas and trails. Winter here brings heavy snowfall, and the park’s main roads and most of the attractions close after heavy snowfall. 

Getting Your Marriage License

In order to get married in any of these Northern California elopement locations, you’ll need to apply for a California marriage license.

If you obtain a marriage license in one county, you are not restricted to getting married in that specific county. You can have your wedding ceremony in any California county. However, the license must be returned to the county where it was issued for official recording. 

My Northern California Elopement Packages

Hi! I’m Christina! Documenting love in the great outdoors and helping my couples create an unforgettable, meaningful experience is my everything! That is what this is all about! I’m here to celebrate you and get to know what is most important to you so we can make it happen! Eloping in Northern California is truly an amazing way to celebrate the future you are building together.

My Northern California elopement packages offer a half-, full-, or multi-day experience! I offer a ton of flexibility in designing our time together and would love to get to know you more to help you plan! To learn more, head over to my contact form, and we can get together on a call!

Offered throughout every elopement package:

  • Help you hand pick a location
  • Provide resources and custom location guides on lodging, activities and the best places to indulge in delicious foods
  • Scout locations with boots on the ground to find the best places and lighting for your ceremony and photos
  • Secure the right location permits to make sure your wedding is legal!
  • Recommend vetted vendors to help make your dream of a day come true. 
  • Create your custom timeline (there are 2-3 options to choose from!) with room to breathe and enjoy your day.
  • Deliver a joyful experience along with swoon-worthy photos in your own online gallery!
  • Have a backup plan for it all!
  • Deliver sneak peeks within 72 hours and a full wedding gallery within 6 weeks! 
  • Provide a Fine Art Wedding Album design for you to print and hold onto your photos to thumb through for years to come.



Serving the PNW, Lake Tahoe,
San Francisco, Big Sur,
Santa Cruz and beyond.

Here for the madly in love, adventurous at heart seeking to celebrate their love for each other and the great outdoors in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Ready to take you to some incredible places and help you create unforgettable memories. 

My warm and whimsy storytelling style and approach will have you in all your feels, staying present and in the moment so you can have the time of your lives. Your stunning photos will help you relive all of your joy for years to come.

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Yosemite, Big Sur, Lake Tahoe, Santa Cruz, Redwood National Forest, San Francisco and beyond


Yosemite, Big Sur,
Santa Cruz, Lake Tahoe,
PNW, San Francisco, and worldwide