Eloping in California
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Eloping in California – The Ultimate Guide (2024)

Are you dreaming of eloping in California? Congratulations on taking a big step towards making your romantic dreams come true!

With its stunning beaches, rolling hills, and desert landscapes, California is the perfect place to say “I do.”

Whether you’re looking for an intimate ceremony on the beach or a grand celebration with all your friends and family, you can easily find the perfect spot to elope in California.

In this Ultimate Guide, we’ll be discussing the exciting ins and how to elope in California and everything you need to know to get started.

Read on to find out how to plan the perfect elopement in the Golden State!

Eloping in California – A step-by-step guide

Let’s cover the steps towards eloping in California in a really simple fashion first. But be sure to read the in-depth guide further down to really drill down to the details and make sure nothing is missed!

  • Step one – Get the necessary documents

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to obtain a marriage license or other state-required documents in order to legally elope in California. Make sure to research the laws of your chosen state, and get the necessary paperwork before your California elopement ceremony.

  • Step two – Pick a budget

You need to know how much you are willing to spend on your California elopement. Although they are usually cheaper than a traditional wedding, costs can quickly add up.

  • Step three – Pick a date!

You can’t elope without a date to do it on! You’re going to want to consider your availability, the availability of any guests, the weather, and, of course, location availability!

  • Step four – Pick the perfect spot

California is a big place, and you’ll want to make sure you choose the perfect spot for your elopement ceremony. Think about the type of setting you want – do you envision a beach ceremony under the stars, or a private garden overlooking a stunning landscape?

Find the right spot that suits you and your partner, and make sure it has the right atmosphere to make your elopement ceremony special.

Be sure to check our guide on the best places to elope in California, which covers everything from cheap locations, to nature spots, to city venues.

  • Step five – Create your ceremony and any reception

This is the fun part – now that you have all the important details sorted out, it’s time to get creative and design your elopement ceremony. Whether you want a traditional or modern ceremony, you can personalize it to make it unique and memorable.

Here, it’s time to start thinking about the small details that will make eloping in California even more special. Think about the vows, music, the decorations, the food, and any special touches that you would like to add.

  • Step six – Choose an officiant

Finding the perfect person to officiate your wedding ceremony can be a challenge. Do you prefer a religious leader or a secular officiant? Or would you rather have a friend or family member perform the ceremony?

Whoever you choose, make sure it is someone special and meaningful to you and your partner, so that your elopement ceremony will be even more special.

  • Step seven – Book the vendors

If you want to add some extra touches to your elopement ceremony, you may need to hire some vendors. For example, a decorator can help take your venue to another romantic level, and a photographer or a videographer can capture the special moments of your California elopement ceremony and help you create lasting memories.

  • Step eight – Enjoy eloping in California!

Once all the planning is done, it’s time to relax and enjoy your elopement ceremony. Take a deep breath and soak in the beautiful atmosphere and the romantic setting you have created.

Planning an elopement in California doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With a bit of careful planning and creative thinking, you and your partner can create a beautiful, memorable California elopement ceremony that is truly unique and special.

Now let’s break down each of the steps above in more detail to make your California elopement easy!

How to elope in California: Legal Requirements

Before embarking on your Californian elopement adventure, it’s important to understand the legal requirements for eloping California. Although eloping is a bit more relaxed than a traditional wedding, you still need to make sure you’re following the law.

When thinking about how to elope in California, these are the legal requirements you need to know:

  1. You must be at least 18 years of age to get married in California. If you’re under 18, you’ll need to obtain a court order from the county clerk in the county where you live.
  2. You’ll need to present a valid form of identification such as a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate.
  3. You’ll need to obtain a marriage license from the county clerk in the county where you’ll be getting married.
  4. California also requires that you have two witnesses sign the marriage license when you apply.

Do not skip these important legal requirements, otherwise you simply won’t be able to get married!

Eloping in California – Budget requirements

First and foremost, it is important to think about your budget and decide how much you can afford to spend on your elopement. Costs can quickly add up for elopements, once you start thinking about travel and accommodation. They can quickly en dup as close to a traditional wedding in terms of expenditure, if you’re not careful.

There are plenty of affordable options available in California, so do your research and find a package that works for you and your partner. Once you have a budget, you can begin to plan the details of your elopement, such as the date, the location, and any activities you’d like to include. But you must start with knowing how much you are willing to spend.

Check out our article on how much it costs to elope, here.

Pick a date for your California elopement

Now you have your budget in order, you can safely pick a date! Choose a time of year that will work for what’s going on in your lives, and also for the location of your elopement. Be sure the weather will work for you at that time of year!

You may also want to consider the availability of any guests you might want to have, and whether any venues you want to book are able to do the dates you are considering for your elopement.

As for choosing a location for eloping in California…

Best Places to Elope in California

Now that you’ve taken care of all the legalities, it’s time to think about where to elope in California. You’ll want to pick a spot that reflects your personality and style. Whether you’re looking for an intimate beach setting, a majestic mountain view, or a natural oasis, you’re sure to find the perfect spot in California.

From awe-inspiring mountain peaks to charming rustic towns, there are so many dreamy places to say “I do” in this beautiful state.

We’ve broken down the best places to elope in California below.

Note: If you want to get even more in-depth, be sure to see our ultimate guide on the top California elopement locations!

Romantic locations to Elope in California

California is the perfect place for an unforgettable romantic elopement – with its stunning landscapes, parks, beaches and more, it’s hard to go wrong! Whether you’re looking for a beachy elopement, a mountain top ceremony, or something in between, here are some of the best romantic elopement spots in California that are sure to make your special day extra special.

Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Forest

One of the most breathtaking parks in the United States, Yosemite National Park is the perfect spot for a romantic elopement. Exchange your vows in front of the beautiful Half Dome, or get married in the middle of the spectacular Sequoia National Forest.

Big Sur

Just south of San Francisco, Big Sur is a rugged yet beautiful coastline and the perfect backdrop for a romantic elopement. Exchange your vows overlooking the Pacific Ocean, or choose a more secluded spot in the redwood forests.

Check out our guide to a Big Sur elopement, here!


With its beautiful beaches and seaside cliffs, Malibu is a great spot for an elopement. Exchange your vows right on the beach, or find a more secluded spot in the Point Dume State Park.

California Wine Country

This region is home to some of the most stunning vineyards and wineries in the world. Imagine getting married against a backdrop of rolling hills, lush vineyards, and beautiful wineries.

You can find some of the best wineries in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. Located in the heart of California’s wine country, Napa Valley is the perfect spot for a romantic elopement. Exchange your vows among the vineyards, or find a more secluded spot in the rolling hills.

San Diego

From the beaches to the mountains, San Diego offers a wide variety of romantic elopement spots. Exchange your vows at the beach, or find a more secluded spot in the desert.

California Elopement Beach Locations

California has some of the best beaches in the world and is the perfect destination for a romantic elopement! The golden state boasts an abundance of stunning coastlines, from the San Diego beaches of La Jolla and Coronado to the rugged shoreline of Big Sur and the picture-perfect shores of Laguna Beach. If you’re looking for a waterfront wedding, California has you covered.

Whether you’re looking to get married on the beach, in a park, or on a pier, there’s a California beach to suit your needs. From the iconic Venice Beach in Los Angeles to the breath-taking views of the Monterey Bay, you can take your pick when it comes to eloping in California.

For a private ceremony, there’s nothing quite like the secluded beaches of Santa Cruz or Mendocino. Here, you can escape the crowds and enjoy the quiet beauty of the ocean.

And if you’re looking for something a little more lively, the beaches of San Diego or Santa Barbara are the perfect place to celebrate your nuptials.

Why not consider:

Big Sur

Big Sur is one of California’s most iconic beach destinations. With its majestic cliff-sides and breathtaking views, Big Sur is the perfect place to elope.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is an ideal spot for eloping couples. With its stunning shorelines and laid-back atmosphere, you’ll feel right at home here.


Malibu is a great spot for a romantic beach elopement. With its gorgeous sunsets and stunning coastline, you can have a beautiful elopement on the beach here.

La Jolla

La Jolla is a great spot for eloping couples. With its beautiful cliffs and secluded coves, La Jolla is sure to make your elopement special.


Pacifica is one of the best beaches in California for eloping. With its stunning shoreline and laid-back atmosphere, Pacifica is the perfect spot for a romantic beach elopement.

Coronado Beach

Located in San Diego, Coronado Beach is the perfect spot for romantic moments. With its white sand and crystal blue waters, you can’t beat the views. Plus, you can pose for wedding photos in front of the iconic Hotel del Coronado.

Moonstone Beach

Located in Cambria, Moonstone Beach is a picturesque spot for your elopement. With its rolling tide pools and majestic cliffs, you’re sure to have a memorable experience.

Pebble Beach

If you’re looking for a more secluded setting for your elopement, then Pebble Beach is the perfect spot. With its secret coves and hidden beaches, this beach offers a unique and intimate experience.

Eloping in California’s Adventurous locations

Are you looking to make your elopement truly special and adventurous? Are you ready to begin a new chapter of your life in the most exciting and captivating way? California is home to some of the most beautiful and adventurous elopement spots in the world.

Take a look at:

Big Sur

For a truly unique adventure, consider eloping in Big Sur. Big Sur is a spectacular stretch of coastline in Central California. This picturesque landscape is ideal for an adventurous elopement, with its rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

Whether you’re looking for a secluded ceremony or a larger celebration, Big Sur offers the perfect backdrop for a one-of-a-kind elopement.

We’ve written an extensive guide on eloping in Big Sur. Check it out for all the important infomration you need to know if you are considering tying the knot there!

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is one of the most breath-taking and majestic places in California. With its towering trees and lush forests, this incredible park is perfect for an adventurous elopement. Say your vows beneath the ancient sequoias and take in the beauty of this unique and inspiring environment.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is another amazing elopement destination in California. With its majestic mountains, thundering waterfalls, and stunning views, Yosemite is the perfect backdrop for an intimate ceremony. Whether you’re looking for a romantic ceremony or a larger celebration, Yosemite is sure to provide the perfect atmosphere for your special day.

Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re looking for a more secluded elopement spot, then consider Joshua Tree National Park. This otherworldly landscape offers a perfect spot for an intimate and adventurous elopement. For a special touch, you can even stay at one of the park’s gorgeous campsites.

The Golden Gate Bridge

For a more urban elopement spot, consider the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. This iconic bridge provides a breathtaking backdrop for your special day. Not to mention, the surrounding area of San Francisco is filled with amazing attractions to explore.

Elope in Californian Nature

California has some of the most magnificent nature spots in the world to host your special day. Whether you’re looking for rugged mountain peaks, tranquil mountain lakes, beautiful coastal views, or lush forests and meadows, there is an elopement spot in California that’s perfect for you.

Think about:

A Redwood forest

First up, we have the majestic redwood forests of Northern California. Home to some of the tallest trees in the world, these forests provide a stunning backdrop for your elopement. Take your vows amidst the towering giants, or find a secluded spot for a private ceremony.

A waterfall location

If you’re looking for a more intimate setting, how about a waterfall elopement? California is home to some amazing waterfalls, many of which are easily accessible. From the roaring Yosemite Falls to the peaceful Sequoia Falls, you can find the perfect spot to exchange your vows.

Lake Tahoe

If you’re dreaming of a mountain escape, consider eloping in Lake Tahoe. With its majestic alpine peaks and shimmering alpine lakes, Lake Tahoe is one of the most stunning places in California.


For an even more rustic adventure, consider eloping in Yosemite. With its majestic granite peaks and lush forests, Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places to elope in California.

Hot springs

If you’re looking for a truly unique elopement experience, try one of the many hot springs in California. From the warm waters of Napa Valley to the healing waters of Mono Lake, you’ll find plenty of options for a nature-filled elopement.

Sierra Nevada Mountains

For a more mountainous escape, try the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This range of peaks offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area and is an ideal spot for an outdoor elopement. Plus, with stunning lakes and lush forests, you can be sure you’ll find a unique and romantic spot to get married.

Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re looking for a desert retreat, then Joshua Tree National Park is the perfect destination. With its unique rock formations, beautiful sunsets, and wide open spaces, this park offers the perfect backdrop for an elopement. And with plenty of trails to explore, you’ll be able to find a spot that feels just right for your special day.

No matter where you decide to elope in California, it’s sure to be an amazing experience.

How to elope in California – Planning the elopement ceremony and reception

When thinking of how to elope in California, you must make sure you think about the actual ceremony itself.

What kind of ceremony do you want to have? Do you want something traditional, with traditional elements like readings and vows? Or would you prefer something more unique, like a handmade ceremony or a ceremony of your own design?

You’ll want to decide who to invite. Elopement ceremonies are typically small, so you won’t be able to invite everyone you know. Think about who you absolutely must have there — your closest family and friends — and then consider who else you’d like to invite. This is a great opportunity to make your wedding day a truly special and intimate experience.

Now it’s time to pick what to wear! Choose something that makes you look good and feel confident and special on your big day. You may want to look into renting a dress or a tux, as it can be a great way to save some money.

Finally, you’ll need to pick out the details — the decorations, music, and food. Think about what kind of atmosphere you want for your ceremony and choose appropriate decorations to match.

You may even want to include some personalized touches, like meaningful readings or musical performances. Are you going to eat after the ceremony? Will it be catered? Or might you simply go to a restaurant? The choice is yours!

Make your ceremony and reception personal to you and something you would enjoy. Don’t feel pressured in to doing what everyone else does. After all, isn’t that part of the fun of eloping?

You may also want to consider any activities to do after your elopement in California. You could choose to do something nearby where you got married, partake in fun activities with your guests, or chill out and go somewhere quit by yourselves.

Choose an officiant that specializes in Eloping in California

One of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing an officiant for your elopement. After all, this person will be responsible for making your special day even more special, and it’s important to find someone who understands your needs and is dedicated to ensuring your wedding ceremony is perfect.

The officiant will guide you through the ceremony, declaring your commitment to each other and making your special day official.

It will also help if you have an officiant who specializes in California elopements, because they will have a unique understanding of what’s involved, be able to give you ideas to make your California elopement more unique, and will likely be more willing to hold a ceremony that is potentially on the more adventurous side of things.

If you’re wondering how to choose an officiant for your elopement in California, here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Consider compatibility

When it comes to elopements, compatibility is key. Your officiant should understand your vision for the day and be able to bring it to life. You should also feel comfortable with them and be able to trust that they’ll take care of all the details. Consider the type of ceremony you’d like to have – would you prefer it to be a religious ceremony, or a more secular, non-denominational one? It is also important to take into account the officiant’s style and personality.

  • Do your research

Just as you would with any other wedding-related decision, you should carefully research the officiants in your area before making your selection. Look for reviews, read bios, and reach out to ones that you’re interested in to get a better sense of their style and approach.

  • Ask questions

Before you make a final decision, make sure to ask questions about the officiant’s experience and what type of ceremony they typically perform. This will ensure that you’re choosing someone who can handle the unique needs of an elopement.

  • Utilize resources

If you’re struggling to find the perfect officiant for your elopement in California, there are plenty of resources out there to help. Online directories, wedding websites, and even local wedding venues can point you in the right direction.

Finding the right officiant when you are eloping in California doesn’t have to be a stress-filled process. With the right research and preparation, you can find someone who will make your wedding ceremony even more special and meaningful.

So, go ahead and start your search – and get ready to say “I do” in the most beautiful way!

Book the vendors – Find a California Elopement Photographer and Videographer

First, decide what type of photographer and/or videographer you need. Do you want a photographer who specializes in elopement photography? Do you want someone who can capture the unique beauty of California’s landscapes? Or do you want a videographer who can capture the emotion of your special day?

Once you have a good idea of what type of photographer and/or videographer you need, it’s time to start the booking process.

Start by searching online for photographers and videographers in California who specialize in elopement photography, and browse their portfolios. This will give you an idea of their style, and you’ll also be able to read reviews from past clients.

You’ll want to make sure that you find someone who is experienced, creative, and passionate about capturing your special moment.

Next, you’ll want to set up an in-person or virtual meeting to discuss the details of your California elopement. During this meeting, you can ask the photographer or videographer any questions you may have, and get a better understanding of their process and pricing. You can also discuss specific requests, such as any special effects or editing techniques you want to add.

Finally, when you’ve found the perfect photographer or videographer for your elopement, it’s time to book them. Make sure to read through the photographer’s or videographer’s contract carefully and ask any questions if you need clarification.

Once the contract is signed and a deposit is made, your photographer or videographer will be booked and ready to capture your special day!

Eloping in California can be a truly magical experience and having the right photographer and videographer can make your special day even more memorable.

With a bit of research and planning, you can ensure that your elopement photos and videos are breath-taking and bring back great memories of the day for years to come!

Conclusion – Enjoy Eloping in California!

Overall, eloping in California is an exciting and romantic experience that can create lifelong memories. No matter how you choose to elope in California, you’re sure to have an amazing experience.

With its stunning scenery, exciting activities, and variety of scenic locations, California is the perfect place to elope! So, if you’re looking for an unforgettable way to say “I do”, consider eloping in California. You won’t regret it!

More Resources

Be sure to see our ultimate guide on the best places to elope in California to get even more ideas than the locations listed above, and to go in-depth in to why they are great choices. It covers everything from free and cheap locations, to stunning natural spots, to amazing city venues that won’t break the bank!

Still getting ideas on where to elope? Check out our other Ultimate Guides on…

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