Best Places to Elope in Washington State

Washington elopement guide

Washington Wonderland

Where will you choose?

Washington is undeniably one of the most beautiful places in the United States—from snow-capped mountain peaks to rugged coastline to alpine lakes to glaciers, it’s a little bit of everything and a whole-lotta magic.

Over the years, we’ve explored Washington again and again, each time finding ourselves absolutely blown away by its limitless beauty, its opportunity for endless adventure, and it’s epically diverse landscape. For these reasons—and so many more—we think that Washington is the perfect place to elope!

But here’s the deal about Washington—it has everything. We’re not kidding, it has everything (glaciers and backpacking and skiing and coastline and wildflowers and fall colors). While all of that freedom is absolutely amazing, it can also be absolutely overwhelming.

That’s where we come in.

We’ve included a few helpful tips here to assist you in narrowing down your Washington elopement location process. At the end of the day, there are no wrong answers or wrong locations—as long as you and your partner are doing everything in your power to make sure your elopement day in your elopement location is exactly what you want, you’re doing this whole elopement thing perfectly. Below, we’ve outlined our favorite spots in this state, and provided further insight into planning a Washington elopement—how to get your marriage licence, what it will cost, and things to consider as you begin making decisions.

Your Questions Answered Here

Why you should elope in washington

Imagine this: You and your love wake up on the morning of your wedding in a unique and incredibly gorgeous rental with a gorgeous mountain view. You make coffee and get dressed in your wedding attire by the light of a couple old lanterns – the sun hasn’t yet made its appearance.

Your photographer arrives with a bag of local pastries they picked up the night before at the best bakery in Washington, and you all excitedly express your gratitude for the perfect weather that looks like it’s going to hold. After taking photos of you lacing up hiking boots that somehow go perfectly with your formal attire, the three of you embark on a short drive to the trailhead of a hike that will take you into the mountains you could see from your cabin. As you begin hiking, it’s still dark, but the night sky is beginning to turn from deep blue to a lighter purple–the stars are beginning to fade out one by one. As you make it to the top of the short but steep trail, the western peaks begin to turn the warmest shade of orange you’ve ever seen! You pause to look around as the cool night breeze hangs around for a few more minutes, and you hold the hands of your partner as the first rays of sunlight touch your skin.

They reach into their pocket and pull out the handwritten vows you finalized last minute, and you take a deep breath before beginning to speak. You look into the eyes of your lover, which are glistening, and you gasp at the colors suddenly erupting all around you! The first light of day immediately warms the air as you speak truths to your partner in an attempt to express what a lifetime commitment means to you. You’ve almost forgotten a photographer is standing by capturing every intimate moment. You and your partner must be the only people awake in this vast wilderness, in what must be the most beautiful place on earth – how could there be anywhere else so perfect?

benefits of eloping in Washington


Yes, Washington has gorgeous mountains. It also has deep mossy-green forests, massive old-growth tree stands, a wild shoreline, towering waterfalls, above-treeline fire watchtowers, remote campsites, and more! There’s a little something here for everyone, and we know all the best spots!


Whatever your favorite activity is, you can do that on your elopement daty in Washington! Would your perfect wedding include a ferry ride, top rope climb, sky drive, or hike? How about lunch at a brewery and sunset sail around the islands? Whatever kind of adventure is your ideal, Washington provides.


Washington does require an officiant and two witnesses to get legally married, but we’ve helped many couples have a two-person elopement here by signing the certificate (we’re ordained) and finding a couple of people to sign as witnesses at the trailhead of your hike. There is so much wilderness here to explore, and we can find your perfect place to say “I do!”

How to:

plan a Washington elopement

When dreaming & brainstorming your Washington elopement ask yourself these questions:

What is the overall meaning and intention of your day?

Is this day just for the two of you? Do others play a role in your day?

What type of Washington scenery do you want?

Are you in the mountains, hunting down waterfalls, deep in an old-growth forest, or running down a rugged coast? 

What season is it? 

Do you enjoy cold or hot weather? Does a little drizzly PNW rain bother you? 

What do you want to wear that day? 

A dress or suit? Something more casual? Are you wearing shoes—or not?

What kind of activities do you see yourselves doing? 

These can be activities that you enjoy doing together or ones you’ve never tried before. Maybe a helicopter ride? Kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddleboarding, or whale watching? Perhaps a seasonal activity like mountain biking or cross-country skiing?

Will it be just the two of you? OR will you include others?

This will help determine any permits you will need or accessibility concerns.

What does the ceremony look like?

Are there important cultural or religious traditions you’d like to incorporate into the ceremony?

How much time are you able to use for your trip?

Is the elopement day part of a larger trip or combined with your honeymoon? How much time are you able to take off from work?

First, do some research

Below, we’ve answered frequently asked questions about elopements, and provided advice on choosing a location!

Second, connect with a photographer or planner who knows the area

One of the photographers on our team (Tori) lives in the PNW full-time and knows this area incredibly well – we can find just about any kind of environment, at any time of year, to fit whatever it is you’re currently imaging.

Third, narrow down the details of what you want.

Choose your perfect environment, time of day, season, activities, guest count, etc. We can absolutely help you out at this stage and give you our best advice to plan a stress-free wedding experience!

The good news is, we’ve been in your shoes. Not only have we helped hundreds of couples plan authentic, truly unique elopement adventures – each of us at Adventure Instead eloped ourselves! We know first hand how good it feels to get married by planning a day true-to-you, centered on your love for each other, and without the stress and chaos of a big wedding.

Frequently Asked Questions About eloping in Washington

All the questions you’ve ever wanted to ask about how to elope – answered by us.

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Washington?

Short answer—As little or as much as you budget for!

Long answer—To get legally married in Washington, you only need to get your hands on the $67 marriage certificate. However—assuming you want to celebrate a bit—you’re also going to want to budget for attire, activities, and any vendors you involve. We’ve spoken to hundreds of couples over the years, and helped plan hundreds of elopements—we’ve found that the average elopement costs between $5000-$15000.

The biggest factor to the cost of your elopement has to do with who you involve—which vendors, who you invite, and how elaborate your plans are. One of the benefits of working with an elopement photographer is that we wear a lot of hats—by that we mean that you don’t need a lot of the traditional wedding vendors (planner, venue, etc.) because the size of your event combined with the services we offer will naturally limit the size of your group. Please don’t misunderstand—vendors of all kinds do amazing work, and whether you want to hire anyone for your elopement celebration is 100% your choice. There is no one way to elope!

Who Should You Invite To Your Elopement?

Anyone you want!

We have plenty of ideas to help you plan an inclusive family wedding celebration.

We also have advice if you want to include your dog in your elopement, or if you’ll be bringing along children

Eloping isn’t about NOT including loved ones in your celebration. In fact, we’d argue that eloping is the best way to include loved ones in an authentic celebration that is stress-free, and where you get to spend genuine time with those present. 

In fact, we disliked that elopements get so often mischaracterized so much that we wrote our own definition: An elopement is an intentionally small, intimate, meaningful, and authentic wedding experience that is a true reflection of your relationship where the focus of the day is really about the two of you.

You see, choosing to elope isn’t just about avoiding big-wedding stress or saving money—eloping is about intentionally choosing to craft a safe space to celebrate a huge milestone in your relationship with your partner. Whoever you want to stand beside you when this happens should feel welcome!

How Do I Get Permits?

Not every location requires permits in Washington—but some of the most loved and well-known spots to elope require permits that need to be acquired well in advance.

Not every location requires permits in Washington—but some of the most loved and well-known spots to elope require permits that need to be acquired well in advance. Each of Washington’s national parks, some wilderness areas, and other protected spaces require permits. 

If you’re unsure if your location requires a permit—reach out! We’d love to offer our insight. Or, you can reach out to the local ranger district for more information. If you’re unsure how to find that information, Google “[NAME OF PLACE YOU WANT TO ELOPE] Ranger District Contact.”

How Do I Pack for My Washington Elopement?

Something we get asked a lot is what the weather is like in Washington, and how that affects elopements.

While Seattle might have a reputation for cloudy, rainy days—the PNW is certainly not always grey! Navigating the different seasons is something we’ll discuss throughout the planning process, and you might notice our recommended dates will change depending on location. For example: mountainous regions in Washington can be beautiful during shoulder season, but shift drastically from day to day. On the other hand, the coastal regions and forests can be much more predictable, or at least accessible. Recently, terrible fire seasons have choked out what used to be the sunniest months in the mountains with smoke, and we’ve adjusted accordingly each summer.

When you begin packing for your Washington elopement, your location and activities will have a significant impact on what you bring. Plus, the time of day you’re eloping (sunrise, sunset, etc.) will also impact what temperature we can expect.

Some things you should pack for your Washington elopement:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Handwarmers
  • Fleece-lined leggings (to wear under your attire)
  • Sturdy footwear
  • Rain jacket
  • Gloves, hats, extra socks & items for staying warm/dry
  • Microspikes if you’re going above the snowline

Washington Marriage Laws & Legalities

Each state (and country) has different rules about getting married—it’s helpful to know before you decide on your location what those rules are! Because of Washington’s requirements, you’ll need to give yourself a little extra time if you’re traveling here to get married, but as long as your timeline adds up, it’s a easy state to get married in! Here are a few must-know details about eloping in this beautiful, wonderful state.


Landscape & Seasonality

The Best Time of Year to Elope in Washington

Washington is well-known for its misty, foggy wet season that gives off those famous “moody-feels.” The best part about Washington? You get all that, but you get so much more, too. Washington’s summer, fall, and winter are mind-blowing, too. Sounds too good to be true? It’s all real. We promise. 



Larches, aspens, mountains saturated with golds, reds, oranges—Washington’s fall is no joke (especially when you take the ferry over to the San Juan islands to see the colors truly pop). Washington fall is dry, gorgeous, and full of beauty. 

Months: Mid-September – October

Activities: Hiking, mountain biking, mushroom hunting



Even if all that moisture from the rainy season isn’t your favorite, you better believe that it’s worth it if you’re all about springtime blooms. Washington is absolutely famous for its alpine meadows, stunning flora & fauna, and cool temperatures. Bonus: it’s the start of whale-watching season!

Months: April – June

Activities: Hiking, biking, discovering waterfalls



Here comes the rainy season—and with it come that drizzly, foggy, gorgeous moodiness you’re likely in love with. Winter brings snow & skiing in the mountains, lots of adventurous opportunities, and frigid temps (so keep this in mind if you’re all about a winter wonderland wedding)

Months: November – March

Activities: Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing



Here’s a secret the locals don’t want you to know—Washington summers are downright beautiful. With plenty of coastline to enjoy, bright-and-sunshiney weather, and temperatures so comfortable you won’t stop smiling, Washington summers are downright delightful. 

Months: July – Early September

Activities: Hiking, kayaking, peak-bagging

how to find your perfect location

To find your perfect Washington elopement location, go through this tactile exercise—

We promise it works! Start by grabbing a pen and piece of paper to write down notes as you go, because creating a list (as simple as it sounds) will always be our favorite way to plan! Then, follow these steps:

  1. Close your eyes and let your mind picture what you think of when someone says “elopement.” Maybe these images are inspired by pictures you’ve seen, or maybe you’re imagining places you’ve been or want to go!
  2. Write down the things you see that feel right and align with your elopement goals. Be as simple or specific as you want! (Example: mountains, trees, ocean. Or, sunset in a rocky desert with a warm breeze). This is about imagining paradise!
  3. Test out each of these places – imagine saying your vows in any location that might seem right. If there are one or more, create separate spaces to brainstorm on your piece of paper. Get as specific now as you can – let the mountaintop become a time of day, a season, or bring in details like plant life, smells, and guests.
  4. You’ve probably created lists for a couple options that seem great! But maybe only one works perfectly with the date you’ve chosen, or maybe logistically you can narrow down the list for other reasons. Even if this place doesn’t have a name, describe it to us! We’ll try and find the perfect place on Earth to turn this vision into a reality!

Washington is a non-stop wonderland that’s full of enchanting landscape, breathtaking scenery, and infinite opportunity for adventure—no matter what you love to do.  We could go on and on (and on) about Washington (and if you chat with us on the phone, we might)—but for now, we’ll just share a few of our very favorite spots.

Welcome to


From rugged and stunning coastlines to glacier mountaintops, Washington is as diverse as it is breathtaking. Though famous for its giant peaks and expansive mountain ranges—Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, the North Cascades, the Olympic mountains, Mount St. Helens—Washington’s landscape is so much more diverse than you might think. With acres upon acres of enchanting old-growth rainforests covered in evergreens and moss, glaciers, mountain meadows, and active volcanoes, Washington is truly as unreal as it sounds. Whether you seek a mountain vista that’s sure to steal your breath, a backpacking loop that takes you on a multi-day journey following the coastline, or pad through a fairytale forest with your love on your elopement day, Washington might just be the perfect place for you. 

Best Places to

Elope in Washington

Washington is a non-stop wonderland that’s full of enchanting landscape, breathtaking scenery, and infinite opportunity for adventure—no matter what you love to do.  We could go on and on (and on) about Washington (and if you chat with us on the phone, we might)—but for now, we’ll just share a few of our very favorite spots.

Best Places to

Elope in Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier is undoubtedly an incredible mountain; when she stands out through the clouds there’s absolutely nothing more breathtaking. Eloping with her looming in the background is awe inspiring. With most of the park becoming inaccessible in the Winter, the best time to visit is Summer and early Fall. Summertime brings endless fields of wildflowers and this area’s short Fall brings far fewer crowds. Aside from just the popular (and crowded) park highlight reel, there are SO many trails in the surrounding area that offer incredible views of Mt. Rainier while also less trafficked. 

North Cascades

The North Cascades are absolutely magical! There is just so much to explore; turquoise alpine lakes, glacier capped mountains, rocky overlooks, and plenty of beautiful flower filled meadows and forests. And if you are looking for insanely amazing backpacking trails, this is most definitely your place. Most trail access roads are impassable until the snow has melted off in July– making the season here short, and mostly snow-free only between July and October.

Olympic Peninsula

There is just nothing like hiking through a moss-covered forest to get to the beach. This section of Washington has it all; lush forests, clear blue lakes, rugged coastline with driftwood filled beaches, waterfalls, and snow-covered mountains. If you are wanting to elope in a vast variety of backdrops on your day, this is your kinda place. There are places to explore year-round, when the coast and rainforests are rainy you can head to the mountains for snow, and the spring and summer brings wildflowers in the mountains and pleasant sunny days on the coast. 

Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

If you are obsessed with massive mountain ranges, lots of colourful wildflowers, and pure wilderness stretching in all directions– this might be your place. The number of months where this area isn’t covered in snow is short (next to 0), making July-October your best chance for accessible trailheads with passable roads. However if you are looking to elope in a winter wonderland– snowshoeing and skiing Mt. Baker, can’t be beat

Ross Lake

This area is only accessible via hiking, boat, or float plane! It’s remoteness makes it the perfect place to find your very own private elopement spot with nobody else around. Also located here? Ross Lake Resort. Floating cabins directly on Ross Lake! It’s difficult to snag a reservation here, but 100% worth planning your entire elopement around if you can book a night here! 

Snoqualmie Pass

Just outside of Seattle, this area has an abundance of easy-access locations! Beautiful mountain lakes perfect in the summer and fall, endless spots for snowshoeing in the winter– and it’s proximity to the city makes it idea for those needing something near a big airport or looking to celebrate their elopement day at a restaurant in the city.

San Juan Islands

Pacific Northwest forest-y mountain island life is the best way to describe this collection of 172 named islands and reefs. Accessible by ferry (or float plane) this area is amazing for boating, whale watching, and those looking for a peaceful laid back elopement– likely with a killer sunset. This area offers all the moody weather in the wintertime, and absolutely gorgeous weather the rest of the year! 

Washington Fire Towers

Washington is filled with old fire towers perched on top of mountains! It’s still possible to access the inside of many of them– talk about an awesome getting ready spot or place to host your celebratory elopement picnic. You could even opt for spending the night in one, snuggled in a sleeping bag, stargazing, with a warm mug of spiked hot chocolate in hand. 


Leavenworth is a cheeky little german-inspired town located right in the middle of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. There are an abundance of gorgeous summertime hikes to turquoise lakes and gorgeous mountain views. In the wintertime, while many areas in Washington become inaccessible, there is plenty of snowshoeing to be had near here!

Ready to begin
planning your
own adventure

You can Download The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Elopement to begin digging deep into your own goals for your wedding celebration, or contact us so we can help you narrow down your options!

If you’re looking for further information on elopements, check out this blog all about the cost of elopements & how you can budget for an epic day!

Or, check out this blog full of small wedding ideas!

We firmly believe you deserve to celebrate your marriage in whatever way feels perfectly you – maybe you’ve found inspiration here that’s pointed you in the right direction, or maybe you vision something else entirely!

Whatever your goals, reach out! We can’t wait to hear all about your dream elopement adventure!