Every year, a lot of people choose Yosemite as their wedding location. And it’s no surprise! If you’ve been before or even if you’ve just seen pictures online, you understand. There’s no place like this iconic National Park, and that’s why getting married in Yosemite is so many couple’s dreams! But it does take a little bit of planning, and that’s what WE’RE here for, to HELP! So here’s everything you need to know to plan your Yosemite Wedding!
#1 BEST TIME OF THE YEAR
Yosemite is beautiful all year round, but, if I personally had to pick ONE season to get married in Yosemite, I would pick FALL, and here’s why:
1. Perfect weather – not too cold, not too hot
2. Fewer crowds
3. The change of colors in Yosemite Valley is really out of this world, so beautiful
4. Sunrise isn’t too early and sunset isn’t too late – so you can easily have a full-day elopement and enjoy the most beautiful hours of the day
Another strong candidate is spring. Seeing all of the Yosemite waterfalls completely full is priceless! And if you’re okay with cold temperatures and you’re up for a challenge, you might want to get married in the winter! Although it requires a bit more logistics (and layers), nothing compares to seeing Yosemite covered in snow, it’s pretty magical.
There’s something special and unique about each season at this Park, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other, it just depends on what you’re envisioning for your wedding!
#2 BEST TIME OF THE DAY
As I’ve mentioned before in other Blog Posts, sunrise and sunset are the two most BEAUTIFUL hours of the day. And, as photographers, we’re always chasing that. So it would be silly for us not to suggest planning your wedding day timeline around either sunrise or sunset (or both). Another thing to consider when you’re planning to get married in Yosemite is the crowds. Unfortunately, being a famous National Park has its cons. But there are ALWAYS ways to avoid the crowds, and here’s how:
1. if you’re getting married in the summer, the most crowded time of the year, plan for a sunrise wedding! I guarantee you that it will make your life easier, and your ceremony more peaceful. I would say 90% of the people in this world aren’t thrilled about waking up at 5 am.
2. get yourself a Yosemite Wedding Photographer that knows the Park like the back of their hands. We’ve been to Yosemite countless times, not only for work but even on our days off, simply because we LOVE it. Because of that, we know the Park so well, and we’re always searching for hidden places to make sure you’ll get to see the iconic spots without having to deal with the tourist crowds.
#3 RULES & REGULATIONS
Yosemite, like most National and State Parks, requires a permit for weddings and elopements. You must head to their website and download the application. Once you’re done filling it out, you’ll mail the application with a check or money order in the amount of $150 to the Park. If you don’t want to deal with any of this, we, as your photographers, will do it for you!
If you’re having a ceremony with more than 11 guests, the park has a list of assigned locations for them, and you have to choose one on the application. But we can still explore the park before or after your ceremony and get pictures in different locations!
Those locations are decided on a first-come, first-serve basis, and they are limited to two-hour use, so as soon as you know where you want your ceremony to be, let’s get on it! You can reserve your wedding at Yosemite from 21 days in advance to up to a year before your date!
Yosemite is huge. And every little corner is beautiful. Picking your elopement location within the Park can be a hard task, so here’s a list of some of our favorite spots:
- Glacier Point
- Taft Point
- Tunnel View
- Cathedral Beach
- El Cap Meadow
- Swinging Bridge Picnic Area
- Vernal Falls
- Bridalveil Falls
- Sentinel Dome
- Yosemite Falls
Remember that, if your party exceeds 11 people, then you need to check out the ceremony locations assigned by the Park.
Yosemite itself is a gorgeous venue, let’s be honest. But if you’re looking to celebrate with more guests than nature allows, then you might wanna get yourself a venue inside or near the Park! Here are some hotels and resorts that host wedding ceremonies and receptions:
- Yosemite Valley Chapel – one of the cutest chapels and it’s inside Yosemite Valley!
- Yosemite Rush Creek Lodge – located just 40 minutes from Yosemite Valley.
- AutoCamp – if glamping in airstreams screams your name, you’ve got to check this place out.
- The Ahwahnee Hotel – the Majestic Hotel is located inside Yosemite Valley, and it’s breathtaking!
- Tenaya Lodge – located just 15 minutes away from the South Entrance of the Park.
- The Pines Resort – located in Bass Lake, just 35 minutes from the South Entrance of the Park.
BONUS – WHERE TO STAY
Here’s a list of some hotels and areas you can stay while visiting Yosemite:
- Yosemite Valley Lodge – located inside the Park, it couldn’t be more convenient!
- Tenaya Lodge – located just a short drive away from the South Entrance, Tenaya Lodge is a favorite of many Yosemite visitors!
- Explorer Cabins – these new “glamping” cabins are part of Tenaya Lodge, and are also just a short drive away from the park!
- Yosemite View Lodge – if you’re looking for something a little more on budget, this hotel is not in the park, but it’s only a 20-minute drive to Tunnel View!
- AutoCamp Yosemite – one of the coolest places we’ve ever stayed at, and they also host weddings!
You can also take a look at hotels and Airbnbs in the two towns that are close to Yosemite – Oakhurst and Mariposa!
That’s a wrap! We know elopement planning can get overwhelming, so we want to help as much as we can. As your Yosemite Elopement Photographers, we’ll be there every step of the way, helping with permits, trails, locations, and all things planning!
DON’T GO YET, check out:
- Full-day Yosemite Elopement
- Top 10 Elopement Tips
- Sunset Engagement Session a Taft Point, Yosemite
- Best Places to Elope in California
Thinking of eloping in California?! GET IN TOUCH WITH US!