fbpx

THE BLOG

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO YOUR NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT

HOW TO ELOPE IN THE NORTH CASCADES

seattle wedding photographer

Hi! I'm Natasha! Your North Cascades 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 an elopement that's all about those moments.

NATASHA CARDINAL

NORTH CASCADES

ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER

IN THIS GUIDE

Why Elope in the North Cascades
How to Elope in the North Cascades
The Best Time of Year for Your North Cascades Elopement
The Best North Cascades Elopement Locations
Where to Stay for Your North Cascades Elopement
How to Legally Get Married in the North Cascades
North Cascades Elopement Timelines
The Best Vendors for Your North Cascades Elopement
Tips + Advice
Meet Your North Cascades Elopement Photographers
North Cascades Elopement Packages

WHY ELOPE IN THE NORTH CASCADES

Coming in hot: The North Cascades are one of the most underrated places to elope in Washington! Known as the North American Alps, they're some of the most majestic mountains in all of North America. With hundreds of sparkling alpine lakes, snow capped peaks, lush forests, wildflower meadows, *mountain goats* (um, imagine seeing a mountain goat on your elopement day??? so cool????), it's some of the most spectacular scenery you'll find anywhere. There are plenty of hidden gems and popular destinations, whether you want to hike solo to a remote place for just the two of you, or you're looking for an easy to get to destination for your guests. And plenty of opportunities for activities like hiking, swimming in an alpine lake, horseback riding through the mountains, visit waterfalls. Plus, most locations are just a few hours drive from Seattle!

You'll have a truly unique, wild, and unbelievably memorable wedding day.

YOUR NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT CHECKLIST

  1. Choose the time of year you want to elope
  2. Hire your Washington elopement photographer
  3. Choose your North Cascades elopement location
  4. Book your badass vendor team
  5. Book your lodging
  6. Apply for your Special Use Permit
  7. Apply for a Washington marriage license
  8. Get married! Woohoo!

THE BEST TIME OF YEAR FOR YOUR NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT

The North Cascades have some of the most dramatic weather in all of Washington (pop off, Mother Nature), so choosing the right time of year can certainly make all the difference when planning your North Cascades elopement!

Summer and Fall are typically the most popular time of year to elope in the North Cascades because of the mild weather and absolutely gorgeous fall colors when the Larch trees change! Temperatures hover in the 70s and 80s in the summer, and the 60s and 70s in the fall. Typically you'll have clear skies and sunny days!

***One thing to note is that late summer and early fall is wildfire season so there's always the risk of smoke, but that's why we come up with backup plans!

Winter in the Cascades is like no other. Some areas like Mt. Baker even get more snow than anywhere else in the country (Mt. Baker even holds the world record for most snowfall in one season at 100 ft!). Travel can be limited because roads like Highway 20 close seasonally, buuuuuuut there are still plenty of amazing things to do, like visit Leavenworth, America's most Christmassy town!

CLICK HERE TO SEE A WINTER MT. BAKER ELOPEMENT HERE

THE BEST NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS

The North Cascades are one of the most majestic places you can visit in Washington, so there's no shortage of amazing places to elope, especially if you're a big fan of alpine lakes and mountains. So let's talk about some of our favorite spots in the area!

MT. BAKER – ARTIST POINT

We couldn't have a North Cascades elopement list without mentioning Mt. Baker! It's one of the most popular locations in the North Cascades for good reason! With multiple alpine lakes, some of the most stunning mountain views, wildflowers, easily accessible (even some ADA accessible!) locations for your ceremony and your photos, we go on and on. We love it so much that it's even where we eloped ourselves!

Length: 0.25 miles to 10+ miles depending on which trail you choose
Dog Friendly: Yes! Mt. Baker is one of the few dog friendly elopement locations in the Cascades!
Permit Needed: None if you plan on eloping with less than 50 people.
Pass Needed: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

LAKE VALHALLA

Part of the PCT near Steven's Pass, Lake Valhalla is a hidden gem in the Cascades that would make for the perfect elopement location! In the summer you'll be greeted by wildflowers, in the fall with vivid autumn colors, and in the winter it's a beautiful snowshoe trail!

Length: 7 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft.
Dog Friendly: Yes! Dogs are welcome on leash.
Permit Needed: None if your elopement is under 50 people.
Pass Needed: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

MINOTAUR LAKE

Yet another hidden gem alpine lake near Leavenworth, WA is Minotaur Lake! Stunning granite peaks, sparkly blue alpine lake water, and a short hike makes this spot one of the most underrated elopement locations in the Cascades (something you'll probably hear me say again...and again lol). It's a bit of a climb in the beginning of the trail, but absolutely worth being out of breath for a little bit for such a beautiful location that's such a short hike!

Length: 3.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,800 ft.
Dog Friendly: Yes! Dogs are welcome on leash.
Permit Needed: None if your elopement is under 50 people.
Pass Needed: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

BLUE LAKE

Near the infamous town of Stehekin (that's only accessible by boat, plane, or foot!), Blue Lake is gorgeous blue (surprise surprise lol) alpine lake that is on a relatively short trail. In the summer the crystal clear water is sparkly and refreshing, with a backdrop of beautiful mountain peaks, and in the fall you'll get to see the amazing Larch trees change color!

Length: 4.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 900 ft.
Dog Friendly: Yes! Dogs are welcome on leash.
Permit Needed: None if your elopement is under 50 people.
Pass Needed: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

RAINY LAKE

Of course since we're in the PNW there was bound to be a lake named Rainy Lake! Like Blue Lake, this lake is near Stehekin, WA and is one of the easiest hikes on this list! Because of it's easy accessibility it's a popular spot, but worth it for the views.

Length: 2.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 121 ft.
Dog Friendly: Yes! Dogs are welcome on leash.
Permit Needed: None if your elopement is under 50 people.
Pass Needed: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

CUTTHROAT LAKE

Not to far from the ADORABLE town of Winthrop (a historic western town that takes great care to preserve it's old timey look!) this trail takes you through lush forest, with Larch views in the fall, and like the other lakes on this list is crystal clear and beautiful in the summer.

Length: 3.8 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 500 ft.
Dog Friendly: Yes! Dogs are welcome on leash.
Permit Needed: None if your elopement is under 50 people.
Pass Needed: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

HEATHER LAKE #1526

A little hidden gem in the Cascades with far fewer visitors than other lakes in the area, this spot is perfect for a lake elopement if you're looking for some peace and quiet on the trail! There are plenty of beautiful view points around the lake for you and some guests if they're willing to take the hike with you, and you can even bring your dog!

Length: 6.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,440 ft.
Dog Friendly: Yes! Dogs are welcome on leash.
Permit Needed: None if your elopement is under 50 people.
Pass Needed: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

WASHINGTON PASS OVERLOOK TRAIL

Just off of Highway 20, this super short paved trail that's ADA accessible and easy to reach for guests that may have some mobility issues, with the option to take a second trail that leads you to some granite outcroppings with even better views! Behind you you'll have amazing views of Liberty Bell Mountain and the valley below you. It's a great place to elope right off the main road!

Length: 0.25 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 60 ft.
Dog Friendly: Yes! Dogs are welcome on leash.
Permit Needed: None if your elopement is under 50 people.
Pass Needed: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

WHERE TO STAY FOR YOUR NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT

The North Cascade Range is a pretty big mountain range! So we're breaking this section up by specific area.

Places to Stay Near Mt. Baker – Deming and Glacier, WA

Places to Stay Near Leavenworth

Places to Stay in the Rest of the Cascades

CHECK OUT OUR FULL LIST OF THE BEST AIRBNBS TO STAY AT FOR YOUR NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT

THE BEST NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT VENDORS

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:

HOW TO LEGALLY GET MARRIED IN THE NORTH CASCADES

PERMITS

The North Cascades Range is a combination of National Forests, National Park, and State Parks that span the beautiful mountain range! Most of the locations recommended in this list though are in 3 areas, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, North Cascades National Park, and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. But let's talk about when and where you'll need a permit (but don't worry, when we plan your elopement we let you know when you'll need a permit and how to get it!)

National Forests: Northwest Forest Pass (either a day pass or $30 annual pass), you don't need a permit if you have under 50 people join you for your elopement

National Park: There is no fee to visit the North Cascades NP (but you can get an annual pass for ALL national parks in the US here for $80) + Special Use Wedding Permit

State Parks: Depending on which park you visit you may have to pay a day pass fee or you can use an annual Discover Pass ($30) for all of Washingtons State Parks AND you'll need a Special Use Permit, some parks also require a Photography Permit as well (typically we have an annual Photography Permit that we renew yearly, so don't sweat this one!)

MARRIAGE LICENSE

If you get married anywhere in the State of Washington, you'll need these requirements too!

  • 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 if you're getting married near Mt. Baker, or if you're getting married near Leavenworth you can apply at the Chelan County Auditors Office, or in Pierce County as you pass through Seattle.

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

how to get married in washington state

TIMELINE EXAMPLES FOR YOUR NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT

So you've gotten this far, and I know what you're probably thinking...what does this actually look like on elopement day? Let's breakdown what an elopement day timeline looks like for an 8 hour elopement if you were to elope on Mt. Baker and book an Airbnb in Glacier or Deming, WA in September.

2:00pm – Getting ready photos at your Airbnb, photos of your details like what you're wearing, elopement announcement, rings, flowers, jewelry, etc., telling the story of how your day starts

4:00pm – First look (where you see each other for the first time!)

4:15pm – Leave your Airbnb and head to the Bagley Lakes area of Artist Point

*30-40 minute drive from Airbnb to Bagley Lakes parking lot*

5:00pm – Hike 2 miles around Bagley Lakes, snack on some berries on the trail

6:00pm – Take a break, eat some yummy stuff, maybe have personal charcuterie boards from Yeah Baby Boards

7:00pm – Go up to Artist Point for golden hour photos

*10 minute drive up to Artist Point*

7:15pm – Say your vows as the sun sets + pop champagne + celebrate!

7:30pm – Cut a small personal cake

8:00pm – Drive back to Airbnb *30-40 minute drive*

9:00pm - 10:00pm – Campfire + share your first dance in the fire light + make s'mores

Every elopement is different though! We can do an endless combination of activities to include everything you love! Click the link below for some ideas for what you can do on your elopement day!

98 Unique elopement day activities

TIPS FOR YOUR NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT

  • Check the weather, but don't rely on weather apps to be accurate! Weather in the Cascades can be unpredictable, so bring layers and be prepared!
  • Check road conditions! Some roads close seasonally so make sure when you check the weather, that you also check road conditions before heading out – WTA has a real time travel map here!
  • Always have a backup plan! Whenever I create an elopement plan, we always come up with backup options just in case! We always hope that things go according to plan, but you never want to be left unprepared if the weather/road conditions/trail conditions don't cooperate.
  • It's better to be over prepared than it is to be under prepared (hence the multiple prompts to "be prepared" lol)
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles by walking/traveling on durable surfaces, taking care to not disturb any wildlife or vegetation, packing out all trash, and leaving everything just as you found it.

MEET YOUR

NORTH CASCADES

ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHERS

hudson valley wedding photographers the cardinals

We're Natasha and Brian! Your North Cascades elopement photographers, dog petters, and donut eaters focused on creating the dreamiest and intentional photos of your elopement. But we're so much more than just photographers. When you work with us, you get built in North Cascades elopement planning experts, guides for all of the parks most beautiful trails, snack holders, dress fluffers, tissue providers, and friends.

We know exactly what it's like to elope, because that's what we did too! We eloped on a misty August day on Mt. Baker with our sweet dog Fern, 7 of our closest friends, and it couldn't have been more us. Creating a day that's undeniably you and honors your relationship is what we know best.

NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT PACKAGES

01

02

03

SUNRISE/SUNSET

HALF DAY

FULL DAY

For that couple that's ready to pack in every experience they can from sun up to sun down. This package is perfect if you want sunrise and sunset coverage so you get the best of both worlds! This time can be split however you'd like throughout the day, so we don't miss a thing.

Short and sweet for the couple that's all about keeping it simple. We'll cover your I do's, go on a short hike or visit your favorite local spots, and take some damn sweet photos along the way.

The sweet spot for all of the essentials. We'll cover your getting ready photos, head to your ceremony location, go for a hike, eat-drink-and-be-merry, visit the most beautiful locations for photos, have a romantic dinner.

~ 8 hours of coverage

~ premium bespoke wedding album

~ timeline + location planning

~ guides, questionnaires + resources

to inspire the best adventure ever

~ sneak peek gallery

~ travel + tax included within the PNW

~10 hours split between sunrise and sunset

~ premium bespoke wedding album

~ timeline + location planning

~ guides, questionnaires + resources

to inspire the best adventure ever

~ sneak peek gallery

~ travel + tax included within the PNW

~ 4 hours of coverage

~ timeline planning + location planning

~ guides, questionnaires + resources

to inspire the best adventure ever

~ sneak peek gallery

~ travel + tax included within the PNW

$6,000

$4,800

$7,400

LET'S CHAT

LET'S CHAT

LET'S CHAT

LIMITED AVAILABILITY

most popular

THINK WE'RE A GOOD FIT? SAME HERE!

WASHINGTON ELOPEMENT LOCATION GUIDES

looking for guides on even more breathtaking locations? check out our faves!