Before we get to how to elope in Yosemite National park let’s go over what even is an elopement:
Oh how I wish elopements were a thing back when I first got married. It sounds like a dream to prance around in a beautiful dress with your love in a beautiful place and to celebrate with your husband to be in a relaxed and intimate setting. To run away somewhere beautiful and in nature. No table settings, seating arrangements, or catering to worry about. WHAT A DREAM.
No expectations to meet, no pointless traditions to follow just because it’s “what’s done”. Not to mention not having to throw thousands of dollars away on a “party” that wasn’t what your little introverted heart wanted anyway.
Recently, elopements have become a HUGE trend. I can definitely see why. I think when people think of elopements they think “run away recklessly, scandalously and get married” but that’s not what they are now.
You can definitely have an intimate “traditional” wedding filled with personal details and do things your own way and in a way that’s meaningful to you both. BUT for those of us that stress out at the thought of planning something so huge and don’t want to worry about timelines and table linens and just want and epic and private EXPERIENCE, elopements are incredible options.
The focus is on you as a couple, and the marriage commitment you’re making. The vibe is relaxed, no pressure and full of love. You can get ready together beforehand, go camping, hike to a summit, dance on a beach, have a picnic by a lake or prance around the city. Say your vows alone or with only your closest circle, it’s up to YOU. Ditch tradition and make up your own. You can do whatever makes you both the happiest and has the most value to you.
DON’T STRESS. This is going to be incredible. I’m here to help get you started!
Spring? Fall? Summer? Winter?
When planning to elope in Yosemite National Park, first thing you’ve got to take into account is the WEATHER. Yosemite is gorgeous in any season but each have their own factors you must think about.
Winter can be tricky here with all the snow and road closures. BUT totally doable if you plan well. If you have your heart set on snow in Yosemite, just be prepared to be very flexible in case of weather and road closures. Have a plan A, B and C. You’ll also want to layer up, it can be super cold!
Overall, I’d say the best times are Fall around September for low crowds and good weather. Springtime around May is also great weather and lower crowds, plus you’ll have a big chance of seeing more waterfalls with all the snow melting!
If you’re looking for more of a private experience, I wouldn’t recommend the summer season. The park can be very crowded. If you do chose summer, I’d go for a sunrise elopement to beat the heat and crowds!
Once you’ve chosen your season and elopement date. The next step is to GET A SPECIAL USE PERMIT and reserve your entry pass date. This is not an option. To have your ceremony here AND to just take photos here you must have a permit. It is $150 and the application process is pretty easy and straight forward. Trust me you WILL be asked for it and it will NOT be fun if you get caught. It is simply not worth it.
You can find more info on permits and what you’ll need to elope here on Yosemite National Park’s website. You’ll also find the permit application on this link.
Not to worry if this is starting to feel overwhelming, part of what I do as your elopement photographer is guide you to the correct permits and plan the logistics of what you want for your elopement day. When we plan your day together, I will send you a checklist of what needs to be completed before your elopement day. So that you can just show up and be fully present.
Sunrise or Sunset? You really can’t go wrong with either but some locations are more stunning during one or the other. Glacier Point for example is so epic during sunrise and Taft Point has one of the BEST sunset views. Sunrise is always going to be way less crowded so if you’re craving privacy during your vows definitely go for sunrise! (note: Glacier point road is sadly closed for all of 2022, but is still accessible by a pretty hefty hike if you’re feeling adventurous!)
For location your photographer (oh heyyy *wink*) is a vital resource to help you pick the best spots for private ceremony and pictures. A great resource for more adventurous couples who want hike for their elopement is the AllTrails app.
If you’re planning on having guests keep in mind Yosemite National Park has specific locations where you can have your ceremony. Read more about them HERE .
There is also the CUTEST chapel on the valley floor of Yosemite. It’s perfect for if you’re planning more of a micro wedding or intimate wedding with guests. See it below:
You really can’t go wrong eloping in this beautiful park. If you want to see more ispo, check out Sarah and Derek’s Sunrise Elopement in Yosemite . There day was so perfect, Michael & I had the best time with them. Or if the desert is more your style check out these Palm Springs elopement Ideas!
Hannah Pascual is a California based elopement and intimate wedding photographer serving laid back, fun loving, and adventurous couples who want candid, warm and joy-filled photos.