How To Elope

How To Elope

Ready to elope, but not sure where to start? My elopement planning guide offers quick tips on how to elope. Your wedding day only happens once. Shouldn’t it be the most intimate exhilarating day it can possibly be? Your elopement is about your love and the future you are celebrating together. Let’s forget about other voices for a sec and dive into what really makes your hearts sing.

Whether you’re dreaming of the California redwoods, a secluded mountain retreat in Yosemite, a beachside escape in Mendocino, or a charming San Francisco city elopement, this guide will help you plan the perfect celebration in a unique and unforgettable way. This is your wedding day and there are no rules! As your Northern California and beyond adventure elopement photographer, I am here to help you plan and craft the most magical experience. When you plan a day around who you are as a couple and the future you are buildling together, the epic memories and stunning photos will follow.

Here are my tips to help you get brainstorming!


Let’s break this down even more!

This is where the fun begins! Dream without limits! Turn off any outside voices and put a hold on logistics and worries about budget. If you could go anywhere, where would it be? Who would be by your sides? What do you want your day to look like? What elements of your relationship do you want to celebrate and honor? Are there any hobbies or activities you love to do together?

Starting with Pinterest is a fun way to get ideas and create a vision board for the elopement of your dreams! Sometimes we think we have an idea of what we want, but building a dream board in Pinterest will really show you what you are most attracted too. Without focusing on specific locations, try to get a feel for what landscapes you are more drawn too. What activities do you want to include? Start pinning all the things that resonate and your vision will become more clear. We can be more direct later.

I recommend making a date night out of brainstorming where your hearts are pulling you towards. This is your wedding day! There is no dream too big or too small, it is what feels most right for you. Also, this is meant to be fun! Again, don’t worry too much about logistics, it will all start to come together. As your California and beyond, adventure elopement photographer and elopement planning guide, I am here to help you every step of the way! Travel is my love language and designing once-in-a-lifetime experiences is how it all comes together.

You now have a vision board! Let’s break them down even further and really start to dive into your values and ultimately how you want to feel on your day. What type of scenery resonates with you most?Mountains, beaches, forests, and cities all offer distinct atmospheres for your elopement.

What kind of weather do you want for your celebration? Do you imagine it being Spring or Summer with warmer climates or perhaps you are dreaming of a cool fall day or snowy mountain elopement?

Choosing the Perfect Season:

  • Spring: Enjoy blooming wildflowers and mild temperatures.
  • Summer: Experience warm, sunny weather, but be mindful of popular tourist seasons.
  • Fall: Revel in the stunning fall foliage in certain regions.
  • Winter: Embrace the cozy atmosphere, but be prepared for cooler temperatures.

Securing Permits and Permissions:

  • National and State Parks: If choosing a park for your elopement, check if a permit is required and secure any necessary permissions.
  • Private Venues: If eloping on private property, obtain the required permits and permissions.

I am here to guide you through the whole permitting process for your elopement!

Are you doing this thing solo or with some VIP guests? Will they be with you the entire time, meet you for your ceremony and then join you for dinner? Are you making an entire weekend out of your celebration?There is no right or wrong way. You get to decide!

When choosing a location, it is important to consider the number of guests that will be joining you. Many outdoor locations have a max number of people that can join. This can go up to 20 or be topped at 8, it just depends on the area: think beach ceremony vs redwood groves.

Other important things to consider when having guests:

  • accessibility
  • privacy
  • parking
  • bathrooms

Having an idea of guest count allows you to start dreaming about accommodations. What kind of atmosphere and space do you want to be in? If you are having guests, do you want to be in the same house or near each other? Here is a simple breakdown of types:

  • Boutique Inns: Explore charming bed and breakfasts or boutique inns for a cozy and intimate stay.
  • Luxury Resorts: Consider upscale resorts for a touch of luxury amidst the natural beauty. 
  • Cabin Retreats: Embrace a rustic experience by opting for a cabin or cottage in the woods.

Many luxury resorts tucked into nature offer intimate ceremony locations. There are also fabulous airbnb and vrbos that allow ceremonies too! You can accommodate guests, have the ceremony of your dreams and still adventure off into nature with just the two of you!

Once you are able to narrow down types of locations and your must haves, we can put together location guides for your top areas with ideas of places to stay that are fun, exciting, different and perfect for you!

Your elopement is so much more than your ceremony and vows! Think about what you love to do and how you can incorporate it into your day! Life is an adventure, but that looks different for everyone. Are you into a short hike, kayaking, horseback riding, skiing, flying in a hot air balloon, a helicopter or seaplane?

You can start your morning by writing your vows together, sharing a first look, making breakfast, hiking to catch the sunrise, taking a walk along the beach to enjoy the morning air. Perhaps in the afternoon you make your favorite cocktails, scrapbook, share a delicious picnic setup in a nearby meadow, go for a bike ride, or go swimming! In the evening you can catch the sunset, share a first dance under the stars, stargaze, enjoy a meal by a private chef, play boardgames and share your favorite stories, or get all cozy in the hot tub with a view!

There are endless ideas to make your day that much more memorable and extraordinarily fun! This is your wedding day… you get to make the rules and design it how you want.

Half Day, Full Day or Multi-Day: What do you all want to do on your day? Do you want to catch the sunrise and sunset? Have a private day and a day with guests? The more time you have to celebrate, the more memories you can make! This is your wedding day. Shouldn’t it be the most incredible experience?

Together we will create a schedule that allows for a stress-free and enjoyable day. Budget more time that you think! I promise, you will not want the day to end!

  • Prioritize spending: Decide what elements are most important to you, whether it’s photography, the location, accommodation, activity or even cuisine.
  • Consider travel costs: Factor in transportation, accommodation, and any additional expenses associated with your chosen destination.
  • Research marriage laws in your chosen location to ensure a smooth and legal ceremony
  • Obtain a marriage license: Check the specific requirements for the county where you plan to elope and acquire your marriage license well in advance
  • Consider any waiting periods or residency requirements
  • Pro Tip: Have your best friend or family member get ordained online (the process is super easy!) and they can then marry you
  • I am also ordained and would be honored to officiate your ceremony
  • Or you can opt to make it legal back home and have an amazing celebration and ceremony without worrying about the legalities. This could look like the two of you exchanging private vows at sunrise overlooking the valley of Yosemite as it awakes. 

This elopement planning guide is just a start into all of the possibilities! I am here to help you enjoy the planning process and document all of the love on your day! Remember, your elopement is about celebrating your unique love story, so make choices that reflect your personalities and create lasting memories. Embrace the intimacy and freedom that eloping offers, and enjoy every moment of your magical getaway.

Dreaming of a stunning elopement surrounded by the beauty California’s nature has to offer? Are you the kind of couple that lives for getting outside? Let’s bring your elopement vision to life!

Hi! I’m Christina, your Northern California and beyond adventure elopement photographer. Planning, traveling and finding beautiful locations and experiences is my jam. Helping you create and document the celebration of a lifetime brings me the utmost joy! I want you to make the most amazing memories and have the stunning photos that you can share with all of your loved ones. This is a day where you get to look back and say, “wow, we did that!”



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