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5 Free Places to Get Married in Washington State (Or Nearly Free!)
In case you haven’t read our other blog posts about the PNW, or you’re totally new to the Adventure Instead blog (in which case — hi, we’re glad you’re here!), we’ll go ahead and fill you in on something not-so-secret about us — we’re downright obsessed with Washington state.
We believe that Washington is an adventure lover’s paradise — it’s overflowing with old-growth forests, glaciated peaks, breathtaking mountain ranges, dramatic coastline, unique islands off the coast, and so much more.
Tori — one of the elopement photographers part of the Adventure Instead team — actually lives in Washington and frequently explores its beautiful landscapes both with couples and on her own.
We’re so enamored with the beauty and magic of Washington state that we’ve compiled enormous lists of the best places to elope in Washington, created a guide that breaks down the how to pick the perfect elopement Washington elopement spot, and even put together a curated list of reasons why we believe that Washington is the best place to elope.
But of course, of all the gorgeous, must-elope-spots in Washington out there, your options are pretty expansive. In the process of helping you narrow down where you and your partner are dying to elope, we thought we’d provide you with a closer look at one factor in particular — free places to get married in Washington state.
Awhile back, we conducted a study that asked over 200 couples why did you elope? Some of the major, driving forces surrounded the idea of an intimate experience, an authentic day, and an intentional celebration of their love. But naturally, money came up, too.
Eloping doesn’t automatically mean that you’re not going to spend money. But like with anything, it’s all about what you value investing your money into. There are plenty of couples out there who could invest the same amount of money (and maybe more) into their elopement experience — and if that means they’re having the kickass day of their dreams, then that’s money well-spent. Just like money invested in a big wedding makes perfect sense for a couple who truly values and desires that type of wedding.
Essentially, this is just our perfectly clear disclaimer that an elopement or a wedding is entirely what you make it and totally reflective of what you value. Where and why you get married should entirely depend on what matters most to the two of you.
So, if you value the experience of an adventure with your partner on your elopement day more than the concept of shelling out thousands of dollars for a venue, we’re here to tell you — it’s totally possible for you to save a little money while you’re at it.
At least, in terms of venue, that is.
Rattlesnake Lake/ Ledge
Rattlesnake Lake itself is easily accessible and drop-dead gorgeous, which makes for an ideal ceremony spot with loved ones — family members, kids, and friends. Of course, even if you and your partner are planning on eloping just the two of you, it’s still an epic spot to tie the knot. If you’re looking for something just a little more adventurous, Rattlesnake Ledge is a moderate hike (about a 4-mile roundtrip) that offers you sweeping views of the lake from above! The best part? It’s just 45 minutes from Seattle, so you can get a little dash of wild adventure and a healthy dose of delicious city excitement, too (if that’s what you’re into!)
- The Rattlesnake Recreation Area is free and open dawn-to-dusk year-round.
- Parking and camping aren’t permitted, so if you’re looking for an overnight backpacking trip, this isn’t the most ideal spot.
- Having an intimate elopement here is totally free and entirely allowed without a permit as long as your group doesn’t have more than 30 people in attendance.
- Check out their site for more information!
Gold Creek Pond
Gold Creek Pond is a stunning, crystal clear pond in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It features a paved trail (that’s ADA accessible in the summer!) that provides jaw-dropping views of the Gold Creek Valley and the Chikamin Peak in the Alpine Lake Wilderness. A barrier-free, easy trail loops around the pond, leading to fire grates, tables, and picnic areas. If you’re looking for a longer, more challenging hike for extra sweeping views, Gold Creek Trail is super close! This location is ideal for folks who want a laid-back elopement with incredible landscape — especially if you’re planning to bring loved ones along with you! This spot is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Seattle.
- This trail and recreation area is best used in the spring, summer, and fall — while it’s open in the winter, it can get pretty snowy!
- You’ll need a valid recreation pass/ permit to explore this area — AKA, it’s not totally free. The good news? Recreation passes (also called Discover Passes) are $10 for the day and $30 annually, so, you’re still getting pretty good bang for your elopement buck.
- Check out a map of the area and more details here.
Olympic National Park
We’ve talked about Olympic National Park over and over again (we’ve included it in our best places to elope in Washington database for so many reasons). Olympic National Park has three, unique ecosystems all within its bound (rugged beaches, lush rainforests, and epic mountains), hundreds of miles of trails to explore, and plenty of adventure opportunities —and if that wasn’t enough to convince you to elope there, it’s also incredibly affordable to plan an elopement in the park. From mountaintop views at Hurricane Ridge to the gorgeous Washington coast (with miles of waterfalls, lakes, and forests in between), Olympic National Park is an epic choice for an elopement. Fair warning — the park is absolutely massive. Depending on where you want to elope, you’ll be anywhere from 2-4 hours from Seattle.
- If you plan to backpack, backcountry wilderness camp, or do anything exceptionally adventurous as part of your elopement day, you’ll likely need to obtain a permit to do so.
- Weddings, elopements, and ceremonies require a special use permit—you’ll need to contact Olympic National Park to get more details, but you can submit a permit application on their website.
- As far as cost goes, you’ll be on the hook for the price of the permit and entry to the park (which is about $30).
If you’re chasing a waterfall elopement, this is one of the most beautiful spots in Washington. Snoqualmie Falls is a 270-foot waterfall that’s absolutely gorgeous, but it’s also super accessible! The trail from the lot to the base of the falls is well-lit, ADA accessible, and pet-friendly, too (yes, we fully support bringing your dogs to your elopement).
- Snoqualmie Falls features free parking and a free viewing area and its open from dawn until dusk, so plan accordingly!
- Whether you want to elope on the observation deck, somewhere within the 2-acre park, or at the famous Salish Lodge, there are lots of options.
- Though it’s an incredibly beautiful, affordable elopement spot, it’s also a very popular one. About 1.5 million people visit the falls every year, so we suggest planning during the week (not during the busy season).
- Check out the Snoqualmie Falls’ site for more details.
Mt. Rainier National Park
Known for the most iconic peak in all of Washington, Mt. Rainier National Park is truly one of the most breathtaking places in the United States. There are endless stunning spots all throughout the park for your ceremony — whether you’re looking for an accessible path to include your loved ones or a challenging hike just for the two of you. Mt. Rainier National Park features high alpine wildflower meadows, 25 glaciers (the largest collection of permanent ice on a single peak in the U.S. south of Alaska), and of course, that epic 14,410-foot mountain peak.
- Mt. Rainier National Park is about 2 hours from Seattle.
- You’ll need a permit for all wedding ceremonies within the national park (including elopements). The permit you obtain will be based on the number of people you plan to include in your elopement day and wherein the park you can elope.
- Check out Mt. Rainier National Park’s permit information here for more information on prices, restrictions, and how to obtain your permit!
No matter where you decide to elope (in one of these free places in Washington or anywhere across the globe), all that matters is that you remember the most important thing of all throughout the entire process — it’s your day. That means that no matter what anyone else says, thinks, or does, what matters more than anything is that you and your partner are creating your own intentional, beautiful, and perfectly unique day that’s entirely reflective of the two of you.
Forget the pressures. Forget the drama. Forget the guilt and the traditions and the ceremonies that don’t matter to you. Create the day that you’ll want to relive over and over with your partner — a day you’ll never want to end.
We encourage you to reach out to us for whatever you need.
If you want to talk other free Washington elopement spots, have questions about eloping in Washington, or simply want to learn more about how this elopement thing works, don’t hesitate to contact us. That’s what we’re here for.