Raise your hand if in the midst of wedding planning, you’ve found yourself googling “where to elope in California.” And if that’s how you stumbled across this post, no judgment! I get it, wedding planning can be challenging and it’s tempting to run away to a beautiful place with your partner and just get married. On the other hand, you might’ve been planning to elope from the get-go, and there is no better place to do it than California!

If you’re a California native, you might’ve learned in 4th grade that it’s one of the few places where you can go snowboarding in the morning and surfing in the afternoon. This speaks to the vast array of landscapes that are all within a day’s drive. Read on for some of my favorite places to elope in California:

Palm Springs

The quintessential resort town, Palm Springs allows you to have an elopement and a little honeymoon in one! There are so many delicious restaurants to dine at, spas to visit, and pools to lounge by. Many hotels can help you make elopement arrangements, taking the stress of planning off your shoulders. With its signature mid-century modern aesthetic and the surrounding area’s unique landscapes (would you believe that in the middle of the desert, you can find snow a mere tram ride away?), Palm Springs offers a lot of interesting places to arrange a little elopement photoshoot! See my posts Palm Springs Engagement Photos, The Parker Palm Springs | Johanna + Charles for more.

Joshua Tree

An otherworldly landscape and the thrill of adventure await in Joshua Tree National Park. I would plan for a ceremony and photoshoot in Joshua Tree, and then head to Palm Springs to celebrate and have a mini vacation! Check out my Joshua Tree Engagement Photos and Joshua Tree Engagement Photography to see how picture-perfect this place is!


The beach is fairly synonymous with what people see in their minds when they think of California, and Malibu certainly delivers all those beachy vibes. Get married with crashing waves and dramatic rocks as your backdrop, and then celebrate at a nearby luxury rental. See for yourself how gorgeous Malibu Beach is with two engagement sessions that I shot there: Malibu Beach Engagement Photography with Sue Jean and Kenneth, and Malibu Beach Engagement Photography with Rose and Kevin.

San Francisco

There are so many amazing places to elope in San Francisco—Golden Gate Park, the Palace of Fine Arts, The Presidio, the many unique neighborhoods, to name just a few. And if you decide that you want to get married at a city hall, then why not choose one of the most stunning city halls around? Debra and Warren rented out the building for their Elegant San Francisco City Hall Wedding, but you get the picture. See more possibilities for elopement locations in my posts San Francisco Engagement Photographer and San Francisco Engagement Photos | Christine + Vinson.

Napa & Sonoma

Ah wine country, another quintessential California locale! There are countless amazing wineries to visit, picturesque vineyards to romp around, and yummy farm-to-table restaurants to celebrate at. Check out my posts Napa Engagement Photographer and Sonoma Wedding Venue: Annadel Estate Winery to see some gorgeous scenes that I’ve captured in the area.

This list is certainly not exhaustive, but hopefully it gave you some ideas for where to elope in California. Contact me today to discuss your elopement—I have a lot more detailed suggestions that I’d love to share with you!  

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