The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is a dreamy elopement destination, offering a diverse range of natural landscapes that make for the perfect backdrop to your special day. From lush forests and cascading waterfalls to rugged coastlines and majestic mountains, the PNW has it all.
In this blog, I’ll guide you through several of my favorite PNW locations for your elopement and provide essential tips on obtaining permits and planning your unforgettable elopement experience.
When planning your PNW elopement, remember that permits are essential for most locations, and their availability can be limited.
National parks usually require what’s called a special use permit. Each location has a slightly different process for obtaining it and may also require an additional commercial photography permit. There’s usually an application fee as well and the permit only applies to a specific location in the park that you are eloping. Also, state parks have their own set of rules and requirements.
What does that all mean? Basically, navigating the rules of your location and park is pertinent to planning a flawless and smooth experience when eloping. But don’t worry! I have done it before and will help navigate the crazy waters in the applicable location.
Olympic National Park, Washington. This location alone offers insane views from pristine beaches to rainforests, waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks. Because there is a lot of variety, it has something for most couples year-round depending on what your comfortability level is with hiking and adventure.
An important thing to note is that keeping an eye on weather and preparing for anything in advance is key to eloping at this PNW national park. Pack extra attire for the conditions. For example, if you want to hike six miles up to a stunning snowy view, you aren’t going to want to wear your heels right away. It also might be advisable to pack winter hiking poles!
OR…. if you are eloping near a waterfall, be prepared to get a little damp. Shoes should have a little extra grip to better prepare for mossy and wet rocky grounding.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. Elope in the Pacific Northwest with the dramatic scenes in this national scenic area. It’s 80 miles long and reaches up to 4,000 feet in depth. There’s ridges, spires, insane waterfalls, and lush greens.
When you start thinking about applying for a permit at this location, anticipate the crowds. Think about alternative times for your adventure like an early morning vow exchange or ceremony at dusk.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. Surrounded by alpine meadows, the views here are iconic. Personally, my favorite time of year to shoot at Mount Rainier is during wildflower season!
The blend of the deep greens with the pops of colors is just stunning. You can also choose from simple hikes to full-blown adventures.
Not only does planning a sunrise or sunset ceremony allow you to avoid large crowds, but in this particular location the lighting is pristine at dusk and dawn.
Oregon Coast. With the waves and beaches behind you or the dramatic sea stacks and secluded coves – the Oregon coast has something for everyone. Plan a boho beach wedding with no shoes and a dip in the ocean. Or…. plan for a hike with the rugged views from the high ground.
If the plan is to elope in the Pacific Northwest at the coast, keep an eye on tide schedules. The best time to plan your vow exchange or ceremony is during low tide if you are dreaming of the calm beachy experience.
North Cascades National Park and Mount Baker in Washington are two more amazing locations I am obsessed with. The North Cascades is kind of a hidden gem. It is underrated and features stunning rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and another beautiful wildflower season. If you’re striving for an adventure, you can actually organize a helicopter tour for a private ceremony and once-in-a-lifetime views from a different perspective!!
Mount Baker is known for its skii attraction, so pack your favorite snow gear and head for the slopes. You’ll also want to be prepared for a rapid change in weather conditions, even in the summer!
LET’S PLAN YOUR EXPERIENCE
Additionally, always be mindful of Leave No Trace principles to preserve these beautiful natural spaces for future generations. To make the most of your elopement experience, consider enlisting the help of a local wedding planner who knows the area, the permitting process, and can help create a truly magical day.
October 7, 2023