October 7, 2020

Joshua Tree Elopement Guide

Elopement Planning

Named after the bristly, twisted Joshua Trees sprinkled all over the vast desert landscape, Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most unique places to elope! The rugged rock formations, starry night skies, and cactus gardens make an amazing backdrop with the perfect mix of adventure and funk. If you’re planning your own Joshua Tree elopement (or you’re thinking about it), keep reading to learn everything you need to know to elope in Joshua Tree National Park!

Set an Elopement Date

The first step to planning your Joshua Tree Elopement is to set a date! But, before you commit, it’s important to be aware of a few factors.

Joshua Tree Weather

Joshua Tree National Park is located in southern California, which is known for year-round sunshine and warm weather. But, because Joshua Tree is a desert, it gets very hot in the summer, and mornings and evenings get chilly in the winter. Here is a graph of the weather averages in Joshua Tree throughout the year:

Joshua Tree Weather Averages

As you can see, temperatures are most comfortable in spring and fall, so keep that in mind when planning your elopement!

Avoiding Crowds

Because spring and fall bring the best weather to Joshua Tree, those are also the most popular seasons for visitors! So if you want more privacy on your elopement day, consider eloping during the off season. 

Another tip we always give out couples is to elope on a weekday! Because most people are off work on weekends, national parks tend to get a lot more crowded. By eloping on a weekday, especially Monday through Thursday, you’ll have more luck finding a private place to say your vows.

We also love when couples elope at sunrise – even if getting up at the crack of dawn isn’t your thing, hear us out! Sunrise is the only time when even the most popular spots in Joshua Tree are nearly completely empty. You’ll have the place to yourselves, and you’ll get the most incredible red, orange, and pink skies in your elopement photos!

Choose an Elopement Location

With over 1,000 square miles to explore, it can definitely be hard to narrow down where you want to go on your elopement day! Joshua Tree has a list of locations where ceremonies are allowed, and each one has different regulations when it comes to the number of people allowed.

You can have a ceremony at any of these spots, but don’t forget that you can go anywhere in the park for photos before or after the ceremony!

Indian Cove Amphitheater

Hidden Valley Picnic Area

Turkey Flats

Cap Rock

Rattlesnake Picnic Area

Quail Springs Picnic Area

Split Rock

Porcupine Wash

Queen Valley Mine Intersection

Lost Horse Parking Lot

Live Oak Picnic Area

For the most up to date information about the restrictions for each of these spots, check out nps.gov!

If you’re planning your Joshua Tree elopement (or thinking about it), keep reading to learn everything you need to know to elope in Joshua Tree National Park!

The Legal Stuff

Legalities and logistics might not be the most exciting thing about your elopement day, but they’re important to know so that your marriage is legal and valid! Brush up on California’s marriage laws, and on Joshua Tree National Park’s wedding ceremony requirements.

Marriage License

To get a marriage license, you’ll need to go to the county clerk’s office in person. You can go anywhere in California, but there’s an office right in the town of Joshua Tree! Some offices allow walk-ins, while others require appointments, so make sure you do some research beforehand. You’ll get your marriage license the same day, and it is valid for 90 days – so if you’re traveling to California from out of state, make sure to get there early enough to do this! The costs of marriage licenses vary by county, but they’re usually around $100.

The Officiant

California requires an officiant to sign your marriage license, but you have a few options for this!

First, you can hire an elopement officiant! As elopements become more popular, many officiants are up for whatever adventure you have planned on your day.
You can also have a friend or family member officiate – getting ordained is surprisingly easy, and it’s free! All they have to do is go to ULC.org, sign up, and they’re ready to officiate wedding ceremonies in any US state! This can add a really nice personal touch to your elopement day.

Mike and I are also ordained, just sayin!

The Witness

In California, you need at least one witness to your ceremony (but you can have up to two). Don’t panic yet if you aren’t planning to invite any guests to your elopement! As a team of two that specializes in elopements, we’re ready to serve as not only your personal paparazzi for the day, but also as your witnesses. You can also ask any other vendors to sign, or even find some park visitors at your ceremony spot! Most people are stoked to help out.

Park Permits

Like most national parks, Joshua Tree requires a permit for any wedding ceremony happening in the park – even if it’s just the two of you! You can find the permit application here. We recommend applying as early as possible because ceremony locations are first come first serve. Permits cost $120, but this money goes right into supporting the park and keeping it beautiful.

Hire Your Elopement Vendors

When it comes to planning your elopement, a good team of vendors is going to make all the difference. Planning even a small ceremony can be stressful, but luckily we know a pretty great team that can help with that. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge, it’s us! We’re photographers and videographers, but we’re also your planning partners and adventure buddies. Our job is so much more than taking epic photos and videos that will have you reminiscing on the best day of your life forever (that part is cool, though) – we also help with everything from finding the perfect location, to recommending other vendors, to getting a permit, to creating a timeline for the day! We’re ready when you are, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help planning your Joshua Tree elopement!

If you’re planning your Joshua Tree elopement (or thinking about it), keep reading to learn everything you need to know to elope in Joshua Tree National Park!

Book Flights and Lodging

We recommend booking your flights and lodging early on, as you’ll likely get the best deal, and you can make sure that you can stay close to Joshua Tree National Park! Airbnbs and hotel rooms book up fast, especially during the busy season, so it never hurts to be early.

Flights

The closest airport to Joshua Tree National Park is Palm Springs International. Depending on where you’re flying from, you can also consider landing at LAX, as the airport is much bigger and offers more options at lower prices. The Palm Springs Airport is just a 45 minute drive from the park, while LAX is 3 hours away.

Where to Stay

When you elope in Joshua Tree, you’ll have tons of options for cute Airbnbs, cabins, campsites, and villas to stay in. The Joshua Tree House is a gorgeous, modern house styled to match the desert outside. It’s the perfect home base to come back to after a day of adventuring, and you’ll feel right at home. You can also go glamping in this unique yurt and blend comfort with the outdoors, or search Airbnb for a cozy place to call home during your elopement.

Ready to Elope in Joshua Tree?

If you’re sold on eloping in the desert with bristly trees and rocky formations around you, let’s start planning your adventure! Reach out to us to get started – and don’t worry if you haven’t got everything figured out yet – that’s what we’re here for!

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