How to Elope or Have an Adventurous Wedding in 2021
June 15, 2021
- Elopement ·
- Elopement Guides
Dazzling Joshua Tree, California. What can I say about this beautiful national park that hasn’t already been said? I could tell you about the whimsical trees and how their arms twist and turn as they reach the sky. I could tell you about the flora and fauna which have evolved over millennia to thrive in this harsh climate. I could rave about how the landscape arrests your gaze as soon as you enter the park.
But I’d rather tell you how to have your own perfect elopement in Joshua Tree.
One of the reasons Joshua Tree is so special to me is that I all but grew up there. I've visited the park nearly every year of my life since childhood - with both family and friends. Taking people to the park for their first time is a joy that I get to experience time and time again. So it wasn't hard to decide to elope there. Getting married in that gorgeous high desert had a lasting impact on me. Now, I want to help others have this same awe-inspiring experience. I want to help you and your fiancé have the best day of your lives, in the best park in the States!
The very first thing you’ll need to do is obtain a special use permit, which secures your date and location of the wedding in the park. Whether you’re having a wedding or taking engagement photos, it’s very important you receive this permit.
The process is simple: Fill out the form and pay a non-refundable processing fee of $120.00. How’s that for a wedding venue price?
This form lists where in the park you can have your wedding and photo shoots. Every national park is different. For Joshua Tree, there are only a few locations in the park where you can hold an event. Each location has a limit for the number of people and cars, so make sure to pay special attention to these details when choosing a location.
These locations include:
Choosing a location when you’ve never been to the park can be challenging. Check out Google Maps to see photos of each location, or ask your photographer to help you decide!
In addition to the permit, you’ll need to pay the park entry fee of $35. If you’re always in and out of national parks like myself, I highly recommend purchasing the “America the Beautiful” Passes for $80. There are a few benefits: It’s easy (you can purchase this as you enter the park), it’s affordable (pays for itself in just 4 visits), and it helps support national parks (it’s nice to give back).
Choosing a photographer and officiant is an important part of any wedding day, but even more so for eloping in remote areas. An officiant makes your wedding official and a photographer captures your unique day and can serve as a witness if you have no guests. If you have a wedding photographer, they will need to obtain their own permit.
You’ll also need to touch base with your county clerk-recorder’s office to request a marriage license. The process is pretty easy. Depending on your area, you can likely request this online or in-person. All you need is a form of identification and for both partners to be present. You can either finalize the marriage right then and there, or get the paperwork to sign during your actual ceremony. If you have any questions, ask your officiant. It’s their job to guide you through the process. And best of all, we have one on staff!
Picking a date for eloping outside in the desert depends heavily on weather and temperature. The park is beautiful in all seasons, but consider the options and choose what works best for your needs.
Having a wedding outside means you need to be prepared for the elements. Wind and dramatic temperature changes aren’t heard of, so come prepared. It’s always wise to bring extra water to stay hydrated and an extra layer to protect yourself from cold temps or too much sun exposure. As well as be prepared for seeing other people in the more popular months. But don't fret - this park is vast, and you can get away from people if you really try. Bring up any concerns about crowds and temperature with your photographer!
When it comes to staying in and around the park, there are a few fun decisions to choose between.
Joshua Tree is a vast park with a lot to see. Most Airbnbs and hotels are easily 30 minutes from the park entrance, and it would take you an hour and a half to drive straight through the park without stopping. And let’s be honest, you’ll probably make a few stops as your traverse the park.
Luckily, most major attractions in the park are on paved roads, but for the more adventurous couples, a high clearance or four-wheel drive car gives you access to some other parts of the park. Consider renting a car, if you need to.
If you aren’t local to the Southwest, you’ll need to fly.
Check out your options and the distance to the park entrance.
The look and feel of your wedding are totally up to you. Florals are a great way to add some extra color and a special feeling to your wedding. So are arches, rugs, and other decors—just as long as you remove it when the ceremony is over. Leave nothing behind.
Don’t forget—cleaning up after yourself ensures the next visitors get to appreciate the beauty of this amazing park.
And if you're concerned about finding vendors, a photographer can make recommendations.
It’s your wedding—you still want to dress nice! Nothing makes the day feel more special at the onset than getting dressed in your beautiful clothes. But don’t forget—Joshua Tree can be rough and rocky, depending on the location of course. You’ll want to keep the possibilities in mind while you prepare for your big day.
Having your ceremony at a nearby Airbnb is a great way to be close enough to the park for photos, but in a location that might be more accessible to your guests. Check out a few of our favorite nearby spots!
Whenever we talk about outdoor elopements, we have to talk about Leave No Trace (LNT). This set of principles about how best to preserve and protect the outdoors is something that’s required to keep our park the way that it is.
In that vein, there’s a list of items you can and can’t bring into the park for your elopement.
These rules aren’t meant to be a bummer. They are common-sense directives that help keep Joshua Tree happy and healthy. We are all visitors in this ecosystem, so it’s prudent to reduce our impact.
If you want a photographer who loves Joshua Tree National Park to capture your special day, book Love and Latitudes Outdoor Wedding and Elopement Photography today!
+ Full or half day photography coverage.
+ Planning and vendor services included.
+ Assistance choosing the perfect location, with you and your
guests needs in mind.
+ Online gallery with 500+ high-resolution photos.
+ Option to download all images and purchase prints online for
+ Photographer travel fees included, minus permits.
+ Up to 25 attendees for elopements, 100 attendees for weddings.
+ Add on officiant services for $200.