Hey there! If you’re reading this, there’s a great chance you’re looking to get married in North Cascades National Park! That’s pretty dope. So I’m going to cover everything you need to know about getting married in the North Cascades! But, before we get started, there’s a couple things we need to cover.
While the definition of an elopement has changed and adventure elopements are much more popular now, there are some key differences! All elopements are weddings, but not all weddings are elopements. Elopements & Adventure Elopements are typically 20 or so guests or less, and are sometimes referred to as intimate weddings. Weddings with more guests than that will most likely need to find a venue of some sort. To provide a little more definition, it appears the main difference between a wedding and an elopement is guest size, and venue.
Both larger weddings and elopements are incredibly beautiful, but the North Cascades is typically best suited for weddings with less than a dozen guests. Being a few hours from the larger cities, it’s perfect for privacy in nature! There are a couple of locations within the park that can accommodate larger groups, but they fill up quickly so make sure you plan ahead. A link and more information will be provided in section 4, below.
Why do couples choose to elope in North Cascades National Park?
Couples choose to elope in the North Cascades because it’s perfect for small groups, alpine lakes, and stunning mountainscapes. It’s an hour or two from Bellingham, and a little bit further for Seattle. Due to it’s distance from large cities, it’s easy to find quiet moments on the trail!
Of course, the best weather is going to depend on what you want to do and what you’re planning for your elopement! But for most couples, summer brings the best weather to elope in the North Cascades – July and August are the warmest months, and the weather is perfect for hiking. Most trails in high elevations will be snow free, and everything is open!
Early fall is usually pretty idyllic as well – September is warm and sunny, but snow usually begins to accumulate around mid October, and weather can be a little unpredictable. North Cascades National Park is also one of the best places to spot the fall foliage – larches turn a bright yellow color, decorating the mountains with their vibrant needles!
With these things in mind, most couples choose a date between August and October. Weekdays are always worth considering (and are typically best) if you want to avoid crowds. Wedding vendors tend to be more available as well. Believe it or not, a lot of couples even base their wedding date on their photographer’s availability as well!
One of the best tips that I have for avoiding crowds during your elopement is to find a location that’s lesser known! This can be easier said than done, so as a North Cascades elopement photographer, a huge part of my job is creating custom location lists for my couples – they’re full of hidden gem recommendations personalized for you.
Here are some of the more popular spots, and some ideas for places to elope in North Cascades National Park.
If you want to put in some trail miles on your wedding day, what better way to celebrate tying the knot than by hiking to a gorgeous ceremony location?!
With over 400 miles of hiking trails, you’ve got plenty of options! From short walks to backpacking treks, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect spot. One of the best hikes in the North Cascades is the Heather-Maple Pass Loop, and as an added bonus, it’s one of the few dog friendly trails!
If you don’t feel like breaking a sweat on your wedding day, don’t worry! You still have tons of options for ceremony spots and views that are low effort, high reward. One of the best places to elope in North Cascades National Park is the Washington Pass Overlook, a gorgeous, ADA accessible viewpoint with insane mountain views!
If you want to elope in the North Cascades, but aren’t set on being inside the national park, there’s also Artist Point – one of the most amazing views in Washington, with scenery beginning right from the parking lot.
One thing to note about your elopement day is that Diablo Lake used to be a popular spot for photos – but this overlook is no longer open for elopements, and you won’t be able to have your ceremony here!
Nestled in the North Cascades is Stehekin – a truly remote town that can only be reached by boat, plane, or on foot! Eloping here means absolutely unbelievable scenery, countless hikes, peaks, and waterfalls, and a one of a kind wedding day experience.
Finding the right wedding vendors for an elopement in the North Cascades can be tough! The best places to look are Bellingham, and Seattle. They’re the nearest major cities with multiple options to choose from. It’s important to hire professional vendors that understand your vision. They help make your wedding day come to life, especially if it’s in the mountains of the North Cascades. While vendor lists and recommendations can get lengthy, I’ve provided two of my favorite adventurous wedding vendors below.
North Cascades Elopement Hair & Make Up Artist – Pacific Brides
Catering/Rentals – Miere Catering
Hey there – that’s me! My name is Emett, and I’m a wedding and elopement photographer for couples that are wildly in love. I don’t wear ripped skinny jeans into the mountains anymore, but I’ve been exploring Washington’s National Parks since I was born here in 1994. They all feel like home to me, and my favorite part of the North Cascades are the alpine lakes and vivid sunsets.
I’m all about making your life easier – because eloping is all about cutting out the stress! My North Cascades elopement packages include all the help you need to elope.
Elopement packages start at $4,000, and include:
As a photographer, I always try to help my clients pick the right places to stay. Lodging will impact getting ready photos, a first look if you have one, any type of reception/dinner celebration, and the rest of your trip! I always look for ample light coming from large windows, at least somewhat modern design, and neutral colors. Here are some of my favorites!
Mt Baker Cabin w/ Hot Tub & Panoramic Forest Views
To tie the knot at North Cascades National Park, you’ll need a permit to have your ceremony, and a marriage license to get legally married.
A North Cascades National Park wedding permit, also called a special use permit, is required for any ceremony in the park – yes, even if it’s just the two of you!
To get the permit application, you’ll need to email the park office – which can be done here. It costs $50, and you can apply up to a year in advance, so I recommend doing this as soon as you decide on an elopement date!
To get legally married during your North Cascades elopement, you’ll need a marriage license. This can be done at any county clerk’s office in Washington, but I recommend King County, as you can complete the entire process online and get your marriage license in the mail! The marriage license costs $69, and once you get it, there’s a 3 day waiting period – but it does expire after 60 days.
An officiant and two witnesses will need to sign the marriage license, and the officiant will mail it back to the county clerk – once they receive it, you’re legally married!
For every elopement, I create a timeline for my couples. Your elopement is about the experience, so the timeline is created with you in mind – I’ll give you recommendations for things to do, send you a questionnaire to help me get an idea of what your vision for your day looks like, and put together a timeline of the day! We’ll work together to add final touches or make adjustments, so you can relax on the big day, knowing that while there is a plan, there’s also plenty of extra time just in case, and plenty of room for spontaneity.
Here are some examples of North Cascades elopement timelines!
12:00 Hair and makeup begins
12:30 I arrive at the Airbnb – detail photos of rings, accessories, etc
1:00 Getting ready photos
2:00 Put on wedding attire
2:30 First look outside the cabin, a few couple’s photos after
3:30 Drive to Artist Point
5:00 Meet up with family, short hike to overlook
6:00 Family photos
6:30 Sunset photos with couple, family goes back to cabin
8:00 Drive back for dinner/cake with family
9:00 Hair and makeup begins
10:00 I arrive at the Airbnb – detail photos of rings, accessories, etc
10:30 Getting ready photos
11:00 Drive to trailhead
12:00 Begin hiking
2:00 Picnic at the summit
3:00 Change into wedding attire
3:30 First look & couple’s photos
5:00 Couple’s photos
6:30 Hike back down
It’s actually simpler than it sounds! Pack like you’re going on a hike, then add your wedding attire and accessories to it. Boots, snacks, water, and other outdoor gear is all necessary.
Yes! Some couples want to hike with their wedding attire on, which makes packing a bit easier, and makes for great photos! This works best for shorter trails. If you’re going to hike the trail and get changed on location, you can roll up your wedding dress so it doesn’t get wrinkled. Or, like some couples, you can put it on it’s hanger and hang it on the back of your bag. Florals can also be tucked into your hiking backpack.