Hey there friend! I’m Alexandria, and I’ve found home in the mountains of WA. Like you, I personally thrive and feel so fulfilled in small groups, intentional moments, and love photos to remember days by.
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Hey there Trailblazer! What’s that? Do you want to plan a hiking elopement in Washington State? Good news, I got you and I’m sending you virtual cheers for your decision to do exactly what you want to do for your elopement day. There’s no one right way to get married, but I’m excited you’ve chosen this option for yourselves!
If you haven’t picked Washington as your elopement location yet, let me tell you why you should choose here: Washington has literally everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer and you could hit several of these places within a weekend.
● You want mountains? We have 2 ranges and several volcanoes (ever heard of Mt. Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mt Baker.)
● Oh you love the beach? Well look no further – the Washington coast has some amazing locations with gorgeous rock formations, tide pools, and starfish!
● You’re a fern lovin’, pine tree huggin’ hiker like myself. Yeah, that’s all around us!
● You love the earthy, sparse, brown tones of the desert? Don’t forget about the eastern side of the state. (Bonus: We have an amazing wine country just east of the North Cascades.)
● Island lover? Check out the San Juan Islands or some Puget Sound views!
My point is, this state has SO much to explore and could give you literally anything even if you aren’t sure what you want!
So how do you plan a hiking elopement in Washington? Here are a few things you should consider.
In my opinion the best time to get married in WA is between June and October! We have access to areas that will be covered in snow in winter and you don’t have to worry about the additional elements and risks of snow.
When: March – July Temps: Mild, 50s-60s
Typical weather: Cool and Rainy, with some periods of sunshine
Notes: Weather can shift on a dime- Think unexpected rain storms, with cold winds and sometimes snow depending on your elevation. It’s best to always have extra layers and backup plans!
When: Mid July – September
Temps: Warm, 70s-80s
Typical Weather: Lots of sunshine and, for a majority of the time, clear skies!
Notes: We do have to watch out for wildfires during this season and there’s always a chance for smoky skies depending on what mother nature is rebuilding! However, if we aren’t experiencing wildfires, the skies can be SO clear and you can see for miles. It’s our most popular time of the year for visitors, and gets even warmer on the eastern side of the mountains!
When: October – November Temps: Cool to Mild, 40s-70s
Typical weather: Sun, Rain, Wind (little mix of everything!) Warmer in September and cools off as we move closer to the winter months.
Notes: Always have extra clothes with you. The temp you might have at your hotel or airbnb will drop dramatically when you get to your trailhead! (I’ve learned this lesson many times the hard way!)
When: December to February
Temps: Cool in the puget sound area, cold in the mountains.
Typical weather: Snow in certain areas and elevation, rain and clouds in lower elevations Notes: Some mountain roads actually close in winter due to driving safety with the snow, mountain passes, avalanches, etc. You need chains on your tires if you are driving. At this point in time, I personally stray away from snowy conditions for my own safety reasons.
How do you choose? Visualize what kind of wedding you have always dreamed about and figure out how to make it a reality!
Pro Tip: Leave the decor at home. Skip the arch, skip the large florals. There’s a reason you’re choosing nature to elope, let that speak for itself, and keep it simple!
Once you choose a location, pop the champagne! …Then pick a backup location! Depending on if you are hiking up into the mountains, weather can change on a dime, and you might need to go with the flow!
When choosing your location for your hiking elopement, you’ll find so many amazing choices to elope at, but sometimes they can get crowded! Take the popularity of the trail into consideration as you plan. Does the hike have a ton of trail reports? If you go on Instagram, is there a ton of activity? What does a Google search say?
If you work with me I will give you personalized options based on your wants and we can figure out how to avoid major crowds. Reach out here!
Pro Tip: Get married on a weekday as opposed to a weekend!
Who you invite and who you decide to bring on your hiking elopement is critical to think about. I personally have decided to allow no more than 12 people on an elopement, and anything more requires a venue. I have several reasons for this!
What this boils down to is impact on the environment. How can you leave the area better than you found it?
Protect mother nature in all that we have been given, really whenever you head to the trails! Don’t pick flowers, stay on the designated trails, pack out any trash, leave anything you find, etc! The more people who abuse this, the faster our earth is damaged.
To read more, check out the Leave No Trace principles here!
While yes, anyone with gusto can go hike something moderate, do you want to enjoy the hike or suffer through it? I would realistically think about what you can do when choosing your location. If you have guests, what are their ability levels and will it hold you back?
Always check on if your ceremony needs a permit! Many times your photographer might also need one as well to photograph.
Once you decide where you want to elope, figure out if it’s a National Park or National Forest or other land type, and call the local ranger office/find their website. They will be able to give you the most up-to-date information as well as conditions of the area if you are unsure. When I work with couples, I help direct them to the appropriate permit office when they choose their location.
There are so many options for getting ready before your vows.
To become legally married in Washington state, you must:
1. Apply and get a marriage license
2. Have a ceremony
3. Complete and return the Department of Health Certificate of Marriage
Disclaimer: This is my suggestion and should not be taken as fact. Always do your own research and check local laws as they do change!
I know, you’re probably thinking “but if we’re eloping, doesn’t that mean we need to perform the ceremony then?” Not at all my friend 🙂 Getting married before your festivities just takes away the legal work to make sure you are married. This opens up doors for whatever your heart desires for your overall experience!
Washington state requires you to have two witnesses for your ceremony. When my partner and I got married, we went to a courthouse and then had our ceremony later on! Our judge hired witnesses for our marriage. They happened to be a couple of older ladies who unknowingly made us feel even more special. She suggested a tip and we included that for their time. We opted for the scripted ceremony since we were planning on making a more personalized one later. (I still cried when we were reading through even this basic script!!)
If you still want to get legally married in the mountains, that is also possible, you’ll just need to invite two witnesses and have an ordained minister!
There are soooo many things I could recommend, but if I had to pick my top recommendations I would say this:
Can you tell I like REI? If you are unsure what to get for a backpack, I would highly suggest going to your local REI store. Not only do they sell backpacks and can recommend some, they will also fit your backpack to your body for you!
You did it! You’re married! You’re super excited! Share the news by:
Looking for more ideas on how to involve your family and friends on your elopement day? Check out my resource here for more in-depth ideas!
Remember, you decided to plan and get married in your own way, and that should be celebrated!
All in all, if you’ve made it this far, you are well on your way to plan your own Washington State hiking elopement. I wish you the BEST of luck on your day and hope to bump into you on the trails, so I can say congrats!!
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LGBTQ Friendly. All couples welcome - Diversity and includsion Matter. | Leave No Trace Aware Photographer
Omg this is such an incredible resource for couples looking to elope in Washington! You covered everything! Such an informative article!
This is such a helpful post not just for couples planning a hiking elopement, but also for elopement photographers!
Such great tips for eloping in Washington! Looks so beautiful there
I’m always here for people getting outdoors in the PNW! Love this!
This is the complete guide for Washington state! Super useful to see the permit info as well as what to expect with each season, thanks for sharing.
What an awesome and informative blog!! Washington is so incredible and I love how you broke it down by location and season!! Thank you so much for sharing!!
What a great guide for planning a hiking elopement in Washington State! Something my couples often do when they don’t want to invite witnesses is just asking other hikers on the trail to sign as a witness! It always makes for a fun conversation and memory! Getting legally married beforehand is also a great way to do it as well!
This is such a great resource for couples! Love all of the information!
This Washington elopement guide is so helpful! It makes me wish I could elope all over again!