Eloping is a romantic journey that provides the couple the freedom to plan the wedding of their dreams without the burden of a large, conventional ceremony.

When planning how to elope in California, you should know all the best tips, logistics, locations, and everything else. Courtly, an online marriage platform, has prepared this guide for all couples contemplating eloping in California.

Why elope in California?

Firstly, California has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, and it simply emanates charm! It is the perfect location for an elopement ceremony because of its diversity in terms of the natural amenities it has. Every type of terrain may be found in this state, including sunny seashores, vast deserts, snow-capped mountain ranges, lush woods, towering granite cliff sides, and more. This vast natural state is ideal for a couple that wants everything because there are unlimited possibilities to choose from! Everything you've ever wanted is there, plus much more. California is the ideal location for your first of many future anniversaries.

Secondly, California is an extensive state, and because of its size, different weather may be found in different parts of the state. The nicest thing about eloping in California is that the state enjoys great weather from January to December. You are therefore certain of having a good climate on your big day wherever you decide to elope in California. There is never a bad moment to run away to California.

Lastly, Hollywood is located in California! As a result, it is expected that this culturally diversified state will be enlightened and artistic, with sculptures, historical paintings, and decorative arts that include European and ancient artwork. The immersive and participatory nature of the art will be just what your elopement needs to be really unforgettable.

How much does eloping in California cost?

The marriage license differs from state to state and is the sole expense associated with an actual elopement. Anything above that is considered a luxury. The cost of a marriage license in California is often approximately $80. You can add to this cost by selecting the attire, location, ceremony type, and activities included.

How to plan an elopement in California?

The best part of elopement is that it comes without rules. However, this doesn't mean there isn't any planning involved. Planning ahead for significant activities and to-dos will help you save on last-minute chaos, time, and cash.

1.       Pick a location.

 It's a large state, California! Get down to the specifics of where exactly you want your elopement to take place. With so many options California offers, you might need to do your homework well.

2.       Connect with a local elopement photographer.

Unlike typical wedding preparation, when you choose a location and a date before hiring a photographer, elopement planning might be very different! It's possible that you'll spend the entire day with just your photographer.

3.       Pick a date.

 It's great that you are able to find a local elopement photographer who matches your criteria. Picking a date is the next step. 

4.       Book and research vendors.

In addition to a photographer, you could choose to work with additional providers like officiants, florists, and hair/makeup stylists.

5.       Go shopping for your wedding attire.

There are various ways to feel like the most fabulous married couple around, whether you've always imagined wearing a beautiful bridal gown or want to flaunt a jumpsuit with pockets. Shopping is an inherent part while planning an elopement.

 6.       Plan your elopement.

 Consider the times/moments in your life that mean the most to you. Include any conventional wedding elements you like if you wish to! Additionally, this is the ideal time to use your imagination; you may even design an entire day of adventures.

7.   Elope!

How to make eloping in California legal?

When eloping in California, you just need to take care of the following legalities:

Marriage License: A marriage license is required to get married in California. You both need to apply and sign for the license in person and must be at least 18 years old.

Permits: You will require special usage permission to elope in a national park or state forest (or wedding permit). The price will vary for each park. Before organizing your party, ensure you are aware of the regulations for the various parks in your area.

Officiant/Witnesses: You'll need a witness over 18 present throughout the ceremony to make it official (and legal).

What is the easiest way to elope in California?

An easy way out of having to arrange for all the legalities is to let Courtly manage your eloping.

Couples may complete the entire procedure online from any place using Courtly, the online marriage platform. A legitimate US marriage certificate can be acquired quickly, easily, and in most cases, in less than 48 hours.

How to find an officiant for marriage in California?

Any priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination who is at least 18 years old may officiate at weddings in California. With assistance from The Knot, locate nearby officiants and premarital counseling in California. Additionally, Courtly can always help you with your online officiant.

What are the best places to elope in California?

You've chosen an ideal state for your elopement, whether you envision a beach wedding or saying "I do" in front of soaring redwood trees.

Remember that this is your special day, so pick a venue that speaks to you. The location you select will determine the atmosphere and tone of the entire encounter. Thankfully, California has quite some options to choose from:

1. Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park, with its more than 1,000 square miles of desert, is a popular place for elopements.

2. Death Valley

Death Valley has some of the most stunning backdrops for weddings with its enormous sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, and badlands.

3. Big Sur

Big Sur is an excellent location for couples looking to elope in California because of its coastline vistas and redwood trees.

4. Redwood National Park

Do you envision an alluring forest wedding? Redwood National Park is the best there is in California. 

5. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite, one of the most famous (and stunning) National Parks in the nation, is a paradise for adventurous couples getting married.

6. Online Destination Wedding

With online destination weddings, you have your online wedding from any interesting location, with all the procedures done digitally. You will have a cool background, and the easiest wedding - online!

When is the best time to elope in California?

In California, you can get married at any moment. Every season offers a unique enchantment to the table.

Spring: In NorCal, wildflowers explode with colors as breezy summer weather approaches SoCal.

Summer: The Summer in Southern California is all about the sun and enjoyment, whereas Northern California offers cooler summer days and pleasant breezes in the mountains. 

Fall: The colder weather in Southern California makes beach and lakeside weddings more memorable. The mountainsides and forests of NorCal are ablaze with vivid shades of red, orange, and yellow since it is the leaf-peeping season. 

Winter: Although SoCal winters are generally moderate, desert evenings may get very cold. NorCal’s snow-capped mountains give off a dreamlike atmosphere. 

How to obtain a marriage license and certificate in California?

Anyone can get married in California since a marriage license can be obtained without being a resident. Your license may only be used for marriage ceremonies in California and is only good for 90 days after it is issued. There are no refunds if you don't have a ceremony within 90 days; you must reapply and pay for one. You might be able to apply for your marriage license in person or online, depending on the county you go to.

Can you get married on the same day in California?

In California, there is no waiting time. The instant you have the go-ahead of the law, you can get married. Thankfully, Courtly’s rush service can come in handy if you plan to marry online and processes under 24 hours.  


Are you ready to start planning your California elopement? We hope this guide by Courtly helps you with eloping in California.

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

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