If you're a nature junkie and find yourself frequently hiking, or camping, or you're just captivated by immersive evergreens and snowcapped mountains, then eloping at Mt. Rainier might be something on your to-do list, and I understand why! Although you can't just pack your goods up the mountain and say "I do", the process is quite simple and I'll give you the breakdown and some tips that may help along the way. Couples can exchange vows with the snow-capped peak as their witness and hike among wildflowers and alpine lakes for stunning photo opportunities. Mount Rainier also offers a variety of accommodation options, from camping to luxury lodges, making it easy to tailor the experience to fit any couple's preferences.
Eloping at Mount Rainier ensures a memorable and unforgettable wedding day.
Step 1: Find your photographer
This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but seriously this is SO important. You want to remember this day forever and in the best way, so you'll want to make sure you find a photographer that is well-versed in adventure elopements and can give you all of the tips!
Step 2: Pick the season
The cool thing about eloping at Mount Rainier is that every season can offer a different experience. If you choose to elope in the spring, then you can capture a snow-capped mountain, beautiful waterfalls, and potentially variable weather. Summer offers clear views and wildflowers, but this is the busy season so be prepared for crowds. If you're a fan of a breathtaking fall foliage background, then this is the season for you. Just be prepared for potential snow storms. Lastly, if your perfect day ends with leaving your footprints in fresh, powdery snow then winter is the season for you, but keep in mind two of the four entrances are closed during this time.
Step 3: Choose your location
Once you have the time of year nailed down, you can then choose where in the park you want to hold your ceremony. Whether that's along a lake, on the edge of a lookout, or immersed in evergreens on the forest floor, I'll assist in discovering what is best for the two of you!
Below are a couple of locations within the park that I love!
In the Summer...
In the Fall...
The location pictured above: Paradise - famous for its wildflower meadows and is also the primary winter-use area in the park.
The location pictured above: Sunrise - it's the highest point reachable by vehicle with nearly 360-degree views of the surrounding valleys and the second most visited location in the park.
Step 4: Find your stay
If you're wanting a full experience, you can stay in a cabin or a campsite within the park. If you're interested in an Airbnb, here are a few options that I think are great:
Pictured above: Heartwood Cabin
Step 5: The legal stuff
Of course, I didn't forget the most important thing, your marriage license! For your Washington Elopement, you can get your marriage license from any county in the state. I've linked the website here for Pierce County where Mt. Rainier is located. Additionally, you'll need a Special Use Permit and this takes roughly four weeks to process, so click here to check that off of your to-do list. Lastly, you'll want to make sure your officiant is ordained and you need two witnesses in attendance.
Below, you will find a few timeline examples for your elopement day:
5 pm - Arrive at the ceremony location
5-6 pm - Ceremony & Celebration
6:30-7 pm - Photos of family & friends in attendance
7-9 pm - Hike, explore, & take sunset photos
2:30-3 pm - I arrive, take detail photos, & set up first look
3-3:30 pm - First look
3:30-4 pm - Head to a nearby waterfall
4-5:30 pm - Hike to the waterfall & take photos
5:30-6:3o pm - Hike back
6:30-7 pm - Drive to the ceremony location to meet the officiant
7-7:30 pm - Ceremony
7:30-8:30 pm - Celebration & sunset photos
10:30 am - Hair & makeup start
Noon - Photographer (me!) arrives, getting ready & detail photos
12:30 pm - Wedding attire on
12:40 pm - I set up the first look location & get you ready and in place
12:45 pm - First look
1 pm - Ceremony begins
1:30 pm - Photos w/ family & friends in attendance
2:30 pm - Lunch w/ family & friends
3:30 pm - We three drive to the trailhead
4:30 pm - Arrive at the trailhead & hike to the sunset location
5:30 pm - Arrive at sunset spot, cool off, & touch up hair and makeup
6-8 pm - Mountain top first dance, private vow exchange, sunset photos, & hike back
Something important to note is the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace. I highly recommend reading over this for best practices while in Mt. Rainier National Park. If you're also looking for additional vendor recommendations, let's talk!