One of the best things about eloping in Washington state is the diversity in landscapes to choose from. From the coastline, dense forests, rain forests, mountain ranges, and everything in between. Some regions even offer all of those things in one place. (Olympic National Park to name one). Close your eyes for a minute and imagine your elopement day. What’s in the background, what does the view look like, what do you hear? Is it the waves and the wind of the coast swirling around you? Is it the sound of the dripping rain forest filled with moss after a shower rolls through? Is it the efforts of an epic hike paying off with 360 degree views of the jagged mountains? Maybe it’s the lapping water of an alpine lake nestled in the forest. Or simply the backyard of a riverfront cabin you’re renting for the weekend. Is it a mix of more than one of these things? Whatever it is, you can find it in Washington, and your elopement day can easily consist of more than one location in a day, or even span across multiple days!
It’s important to note that when choosing a location, you must check permit requirements for the type of ceremony you are having. Some places require special permits to hold wedding ceremonies and take professional photographs. These requirements are ever changing. As your elopement photographer, I’m happy to help you research these requirements and guide you through the process.
As always, the leave no trace principals should be applied to the best of your ability when visiting any location in the outdoors. You can read more about leave no trace here.
Keep reading for some of the best locations this moody state has to offer. If any of these places sound like your dream elopement destination, I’d love to chat! When booking me as your photographer, I’ll put together a personalized list of specific location recommendations based on your preferences.
If you’re looking for more information on when to elope in Washington, check out my blog post here to read about what each season has to offer.
Location Ideas: Olympic Peninsula, Ocean Shores, Long Beach, Port Angeles, La Push, Neah Bay, Moclips
Highlights: Anywhere you choose along the coast of Washington is going to have incredible ocean views for you elopement day. If you’re dreaming of sand between your toes and wind in your hair, this is the place for you. The coast offers many sandy locations along with plenty of cliffs and rocky shoreline to explore.
Activities: Surfing, bike riding on the beach, kite flying, tide pool viewing, driving on the beach (only certain locations allow this), having a picnic on the beach, watching the sunset
Things to consider: It’s likely to be windy when visiting the coast on any given day. Washington is known for being gray and cloudy, and that’s how it is along the beaches a lot of the times. Rain showers roll through, the sun peaks out, sometimes it’s clear all day, it’s impossible to predict! If you’re hoping to avoid the cloudy rainy days, mid summer between July and August would be your best bet at having clear weather. Another important thing to note is the tides. Make sure to check how your location is affected by the tides and to make note of low and high tide times so you can plan accordingly. You don’t want to be put in a dangerous spot when high tide starts to roll in.
Location Ideas: Hoh Rainforest, Quinault Rainforest, Queets Rainforest, Bogachiel Rainforest
Highlights: Washington boasts four lush temperate rainforests. Some locations are more popular than others, I encourage you to do some research on each location to decide which one best fits your vision if you’re dreaming of a rainforest elopement. These rainforests are full of old growth and so. much. moss. It’s an incredibly unique sight to see. You’ll encounter lots of vegetation, rivers, waterfalls, and wildlife.
Activities: Hiking, exploring, waterfall viewing, learning about the vegetation, wildlife viewing
Things to Consider: Come prepared for the rain, even in the summer. Bring extra layers as most of the rainforest is dense and doesn’t get a lot of sunlight. These locations can get very busy in the summer, I recommend visiting early in the morning if you prefer to avoid crowds.
Location Ideas: Fire lookouts, Hikes in the North Cascades, Mt. Rainier National Park, Olympic National park, Central Cascades, Alpine Lakes
Highlights: There are so many amazing hikes here in Washington that make for an epic mountain elopement. The possibilities here are endless. Depending on how much you want to hike, or maybe you just want to drive right up to amazing views, there are picturesque mountain views awaiting! Washington also has a plethora of alpine lakes that you can hike to, making for an intimate elopement day setting.
Activities: Hiking, backpacking, having a mountain top picnic, watching the sun rise or set, off roading
Things to consider: If you want to hike for you elopement day but don’t have very much hiking experience, I would recommend sticking to an easily accessible location with a gentle trail. There are also plenty of locations where no hiking (maybe just a little bit of walking) is required! If you are going out into the backcountry, make sure to be prepared and know what you are getting into. The weather in the mountains can change quickly, it’s important to come prepared and always have a back up plan.
Location Ideas: San Juan Islands, Whidbey Island, Deception Pass, Camano Island
Highlights: You can actually drive to all of these locations, with the exception of the San Juans. You could also choose to take a ferry which is a great addition to any adventure. Each island has something unique to offer. My personal favorite would be Orcas Island as it features waterfalls, hiking trails, and Mt. Constitution. Whidbey Island is a close second as it’s home to Deception Pass State Park along with beautiful bluffs and beaches.
Activities: Taking a ride in a sea plane, hiking, exploring beaches, mountain biking, paddle boarding, kayaking, wildlife viewing
Things to Consider: If you’re traveling by ferry, be sure to check out the ferry schedule before you go. Pick out a time that works with your schedule and arrive early! If you’re taking the ferry to the San Juan Islands, I would recommend getting a ferry reservation from the WSDOT website.
Location Ideas: Crescent Lake, Lake Cushman, Lake Cle Elum, Lake Wenatchee, Lake Chelan, Lake Quinault, Ross Lake
Highlights: Washington has a lot of beautiful lakes to make a unique backdrop for your elopement day. Most of them don’t require any hiking at all! Eloping lakeside also makes for some fun adventures you can add into your day like kayaking, paddle boarding, or going for a swim. I’d highly recommend eloping in the summer if you choose to have your ceremony lakeside!
Activities: Kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, having a lakeside picnic, watching the sun rise or set
Things to Consider: It’s important to check how the conditions will be at the lake for the time of year that you are having your elopement. Most of these lakes are likely to be surrounded by snow in the winter and possibly not accessible. Some of the shoreline on these lakes can be very narrow and rocky. Be sure to research the best location around the lake for exchanging vows or having a small ceremony.
Location Ideas: Cabins near any of the locations mentioned above!
Highlights: If you want to have a completely private ceremony, then renting a cabin is a great way to make sure there are no strangers nearby like there could be in a public place. Just be sure to check that the rental allows for events and if they have any restrictions such as a guest limit. After the ceremony, you could have a catered dinner, or a backyard cookout. If the cabin is nearby an amazing location, you can go out and explore for some adventure elopement photos.
Activities: Making breakfast/coffee together, getting ready in the cabin, exploring the area nearby, having a romantic catered dinner
Things to Consider: Check with your rental before booking to make sure they allow events and ask about any restrictions. Some rentals may have a guest limit. Always be respectful of the community and neighbors where you are staying so these places can continue to host events in the future!
I hope this has given you some inspiration on where to have your elopement in Washington State. If you’re ready to narrow down your location, I’d love to chat about it!