Painted Hills Elopement

Planning your PNW Elopement

The Basics

So you’re planning your PNW elopement. There are a few things you need to know that you don’t have to think about with a traditional wedding. You will need a permit if you are planning an elopement at a national park. 

No matter how you decide to get married you’re going to need a marriage license All states Marriage license requirements are different. Depending on what state you are getting married in. You won’t need a blood test or to be a resident of that state for any of the states listed below. I’ve listed below the PNW states and their requirements to make your marriage official.

Oregon Marriage License Requirements

In Oregon, you must get your marriage license at least 3 days ahead of time. You can ask for a waiver, but you have to do so at the time you apply. It’s best to plan ahead so that you don’t need a waiver. If you are coming from a different state it’s best to plan to be here at least 3 days ahead if possible. If that isn’t an option for you check the county’s website you may be able to apply online. Some counties have begun allowing online marriage applications. The marriage license is going to cost you $60, and it doesn’t matter what county you apply for it in. Once you apply you have 60 days to get married. You are going to need 2 witnesses over the age of 18, an officiant they don’t need to be registered by the county or state. For more information on marriage requirements in Oregon Click Here.

Washington Marriage License Requirements

In Washington, you must get your marriage license at least 3 days ahead of time. There is no waiver you have to be here 3 days before the day you plan on getting married. The marriage license is going to cost you at least $60, but it does vary by state. You do have to apply for your marriage license in the county you plan on getting married in. Once you apply you have 60 days to get married. You are going to need 2 witnesses over the age of 12, an officiant who is ordained. For more information on marriage requirements in Washington Click Here.

Idaho Marriage License Requirements

Idaho has by far the least amount of requirements of the three states. There is no expiration date on your license. But if you’ve had it for over a year you will need to call the county office. You can get your license in any county and they are good anywhere in Idaho. Your marriage license is going to cost you between $20-$31 depending on the county you go to. You also have to pay in cash. Idaho is one of the few states where you can even get your marriage license on a Saturday. Although it will cost you an extra $20. For more information on marriage requirements in Idaho Click Here.

Planning your PNW Elopement

Best time of year to Elope in the PNW

Planning your PNW Elopement from May through October is going to get you the best weather although places can be more crowded. The spring and fall are going to have beautiful colors and a little less people. Plus, sunset isn’t as late so you can have an early evening ceremony and have the rest of the evening to celebrate with friends & family. If you are planning a summer elopement the best days are going to be during the week. Monday – Thursday is going to be the least crowded in the summertime if you are planning an elopement at one of the more popular spots.

Getting your Permit for your Elopement

Depending on where you are planning your PNW Elopement will depend on if you need a permit or not. All national parks are going to need a special use permit + a photography permit 

If you are wanting to elope in a national park you are going to need two different permits. Don’t worry I can help you with them. You are first going to need a special use permit. This will allow you to have your ceremony inside the state park. The cost can range from $50-$175 depending on what park you choose. You are going to want to give yourself a minimum of 4 weeks for processing. If you are going to parks outside of Oregon/Washington processing times may be longer.

Your photographer is also going to need a photography permit. They will more than likely want to do it themself so there are no surprises on your elopement day! Depending on the size of your ceremony will depend on how much it will be. 1-10 guests is $50/day, 11-29 guests is $150/day, and over 30 guests is going to be $250/day. I’m linking the four national parks in the PNW for you here. Click on them and they will take you to the page where you can submit your permit applications.

Best places to Elope in the PNW


Smith Rock State Park

I would plan your elopement for a weekday. Monday – Thursday especially if you are wanting to elope in the summertime. Smith Rock can get very hot and crowded in the middle of the day. It’s best to plan for a sunset ceremony. You can elope year-round but, in the winter, you will likely have some snow. You aren’t going to need a permit to have your ceremony as long you aren’t having a full-size wedding of 50 or more guests.

Crater Lake

Planning your PNW Elopement at crater lake the time of year you plan for will determine where you can have your ceremony. In the winter the rim closes for the season. Usually, it’s after the first snowfall and doesn’t open back up until sometime in May/June. They have 45 dedicated ceremony locations for you to choose from. In the summer you can choose from any of those 45 locations. In the winter that’s going to be a little more difficult, unless you plan on snowshoeing to where you want your ceremony to take place. To find permit requirements for Crater Lake click Here.

Painted Hills

Painted Hills Elopement

You aren’t going to have to worry about crowds here. It is very secluded, plus there are multiple places you can go to be able to have an intimate ceremony. You must obey National monument rules and stay on all paths not to damage any of the delicate landscape – so we can continue to enjoy it for years to come. You won’t need a permit to elope here.

Sparks Lake

 Sparks Lake can become very crowded, especially in the summer. If you are wanting a more intimate ceremony with not many around. Your best option is going to be planning a sunrise elopement Monday – Thursday. The weekends can be very crowded even by 9 am. Planning your PNW elopement a few hours before sunset you may still have some people around but it won’t be as quiet as the morning. There are some more secluded places where you could get away from the crowd to have your intimate ceremony.

Silver Creek Falls

Silver Creek Falls is located about 25 miles outside of Salem. There are so many options for your elopement ceremony. Some of my favorite falls for elopement ceremonies are Upper North Falls and South Falls. If you’re planning a fall, winter, or spring elopement Winter falls and middle fall are also great options. They are usually dried up in the summer unless we’ve had lots of rainfall. Upper North Falls is going to be the less crowded of the two in the summer months. I would still plan for a midweek elopement to limit the number of people around during your ceremony. The main hiking trail “Canyon Trail” isn’t dog friendly so if you’re wanting to include your fur baby then Upper North Falls is going to be your best option in the summertime.

Abiqua Falls

You need to have a 4-wheel drive SUV. 4-wheel drive cars won’t work unless you want to walk a few miles to get to the falls. There are signs that say no vehicles past that point, but you can continue driving until you get to a white-gated fence. Then there is a rope for you to go down and you can walk to the falls from there. You aren’t going to need a permit. I would recommend Sunday – Thursday for your elopement. I would plan to get there a few hours before Sunset in case you do need to hike, and you won’t lose light before your ceremony.

Oregon Coast

Planning your PNW Elopement at the Oregon coast you have so many beautiful places to choose from. These are just a few spots along the scenic Oregon coast. Some of these are going to be more crowded than others. The closer you are to Portland the more crowded they will be. Cannon Beach is going to be very busy pretty much anytime between May-October. Whereas if you’re looking more towards the middle to southern coast you are more likely going to be able to have a private intimate ceremony. Some of my favorite spots are the following:

  • Ecola State Park
  • Cape Kiwanda
  • Hobbit Beach
  • Cobble Beach
  • Nesokwin State Park
  • Short Sand Beach
  • Oregon Redwoods


Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is huge its just under 1 million acres. That means there are so many different areas for planning your PNW elopement. Some of your options are rainforests, lakes, mountain tops to beaches. You’re going to want to narrow it down. You’ll need to choose an area because Olympic National Park is so big. This will also help you plan your route to get to the park. There isn’t one main entrance like most other national parks. You could drive all day through the park without stopping and not even see it all.

Some of the more iconic locations inside the park are Hurricane Ridge, HOH Rainforest, Ruby Beach, La Push Beach, Lake Crescent & Lake Cushman. These are just some of the possibilities for your elopement ceremony. You can have as short or as long of a hike as you’d like to get to your ceremony spot. Most of these locations are located not far from either a visitor center or campground.

North Cascades National Park

Did you know North Cascades National Park is one of the least visited national parks? This is a hidden gem in Washington with epic mountain views, glaciers, lakes, and miles of hiking trails. There are certain areas that are dog friendly so if you’re looking to have your furry baby a part of your day this may be the location for you.

Planning your PNW elopement at North Cascades national park has a variety of locations for your ceremony. These locations have a variety of scenery from Washington Pass Overlook that is only ¼ walk to the viewpoint. It’s going to be your most accessible. Some of the locations that have multiple hiking trails for you to choose from include: Artist Point, and North Cascades Highway they all have stunning scenery around them. Fire Lookouts is going to be your most difficult hiking trail but it’s going to have some of the most epic views for some moody portraits of the two of you.

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park has 4 different entrances to choose from depending on what part of the park you are going to. The best time of year to plan your PNW elopement is between July-October for the best weather possible. The Southeast and Northeast entrances are going to be closed from October to roughly June. The possibilities for your elopement are endless. You can walk along a trail, be on an outlook, go for a hike for the best views, or even an A-frame. If you’re deciding to hike you can choose your difficulty from easy to hard. 

The park has 4 fire lookouts that have just breathtaking views overlooking the park. If you love lakes there are a few lakes to choose from that have Mt. Rainier in the distance. Reflection Lake Tipisso Lake are two super popular lakes within the park. Sunrise(yes it’s a place) has some of the most spectacular views. You can choose to either hike to it or drive to it. It’s the tallest elevation in the park. 

Snowqualmie Pass

Snoquaime Pass has so many different locations to choose from within. Snoqualmie pass is located inside Mt. Baker National forest. So depending on the location you choose you may need a permit. Some of the more popular ones are Snoqualmie Falls, Rattlesnake Lake, Rattlesnake Ledge, and Middle Fork. Their are many more to choose from. 

Most of these locations are big enough that you can get the intimate ceremony that you want for your elopement. Snoqualmie Falls is going to be the exception and also the one that needs a permit. If you’re wanting to have your ceremony at the Falls you should either get there early or have a mid-week ceremony. Rattlesnake Lake is the one with the massive old overgrown stumps that are visible when the water level is low. Rattlesnake Ledge is not for you if you don’t want uneven terrain. Middlefork has many options as you’ll drive along the river for miles and at the end you will reach the trailhead and bridge. So you can have your ceremony anywhere along the river or at the trailhead with the bridge behind you. Some of these have a hike of at least 1 mile.


Stanley, ID

Stanley, ID is a very small town that is surrounded by natural beauty. It is nestled in the Sawtooth mountains. The weather is truly unpredictable in the sawtooth mountains. It can be warm & sunny in November to cold & cloudy in July. You have to be prepared for whatever mother nature throws at you. Your ceremony can take places close to a trailhead overlooking the sawtooth mountains to having a 3 mile hike to your ceremony spot. 

If you don’t mind having a ceremony that isn’t secluded with no body around some of the popular locations are: Stanley lake, Redfish lake, & Fishhook creek trail. If you are wanting to have a intimate and secluded ceremony your going to have to hike a little bit to your ceremony locations such as: Boundary Creek and Bridal Veil Falls. Their are also many different trails and roads that are hidden and secluded that many dont know about.

McCall, ID

McCall sits about 2.5hrs north of Boise. McCall has some of the most breathtaking views. Depending on the time of year you can elope in all sorts of areas to have a intimate & secluded ceremony. Summer is going to be the busiest time of year but if your up for the cold you could snowshoe of snowmobile to your ceremony location(How cool would that be). Some popular summer locations are Ponderosa State Park and Payette Lake. 

Ponderosa State Park and Payette Lake are very close to eachother. Ponderosa has many different hiking trails that once to the top will overlook the lake. Some of these trails will also lead you through some beautiful wooded trails that are perfect if you going for a more forrest look. In the winter these trails are groomed for snowshoeing and crosscountry skiing. The North end of Payette Lake offers some very beautiful white sandy beaches where as east side has boulders nestled in the trees.

Let’s talk about your PNW Elopement

I’m Rochelle and I’d love to capture your elopement day! As a Pacific Northwest native, I’ve been to almost all of the best spots to plan your PNW elopement. Whether your coming from out of state or are local to the area planning your PNW elopement can be a daunting task. You may not even know where to start. That’s okay I’m here to help you every step of the way. Including helping you get the permits you need.

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