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  • Writer's pictureTom Keene

Getting Married in California? What You Need to Know for Your Affordable Wedding Elopement

Updated: Aug 30

Affordable Wedding Photographer Tom Keene Photography


Eloping in California, Here is an easy breakdown for your planning including vendor and legal needs..


Getting married in California is easier than you might think. Here's a concise breakdown of the process:

  1. Age and Consent: You must be 18 years old to get married. If under 18, you need parental consent or approval from a California Super Court Judge.

  2. Documentation: Prepare valid legal documents like a driver's license, passport, social security number, or birth certificate.

  3. Previous Marriage: If previously married, provide proof of termination of the previous marriage.

  4. No Existing Marriage: Neither party should already be married to each other or someone else.

  5. Witness: Have at least one witness aged 18 or above. This can be your photographer

  6. Marriage License: Obtain a California marriage license, valid for 90 days. Best of all it does not need to be specific to the county you want to get married in.

The Process of Eloping in California:

  1. Decide If Eloping in California Is Right For You: Determine if eloping aligns with your wishes as a couple.

  2. Pick a Location: Choose a location for your elopement, considering factors like season, weather, and scenery.

  3. Select a Date: Decide on the date of your elopement, considering the season's impact on the experience.

  4. Obtain a Marriage License: Visit any County Clerk's office with valid ID's and money to pay the fees. Rates vary by county.. Obtain a license valid for 90 days. You cannot use a license from your home state and get married in California.

  5. Witness and Officiant: For a legal ceremony, you need an officiant and a witness (required for public licenses).

  6. Permits for Special Locations: If your elopement is in a national park or state forest, secure necessary permits. Do not make the mistake in just showing up.

  7. Hire a Photographer: Find a reliable elopement photographer who understands your vision and will provide professional photos. This is a once in a lifetime moment.

  8. Book Other Vendors: Consider your outfits, officiant, makeup artist, and florist. Book them well in advance and read their reviews.

  9. Accommodations and Travel: Plan accommodations, travel, and itineraries for your elopement.

Best Places to Elope in California:

  1. Yosemite National Park: Offers breathtaking views, various ceremony locations, and seasonal beauty.

  2. Big Sur: Blend of coastal views and redwood forests, perfect for a romantic elopement.

  3. Vasquez Rocks: Other world looks and historic filming location make this a most unique location in the desert.

  4. Joshua Tree National Park: Unique desert landscape with mesmerizing sunsets. Additional entrance fees are required.

  5. Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles: A historic landmark setting with architectural beauty and panoramic views. The observatory is closed on Mondays.

  6. Santa Barbara Courthouse: Combines history and charm, featuring gorgeous gardens and architecture. This is one of the most sought after locations in California.

  7. San Francisco City Hall: Offers historic grandeur and beautiful ceremony spaces.

  8. Palm Springs: Diverse locations including hotels, deserts, and hot springs.

  9. Cambria: Seaside charm and ocean views create a romantic atmosphere.

  10. Catalina Island: Unique locations like beaches and gardens for a memorable elopement. Expect additional travel costs to get to the island for you and any vendors as well.

Now a key question is when should you do it. Despite what you may have heard, California has its seasons.


What Is The Best Time Of Year For an Elopement in California?


California is known for its bright, sunny, and warm weather. If you’re planning on eloping in California, it’s important to know what is the best time of year to elope in California. Knowing this can completely impact your elopement experience!


Winter If you’re looking to have your California elopement in Winter, then I highly recommend checking out the more inland desert areas. However, keep in mind that these areas can get especially frigid at night, but are more bearable during the day.


Spring Eloping in California during the Spring can guarantee that beautiful breezy early summer weather. The temperatures are a lot milder than in the summer months and you will also avoid many crowds during the peak tourism months (aka summer/fall). Wildflowers are also blooming during spring which makes for some stunning backdrops.


Summer Summer is the perfect season to elope in California if you’re wanting to head to the mountains. You will have some of the most stunning views and a nice breeze. If you’re heading toward Southern California, then beaches are without a doubt a solid choice for your California elopement


Fall In the Fall season for eloping in California, head to the beautiful beaches and lakes that will take your breath away. In Northern California, you can find the leaves changing and the mountains being the perfect getaway for your special day!


California Elopement Wedding Photography Photographer Affordable Catalina Griffith Park Cambria Vasquez Rocks Santa Barbara
Vasquez Rocks

California Elopement Wedding Photography Photographer Affordable Catalina Griffith Park Cambria Vasquez Rocks Santa Barbara
Catalina Island

California Elopement Wedding Photography Photographer Affordable Catalina Griffith Park Cambria Vasquez Rocks Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Courthouse

California Elopement Wedding Photography Photographer Affordable Catalina Griffith Park Cambria Vasquez Rocks Santa Barbara
Cambria, Moonstone Beach

Eloping in California can be an amazing experience, and with the right planning, it can be stress-free and unforgettable. Contact us to chat about your planning and book us for your wedding elopement. We have no travel fees from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.


Regardless of where you go, this list below will make it easy for you to get it rolling by providing you with links to each county for a license.


Alameda County


Los Angeles County

Marin County

Monterey County

Napa County

Orange County

Riverside County

Sacramento County

San Diego County

San Francisco City/County

Santa Barbara County

Santa Cruz County

Sonoma County

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