Planning a destination wedding isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it’s also not the hardest.
When Sofie & Philippe reached out to us all the way from Belgium, I couldn’t be more excited! Not only because we both love Belgium, and have been there several times (it was where I learned to like beer – now I have high standards), but also because I was so excited to help them plan out their first time visiting Yosemite National Park!
Sofie & Philippe have always dreamed about visiting Yosemite. They wanted an intimate day and something that represented their adventurous spirit. They told me eloping in Belgium isn’t really a thing. Because of all the marriage laws, it seemed really difficult to have the day they wanted to have.
That’s when they realized having a destination wedding was the perfect solution! At first, planning a wedding from so far away might seem intimidating, but once you begin the process, you see how simple it really is. Stick to the end of this post for our top tips on how to plan your destination wedding!
Photographers: Stephan & Adriana
Having a destination wedding allowed Sofie & Philippe to be the people they are and have a care-free day. These two were just the biggest joy to be around! Yosemite National Park was the perfect setting to celebrate their love for nature, for traveling, and for each other. We’re so happy these two made it all the way from Belgium to CA!
Top #5 Tips to Plan your Destination Wedding
- It’s like planning a trip. It really is. If you start by just thinking that you’re planning a normal trip, things will be less intimidating to being with. Think about what time of the year you want to visit, when can you take time off, where you want to go, and how many days you want to spend in each place. Then you can start looking at flights, rental cars, lodging, and start budgeting the “trip” part of your destination wedding.
- Find your local vendors. No one will be more helpful than the people that live and/or know the place you want to get married in. We can tell you where to fly into, what’s the best route if you want to visit multiple locations, best places to stay (for all kinds of budgets), and we can give you a list of other local vendors that you might need for your wedding (i.e officiant, makeup, hairstylist, florist, and etc).
- Don’t foget about the marriage license. This part of the planning often gets forgotten! Every state has different rules, but here in California you BOTH need to pick up your marriage license IN PERSON. Some clerks will only see you with an appointment, and some will see anyone on a first-come-first-serve basis. Make sure you know the regulations of your office of choice. Your officiant will also be able to help you out here!
- Permits, permits, permits. Eloping outdoors is wonderful and care-free. Being able to call a National Park your wedding venue is an insane privilege! But that doesn’t mean this process doesn’t come with paperwork. When eloping in National Parks, State Parks, National Forests, and other outdoor locations, you will most likely need to apply for a wedding permit. The process to apply for a wedding permit with Yosemite National Park is quite simple, and it costs $150. Yes, that’s it! It does need to be done by mail, so if you’re out of the US, we’re happy to deal with this whole part for you.
- Hire a local officiant. I know I mentioned this before, but I think hiring a local officiant is as important as hiring your local photographer. They’ll be able to guide you step by step through all of the legal things! This will give you peace of mind, knowing you have a professional taking care of the paperwork and buorocracy for you!
Destination Wedding Guides for California
We work all over the Golden State, but mostly around Central and Northern California. We also work in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil whenever we’re there visiting my family, which is typically in December and January, and July and August.
Check out some of our most popular elopement guides below:
- How to Elope in Yosemite in 2022
- Guide to Elope in Big Sur
- Tips to Plan a National Park Wedding (US)
- How to Plan a Sequoia National Park Wedding
- Best Places for your Rio de Janeiro Elopement