Best Places to Elope in California

I’ve lived in California since 2014, and it’s safe to say I’m still just as obsessed with it as I was 8 years ago. In one of my latest blogs talking about the Best Southern California Engagement Photos Locations, I discussed the vastness of the terrain and environmental diversity – which I love. As a full-time Southern California wedding photographer, I’ve been able to spend so much time exploring the area over the past several years that I’ve lived here. Now, I’m so excited to share with Best Places to Elope in California! Let’s dive in.

Best Places to Elope in California

Yosemite National Park

While Yosemite is located in east-Central California, how could I not include it in this list!? Yosemite National Park is an iconic landmark of California, welcoming upwards of 3 million people every year. Most famous for its ancient sequoia trees and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome, it’s no wonder why so many people flock to it annually. Check out a few of the restrictions and things to note when planning your Yosemite National Park elopement.

  • Permits are Required 
  • Pets are not allowed to attend ceremonies
  • Drones are Prohibited
  • Baby’s Breath is Prohibited
  • For parties less than 11 people, you are not limited to the following locations
  • Bubbles, confetti, birdseed, etc. is prohibited

Ceremony Sites in Yosemite National Park

  • Cascades Picnic Area
  • Lower Yosemite Fall Paved Trail
  • Swinging Bridge Picnic Area
  • Cathedral Beach Picnic Area
  • Sentinel Beach Picnic Area
  • Bridalveil Fall
  • Glacier Point Amphitheater
  • Chilnualna Falls Trailhead Parking Lot
  • Tenaya Lake Beach
  • Tuolumne Meadows Lodge Area
  • Tuolumne Grove
  • Merced Grove

More Elopement Locations
Permitting Information
Closures & Restrictions

I captured Angel and Michael’s Yosemite adventure elopement last fall, and it was a dream come true. Check out their blog HERE 🍁

Joshua Tree National Park

Located in the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park brings in between 2 and 3 million visitors annually. Joshua Tree boasts 800,000 +/- acres just a few hours from the coast. The park is most known for the rugged rocks, dramatic desert landscapes, and unique bristled Joshua trees. Somehow, it makes you feel like you’re in a different world (not just 2 hours from Los Angeles). Like Yosemite National Park’s restrictions, be sure to research Joshua Tree National Park’s. Check out the list below for some things to keep in mind when planning your elopement at Joshua Tree.

  • There is no cell phone service throughout the park.
  • Plan to bring 1+ gallons of water per person, depending on the activities you plan to partake in 
  • You must Purchase a Special Park Use Permit.
  • In order to keep the parks clean and preserve nature, there a few things prohibited. Check the link below for restrictions!

Ceremony Sites in Joshua Tree National Park

  • Indian Cove Amphitheater
  • Hidden Valley Picnic Area
  • Turkey Flats
  • Cap Rock
  • Rattlesnake Park Area
  • Quail Springs Picnic Area
  • Split Rock
  • Porcupine Wash
  • Queen Vallely Mine Intersection
  • Lost Horse Parking Lot
  • Live Oak Picnic Area

Special Park Use Office Information
Closures & Restrictions

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is one of the most well-known beaches and cities of California in general, especially to Southern California. The tide pools, boardwalk, and luxury beachfront homes make Laguna Beach a stunning place to elope. Laguna Beach requires a permit for weddings on the beach and parks. Some parks in the area do not allow weddings, so check the link below for more info!

Permit Information for Eloping in Laguna Beach

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego

Sunset Cliffs is located on 68 acres stretching along the Pacific Ocean, bordering Point Loma. The intricate, carved bluffs lining the blue coast feature arches and sea caves. The 3 separate locations in Sunset Cliffs Natural Park to elope at are Ladera Street, Luscomb Point, and Osprey. But, I’m confident that there are no bad place to catch the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.

Permit Information for Eloping at Sunset Cliffs

Alright, friends. There we have it – the best places to elope in California. There are certainly other incredible locations, but these just happen to be my personal faves 😉 If eloping or even taking engagement photos at any of these places, I can’t stress enough that you need to get a permit. Some permits require a waiting period, while others only let you purchase them so far in advance. Thankfully, your photographer should be able to help you obtain your permit.

Now that you’ve read about my favorite places to elope, it’s time for you to head over to Instagram (@sarahyatesphoto) and let me know your dream elopement location 🤩

Additional Resources:

How to Create Your Wedding Day Timeline
Pros and Cons of a First Look
Yay! You’re Engaged, Now What?

Wedding Tips

Best Places to Elope in California

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