Mount Rainier Elopement Guide
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Mount Rainier Elopement Guide
If you’ve ever visited Washington, you’re probably familiar with Mount Rainier. It peeks out occasionally while you’re driving through Seattle, but nothing beats the view of the mountain up close. Visiting Mount Rainier on any day is an amazing experience, but even more so on your elopement day! If you’re planning (or thinking about) a Mount Rainier elopement, keep reading this guide to learn everything you need to know to elope at Mount Rainier National Park!
About Mount Rainier National Park
Between wildflower meadows, alpine lakes, mountain peaks, and old growth forests, Mount Rainier is any nature lover's dream! Before you elope at Mount Rainier, here are a few things to know about the park.
Mount Rainier is located about two hours east of Seattle. The nearest airport is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, so if you’re flying into Washington, that’s your best bet! To get to the national park, you’ll need a car.
Weather at Mount Rainier National Park
Weather will have a big impact on your elopement day - so make sure to be aware and prepared!
The best time for a Mount Rainier elopement is summer and early fall. The park sees a lot of snowfall, and many of the higher elevation trails can stay snow covered into July. Eloping in July or August gives you the best chance at a snow free day, and the wildflowers start to bloom this time of year too!
Because of the optimal weather, summer and fall is also the most popular time to visit Mount Rainier, which means it can be difficult to find a private spot to say your vows. To avoid the rush, consider eloping in the off season - winter at Mount Rainier National Park is gorgeous, so if you don’t mind trekking through the snow, you can elope surrounded by a winter wonderland!
Another tip for avoiding crowds on your elopement day is to plan your elopement on a weekday - because most people are off work on weekends, national parks tend to draw out a lot of crowds on Saturdays and Sundays. By eloping on a weekday, especially Monday through Thursday, you’ll avoid a lot of the crowds.
I also recommend that couples elope at sunrise - even if waking up at the crack of dawn doesn’t sound like your thing, hear me out! Sunrise is the only time of day where you’re nearly guaranteed to get the whole place to yourself. Most people won’t be getting out of bed that early, so if you say your vows at even the most popular spot, you’ll still get to enjoy a lot more privacy! Plus, you’ll have a gorgeous backdrop of pink and orange skies in your photos!
Choosing an Elopement Location
Mount Rainier National Park covers 370 square miles, so narrowing down the perfect elopement location can be the hardest part about planning your Mount Rainier elopement! Here are some recommendations to get you inspired.
An Alpine Lake
There are almost 300 lakes in Mount Rainier National Park! Lakes such as Reflection Lakes and Tipsoo Lake make a gorgeous backdrop for an elopement. With the mountains reflecting in the water and the quiet stillness of the lake, you’ll have the perfect serene and peaceful spot for your elopement ceremony.
An Adventurous Hike
With hundreds of trails to choose from, Mount Rainier has hikes for any skill level. You can do a quick hike somewhere like Panorama Point, like this couple, or a longer adventure. Hiking is a great way to avoid crowds as well, because while easily accessible overlooks tend to get crowded, longer hikes are often less popular!
A Fire Lookout
Fire lookouts like Fremont Fire Lookout and the Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout are some of the staples of Mount Rainier National Park. They require some hiking, but are really beautiful and will offer amazing views of the mountain peaks around you!
A Wildflower Meadow
The wildflowers that bloom in the summer are one of Mount Rainier’s biggest attractions. Imagine saying your vows surrounded by bursts of purple, red, and yellow flowers! You can’t go wrong eloping by a meadow.
The Legal Stuff
Legalities and logistics may not be the most exciting thing about your elopement day, but they’re important to know so that you can make sure your marriage is legal and valid! You’ll need to research Washington marriage laws, as well as Mount Rainier’s rules and regulations when it comes to wedding ceremonies.
You can get a marriage license in any county clerk’s office in Washington, or apply by mail! You will need to complete an application, which you can find here. The cost of marriage licenses varies by county, but is usually around $70. You can apply for the license up to 60 days in advance. There is also a 3 day waiting period, which means you must receive your marriage license at least 3 days before your ceremony date. Make sure to apply early and allow time for mailing!
Washington state requires an officiant to sign your marriage license, so you have a couple of different options!
You can hire an elopement officiant who is up for whatever adventure you have planned for your day. Check with them to make sure they’re comfortable hiking if that’s required for your day, but as elopements become more popular, more and more officiants are taking them on!
You can also have a friend or family member officiate your ceremony. Getting ordained is surprisingly easy, and it’s free too! All they have to do is visit ULC.org, and sign up. Then, they’re ready to officiate weddings in any US state! This can add a really nice personal touch to your elopement ceremony.
Your last option (and my personal favorite), if you book me as your photographer and your adventure guide, my husband is an ordained officiant! Not only that, but he’s a live musician and occasionally a personal pack mule too! We offer all inclusive elopements that include all this and more, because we want your day to be as stress free as possible, so that you can focus on what really matters - being in love and getting married!
You are required to have two witnesses sign your marriage license. But, don’t worry if you weren’t planning on inviting guests to your Mount Rainier elopement! You can have your elopement vendors sign as witnesses, or even find two people at your ceremony location - they just have to be over 18, and people are always stoked to help out!
Mount Rainier Ceremony Permits
Like most national parks, Mount Rainier requires a permit any time you have a wedding ceremony in the park. Even if it’s just the two of you! You can find the application here. There is also a $60 application fee, but this money goes into taking care of the park and keeping it beautiful.
Hiring Elopement Vendors
A great team of elopement vendors will make a huge difference in your elopement day. Planning even a small ceremony can be stressful, and hiring experienced vendors who specialize in elopements can take the pressure off of you and allow you to focus on what matters most - relaxing and enjoying the best day of your life with the love of your life! Luckily, I know a great photographer who can help you with that… it’s me! While taking photos and capturing the memories of your day is an important part of my job, I also help with the planning process, from vendor recommendations, to permit information, to building a timeline. My husband works alongside me as my second shooter, officiant, picnic hauler, and live musician, because our goal is to make this as easy as possible for you! So, if you’re ready to plan your Mount Rainier elopement, reach out!
Book Flights and Lodging
I recommend booking your travel accommodations early on, to ensure that you’ll find the best deals and that you can stay somewhere close to your elopement location!
Packwood, a tiny rural town right outside of Mount Rainier National Park is known for its adorable A-frame cabins. You can stay at the Little Owl Cabin and have a cozy home base to come back to after exploring the park. Airbnb also offers a large variety of cabins, glamping, and chalets to stay in!
Ready to Plan Your Mount Rainier Elopement?
If you’re sold on eloping at Mount Rainier National Park, I’m ready to help you start planning! Contact me so we can get started, and don’t worry if you don’t have everything figured out yet. That’s what I’m here for!