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How to elope in Southern California

How to Elope in Southern California – Your 5 Step Plan

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering how to elope in Southern California? It’s the perfect location for variety, climate and backgrounds, whether you want to elope on the beach with the ocean behind you, a gorgeous mountaintop with pine trees and surrounded by nature on all sides, or that exotic, one-of-a-kind desert location with a fruity drink to celebrate afterwards, Southern California has got it all!

Here’s our five-step plan to help you plan how to elope in Southern California Elopement:

Step 1: Picture in your mind’s eye, what’s the vibe of your elopement?

This first step is probably going to be the toughest part but don’t worry, you can do this! The best way to start is to sit down with your partner, remove all distractions, close your eyes and dream a little. Just imagine what you want the day and your photos to look like, talk to your partner about what they see and would like the vibe to feel like. Sometimes your vision lines up, sometimes a little combining or compromising is needed. Whatever you come up with, So Cal has probably got just what you’re looking for!

Here’s some ideas to start dreaming about:

Beach ElopementBEACHES: Southern California has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. From Malibu to Laguna Beach and on down to San Diego, there’s so many options to choose from. Some are secret & secluded, many are wide open for miles Just a quick head’s up, many city and state beaches do require a permit, but we’re experienced with the approval process and we’ll help make this easy for you. We do suggest doing midweek elopements in the Spring, Sumer, or Fall. For  weekend elopements in the summer, you’re almost guaranteed to be sharing that gorgeous beach sunset with over 300,000 of your new Southern California friends.

DESERTS: How about something more rustic and dramatic? The Southern California deserts are amazing! There’s Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and the Mojave Desert, all stunning locations for an elopement. Joshua Tree is one of our absolute favorites, it’s unlike anywhere in the world. This is another location where we suggest a certain time of year. The best is from October to May, not too hot during that time, but we can occasionally get snow in the desert during winter. Ever seen snow on Joshua Trees? It’s worth it to buy a pretty cape or shrug to stay warm for those photos!

MOUNTAINS: The mountains of Southern California have some of the most breathtaking scenery in the region. The San Gabriel Mountains, Santa Monica Mountains and San Bernardino Mountains (home to Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead) have some of the most phenominal views, natural & unspoiled location, and all four seasons available for your elopement. We usually suggest getting an Airbnb or VRBO as a back up plan just in case Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate in the winter. We know all the best spots from super easy to get to, to maybe a short hike or even driving off-road for some epic views!

SOMETHING UNIQUE: How about a vintage loft in downtown LA, the hidden patio of the Disney Concert Hall, or renting a yacht in the harbor of Marina Del Rey? Or maybe a drive further north to Yosemite, Sequoia or Death Valley National Parks? There’s also Big Sur on the coast in Central California, one of the most beautiful locations in the world. The point is to let your imagination take you when your heart wants to go!

Step 2: When do you want to elope? Alan & Heidi Disney Concert Hall elopement

As you noticed above, knowing how to elope in Southern California can definitely be affected by when you choose to elope! Couples elope here all year round. Winter might be warmer here than where you’re from. How about choosing a nearly empty beach all to yourself with a firepit at night or the desert landscape against a winter sky enjoying every star and planet, maybe you’ll see a shooting star or a satellite. Don’t forget that snowy background in the mountains is glorious!

March, April, & May in the desert can be green and beautiful, maybe a super bloom of flowers. How about spring skiing in the mountains after your wedding? Prior to Summer, there’s often warm afternoons with a slight breeze at the beach too.

Summer in California is the time for those majestic mountaintops. That’s our favorite location at that time of year, not as crowded as the beach and way cooler than desert! We can suggest some beaches that are less populated on week days in the summer though. Deserts in June, July and August are challenging, it’s often 90-110+ degrees. With a danger of dehydration and heatstroke, you definitely don’t want to head in that direction in summertime.

elopement bouquet weather is lovely in most locations in Southern California! There’s almost always a breeze but it’s cooler and in the desert, you can spot some adorable bunnies, a few lizards and a silhouette of a coyote as they trot away in the distance. Bring a jacket for that sunset that will light up the skies with orange, red and pink. The same with the beach! It’s getting cooler but the crowds, the traffic and the busy summer season is over. It’s calmer and at a slower pace, a great time to elope!

Step 3: What vendors might you need?

What else is critical knowledge in how to elope in southern California? Choosing experienced elopement professionals for your adventure. It’s not the same as a wedding and absolutely not the time to for a friend who’s always wanted to do this, to practice on you! Some people may only need a photographer, an officiant and a marriage license to elope. Other couples might want florals, video, a professional hair and makeup artist, a musician, or perhaps a picnic set up.

You’re doing great, you’ve picked your location and chose the time of year! It’s possible that all you might still need is the two of us, Alan as your photographer and Heidi as your officiant. We’re veterans of over a hundred elopements here in Southern California and nationwide too. It’s critical that you find vendors you really feel comfortable with. Our vibe is the cool “Aunt & Uncle” whom you very quickly notice that you can be yourself around, but they always have ideas and solutions to issue that might come up. We’re definitely LGBTQIA+ allys and ready to make this adventure amazing for the both of you!

You can do an all day adventure with Alan photographing you having a glass of wine before disappearing into separate rooms to get ready, maybe doing a first look together, the custom and awesome ceremony, the romantic photos afterwards, and a private picnic dinner with a champagne toast and a slice of cake. Maybe it’s just an hour or two, documenting your intimate ceremony, and some “epically real” photos of the both of you with those candid, happy smiles afterwards, just holding each other close and whispering to in one another’s ear.

Heidi is the one who works with you to create a fun, romantic and personal ceremony that fits you both. She’s an ordained and professional officiant and she’s also the person who makes all of this legal. Her job is to make this as easy and stress free as possible, including getting your marriage license. Heidi’s written and officiated over 500 weddings and elopements and makes you feel calm and happy while she performs your ceremony. She wants to capture your love and feelings on paper for you, it’s going to be a safe space for the two of you to be yourselves in nature. Her style is far more romantic than religious (but if you need a little shout out to God, that’s fine), and she refuses to do long & boring weddings!

If you’re interested in getting florals – a bouquet & boutonniere – we work with an awesome florist and can add on in-season florals to any package. We’ll hand deliver them to you on your wedding day – one less thing to stress about!

As far as other elopement vendors or services you may want like video, hair and makeup, musician or DJ, a place to stay or perhaps a romantic picnic or restaurant, and fun adventures, Alan and Heidi have a network of like-minded people and businesses that they’ve worked with and trust.

Step 4: Time for the final details.

Now that you have picked the time, date and location, have your elopement team ready, it’s time to figure out those important details that make this day so special.

What are you going to wear? Is this going to be epic with that that designer gown you saw in the magazine with the veil, gorgeous lace, paired with hiking boots, or that perfect dress that’s so just your style that you found on Etsy? Is your partner renting a tux or getting that striking navy blue suit? It could be a simple white cotton button down shirt with blue jeans and bare feet in the sand? Are both of you wearing matching suits or dresses? This is the chance to choose something that is authentically you! Heidi used to be a wedding planner for many years, so she has so many ideas  to share with youAlan & Heidi gay elopement

What flowers are in season that time of year and have the colors you imagined, or a special meaning for that flower? Hair and make up, better start looking for inspiration and deciding updo, or down and a little messy? Where do we want to stay, that quaint little cottage where we can walk to the water, or that fancy hotel in town with the view, spa tub and the hot, new restaurant to celebrate your wedding day… Alan and Heidi are here to offer suggestions, ideas and guidance for you, should you need them.

Step 5: Enjoy your special day!

This is the last piece of advice on how to elope in Southern California…It sounds really simple, but on the day of your elopement, all you have to do is relax and enjoy the experience. Take the time to savor every moment and soak up the beauty of your surroundings. Don’t worry about the little things – just focus on each other and the love you share! Here’s how your day might go…

After getting ready, you two take a quiet moment and do a first look. This is a special moment where you get to see each other before the ceremony and it’s just the both of you. You see each other for the first time in your wedding outfits, you smile, laugh, hug and whisper to each other, the stress magically disappears. It’s the moment of that long exhale, that you’ve been holding for so long! You take a few more romantic photos with Alan and then it’s time to make things official.

This is where you finally get to share the beautiful ceremony you’ve created with Heidi, perhaps you had her write your personal love story. It’s holding hands and facing each other, it’s wiping a happy tear from your partner’s eye, more hugs, smiles and laughter…but no kissing until the end. It’s sharing your personal vows with one another while surrounded by the beauty of your surroundings. The excitement turns to quiet listening as you are pronounced married, and we get an awesome photo of you sharing your first kissAlan & Heidi Yosemite Elopement

Post-ceremony, it’s time to do romantic photos in the glow of the “golden hour’ just before sunset. A walk along the edge of the beach, or the shore of the lake, maybe next to the stunning silhouette of a Joshua Tree in the fading sun. If you’ve planned a celebratory meal or drinks, take the time to enjoy them together and celebrate your new life as a married couple


Planning how to elope in Southern California can be a fun and exciting experience, or it can also be stressful and overwhelming. By following the steps above, you are on the path to creating and ensuring that your special wedding day is everything you dreamed it could be, but also, so much more than you truly imagined.

Remember, your elopement is all about the two of you and what you want it to be. You get to choose when and where you want it to be, whether you’re saying your vows on a mountaintop or on the beach, what matters most is your love and having the experience you want. We’re here to help you create the Southern California elopement experience that you want and make this easy, fun and meaningful. So take a deep breath, let’s create your adventure and make some memories!


Thinking of eloping in Southern California?
We’re here to help make it easy, fun & awesome!

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Alan & Heidi avatarAlan & Heidi have years of experience in the wedding industry in different areas. Alan is an award winning photographer with his stand-alone wedding photography company – He loves hiking and offroading in his bright orange Subaru. Heidi’s a former wedding planner, a professional writer, speaker, voice over artist, spent many years in theatre, and loves her “Zoom Zoom” Miata convertible. You can see her Officiating site at

They both love what they do and after being married for 23+ years, they know spending time with people in love has helped them stay romantic. They also love being in nature, watching super hero movies, enjoying a good cup of coffee and are parents to two sons and far too many pets!