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The Best Places To Elope in California

Filed in Elopements, Planning Tips — September 27, 2023

California Dreaming: The Top 5 California Elopement Locations According to an Elopement Photographer


Are you ready to trade the traditional wedding hustle for an intimate elopement in the stunning landscapes of California? California boasts a stunning diversity of landscapes, from the picturesque beaches along the Pacific coast to the majestic redwood forests, arid deserts, and towering mountain ranges, offering something breathtaking for every bride who dreams of eloping in a gorgeous location. We’ve got you covered with the top 5 places to elope, each offering its own unique charm and beauty.

Let’s countdown the top 5 most popular and gorgeous spots to Elope in the Golden State.

5. Joshua Tree National Park – A Desert Oasis of Love

Joshua Tree Elopement inspiration photo from Pinterest

   If your hearts long for a desert adventure, Joshua Tree National Park is the perfect elopement destination. Stark landscapes, surreal rock formations, and the iconic Joshua trees create a magical atmosphere. Imagine stargazing as newlyweds under a vast desert sky. If you’re looking to elope in the desert, then Joshua tree is one of the best choices for California.

4. San Francisco City – Elegance in the Heart of the City


Seeking an elopement with a touch of sophistication? San Francisco City Hall is an architectural gem. The grand Rotunda, adorned with marble and majestic staircases, provides an exquisite setting for your vows. It’s the epitome of city chic. Bonus: You could end your evening with a picnic and sunset bridals at Baker Beach, which is a perfect view of The Golden Gate Bridge. If you’re seeking a classic feeling elopement, with the opportunity to take bridal photos amongst gorgeous architecture, beaches, and a variety of backdrops and activities to include in your elopement day, then San Francisco is the best California elopement location for you!

SF City Hall inspiration photo from Pinterest

3. Sunset Cliffs in San Diego – A Choice Elopement Location Year-Round

Sunset Cliffs inspiration photo, photo credit: Wandering Weddings

   For a relaxed beachside elopement with that quintessential SoCal vibe, Sunset Cliffs in San Diego is a top pick. Imagine saying your vows with the sound of crashing waves as your backdrop, and the sky turning shades of orange and pink as the sun sets. Don’t forget your surfboards for some post-ceremony adventure! For those of you who are less adventurous, and would rather celebrate with Burgers and beer, after your ceremony you can head about 10 minutes down the road to Ocean Beach to celebrate with a beer-tasting flight at California Wild Ales, and then grab a burger at Ocean Beach’s cult classic burger joint HoDad’s. San Diego is my absolute favorite city in California, which is why it is number 3 on my list of top locations to elope in California.

2. Big Sur – Where Romance Meets the Rugged Coastline

Big Sur Elopement Inspo: credit Pinterest

 If you’ve always dreamed of a coastal elopement, Big Sur won’t disappoint. Its dramatic cliffs, lush forests, and breathtaking turquoise ocean views make for a mesmerizing setting. Whether you choose a secluded beach or a spot beneath the towering redwoods, romance and nature come together in harmony. The beauty here is unparelled, which is why it’s at number 2 on our list of the best California elopement Locations.

1. Yosemite National Park – Our Number One Location for California Elopements

Yosemite Elopement at Taft Point: Photo credit: Storybook Photography

   Imagine standing amidst towering granite cliffs, serene meadows, and the symphony of cascading waterfalls as you exchange vows. Yosemite National Park provides the perfect backdrop for your elopement, where it’s just you, your partner, and the breathtaking wonders of Mother Nature. There are so many gorgeous places to elope here in Yosemite, but our favorites, and the most popular locations amongst other brides and grooms are Glacier Point, and Taft Point, for the stunning panoramic views, and gorgeous sunrise and sunsets. This location has become extremely popular, with the publicity its gotten on social media, so plan in advance, and don’t plan on it being as intimate as you’d probably imagined. It’s not just a popular tourist destination, but according to a recent article in SF Gate and Yosemite National Park officials, it has seen a “crushing demand” for wedding permits in recent years.

Yosemite Elopement at Taft Point: Photo credit: Storybook Photography

Remember, elopements are all about what resonates with your unique love story. Whether you choose a natural wonder like Yosemite or the grandeur of San Francisco City Hall, California offers a diverse range of elopement locations to suit every couple’s dreams. Discover your perfect backdrop for love in the Golden State.

Are these locations a little too popular for you? If you’re looking for something more unique, and intimate, ask me about some hidden gems that are my best kept secrets, like the amazing hidden location from an Elopement I captured off the Carson pass.

Carson Pass Elopement | Photo credit: Storybook Photography


I have some awesome news for you! I’m a California native and expert elopement planner and photographer! I even officiate weddings!

Check out the latest Yosemite Elopement that I captured here on the blog.

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