First off, CONGRATS on your engagement!! Ahhh!! That is so exciting!! Now, it is time to plan your elopement! First off, you may not even be considering Yosemite or Yosemite is your top choice. Either way, let’s talk about why Yosemite is a great choice for an elopement location.
Yosemite is such a gorgeous place to elope at. This National Park is one of those parks that you just feel the majestic-ness of it once you are there. There are so many beautiful places to elope within the park. From beaches in the valleys to epic heights at the points to redwood groves, there is no wrong choice. If you are wanting a very intimate location to read vows and say “I do”, this park is filled with intimate places. If you are wanting to epic views that you see online or have been to, I got you! Any of these locations are the most intimate and not full of tourists at sunrise. These locations include Taft Point, Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Cathedral Beach, Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and more. If you are wanting incredible views, unique mountains, forest vibes, and an experience you will not forget, this is the place for you. JUST A HEADS UP. Glacier Road (the road to a few different iconic locations) will be closed in 2022 with delays in 2023! Read about it here!
“How to elope in Yosemite” is the question going through your head. First things first. Picking a date. During the winter months/when snow is still around in the park, Glacier Road is closed. This road leads to Glacier Point, Taft Point, Sentinel Dome, and a lot of meadows. If you are wanting any of these locations, you should definitely consider summer through early fall to elope. Let’s say you are wanting the gorgeous fall colors and the Glacier Road views, mid to end of October is the best time to elope. If you are wanting snow and the valley, January-March is the best time to elope. If you are wanting waterfalls, end of April to May is the best time to see waterfalls in the valley.
Once you pick a date, it is time to decide how many people you want with you two. This might be the hardest or easiest part. From my experience, the less people, the more meaningful, the more intimate, and the more relaxed you whole experience is. I have had groups from only the couple to 30 people. It is NOT selfish to only have it be you two. It is your day and the start of your lives. After you have decided, it is time to pick a location and get a permit for your day. Here is where you can find a list of permitted locations and the elopement permit. If you are having a larger group, may sure you look at the permitted locations. When it is just you two, your options are endless. If I were to elope in Yosemite my top three choices would be Glacier Point at sunrise, Tunnel View at sunrise, or Cathedral Beach at sunrise. However, there is no wrong choice.
Next, it is time to find a place to stay while you are there. There are so many places to stay in Yosemite. Yosemite West is a great place to stay in any season! It is in between Glacier Road and the Valley. Here are a few different options for places to stay in Yosemite West: Option one, option two, and option three. Yosemite Valley is another amazing place to stay! There are a TON of different options on where to stay in the valley. Here are a few options on where to stay: Option one, option two, and option three. If you are not wanting to stay in the park, there are a ton of options outside the park! Here are a few lodges right outside the park: Option one, option two, and option three. Wherever you decide to stay, each place I linked is beautiful and unique! The valley has a grocery store, a couple different restaurants and coffee shops, but no gas station! The closest gas stations are near Fish Camp and one near El Portal.
When you are not getting married, you might be asking what you can do while you are in the park. There are so many things to do while you are in the park! These include hiking, renting bikes, horse back riding, and so much more! There are so many amazing trails and sights to see. Plan a picnic and make a day out of it!
When you are traveling to California, you have a TON of airport options. First, the closest airport option is Fresno. From the airport to Yosemite Valley, it is about a 2-2 1/2 hour car ride. The next closest is Merced Regional Airport which is about the same distance, just an even smaller airport. If you are wanting to fly into Los Angeles, it is about a five hour car ride to Yosemite. Just make sure you know how long it takes to get into the National Park from the airport you fly into.
So, now that you know where to start, let’s talk about how an elopement may look! We will meet at the location of your choice at sunrise for your ceremony and vows. If you are wanting a first look, I will help you get in to your dress! Once you have done the first look, you two will enjoy the views, enjoy each other and enjoy the sunrise together. Once the sun has risen a bit, you can say your vows and get married! After you have said your vows and are married, we will take a few more photos around your ceremony location. After we are done with those photos, it is time to take a break. It is your choice if you want to go back to your place and take a nap (I would suggest this), or go eat in the valley, or hike! We will meet back at a new location of your choice for a sunset session. We will take photos and you two will enjoy the sunset and views together. During this time, I have had couples share champagne, share a first dance, and even have a picnic together.
If you are having a two day elopement, we can do everything we just did above, and then pick a third location either at sunrise or sunset for more photos and more enjoyment! This session can either be in your wedding attire or in more casual outfits. This is the perfect time to do a location that you may not want to go on your actual wedding day but want to go to see!
Having a ceremony at sunrise, like I said before, helps keep it intimate without tourists and crowds. Plus, it gives you two the whole day for exploring together, being together, and making the most of your day. The top place for watching the sunrise is Glacier Point. if you are wanting to do sunrise at Glacier Point, get there about a half hour before the sun is supposed to rise. Pack hand and feet warmers, blankets, flash lights, and jackets. There is a large parking lot and not much of a hike at all!
Having the ceremony at sunset is also GORG and you have the whole day to get ready and be together. The best place to do it at sunset is Taft Point. However, there will be a ton of people, tourists, other photographers and potentially other weddings! Either way, it is your day and your decision! If you are wanting Taft Point, whether it is for your ceremony or just photos, it is about a 30 minute (1 mile) hike that is pretty mild! Just make sure you wear nice hiking shoes, not sandals or heels. BRING WATER!!
If you are wanting to elope with close friends and family with a little after party, let’s chat about how to do that. First things first, get your permit and designated spot for that amount of people! Once you have that, let’s find you a place to stay to host your guests and your reception! Here are some places: Option one, option two, and option three. These places can host “receptions” and “after party” events if this is something you are hoping to do!
Now that you know what your elopement could be like in Yosemite, it is time to start planning it all! I would LOVE to chat with you about your day and help you plan it from start to finish! Reach out and we can plan everything together and I will even give you more tips and tricks on how to elope in this epic location! Hope this helped get you started on planning your elopement in Yosemite National Park. For even MORE information on planning your elopement for Yosemite, check this page out and reach out to me! I will help you plan your day from the start of your trip to the end!