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13 Best California Elopement Locations

The Journal

California has it all – lush forests, vast deserts, miles and miles of epic beaches. Having so many options for your California elopement is a double edged sword; it’s easy to get excited by all the possibilities, but choosing just one is so hard! We’ve put together our list of the 13 best California elopement locations that we love to help you narrow down your choices.

It’s important that your elopement represents you. Whether that’s a boho desert feel, or a dramatic and bold rainy forest ceremony further north. These 13 spots are a diverse variety so that you can find the place that really speaks to you!

#1 Best California Elopement Location

Yosemite National Park

bride and groom at yosemite national park

Yosemite is the most popular destination of all our 13 best California elopement locations! The giant sequoia trees, Bridal veil Fall, the views of El Capitan and Half Dome, the list of things to love goes on and on. We recommend turning your Yosemite elopement into your honeymoon too! We put together a fantastic resource you can find here to help you plan your Yosemite elopement! It’ll tell you all the best things to do to celebrate newly married life.

#2 Best California Elopement Location

Big Sur

bride and groom in big sur on top of cliff

The beaches at Big Sur continue to captivate us no matter how many times we visit! We have a guide here filled with all the details you need to know to plan your Big Sur elopement. For beach locations, Garrapata State Park is our favorite! Big Sur will give you moody, rainy vibes most of the year, so if you love the misty air and some drama in your photos, Big Sur is perfect for you.

#3 Best California Elopement Location

Redwoods National Park

groom helping bride put on her dress

The Redwoods are absolutely stunning. There is something about being there and standing next to trees that tower over you. Stepping into the forest feels like you travelled into a new world. There is a beauty like no other. It is super peaceful, serene, and you’re truly able to have amazing one on one time with each other.

#4 Best California Elopement Location

Joshua Tree National Park

couple walking through joshua tree national park

No list of California’s best elopement spots is complete without Joshua Tree. If you’re picturing dreamy desert vibes, maybe a dried floral arrangement, something elegant and boho, then Joshua Tree is perfect!You simply cannot beat the sunsets here. Be sure to look at all the permit requirements for getting married here. Remember that we’re here as your resource for figuring out all those little details!

#5 Best California Elopement Location

Lake Tahoe

snowy elopement in the mountains

Lake Tahoe is famous for its beaches and ski resorts. Emerald Bay is the most popular location for weddings-you can hold your ceremony here, and then head off to another venue for dinner or explore other parts of the lake. On both the California side and the Nevada side of Tahoe, you may need a permit for your elopement. You can read about the specifics here. A fall wedding in Tahoe is especially beautiful according to a lot of the locals-it’s still warm, but a lot of the crowds have left, and you’ll have more venue and vendor options

#6 Best California Elopement Location

Mammoth Lakes

couple jumping into the water in mammoth lakes

Mammoth Lakes is beautiful year-round. Go skiing in the winter, head out on some amazing summer hikes for the best views of the mountains and valleys, experience some of the best fall colors in autumn, or sightsee for wildflowers in spring. You absolutely cannot go wrong here! You can have a mountaintop ceremony, get those woodland vibes in the forest, or go for an elegant venue setting-check out all of Mammoth’s tips for wedding planning here!

#7 Best California Elopement Location

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

groom helping bride up a rock

Anza Borrego has a unique landscape caused by severe weather erosion. It’s home to some extraordinary spring wildflowers, slot canyons, cacti, and more! This is the perfect place for a truly adventure-driven elopement. This is a rugged environment, so come prepared for the weather and consider driving (or renting) a vehicle with high clearance so that you aren’t held back from exploring!

#8 Best California Elopement Location


couple saying vows in julian mountains

Julian is the cutest little historic mountain town just an hour east of San Diego. There is a ton to explore here as a tranquil little nature getaway. In terms of your elopement, we especially love the Sacred Mountain venue, which has some incredible views and is an awesome place to stay. You can create a really unique elopement experience here by exploring both Julian and the activities that Sacred Mountain offers on its property

#9 Best California Elopement Location

Glamis Sand Dunes

couple walking through the sand in the desert

The Glamis Sand Dunes (also known as Imperial Sand Dunes) look like they’re straight from another planet. Visiting the dunes is one of those experiences you’ll remember forever-especially if you hold your elopement there! This area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, so be sure to check out all the permits and other requirements for staying safe and courteous here during your visit.

#10 Best California Elopement Location

Sequoia National Park

couple walking through the trees in california

The world’s largest trees are found in Sequoia National Park. Having your elopement here surrounded by the absolute wonders of the mountains and these trees is sure to be one of the best experiences you’ll have. Fire is an important part of the ecosystem here, but can make planning your elopement a bit of a challenge! NPS has a ton of resources for learning about how to plan safely around fire seasons

#11 Best California Elopement Location

Pfeiffer Burns State Park

beach sunrise elopement couple holding eachother

This beautiful state park extends from the Big Sur coastline to the inland ridges that reach 3,000 feet.McWay Falls is the biggest feature here-it drops 80 feet straight into the Pacific Ocean! Like the rest of Big Sur, the weather can be unpredictable, but an elopement here will always be stunning no matter what.

#12 Best California Elopement Location

Mount Baldy

couple running together in california mountains

You’ll find Mount Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains (not to be confused with the popular spot in Utah).The cabins here are to die for. It’s the cutest little town, and makes for a picturesque stay as well as a jaw-dropping elopement spot. It’s easy to get to if you’re flying in from far away- Mount Baldy resort is just 20 miles outside of Los Angeles!

#13 Best California Elopement Location

Lake Cuyamaca

couple embracing on a fallen log near lake cuyamaca

This reservoir is east of San Diego, called “the jewel of the San Diego mountains,” with ample camping and cabin options for your stay, as well as fishing and boating. If you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both for your elopement, Lake Cuyamaca is a beautiful choice.

Summing it up

Remember that most locations operated by the NPS, BLM, or a state park will have permit requirements and some restrictions about your group size and what you can bring with you. If you’re interested in learning more, we have guides for both Big Sur and Yosemite that can help you plan for those locations. Give yourself plenty of planning time so that your permits are approved, and so you don’t stress yourself out trying to put everything together at the last minute. So, did one of these 13 amazing California Elopement locations stand out to you? Reach out to us here to get started!


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