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THE BLOG

the ultimate guide to YOUR artist point ELOPEMENT

LOCATIONS, PERMITS, CHECKLISTS, + PACKAGES

seattle wedding photographer

Hi! I'm Natasha! Your intimate wedding and elopement photographer, dog petter and donut eater. While photography is my first love, connecting with people is my love language. You'll find me lovin' on the big moments, the quiet moments, the silly moments – but especially the in between moments. The moments that are unadulterated and unfiltered. The ones where you are the real you. Here on the blog you'll find all of my favorite tips, tricks and resources for planning a wedding that's all about those moments.

NATASHA CARDINAL

INTIMATE WEDDING +

ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER

It's no secret that we love an Artist Point elopement over here. In fact, Brian and I love Mt. Baker so much that we eloped there ourselves. So we truly think having your elopement there is one of the best decisions you'll make!

There's no shortage of amazing locations in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and right at Mount Baker itself for your magical elopement. With everything from insane glacier views, to alpine lakes, volcano vistas and rugged alpine forest, they don't call it the American Alps for no reason. If alpine beauty is what you've been dreaming of for your big day, then look no further. In this blog we'll cover everything you need to know about planning your Artist Point elopement.

Still need a little more convincing? Check out my blog on amazing Airbnb's for your Mt. Baker elopement that would make for a perfect home base or venue!

IN THIS GUIDE

How to Elope at Artist Point: Your Checklist
The Best Time of Year to Elope at Artist Point
The Best Elopement Locations at Artist Point
Where to Stay for Your Artist Point Elopement
How to Get There
How to Know If You Need a Permit for Your Elopement
How to Elope at Artist Point with Your Dog
What's In the Area: Towns + Where to Get Supplies
Creating Your Backup Plan
How to Get Married in Washington: Getting Your Marriage License
What to Pack for Your Artist Point Elopement
The Best Vendors for Your Artist Point Elopement

(photos from our own Artist Point elopement in the Heather Meadows area by Kevin Ruano)

HOW TO ELOPE AT ARTIST POINT: YOUR CHECKLIST

  1. Choose the time of year you want to get married.
  2. Hire your Mt. Baker elopement photographer.
  3. Choose an amazing location
  4. Book your lodging
  5. Book your badass vendor team
  6. Apply for your national forest wedding permit (we'll talk about how to know if you need one later in this blog)
  7. Apply for a marriage license
  8. Get married! Woohoo!

THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO ELOPE AT ARTIST POINT

First things first, you need to decide what time of year you want to get married! Artist Point can look really different depending on the time of the year so it's essential that you nail down what look and feel you're going for! Are you looking for fall leaves and moody foggy vibes? Are you snow obsessed winter athletes? Do you want wildflowers and mountain views?

SUMMER

Summer is by far the most popular season to elope at Mt. Baker because of it's easy accessibility to tons of different locations, it's mild weather, and for the most part clear skies. The road to Artist Point usually opens in July but depends on when the snow melts. July, August, and September are typically when summer elopements happen if you're looking for more mild weather. You'll have access to tons of breathtaking locations. It's not uncommon for some snow to linger until late July though. Brian and I got married here in early August so we could time it right to avoid the snow, and try to beat some of the late summer smoke and it was perfect!

*NOTE* - late August/September is a gorgeous time to get married at Mt. Baker, but this is the time of year that it can be quite smoky from the wildfires. We always come up with a backup plan no matter where you're eloping, but smoke will be something that we'll take into consideration when we create your elopement plan.

FALL

Fall is one of the most stunning times of the year to get married in Washington! In the mountains the larch and plenty of other fall foliage turning, painting everything with beautiful fall colors. Cooler temps and foggy vistas make for the most gorgeous backdrops for any mountain elopement.

WINTER

If you're snow obsessed, winter is absolutely your time to shine here. Did you know that Mount Baker gets more snowfall than anywhere else in North America? But don't let some cold weather scare you away. Hosting a ski wedding here or getting to your elopement location on snowshoes is a pretty badass way to get married too. From late October to usually early July the last 1.8 mile stretch of the Mt. Baker Highway to Artist Point is closed, but you'll still have road access to the Mt. Baker Ski Area for most of the winter.

Because we live in Bellingham we snowshoe in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest all winter and can say without a doubt that it has some of the best powder on the planet! If you choose to get married here in the winter, having a backup location/plan is absolutely essential but no worries! We can help you plan for anything and everything.

click here to see a snowy mt. baker winter elopement

SPRING

Spring has the most diverse weather of all the seasons up at Mt. Baker! Often the snow will stick around till July, but that just means that all of the waterfalls in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will be absolutely roaring. Sounds pretty cool if you ask me. Franklin Falls is a great option for a springtime elopement!

THE BEST ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS AT MT. BAKER

There's definitely no shortage of amazing locations for your Artist Point elopement! You have the majestic Mt. Baker volcano, views of Mt. Shuksan, glaciers, roaring waterfalls, stunning alpine lakes. Let's compare some of the locations that are my most recommended for couples wanting to elope.

Artist Point Elopement Locations

1. Heather Meadows

The Heather Meadows area of the Mt. Baker area is one of the most beautiful areas of the park. In the summer it's carpeted by beautiful white and pink heather blossoms, but also has one of the most spectacular and ADA accessible spots! The Fire and Ice Trail is a short paved trail that leads to a stunning view of Iceberg Lake and Table Mountain.

2. Picture Lake

If you're looking for the best view of Mt. Shuksan then Picture Lake is IT. With plenty of gorgeous wildflower blooms in the summer, surrounded by lush forest, you'll need to hike just 0.6 miles and no more than 50 feet of elevation gain, the trail is even ADA accessible! As one of the most photographed lakes in America, it's no secret why. The reflections off the lake make for the most stunning photos.

3. Bagley Lakes

For those that still want a bit of a hike on their wedding day but without it being too strenuous, the Bagley Lakes Loop is the perfect in between. A moderately challenging 2.2 mile loop and 250 feet of elevation gain, you'll hike around the lake with views of plenty of wildflowers in the summer, glowing foliage in the fall, sweeping views of two lakes, with some lovely boardwalks to guide you in some places, and a picturesque stone bridge crossing. If you're a lake lover like myself, you won't be disappointed.

4. Chain Lakes Loop

Brian and I hiked this trail with our friends for our elopement and I can absolutely confirm it's one of the most stunning hikes in the area. Throughout the 6.5 miles, you'll have sweeping views as you traverse the mountainside, with wildflower meadows on one side, and stunning views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan, and pass multiple alpine lakes, each different and even more beautiful than the last. It's a moderately challenging hike, but worth the views. If you're obsessed with alpine lakes this is the trail for you.

5. Ptarmigan Ridge

At 9.0 miles and 1,600 feet of elevation gain, this trail not for the faint of heart, but if you're willing to make the trek, you'll be rewarded with up close and personal views of the Park Glacier on Mt. Baker and it's the closest you can get without starting a climbing/mountaineering trail. It's one of the most spectacular hikes we've ever done and would be even more spectacular for an elopement ceremony!

(Airbnb: The Hideout at Mt. Baker)

THE BEST PLACES TO STAY FOR YOUR ARTIST POINT ELOPEMENT

Alright, now that you've nailed down where you want to get married, you'll need to figure out where you're going to stay. No matter how rustic or how luxurious you wanna go for your elopement, here are some of the different options for nearby lodging from campgrounds to airbnbs!

Campgrounds:

If you're planning to camp make sure to book your site well in advance (6-12 months out) because these campgrounds fill up fast! Because there's so few options so close to the mountain you'll want to make sure to book early to secure your dream sites.

Airbnbs:

Check out my blog The Best Airbnbs for Your Mt. Baker Elopement for even more options!

HOW DO I GET THERE? WHEN DOES THE ROAD CLOSE?

To get up to the places on the list above, if you're coming from Seattle you'll take the I-5 North towards Bellingham, and you'll end up on the Mt. Baker Highway – Artist Point is at the very end of the highway! Unfortunately the last 1.8 miles of the highway closes in the the fall and stays closed all winter due to the high snowfall. Typically it opens back up mid-July but the exact dates can vary based on the amount of snowfall there is.

However, with that said, the highway all the way up until that last 1.8 mile stretch is open year round and provides access to the Mt. Baker Ski Area. So if you're planning on visiting in the spring or winter, you can still elope at Heather Meadows, Picture Lake, or Bagley Lakes!

HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED A PERMIT FOR MY WEDDING?

If you've read anything about getting married on public land, particularly state and national parks, you'll know that many require a special use permit for weddings or gatherings of any kind. But one of the perks of getting married in a national forest is that there tends to be fewer restrictions when it comes to gatherings! If you have under 75 guests you currently do not need a special use permit to get married in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. However, with that said you should always check with the US Forest Service website for up to date regulations and requirements when it comes to passes and permits. Often if a location gains popularity, regulations will change to protect the area from overuse.

While you most likely won't need a permit for your elopement, the area does require a $5 day pass for each vehicle that you can purchase online or at a visitors center, or you can get an annual Northwest Forest Pass for $30 that covers are land and recreation areas operated by the US Forest Service.

IS MY DOG ALLOWED TO COME?

Yes! One of the best things about getting married in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is that you can bring your dog! They must be leashed at all times in developed areas (they can be off leash on backcountry trails and in wilderness areas) but you must pick up after them and make sure they don't chase the wildlife (we practice Leave No Trace principles and we're super passionate about this!). You don't need any special permit or pass to bring your dog either!

There's even a PNW Pet Coordinator Service that will help you transport and handle your dog for you! Check out Wags Down the Aisle!

WHAT'S THE CLOSEST TOWN?

The closest towns where you'll be able to get basics are Glacier and Maple Falls. Both are VERY small, with literally just the basics but if you're in a pinch, here are some options!

Graham's Convenience Store - some last minute snacks, ATM, beer and beverages, a variety of miscellaneous convenience items if you forgot something at home

Wake n' Bakery - best breakfast around! I highly recommend their strawberry scones, peach crumble muffins, and chorizo breakfast burritos

Chair 9 Pizza and Bar - great pizza, great beer, some of the best food in the area!

Crossroads Grocery - your closest grocery store option if you're looking to pick up some ingredients for a BBQ dinner, some lunch or hiking snacks

Maple Fuels Chevron Gas Station - gas station option in Maple Falls, closest to the mountain but is $$$$

Mobile Gas Station - cheaper gas option on your way in from Bellingham

SHOULD I HAVE A BACKUP PLAN?

The PNW is known for having unpredictable weather, smokey late summers, torrential rain, all sorts of wild weather conditions – so you should absolutely have a back up plan! But don't sweat it, when we plan your elopement day we'll talk about all sorts of different back up plans so no matter what happens, you'll still have the wedding of your dreams and the most spectacular photos imaginable.

GETTING YOUR WASHINGTON MARRIAGE LICENSE

While you don't need any special license or permit to get married at Mt. Baker, you will need to follow Washington State's marriage laws. The state of Washington has these requirements for a couple to legally get married:

  • Application fee is $62.00
  • Minimum age to marry is 18.
  • Waiting Period: There’s a 3 day waiting period.
  • License Validity Time: You'll have 60 days from the day you get the license to return it to the auditors office.
  • Residency: You do not need to be a Washington resident to apply for a license or be married in the state.
  • Witnesses: Witnesses are not necessary to apply for a license, but state law requires that at least two witnesses be present at the ceremony. Witnesses should be at least 12 years of age.

Couples planning to getting married in the state of Washington may be obtained a wedding license from the Whatcom County Auditors office. All of the necessary forms can be obtained in person or online: Whatcom County Auditors Office, 311 Grand Ave #103, Bellingham WA 98225.

I have a whole blog about How to Get Married in Washington State here too!

how to get married in washington state

YOUR ARTIST POINT ELOPEMENT PACKING LIST

  • Flashlight
  • Headlamp
  • Snacks
  • Plenty of water
  • Tissues (for all of those happy tears)
  • Toilet paper (if you're planning on being at a location away from facilities)
  • Your vows
  • Rings
  • Doggy bags (if you're bringing your furry friend)
  • Dog treats
  • Dog food (if you plan on being out all day)
  • Hiking boots
  • Shoes you'll wear for photos or ceremony if not your boots
  • Your wedding attire (if you aren't hiking in it)
  • Layers (weather can change in an instant, so be prepared for any weather)
  • Rain jacket
  • Florals if you're having a bouquet (bouquet, boutonnière, flower crown, flower collar for your dog, etc.)
  • Northwest Forest Pass or day pass
  • Blister pads + first aid

VENDORS FOR YOUR ARTIST POINT ELOPEMENT

Need to hire some vendors still? Check out some of my favorites below!

Officiants:

  • Officiant Jimmie
  • Me! I'm a registered officiant in WA state and would be more than happy to sign your marriage license

    Florists:

Planners/Coordinator:

Pet Wedding Day Coordinator:

Personal/Group Charcuterie Boards:

couple dances on the dead horse creek trail at mt rainier national park

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