Locations, guides, and all the important things to consider when planning YOUR Yosemite National Park Elopement & wedding


Groom holding bride's dress train while walking across the meadow toward Yosemite Falls

Did you know that Yosemite is one of the most popular national parks in the United States? If you’ve ever had the chance to visit, or even seen photos of it online, then you can understand why. Filled with towering granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and ancient giant sequoias, Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful places in California! Today on the blog we are sharing tons of information to help you plan your Yosemite elopement – from all the best elopement locations to how to get the proper permits for your elopement in Yosemite, this blog has got you covered. So, keep scrolling to learn more about how to elope in Yosemite National Park.

Explore Some Of The Most Adventurous and Beautiful Yosemite Elopements, Weddings, and Engagements

HOW TO ELOPE IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK IN 7 STEPS

1) Choose the best location inside Yosemite that speaks to your heart

2) Book an elopement photographer you can connect with. Send us an inquiry for a FREE consultation

3) We’ll talk and plan on EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW to make your elopement at Yosemite the best day ever

4) Apply for a California marriage license

5) Apply for an elopement permit to get married inside Yosemite National Park

6) We’ll adventure around the location you picked, take in the beauty of Yosemite, create memories, and we’ll photograph the heck out of you two.

7) Eat the cake, pop the champagne, and celebrate your marriage! Yay!!!


Step 1: Choose The Best Locations and The Best Time To Elope at Yosemite National Park

Bride and groom stand on a fallen log in front of Yosemite Falls during their elopement

WHERE ARE THE BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO ELOPE IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK? AND HOW LONG DO WE HAVE TO HIKE?

Yosemite National Park is filled with so much diverse scenery! You can experience granite cliffs, waterfalls, meadows, and alpine lakes all within this bea beautiful national park.

You might wonder how to approach this when Yosemite has so much to offer. This is why we always encourage all our couples to read 6 Things To Consider Before Eloping. In that article, we composed a little guide so you can feel confident about making the decision to elope and learn how to plan an intentional wedding.

Glacier Point Elopement

With a full view of Half Dome and elevations that make you almost feel as if you are floating in the clouds, Glacier Point Amphitheater is a stunning location for your Yosemite elopement. If you plan to invite guests to your elopement or intimate wedding, this location is also perfect as it is just a short walk from the parking lot. The amphitheater can seat up to 50 guests though monitoring is required for weddings with over 35 guests.

One thing to keep in mind though is that this location is only available during certain times of the year. Due to its high elevations and storms that can occur during the winter months, the road to Glacier Point is only open during the summer months (May – September). This information can change from year to year so it’s best to check the national park website for the most up-to-date information.

Taft Point Elopement

One of our favorite sunset elopement locations in the park is Taft Point. This area is great for small elopements with less than 11 guests and provides sprawling views of Yosemite Valley, including El Capitan and Yosemite Falls.

We think there is no better place to watch the sunset in Yosemite than at Taft Point, but keep in mind that this place can get quite crowded which is why we always recommend eloping during the weekday.

Tunnel View Elopement

Another popular spot for Yosemite elopements and intimate weddings is Tunnel View and it’s no wonder why. This location offers views of all the iconic landmarks in one spot. Again, this area can be a bit crowded so we recommend keeping your guest count to a minimum for this location.

El Capitan Meadow Elopement

While the above locations give you overhead views of Yosemite’s best landscapes, there’s nothing quite like being right on the ground and looking up at the towering cliffs. That’s one of the many reasons we love El Capitan Meadow. Exploring this area of the park gives you a whole other perspective as you look up to see El Capitan rising thousands of feet into the air and look at the towering redwood trees all around you.

This area is also great for ceremonies with guests as it is easily accessible and can accommodate up to 50 people.

Yosemite Falls Elopement

Open year-round, Yosemite Falls is one of Yosemite’s most popular attractions in the park. The waterfall is especially beautiful in the spring and early summer when the water levels are at their highest.

This area can accommodate up to 50 guests as well and is another easily accessible location for elopements and weddings with guests.

Besides being your elopement photographers, we are also there to plan alongside you to assist in finding and choosing a location that speaks to your heart. Therefore, we focus on and value the experience you’re going to get. The best locations are the ones we haven’t shared publicly just yet, the ones that we’ve spent hours researching and scouting, making sure that we have permission to access them. And, when we do visit, we also make sure that we follow the Leave No Trace principles while we are there. This is all part of our services to you as your adventure elopement photographers. Contact us if you’re ready to inquire 🙂

Bride and groom elope in Yosemite during the fall

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO ELOPE IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK?

You can’t go wrong getting married in Yosemite at any time of year. While the summer months can get quite hot, the rest of the year can be quite mild and each season offers something unique.

Spring

Planning a Yosemite elopement in the spring? This is one of our favorite seasons in the park as the weather is still mild and the waterfalls are at their peak.

Summer

Summer tends to see the most visitors in the park and as mentioned earlier, it can get quite hot. We recommend eloping during the shoulder months if you want to experience all the best that Yosemite has to offer without the crowds.

Fall

The fall season in Yosemite is seriously incredible! Temperatures start to drop and the autumn colors bring the park to life in a whole new way! Keep in mind that when planning a fall elopement in Yosemite, road closures start to take place in November which can affect the location options that are available.

Winter

If you want the most privacy for your Yosemite elopement, winter is the best season! As the road to Glacier and Taft Point are closed during these months, the valley is a perfect place for an elopement or intimate wedding, and, who knows, you may even get to see a bit of snow on Half Dome!

Ready to Plan Your Yosemite Elopement or Intimate Wedding?


Step 2: Find The Best Yosemite Elopement Photographer and Book The One You Can Connect With

Couple laughing during their Yosemite elopement photos at sunset

WHY US FOR ALL YOUR YOSEMITE ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY NEEDS?

We are huge believers in “there’s a photographer out there for everyone”. We don’t know how you ended up here reading all these words but we know you are here for a reason.

Growing up, I (Henry) never thought one day I would become an elopement photographer. I went to school for nursing and started working as a Cardiac ICU Nurse for a while before my heart found photography and more importantly, my heart found a need for documenting memories from seeing how short life truly is.

When we grow old, photos remind us of how we once looked. When times get tough, photos let us re-live those times when life was much easier and full of hopes and dreams. When we lose our loved ones, photos are the only thing that lives on and allow us to immerse in the nostalgia and memories. Photos are timeless. Photos are sacred.

This is why we don’t mess around when it comes to creating a safe space for our couples to express themselves, to feel how they feel, to be who they are meant to be, so we can truly capture their true authentic selves.

Besides the main focus of capturing memories and moments, we are also huge believers in “Leave No Trace”

WHAT IS “LEAVE NO TRACE” AND WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT IT?

As experts in adventure elopement photography, we care a whole lot about “Leave No Trace”, which is where we go on adventures for photos but also make sure we leave things the way they are by doing our parts to preserve the beauty of nature. Here are something we do and expect our couples to do (not limiting to):

  • Stay on trails
  • Not climbing over fences, roped-off areas, or places with visible signs of “Do Not Trespass”
  • No meadow stomping
  • No confetti inside national parks (it doesn’t matter if they are bio-degradable or not): Each national park has its own living organisms, plants, animals, etc… By us leaving things behind, we can harm these living organisms. Bio-degradable confetti takes a while to degrade and might need rain or water to speed up that process. In the meantime, other animals might still be able to ingest them. If you are thinking about confetti, we can do so at your cabin (if allowed)

Step 3: Transportations, Accommodations, Pets, and EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW to Elope In Yosemite National Park

WHERE ARE THE BEST PLACES TO STAY FOR YOUR YOSEMITE ELOPEMENT?

Being a national park and popular travel destination, Yosemite has lots to offer for places to stay both inside and outside the park. Staying in the park will provide you the most convenience to explore all that Yosemite has to offer while accommodations outside the park will give you more variety. When staying outside the park, keep in mind that it can take about an hour to an hour and a half to get into the park, so you will need to account for travel time in your wedding day timeline.

Hotels / Lodges [some of these places also offer services for wedding and elopement venues within Yosemite National Park)

  • The Ahwahnee: Open year-round. Centrally located in Yosemite Valley
  • Yosemite Valley Lodge: Open year-round. Located near the base of Yosemite Falls
  • Curry Village: Traditional cabins and canvas-sided tent cabins in the heart of Yosemite Valley
  • Autocamp Yosemite: Airstream, cabin, and luxury tent accommodations in Midpines, CA

Campgrounds [yesss if you are feeling adventurous and want to bring your Camper Vans, RVs, Trailers, or Tent for your adventure elopement, check out these places]:

Airbnbs near Yosemite National Park

  • Closest towns around the park: El Portal, Yosemite West, Wawona, Mariposa
  • These places are more flexible since you can pick a cabin based on what they offer, capacity, and amenities. Since you’re staying outside the national park, you also have fewer restrictions on what you can do with your wedding.

Although the list above is quite extensive, we did not list everything we’ve found since we don’t want to overwhelm you with information. When we plan on your adventure elopement or intimate wedding, we will narrow down places that are more relevant to your needs.

Two dogs wearing wedding bowties at a Yosemite elopement

CAN WE INVITE GUESTS? HOW MANY PEOPLE SHOULD WE HAVE AT OUR YOSEMITE ELOPEMENT?

We’ve photographed elopements that consist of just the couple and we have also photographed intimate weddings where 150 family members and friends also came along with the couple. There are no rules when it comes to having your wedding day as you have envisioned it. If you want to read more on this topic, we have written a blog post on 6 Things To Consider Before Eloping.

In terms of legality and paperwork, you will need 1 adult who is 18 or older to sign as your witness. If you choose to not have guests, we are more than honored to sign as your witness.

WE HAVE A DOG OR TWO, CAN WE BRING OUR PETS ALONG WITH US ON OUR YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT?

If you are thinking about bringing your pets to Yosemite National Park, follow the BARK acronym:

  • B: Bag your pet’s poop
  • A: Always wear a leash
  • R: Respect wildlife
  • K: Know where you can go: Pets are welcome to go to all drive-in campgrounds but for beautiful viewpoints in the park, the list is quite limited

In addition, pets must be with you at all times, not tying them to trees. For a full list of rules with pets, see the official statement from the park itself.

Looking at the list of rules above, you might feel discouraged about eloping in Yosemite National Park. However, don’t be. As a dog father of 3 fur babies, Henry knows how important it is to include your pets on your elopement day. This is why our job is more than just photographing your day; rather, by assisting you from day one with planning and finding the right resources for your elopement day, we can help with making sure you guys can include everything that’s important to you


Step 4: Marriage License and Legality in California

Bride and groom jump and cheer after their Yosemite chapel elopement

HOW TO APPLY FOR A MARRIAGE LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA

When it comes to eloping in Yosemite, the marriage application process is relatively straightforward. There are two types of marriage licenses, public and confidential, but in this blog, we will focus on public marriage licenses as those are more commonly issued.

Marriage licenses can be obtained from the Mariposa County Clerk’s office. Anyone can apply for a marriage license no matter if they are a resident of CA or even the US. Applications must be submitted in person and appointments are required so you’ll need to call ahead to schedule. Both parties must present proof of age and identification such as a driver’s license or passport and pay the $60 application fee (cash only). Once you have been issued a marriage license, it is valid immediately and there is no waiting period but the ceremony must take place within 90 days, or else you will need to re-pay the application fee to obtain a new license.

HOW MANY WITNESSES DO WE NEED? WHAT ABOUT AN OFFICIANT?

The amount of witnesses required at a ceremony varies state by state. Some states require one or two witnesses and there are even states that allow you to self-solemnize or marry by yourselves. In the state of California, you will need an officiant and 1 witness. If you have family and/or friends who can be there for you, that’s amazing. If not, it’s ok, oftentimes, we act as a witness, and can also recommend a list of officiants for you.

  • You do not have to be a resident of California or the US to apply
  • Same-sex marriages are allowed
  • Both parties must be 18 years old or older (parties under 18 must have a signed court order and written parental consent.)
  • Both parties must be present to sign your marriage license application (applications must be submitted in person in Mariposa county)
  • No waiting period – once issued, your marriage license is valid immediately
  • Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days
  • Ceremonies must have one witness over the age of 18

Step 5: Apply For a Yosemite Elopement or Wedding Permit

Depending on where you are getting married within Yosemite National Park, this will determine what kind of permit you might need. However, you might need one or both of the following permits:

1) Entrance Pass: You can choose to pay for a one-time visit ($20-$35) or you can use your America The Beautiful Pass ($70 annually) to enter the park.

2) Permit to have a wedding inside Yosemite National Park: Please fill out the Application Form and submit a $150 non-refundable application fee online (note – this fee might change over time).


Step 6: Everything Else To Prepare For Your Yosemite Elopement

Bride and groom dancing in the mead during their Yosemite elopement

We know that when you seek an adventure elopement, you seek an experience. An elopement does not mean the day is “less than” a traditional wedding. Therefore, we decided to dedicate a whole page to our site with multiple blog posts and resources on elopements.

Why eloping? How can we make this day unique and special? What else should we think about? If we can’t have our family with us, what are some other things we can do to let them be involved from afar? These are just some of the many questions we know you might have, and we will be there from day 1 to prepare you and plan with you for a day that none of us will ever forget. It all starts with TRUST & INTENTIONALITY.

More information, resources, and what-to-pack reminders will be sent throughout our planning process together.


Thanks for reading and we hope you consider us as your Yosemite National Park Elopement Photographers. You can read more About Us, Pricing, Elopement Packages, and Everything we are about. If you are ready, please head over to our Contact Page to send an inquiry.


Yosemite Elopement Packages

– Photograph by Henry or Sergio

– Explore anywhere within Yosemite National Park

– Coverage from 4 hours to Full Day

– A personalized elopement experience with unlimited guides and resources as promised above (click here to see everything that is included)

– All your breath-taking photos in a secure & private online gallery

– Travel fees included

Starting at $6,900

(Ranges between $6,900 – $13,200)


Ready to elope? Need our help in finding the most perfect location for you? Need more clarifications?


Henry Tieu & Sergio - Elopement Photographers

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