The Ultimate Guide to Eloping in California

Mar 4

Dana Shular

couple's stories




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Your elopement documenting and planning team. We are here to support you make your stress free elopement dreams come true!

ascend together

Dana shular


about us

So, you’re thinking about eloping in California, eh? If states were people, California would be that one person we all know who’s got it all going on. A lovable personality that draws everyone in, breathtaking natural beauty, every likable quality you could imagine – essentially … Beyonce. Need we say more?

If you’ve made it to our website, you more than likely have an adventurous side. So before you read on, let us summarize this blog as bluntly as possible: California is the mecca for adventurers, thrill-seekers, wanderers, nature-lovers, and globetrotters alike.

It’s home to the widest array of landscapes in the country – crystal blue lakes, towering mountains, pristine beaches, ancient forests, lush meadows and so, so much more. California boasts 8 national parks and over 100 (mmhm. Yes, 100) state parks within, among which are some of the most iconic in the world, in addition to some of the nation’s most historically significant (and gorgeous) architecture, and endless activities for adventure-lovers, foodies, creatives, and history buffs alike.

The point we’re getting to is this: if you’re interested in having an unforgettable and utterly magical elopement, look no further than the state of California. If you’re unsure whether this state has something to suit your style and taste, we promise you that if you give us a chance, we’ll be able to convince you otherwise.

Now let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?

Why should you elope in California?

When we think of the elopement-planning process, we think of it as a pyramid with each tier being a new level of decision-making. The closer you get to the top, the more you your decisions become. At the bottom of the pyramid are the bigger, broader decisions, and at the top are the fine details. One of the bottom-tier decisions is the state you choose to elope in.

It may seem silly, but for couples who are undecided about which state would best suit them, this decision is what gets the ball rolling in their planning process. It isn’t until you know which state you’re eloping in that you can choose your date, your vendors, your location, and all the juicy deets in between.

By choosing to elope in California, you’re taking the first step toward crafting your perfect day, and you’ve narrowed down your venues to some of the most notable examples of natural beauty on the planet — what’s better than that?

Elope on the beach in California
California has something to offer every couple! Plus, who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned beach frolic?
No matter the season, California is a hot spot for all sorts of adventurers!



As with virtually any venue you choose for your elopement, it’s necessary to be mindful of potential permits you may need to obtain and restrictions you may run into beforehand. Because the majority of the top-notch elopement locations are within State and National Parks, it’s often easy to find information about permits through the National Park Service’s website for the relevant area. The websites for local jurisdictions also tend to be helpful resources.

This should be one of the first steps you take in your elopement-planning process. When applying for permits for certain areas, you must first have a date in mind (as well as a backup or two, just in case your chosen date is unavailable). Once you have a date and the proper permit, it becomes easier to book vendors afterward. It’s entirely possible to carry out these bookings the other way around, but our experience has shown us that this way tends to work the smoothest.

We recommend that you seek out permits at least one month prior to the date you’re interested in. Oftentimes, the offices that process permits require a couple of weeks to sort through and approve (or, in some circumstances, deny) your request and get it sent back to you. There may also be some additional paperwork for you after that, so the more time you allow yourself to get this taken care of the easier it will be for you!

Marriage License

Check with your county to see what is required for your marriage license. Generally speaking, in order for your marriage license to be complete and valid, you must be at least 18 years old, you must be currently legally single, and you must have at least one witness signature.

Currently, in the state of California, you can get your license at any County Clerk’s office. You do not need to obtain your license in the county where you live or the county where you plan to get married. So, you should call the County Clerk’s office from which you plan to get your marriage license ahead of time to check whether or not you’ll need to set up an appointment beforehand — if not, be prepared for potentially long lines.

Your marriage license is valid for 90 days, so you MUST obtain it within 90 days prior to your official wedding date.

Officiant & Witnesses

You have lots of options for your officiant — hire a professional (just like any vendor, you can find officiants in your area online or via other wedding vendors), ask a loved one to get ordained online (ensure they do so through a reputable organization), or, if you’ve hired an elopement-specialized photographer/videographer, they may be ordained to officiate your wedding for you. We are, and it’s saved so many of our clients a huge hassle (and a huge chunk of change)!

In the state of California, legal officiants include any priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination of the age of 18 years or older. Ministers must complete the marriage license and return it to the county clerk within 4 days of the marriage, or you and your partner can turn it in once all signatures have been collected.

In regard to witnesses, your marriage license will require the signature of at least one witness (this could be a vendor, a passerby, a friend, or a family member — you name it).


Lake Tahoe

Exchange your vows amongst the Redwoods of California
Who says you can’t exchange your vows in a gorgeous, lush forest?

It’s impossible to visit Lake Tahoe without feeling the romance of this beautiful town. Its serene beauty, local warmth, and endless opportunities for intimate ceremonies in the great outdoors make Tahoe one of the country’s ideal elopement locations. In a time where the outdoors (and elopements!) are growing exponentially in popularity, it’s a rare and priceless experience when one finds an elopement location that’s both stunning and secluded.

The seemingly endless natural beauty of Tahoe offers venue options to make every sort of nature-lover swoon. Fragrant pines, crystal clear waters, lush forest floors, sandy beaches, and granite cliff lines. So anywho, what we’re trying to say is this: tbh, we’re not sure how Tahoe couldn’t be perfect for your elopement. Maybe if you think nature is hideous and terrifying? If that’s the case, don’t go to Tahoe. Its flawless and unparalleled beauty will probably gross you out. Plus, there are elopement options in Tahoe that’ll fit any budget. How much more win-win can a place get?

San Francisco

San Francisco is unique in the sense that it has world-class elopement opportunities for all sorts of couples! John Muir himself, the great environmentalist, held the San Francisco area in high regard as an area of unmatched natural beauty. For nature lovers, San Francisco has an unbelievable selection of stunning elopement vacations.

On the other hand, San Francisco is a cultural hot spot and an immaculate city. For those who have a deep appreciation for cityscapes and the arts, there are dozens of breathtaking spots within the city for elopements.

Old, history-rich buildings, breathtaking natural landscapes, art, music, and boundless cultural hubs, amazing restaurants, lavish and unique lodging options — we could go on forever. San Francisco brings to the table a sort of energy that would give any eloping couple heart eyes!


We won’t try to argue that there aren’t a million stunning places to elope in the world, because there are, and choosing the best one for your big, beautiful, elopetastic day can feel like a daunting decision.

But Yosemite, unlike any other location, really, truly has something to offer every couple. Elopements are becoming more and more common, and with that, the goal of doing something that feels entirely you is becoming increasingly more difficult to achieve. Yosemite Valley is home to imposing cliff lines, flowered meadows, roaring waterfalls, rivers, mossy forests, and lakes. There are tricky-to-get-to lookout points for the adventurous duo, short hikes for accessible ceremonies, secluded paradises, wide-open spaces, indoor locations, and everything in between. It’s a blank canvas for your dream wedding, and the opportunities are endless for shaping it to suit your individuality.

I’ve yet to capture two Yosemite elopements that are anything alike (okay well except for the basics like permits and the pretty dress, but you get the point), and that’s the beauty of this place. Feel like gettin’ hitched at sunrise with Taft Point all to yourself? We’ll meet you there. Dreaming of saying “I do” in a pair of hiking boots? Yep, count us in. Want to get married in time to do some rock climbing before the end of the day? Sounds terrifying, but sign us up.

Big Sur

Known best for its natural beauty, Big Sur’s striking cliffs, clear water, and greenery make it an elopement dream destination. This remote-feeling stretch along the coast allows ocean-lovers to you experience the power and beauty of the Pacific in the most romantic way possible. Have your ceremony along the cliffs, on the beach, or (why not?) in the water — we won’t stop you!

Big Sur is the perfect location for couples who want to feel like they’re in a remote location. Although Big Sur does attract tourists, this stretch of coastline is sure to make any visitor as if they’re in a world of their own. There are endless breathtaking views in the area, and locations perfect for accommodating elopements of all sizes!

And if you’re looking for a celebration that’s the perfect combination of nature-loving and luxurious, look no further. There are endless possibilities for high-end venues, activities, dining, and more in the area.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is world-renowned for its unusual, stunning landscape. Many first-time visitors describe this park as otherworldly, as if you’re walking through a scene from a painting.

Believe me when I say this: if you want your elopement to make people do a double (and quadruple) take, then it would be a crime not to consider Joshua Tree National Park. Photos and videos of elopements in Joshua tree often look like paintings — a vast, desert landscape speckled with huge, striking, rounded granite boulders, enchanting Joshua Trees, and a huge variety of cacti and wildlife.

This one’s for the artists, the lovers of all things unusual, and the desert-goers. If you and your partner imagine yourselves getting married in a location that takes your breath away for years to come, look no further than J-Tree (that’s what the cool kids call it, trust me).

Catalina Island

Looking for something extraordinary, remote, and downright swoonworthy?

Catalina Island is located Southwest of Los Angeles, and it’s only accessible by boat or helicopter. Known for its clear waters and easy, laid-back island atmosphere, Catalina will leave you feeling like you’re in the ultimate lover’s paradise. There’s plenty on the island for couples of all sorts — private locations overlooking gorgeous seaside landscapes for nature-lovers, and trendy local shops, restaurants, and excursions for those looking to strike the perfect balance between city life and seclusion.

Glamis Sand Dunes

I wasn’t lying when I said California has a landscape for everyone!

You can find the Glamis Sand Dunes – a vast landscape of sweeping dunes set against the gorgeous, blue SoCal sky – just a few hours east of San Diego. If you’re big on dramatic, desert-y Morrocan vibes but not big on traveling for days to get there, the Glamis Sand Dunes are IT. Similar to Joshua Tree, this location is perfect for couples who are all about stepping out of the box. Plus, if you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can say “I do” then immediately sand sled together down a dune! You can also kick it up a notch and rip around on a UTV through the desert — yeeeeeeeehaw!

San Diego

Ahhhhhh, San Diego. The city with the ultimate laid-back vibe, endless things to do, beautiful weather, and gorgeous scenery. What more could you ask for?

San Diego is for couples who want a bit of everything (because let’s be real, who doesn’t?). Picture-perfect beaches, vibrant nightlife, year-round shorts weather, and so many elopement locations it’ll make you want to divide your ceremony into 47 different venues.

No matter what kind of venue you have in mind, you’ll be able to find it with ease in San Diego. Artistic, intimate indoor spaces, sprawling beaches, seaside cliffs, palm tree-filled botanical gardens – you name it! And don’t get me STARTED on the options for celebrations. Treat yourself to a 5-star dinner, a spa day, an adrenaline-junkie excursion, a quiet hike into nature, or anything in between. Pair natural beauty and a laid-back culture with tasteful, trendy city life, and you’ve got San Diego!

When is the best time to elope in California?

It’s no secret that California is a beachy, sunny paradise, but trust us when we say this: Cali can do it all. Colorful, crisp autumn days and snowy winter wonderlands are abundant here as well.

So if you’re asking “When’s the best time to elope in California?” our answer will be “Always.” Let’s do a quick rundown of what each season looks like here.


AKA BEACH SEASON?! Summers in California make for perfectly warm, sunshiney days at the beach. This season is ideal for elopements that will go on all day and perhaps include an evening reception or a ceremony at either sunrise or sunset. We personally swoon like a maniac over summer elopements in San Francisco, but who are we kidding? You can’t go wrong in this state! Well, except for the desert. Unless you’re literally a lizard, please skip the desert in the summer. Also, certain areas may be more crowded than usual in the summer — do your research beforehand and keep this in mind!

No matter your venue, the greenery in California this time of year will be lush and breathtaking. In northern California, the temperatures tend to be more moderate – and the mountains offer a refreshing escape on those especially toasty days!


Spring? Oh, you mean magical wildlife wonderland season? Once the winter snow melts and the spring showers get into full swing, the California wildlife booms. The wildflowers begin blooming this time of year, and the foliage throughout the state seems to burst back to life at once. Spring does tend to be the rainy season, so be sure to have a rain plan just in case.

Also, if you’re considering a Spring elopement but still love every chance you can get to play in the snow, it’s likely that areas in Northern California will still have some powder for you to play in. Spring is magical in California no matter where you are – whether you’re eloping in the Yosemite Valley or along a beach in San Francisco, you couldn’t escape Cali’s springtime perfection even if you tried!


Don’t get us started on fall elopements. We think they’re the cat’s pajamas, and we’ll hype them up every day for the rest of our lives if we can. Perfect weather, crunchy leaves, beautiful colors, and dare we say … pumpkin patches? If you’re interested in eloping in one of California’s (many) state or national parks, this is arguably the optimal time to do so. We have some more information about this in our other blogs, but we must admit … we can’t not recommend a fall elopement in Yosemite. For whatever reason, this season (especially in the latter half) brings a significantly lower number of visitors to these areas. Pair that with lovely weather, and you’re set for a totally dreamy elopement! We just really, really love fall. Can you tell? We love fall. LOVE IT.

California elopements in the springtime are stunning! Beautiful weather, gorgeous scenery - the works!
Crisp air, sunny weather, fresh greenery – total springtime dreaminess!


Most people don’t even consider winter elopements, but those who do give them a shot do not regret it. Whether you’re dreaming of a winter wonderland or beachy weather in the winter months, California is here to deliver. If you’re drawn to the winter months, but not so much the winter weather, we’d recommend checking out some locations in Southern California. Tourists tend to flock to SoCal during the winter months (and TBH, we don’t blame them) so be sure to plan your venue accordingly!

Oftentimes, weather in SoCal this time of year lingers around the 60’s and 70’s, making it perfect for outdoor elopements. But, if you’re set on a beach further north, you’ll likely be just fine! All the beaches in California stay fairly mild year-round. If you’re a snow-lover, Northern California is home to some of the most stunning winter scenery in the country. Snow-capped mountains, icy lakes, and shimmering treetops create a stunning setting for an elopement unlike any other. The crowds are minimal this time of year, and there’s truly nothing quite like the stillness and romance of a winter day. If you’re looking for a winter wonderland, we’d recommend checking out some locations in Tahoe.

If you're eloping in California, there are locations perfect for every season!
California is the perfect state to enjoy natural beauty at all times of the year!

Informing/Including Friends and Family

Of course, this is one of the biggest stressors for eloping couples. What will my friends and family think? Will they feel left out? How do I navigate the emotions and opinions of my loved ones?

Let us begin by saying this: we completely understand your concerns, and they’re 100% valid. On one hand, eloping is dreamy, magical, adventurous, and fulfilling, but the reality is that oftentimes deciding to elope can cause tensions, hurt feelings, and awkwardness between loved ones. In some cases this is inevitable, but believe it or not, there are many ways to navigate the feelings of those you love and include them in your day, all while prioritizing your elopement vision and not compromising any part of it.

So, we’ll cut straight to the chase: please, please, PLEASE don’t go into this conversation thinking of it as an apology. This is not “bad news” that you’re breaking to your loved ones. It’s an exciting, romantic announcement of your plans to celebrate your love in a way that makes you and your partner happiest. When you frame your elopement announcement as an apology or a negative conversation, it sets the stage as such. In other words, it shows your loved ones that this is not good news for them and that they should feel negative about the situation.

There are countless ways to include your loved ones in your day, both in-person and otherwise!
There are countless ways to include your loved ones in your day, both in-person and otherwise!

STEP ONE: Prepare them for the news by dropping plenty of hints beforehand

At the point, you begin considering an elopement, start hinting at the idea to your loved ones. This will reduce any feelings of surprise, and make it easier for them to understand and rationalize how meaningful this decision is for you and your partner. If there’s anyone in your family or friend group who is especially opposed to this idea, it may be best to ask other loved ones for some help in preparing this individual for the announcement (for example, if you have a friend you know will be hurt by your decision to elope, reach out to another mutual friend in advance and ask them to discuss it with them beforehand to show them the importance of supporting your decision – this can be incredibly helpful).

STEP TWO: Remind yourself why!

As you prepare to tell your loved ones that you’re eloping, it can be easy to second-guess your decision for the sake of others. That’s why it’s SO important to remind yourself why you’re eloping in the first place. Remember: this is your day. You’re doing this for you and your partner — no one else. The feelings your loved ones will have about your decision are fleeting, and the experience you’ll have on your big day will last forever. Don’t compromise that for anyone else.

STEP THREE: Share the exciting news face-to-face

If you’re nervous about sharing your news, it may sound easiest to just shoot everyone a text or blast a quick Facebook post for all to see. But trust us — this is an announcement that must be made to your loved ones face-to-face. It shows them that you value their reaction, and you care about them enough to take the time to have an intimate conversation with them. And remember: this is not an apology. It’s exciting news!

STEP FOUR: Tell them why

Your loved ones will inevitably have questions. More often than not, these questions will be filled with love and excitement for you, but occasionally they may make false assumptions about why you’re choosing to elope. Do them a favor, and honestly share your reasoning with them so they know why this is a well-thought-out, valuable decision for you and your partner.

STEP FIVE: Find unique and meaningful ways to involve them in your day

There are plenty of ways to include your friends and family in your elopement. So, here are some creative ways to keep them involved in your day, whether or not they’re physically present!

Ways to involve them without being physically present:

  • Update them throughout your planning process. Ask them for advice on vendors and locations, bring them along to choose outfits, send links to your venue, etc. This shows them that you value them and want to have them along for the ride!

  • Livestream your ceremony. This is a great way to include them fully in your ceremony while keeping things intimate!

  • Have a party. This could be an engagement party or a delayed reception. It’s a great option for couples who want an in-person celebration with their family but don’t want to compromise the intimacy of their day. Plus, presents!

  • Share photos/videos. This may include sending them footage during your day (i.e. a post-ceremony “We got hitched!” text) or sharing your full gallery and footage from your vendors afterward. If you hire the right team (nudge nudge wink wink), your photos and videos will truly make them feel like they were right there with you.

  • Find unique ways to take them with you. This could be opening letters or gifts from them during your day, including a family heirloom in your ceremony, or mentioning your love for them during your ceremony — be creative with it!

Ways to involve loved ones in person:

  • Have an intimate ceremony. Instead of just including yourself and your partner, invite your closest loved ones to join you for your ceremony.

  • Have a multi-day celebration. Who says your wedding day can’t last two days? Or three? Or MORE? Allow yourself additional time to celebrate your love in more ways than one — with a two-day ceremony, you can bask in the quiet, intimate moments and share in the excitement with your loved ones. Get married one day, party the next!

  • Do a half-and-half day. Spend half of your day taking time to yourself, celebrating with your partner, and enjoying one another’s presence. Then, take the second half of the day to include your friends and family in the festivities!

If you’re looking for a full guide to navigating relationships with loved ones and including them in your day, check out our in-depth blog here!

Some couples choose to include their loved ones by having an intimate ceremony with guests.
Put your priorities first! When you do, everything (including the best ways to involve your loved ones) will fall into place.

Lodging Options

Alas, the most notoriously overlooked part of elopement planning – the place(s) you stay with your partner before and after you say “I do!” As with every other part of your wedding day, your lodging can be unique to your relationship with your partner. And trust us when we say this: whatever your preferences may be for your lodging, California WILL DELIVER.

Airbnb & VRBO

Airbnbs are a fabulous option for couples looking to save money while staying somewhere beautiful and unconventional. There are beautiful Airbnbs all over the state of California, and if you’re ready to start searching for the best options out there, we’ve got you covered.

Spas & High-End Resorts

For the couples who love to treat yo’selves, there are endless options for luxury stays in California. Whether it be a relaxing stay at an all-inclusive spa or a high-end ski resort in the mountains, if you value quality lodging, you may want to reinvest the money you’ve saved by eloping into a stay that makes you feel like royalty.

Budget Stays

Just because you’re ballin’ on a budget, it doesn’t mean your accommodation has to be uncomfortable! There are so many affordable lodging options in California. If your top priority is cost, consider some of the following options:

  • Staying with friends or family

  • Camping or glamping

  • Using a Couchsurfing app

  • Staying at a budget hotel or motel

  • Renting a more affordable Airbnb or VRBO

  • Long-term work stays (see below “Unique & Alternative Options” section)

Unique & Alternative Options

Your elopement is totally, relentlessly you. So, why can’t your lodging be just as unique? There are endlessly creative and unconventional ways to find accommodation for your elopement, and we’re totally drooling over all the unique ideas our couples have given us! Here are some alternative lodging options that we think you’ll love:

  • Extend your stay by exchanging free food and lodging for work – With programs like WorkAway and WWOOF you can elope somewhere beautiful and unique, enjoy an authentic experience, meet new people, live like a local, learn new skills, and do it all for FREE (no, we promise this isn’t a sponsored advertisement).

  • Glamping – It’s camping made glamorous. This is a great option for nature-lovers who still want to enjoy a luxurious, romantic stay. There are tons of options for glamping in California too!

  • Rent a converted van – Ever thought van life sounds dreamy? Try it out for a few days by renting a converted van with your lovebird! Take your elopement on the road with a cozy, amenities-included home on wheels.

Making Your Elopement Unique

If we could cut out every sentence in this blog but one, we’d want you to know this: more than anything else, highlighting the individuality of your relationship should be a priority in your elopement. So, how do you make your elopement unique? That’s entirely up to you, but if you’re looking for some inspiration, we’ve gotchu covered …

If you're eloping in California, it's easy to take a hike on your wedding day
Go for a hike, take a swim, grab a bite to eat — do whatever feels like YOU!

For the water-lovers

  • Paddleboarding
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Cliff-jumping
  • Beach picnic and bonfire
  • Snorkeling or scuba diving
  • Packrafting
  • Jetskiing
  • Surfing
  • Parasailing

For the snow-lovers

  • Rent a mountain cabin
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Downhill skiing
  • Snowball fight
  • Sledding
  • Snowboarding
  • Ice skating

For the adrenaline junkies

  • Canyoneering
  • Caving
  • Mountain biking
  • Rock climbing or bouldering
  • Rappelling
  • Skydiving
  • Base jumping
  • Slacklining or highlining
  • Sandboarding or sandsledding
  • Hike a Via Ferrata
  • Bungee jumping
  • White water rafting or kayaking

For the lovers of luxury

  • Couples massage
  • Manicure/pedicure
  • Rent a boat/yacht
  • Wine tasting
  • Helicopter ride

For the DIY’ers

  • Built a fort at home
  • Set up a projector outdoors
  • Picnic on the beach
  • Learn a new activity
  • Create personalized fragrances
  • Make new cocktails
  • Board games

For the foodies

  • Take a cooking class
  • Go to a fancypants restaurant
  • Make pasta from scratch
  • Food trucks
  • Winery or distillery
  • Blind taste testing
  • Brewery tour

For the nature-lovers

  • Stargaze
  • Watch the sunrise or sunset
  • Hike
  • Visit a national park
  • Bike ride
  • Picnic
  • Rollerblade in a park
  • Bird watching
  • Scenic drive
  • Foraging
  • Botanical garden

For the art-lovers

  • Concert
  • See a play
  • Paint/do crafts together
  • Go art shopping
  • Dance class
  • Write love letters/poems
  • Bookstore

Other ideas

  • Visit a museum
  • Local sporting event
  • Mindset workshop
  • Play video games
  • Escape room
  • Yoga
  • Volunteer together
  • Improv show
  • Visit a psychic
  • Meditation
  • Street fair
  • Arcade
  • Re-create your first date
  • Couples breathwork
  • Mini-golf
Why not celebrate with your pet alongside you?
Do you have a fur baby? Share the celebration with them!

Find the Perfect Vendors for You

When you’re ready to start vendor hunting, finding the perfect team for your day can be daunting, and honestly, it’s for good reason! You want to be certain you have a team of vendors who will do a professional job, bring your vision to life and document it perfectly, and (here’s the kicker) work well together. Before you commit to hiring a team of vendors, you should be sure to verify that there are no conflicting contracts. Occasionally, wedding/elopement vendor contracts will not allow for certain other vendors to be present (for example, a photographer’s contract may not allow there to be a videographer present, etc.).

So, how do you pick a team of vendors who are perfect for you? Good question. Here are some important things to consider as you’re hiring your elopement vendors:

  • Do they communicate professionally and promptly?

  • Does their style fit what I envisioned for my day?

  • Do their offerings align with what I was hoping to receive?

  • Does their rate fit within my budget?

  • Do their reviews reflect well upon them?

  • Do they have a well-developed portfolio of past clients? If not, am I comfortable with how new they are in the industry?

  • Do I feel at-ease while talking to them?

  • Does it feel like they value their job and their clients?

  • Do they have experience with elopements in particular?

  • Are they available for the dates I’m interested in?

  • Do they have any public values that make me uncomfortable?

  • Do they have legitimate contracts?

We know, we know. It’s all a lot. You may be thinking “Uhhh, excuse me. I want to elope because it’s STRESS-FREE — why is it feeling like so much work?”

If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. In a recent study, it was found that 72% of couples feel “very” and “extremely” stressed about planning their wedding. At Ascend Together, we saw that statistic and said “Nope. Not cool” and we created something that turned the elopement-planning game on its head.

Ascend Together is an all-inclusive elopement service. In a nutshell, we’re the one-stop-shop for couples who are looking to elope. We cover the logistics, the planning, and the documentation so you can focus on deepening your relationship throughout your engagement, relaxing, and being present.

An all-inclusive elopement service is right for you if …

  • Your priorities for your elopement include: being present, investing wisely, feeling stress-free

  • You don’t enjoy booking, planning, and coordinating on your own

  • It’s important to you that your vendor team works as a cohesive unit

  • You prefer vendors with significant industry experience

An all-inclusive elopement service is not right for you if …

  • You enjoy booking, planning and coordinating on your own

  • Vendor experience level is not a priority

  • You have specific must-have vendors in mind

  • The cohesiveness of your vendor team is not a priority

Where Do I Start?

So now that you’ve got all the juicy info, where do you start? Keep reading for a general outline of what steps you should take (and when) from engagement to wedding day.

  1. Get engaged and CELEBRATE! You’ll likely want to immediately jump into wedding planning, but don’t forget to soak up your temporary time as an engaged couple — it’s beautiful, magical, and fleeting! Allow yourself the time and space to celebrate your engagement, grow in your relationship, and be present with one another.
  2. Talk about the big picture. Discuss with your partner some of the “big ideas” for your day, like the following:
    1. General location
    2. Time of year
    3. Guests?
    4. Investment
    5. Priorities
  3. Begin visualizing. Once you’ve discussed the big picture, now it’s time to start visualizing your day. This includes:
    1. Overall vibe
    2. Indoor/outdoor
    3. Landscape (this narrows down locations big-time)
    4. Day-of activities and adventures
    5. Photography and videography styles
    6. Attire
  4. Start with the big decisions. By starting with some of the bigger (and potentially more stressful) decisions, planning everything else subsequently will then become so much easier. We recommend beginning with these:
    1. Who are you inviting?
    2. Where are you eloping?
    3. How many days will your elopement last?
  5. Begin designing your timeline. Once you have the big decisions taken care of, it’s time to really start setting things in motion. Crafting your timeline is essential to booking vendors, making detailed decisions, and really developing a vision for your day. Here’s what you’ll need to include in your timeline:
    1. Elopement date(s)
    2. Time of day you’d like to elope
    3. Reception or celebration
    4. Travel
    5. Length of documentation coverage
    6. Dates for lodging
  6. The finer details. Now that you have the not-as-fun logistics taken care of, it’s time to get to work on the details. This includes:
    1. Trying on and purchasing attire
    2. Booking vendors (cough cough, or your all-inclusive vendor)
    3. Designing/sending out save-the-dates and invites (if applicable)
    4. Booking lodging
    5. Choose and plan your activities/adventures
    6. Purchase gear if necessary (hiking boots, backpacks, etc.)
    7. Take care of permits, registrations, etc. applicable to your area
  7. The most important step.
    1. Relax
    2. Love up on your partner
    3. Snuggle a lot
    4. Bask in your loveydovey glow
    5. Did we mention to relax?
There are countless ways to celebrate the individuality of your relationship
Your elopement is your day to celebrate every bit of your unique relationship – what’s special to YOU?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: if you choose to elope in California (regardless of your venue), you’ve made the right choice. Choosing this state as your place to say “I do” opens up countless doors to beautiful locations all year round. When we say that California has something to offer everyone, we’re not messing around – for each and every couple who chooses to elope in this state, there’s a location, a season, and (cough cough) a photographer waiting to make their experience undeniably flawless.

Last But Not Least …

Regardless of the location, you choose for your big day (and even if you don’t elope in California), please be mindful of the spaces you are visiting and practice Leave No Trace principles. As a Leave No Trace (LNT) aware team, we provide each of our clients with the education and guidance to experience a place like California without impeding its natural growth and beauty. Practicing LNT principles is an important part of our process because we want to continue enjoying these stunning places FOREVER! It’s the least we could do for Mama Nature.

If you’re feeling ready to move forward with your California elopement, we’d love to help you get started! If you have any questions or want to chat, feel free to shoot us an email. Best of luck in your elopement-planning journey, lovebirds!


The Ascend Together Team

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