Updated: May 19, 2020
How To Elope in California
Congratulations you two! First, for deciding to break away from the traditional wedding day for tradition's sake and making the brave decision to create a wedding day that truly reflects your love story. A day made of adventure to kick off your greatest adventure together. Second, for conquering a big decision, in itself, of where you would like to have your Adventurous Elopement.
California is a gorgeous state. A state with almost everything you could be looking for in a wedding site. You can wake up and catch some surf in the morning and then three hours later be up in the mountains skiing on fresh powdered snow. It has gorgeous sky touching mountains and beautiful serene pastures that disappear over the horizon.
Now, you may have selected this state because you know exactly where in California you want to have your adventure, or you may be selected out of convenience. Either way, this is the place to find answers to all the questions you may have about California
Laws / Requirements
Listed below are California’s marriage law requirements and some additional documents that you will need to bring along with you when you apply for a marriage license.
Cash for the application fee (about $100) The exact amount will vary depending on which county you -choose for the wedding.
Your full name, address, place, and date of birth for both you and your partner.
Parents’ name, date and place of birth along with mother’s maiden name.
A valid government-issued photo ID such as a valid driver’s license, passport, military ID, or a state-issued ID for both you and your partner.
Some counties may require a copy of both your birth certificates.
If you have been divorced you will also need the date of the dissolution. If it has been within the last 6 months then you will need a copy of the divorce decree.
These regulations and laws may change at any time, so please check with the local courthouses.
You can also find and view all the details, requirements and information needed for each county HERE.
A list of the county clerk’s offices to apply for your licenses can also be found HERE.
Now, if you think this will be too much of a headache for you, I have a way around this. There is no legal need to have a marriage license from the state that you are eloping to. Unless it is within the state you live. A couple could decide to take care of all the paperwork either beforehand or after the elopement.
No one said you need to be legally married on the exact day you decide to elope. The two of you could decide to sign your marriage certificate and be married in court or at the county office before the elopement and save your day of adventure for love, and a day focused on you and not on paperwork. Have your ceremony and exchange of vows wherever you would like without worrying about the paperwork. You two could even decide to have your ceremony first and then later, when you get back, complete all the paperwork.
Don’t let paperwork and logistics steer you away from your dream elopement location. 75% of couples who have a destination elopement choose to leave the paperwork back home. This allows couples to be flexible with their location. No one needs to know where you were legally wed.
Californian is the most popular travel destination and state to elope to. You will want to check to see when the peak season is for the various locations as this will not only impact your elopement day surroundings but also prices for lodging and travel.
If you are planning to elope to one of the breathtaking National Parks found in the state, then you can find out some information on peak seasons for each of the National Park Services on this website. A Google search on any of the other scenic locations, like beaches or tourist destinations, can be found.
Keep in mind that a lot of locations have some requirements for marriage ceremony and photography permits.
Now, if you have selected us as your Adventurous Elopement Photographers & Guides at Forrest Blake Photo then we will take care of finding out all these requirements and permits for you. If not, then you can call the local tourist information center for information.
Another thing to take into consideration is the impact of other tourists during the locations peak season. If dealing with crowds at popular spots may be an issue for you, then you may want to search for a more secluded spot off the beaten path, or maybe backpack to the secret spot you discovered on a past hike.
Some locations to consider for your wedding
Angeles National Forest near Los Angeles.
Channel Islands National Park near Ventura.
Cleveland National Forest near Santa Ysabel.
Eldorado National Forest near Sacramento.
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest on the California and Nevada border.
Inyo National Forest near Fresno.
Joshua Tree National Park near Palm Springs.
Klamath National Forest near San Francisco.
Lassen National Forest near San Francisco.
Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara.
Lassen Volcanic National Park near Redding.
Mendocino National Forest near San Francisco and Sacramento.
Modoc National Forest – North of Lake Tahoe.
Pinnacles National Park near Monterey.
Plumas National Forest between Sacramento and Reno.
Redwood National Park & Forests near San Francisco.
Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest on the California and Oregon border.
San Bernardino National Forest near San Bernardino.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest near Redding.
Sierra National Forest near Fresno.
Six Rivers National Forest near Eureka.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks near Fresno.
Sequoia National Forest near Fresno.
Stanislaus National Forest near Sacramento and Fresno.
Tahoe National Forest between Reno and Sacramento.
Yosemite National Park near Fresno.
Plus, California is lined with gorgeous beaches up and down the coast.
Regardless of where you decide to elope in California or anywhere else in this wide world, I want you to remember that this day is all about you, as a couple. It’s your big day, and no one else's. Just remember that no matter what anyone else thinks, or tries to pressure you to do, as long as you two are doing what makes you the happiest, the most alive and loved then you are doing your elopement the right way. If you need any help creating this dream elopement then we are here to help.