If you're looking for the legal requirements for eloping in California, we've outlined them here in 9 easy steps.

If you're still in the brainstorming phase for your elopement itinerary, read on for an insightful feature written by a lifelong California native.

How to Elope in California

To elope in California, you must:

  1. Ensure that you're both over 18 and neither of you are already married to anyone else.
  2. Determine which county clerk's office you'll be using and go to their website. You probably want to choose the county you're getting married in, but if there's another location that works best with your elopement itinerary, use that one instead.
  3. Make a marriage license appointment within 90 days leading up to your wedding date using the website. If your chosen county allows you to complete the application online, we highly recommend that you do so. You'll also have to pay the fee which can be between $60 and $120.
  4. If you or your spouse-to-be have been divorced within the past 6 months, you'll need to present a copy of the divorce decree.
  5. Choose an officiant, either from a directory or by having a friend or relative apply to be a deputy marriage commissioner for a day.
  6. Ensure that you have at least one witness who can attend, unless you have opted for a confidential marriage license, something unique to California, which requires no witnesses (really)!
  7. Have your marriage ceremony within the state of California. You do not need to get married in the same county as where you got the license from.
  8. Sign the marriage license, along with your officiant, and if you chose a public marriage license, witnesses (no more than two!).
  9. Return the marriage license to the same county clerk's office that issued it. In exchange, they will give you certified copies of your marriage license.

Photo by Siera Harbin

If you're thinking of eloping in California, you're in luck! This state is home to some of the most beautiful and romantic locations for a small wedding. Whether you want to get married on the beach, in a quaint town, big city, or on a stunning mountain top, California has something for everyone. In this blog post, we will provide tips on how to elope in California and some of the best locations to do it.


In this blog article you’ll find:


  • ONE - Regional Elopement Seasons
  • TWO - Elopement Locations
  • THERE - Finding Your Elopement Wedding Dress
  • FOUR - The Legal Matters of Eloping in California
  • FIVE - The Elopement Officiant
  • SIX - Your California Elopement Photographer
  • SEVEN - Accommodations

Regional Elopement Seasons


First up, you’ll need to choose your location. Although California is famous for it's great weather year round, taking microclimates and weather trends into account when choosing your location is advised.


Want to Elope to the highest peaks in California? Keep in mind they will be under several feet of snow December through April. If you plan to trek Mt. Whitney or scale the backside of Half Dome, book your trip for July.


If you’re thinking of eloping in June, be aware that most of the Northern California coast experiences June Gloom, and a beach elopement in San Francisco during that time would likely be a foggy chilly affair. Schedule your Muir Woods or Half Moon Bay elopement for September for an Indian Summer that is sure to please.


In the Fall wildfire season can bring about air quality concerns to the entirety of California. But the interior areas tend to fare worse. If you’re eloping in October or November, aim for the moist coastal areas, like Lost Coast.


If you've always pictured your adventure elopement with golden hills or valleys in the background, elope in California June - October. If you see yourself standing in a lush green field with wildflowers, that'd require a trip in March or April.

Photo by Regan Scaife

Finding Your Elopement Wedding Dress


Once you’re set on location and time of year, you’ll want to plan for your wedding dress. We can accommodate elopment wedding dress orders for last minute adventures on a limited basis. So please check in with us right away to see if we can meet your elopement date. Send us a message. Our usual production time (order date to shipping date) is around 12-14 weeks. So, planning ahead is the way to go, if you can!


When it comes to weather versatility you’re in luck with a Wear Your Love gown. Our dresses are lined in breathable, soft, and extremely comfortable organic cotton. Unlike so many wedding gowns on the market, our lace fabrics are also lightweight and breathable so that many of our summertime brides are able to wear long sleeves if they see fit. If you need a little extra warmth for a winter elopement, most of our dresses can have the sleeves fully lined as well.


Our collection of wedding dresses with skirt slits will suit the beach and urban bride alike. If Grandma and Grandpa aren’t going to be there, why not show a little leg? Or hey, even if they are, showing off what their good genes gave you is not a crime. You’re gorgeous and that’s just as it should be! This is our JULIE long sleeve wedding dress with skirt slit.

Photos by Becca Romero

If uber-romantic photos are on your wishlist, our collection of wedding dresses with beautiful chiffon and English tulle skirts is an absolute must-see for brides planning a beach or mountain top elopement where wind will be in full effect. This is our RORY tulle wedding dress with long sleeves.


Whether you are a chic sophisticated bride, a bohemian free-spirited bride, or a little bit of both, our lace all-over dress collection has something for you. Our whimsical romantic graphic long stem rose lace can’t miss, and our timeless Florals and Leaves lace is sure to please. This is our ARI lace wedding dress with long sleeves.

Photo by Double Coast


Our classic strappy dress collection is always perfect for a summertime fancy-free trip to the alter (or to the forest, beach, or cliffs, as the case may be). Since every one of our gowns is made with stretch lace, there will be nothing holding you back from making the most of your adventure. This is our BREE column wedding dress with spaghetti straps.


Photo by Becca Romero

The Legal Details for Eloping in California


If you plan to have your wedding be official and on the books with the state, then you’ll need to obtain a marriage license from the county clerk’s office of the county in which you plan to elope.

Here’s what you’ll need to bring to the county clerk’s office:

  • Both partners must be present to obtain the license
  • Government issued IDs for both of you
  • Payment for the application fee (this will vary in amount by county)
  • Copies of both of your birth certificates (may vary by county)
  • Proof of divorce if either of you have been married before
  • Information about both of your parents, including: full names, birth places, and birth dates

The Elopement Officiant

You will need someone to officiate your marriage (perform your ceremony). If you are planning to bring anyone from home along with you on your elopement, this might be an excellent choice for your officiant. Anyone can be certified to officiate weddings through a multitude of online organizations. Alternatively, if you are a member of a certain faith, you may find this person through an affiliated church located in California. Another option is to use an online wedding blog directory’s vendor search function. We like Wedding Wire and The Knot. Usually officiants listed through these directories will charge a fee of several hundred dollars, plus potential travel expenses if your destination is remote.

Photo by Koryn Nichole

Your California Elopement Photographer

You won’t want to miss capturing the tears of joy and that first kiss as wedded partners.


Your first stop should be the Wear Your Love - Photographers page for a list of our favorites. A majority of them are located in California.


Note that many photographers book up several months or as much as a year and half in advance. So if you know you are eloping soon, don’t delay on this step!


Instagram is a wonderful place to find a photographer that suits your personal taste. A hashtag search for your elopement location might do just the trick. Try this IG search, #sandiegoelopement (insert your preferred location), choose your favorite photo from the results, and follow the tags to the photographer’s profile.


Last on our list is accommodations. AirBNB is the eloping couple’s best friend. Search your dates (best if they are flexible) and turn on map mode to search the area you have in mind. You may end up finding not just a fabulous house near the beach or mountain you want to say your vows on, but perhaps you’ll find a property so stunning you’ll want to stay onsite for the special event.

Ideas from AirBNB:

Airstream trailer parked overlooking beach

Half Moon Bay Airstream

Amazing Hotels:

white hotel with red roof on beach

Hotel del Coronado

Epic Camping Locations:

canvas tent cabins in forest

Curry Village

bluffs at the edge of the beach

San Onofre State Beach

Wear Your Love specializes in comfortable, packable, and luxuriously soft wedding dresses perfect for elopements. If you're planning an elopement and would like to discuss your dress options, GET IN TOUCH.

Jillian Leigh

Jillian founded Wear Your Love by herself in her garage in 2015. Now she serves as creative director to the most talented team she could ask for. Together they've helped thousands of brides feel beautiful on the most important day of their lives.