Yosemite Wedding + Elopement Guide

Photos, cost & Permits | UPDATED FOR 2022

As Yosemite wedding photographers and elopement experts, we'll guide you through everything you need to know while planning your wedding or elopement in Yosemite National Park. Discover the best locations for your ceremony and photos, where to stay, the best time of year to visit, elopement packages, pricing and more.

With it's massive mountains, rushing waterfalls, peaceful meadows and buzzing wildlife- Yosemite National Park is the most beautiful location in California for weddings and elopements.

Table of Contents

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Yosemite Wedding Venues

WHERE TO GET MARRIED

There are designated ceremony locations for weddings with 11-100 guests, or you're able to get married pretty much anywhere within the park if you are eloping with 0-10 guests.

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley has some of the most beautiful locations for you to have your ceremony. A benefit of having a Yosemite Valley wedding is that the valley is quite compact- it's not huge, but there is SO much to see and do. This means that you'll be able to go to multiple locations and get a variety of scenery by just staying in the valley. There are waterfalls, meadows, mountain views, rivers, lakes and beaches!

The wedding venues in this area are very accessible, with the locations being just a short, easy walk from the parking lot. It's true that you don't have to hike to get beautiful views in Yosemite! Also, a lot of the locations in the valley are open year round due to the lower elevation. If you're staying outside of Yosemite and are driving into the park for your wedding, these locations are a shorter drive than the other options as well.

SENTINEL Beach

Sentinel Beach is our favorite ceremony location in Yosemite Valley for weddings or elopements taking place in the morning. The lighting in the morning hours is absolutely stunning, with the Merced River and mountain views in the background.

Guest count: 0-100

Season: Closed November through Memorial Day Weekend.

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Cathedral Beach

Cathedral Beach is the best location for epic views of El Capitan and the Merced River. Like most Yosemite valley weddings, we typically recommend sunrise ceremonies here to avoid crowds that gather on the beach in the evenings.

Guest count: 0-50

Season: Closed November through Memorial Day Weekend.

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SWINGING BRIDGE

Swinging Bridge is a popular location as it offers gorgeous views of Yosemite Falls, the meadows and the Merced. This location gets very busy, so we'd recommend a sunrise ceremony here. Last time we shot an elopement at Swinging Bridge we saw a family of bears!

Guest count: 0-20

Season: Open year round except on holiday weekends (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday).

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Lower Yosemite Falls Paved Trail

This location offers a close-up view of Yosemite Falls. The ceremony location is located in a small area beside the main paved trail. Early morning is recommended to avoid crowds.

Guest count: 0-50

Season: Open year round except on holiday weekends (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday).

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BRIDALVEIL FALLS

*Photo not accurate of ceremony location* A waterfall ceremony location surrounded by forest. Location lies at the forest clearing on your right where the fall comes into view.

Guest count: 0-50

Season: CURRENTLY CLOSED

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Cascades Picnic Area

This ceremony location offers a close-up view of Yosemite Falls. You can even take couple photos at the base of the falls after your ceremony- as long as you're okay getting a bit wet due to mist from the falls!

Guest count: 0-30

Season: Open year round except on holiday weekends (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday).

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Yosemite Valley Chapel

Built in 1879, this iconic chapel is located in Yosemite Valley and is available for small weddings. To book this location you have to go through Yosemite Valley Chapel Weddings and there is a minimum of a $1200 fee. Or, just take photos here for free!

Guest count: 0-50

Season: Open year round except on holiday weekends (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday).

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WAWONA

GLACIER POINT

Glacier Point is the most popular location in Yosemite National Park. It offers iconic views of Half Dome and the surrounding area with no hiking required. If you have a wedding with 11 or more guests, you must have your ceremony at the Glacier Point Amphitheater. However, if you're planning an elopement with 10 guests or less, you're able to have your ceremony at other locations around Glacier Point.

Guest count: 0-50

Season: Not available in July or August. Usually closes Nov-Dec and reopens April-may. Glacier point road will be closed in 2022 but is planned to reopen in 2023.

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Chilnualna Falls Trailhead Parking Lot

Location is located to the west of a large house (personally owned inholding), at the southwest end of the parking area, down slope from the parking lot.

Guest count: 0-50

Season: Open year round except on holiday weekends (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday).

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Big Oak Flat Area

Tuolumne Grove

This ceremony location is a 2.5 mile rt hike through a wooded area. There is an incline from the parking lot to the ceremony site.

Guest count: 0-30

Season: Open year round. From late October to June there may be snow on the trail.

RESTRICTIONS: CEREMONY MUST BE ON PATH, NO STANDING ON ROOTS OR NEAR TREES.

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MERCED GROVE

This 3 mile rt hike takes you to a small patch of sequoia trees. It's a dirt path which at the time of our hike, was lined with cut down trees. There is a moderate slope down to the ceremony spot.

Guest count: 0-30

Season: From late October to June there may be snow on the trail.

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Tuolumne Meadows

Tenaya Lake beach

Tenaya Lake is a much less travelled area than locations in Yosemite Valley or along Glacier Point Road. This is one of our favorite beaches to hang out at during the summer months. The crystal clear blue water and mountain views are to die for!

Guest count: 0-50

Season: The road to access Tenaya Lake (Tioga Road) opens late May/June and closes September 30th.

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Tuolumne Meadows Lodge Area

*photo not accurate* Site is located upstream from Tuolumne Meadows Lodge on the Dana Fork granite slab. Take dirt path toward the river stay left and follow for approximately 250 yards (300 meters), until you reach the cascade area.

Guest count: 0-25

Season: Road opening until September 30th. There may be snow still in the area.

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Yosemite ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS

If you're eloping with 10 guests or less, you're not restricted to having your elopement ceremony in one of the designated ceremony sites! If you do have over 10 guests but love these locations, you can still take couple photos here.

We keep our favorite locations as hidden gems exclusively for our couples, in order to maintain the privacy and intimate experience in these locations. It's important to hire a Yosemite wedding photographer who's familiar with the park so that they can guide you to the best places for photos.

Taft Point

Taft Point features dramatic cliffs and views of Yosemite Valley that are sure to take your breath away. This is personally one of our favorite views in Yosemite. However, it is an extremely busy location and you will not have privacy.

Guest count: 0-10

Season: The road to access Taft point (glacier Road) closes during the winter due to snow.

HIKE: 2.2 miles roundtrip

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Tunnel view

Tunnel View is a stop right along the road that offers an iconic view of Yosemite Valley with El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls in view. This location is super busy starting at sunrise. However, we know of a trail that offers the same view but even better, without the crowds!

Guest count: 0-10

Season: open year round

HIKE: 0-2 miles roundtrip

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YOSEMITE MEADOWS

Yosemite Valley has countless meadows that are beautiful for photos. We prefer to keep the locations of our favorite meadows just for our clients, as people have been disrespecting the meadows by not staying on the designated trails. All photos you see of ours are taken on trails.

ceremonies are not allowed in open meadows

Season: open year round

HIKE: NONE

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we'll show you the best locations

You won't find the best locations online. You need a Yosemite wedding photographer who has spent time hiking around the park and scouting these locations in person.

We provide our couples with exclusive location guide, custom timeline and vendor recommendations!

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Yosemite WEDDING RECEPTION VENUES

Even if you're having a small wedding or elopement, "receptions" can be a great way to celebrate after your ceremony! This is when you can have dinner, share your first dance, eat some cake, and even have guests give toasts.

Reception venues include Yosemite Valley Lodge, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, Wawona Hotel, Curry Village, or other restaurants, AirBnB/VRBO's outside of the park. Here are a few of our personal favorite reception locations:

Majestic Yosemite Hotel Wedding

The Ahwahnee Hotel is not to be missed! On the outside the hotel is a bit unassuming, but once you step indoors you can really see how grand this location is. This is the nicest hotel and reception venue, conveniently located inside of Yosemite Valley.

PRICE: $$$

DISTANCE FROM YOSEMITE: IN THE VALLEY

GUEST COUNT: 0-180

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This reception venue doubles as a quaint restaurant and bed & breakfast! That means you and your guests can celebrate your wedding here, then walk back to your room to rest for the night. We've shot multiple receptions here and absolutely love it. The venue is stunning and the food and drinks are fabulous.

PRICE: $$

DISTANCE FROM YOSEMITE: 1.5 hour drive

GUEST COUNT: 0-120

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AN AIRBNB

There are many AirBnB's, VRBO's and other rentals that allow small parties and receptions on the property. The best way to find these is to browse rental properties and contact the owners directly for more information.

PRICE: Varies

DISTANCE FROM YOSEMITE: varies

GUEST COUNT: Varies

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When To Visit Yosemite

June is the best month for a wedding in Yosemite. Spring and early summer are the best seasons for rushing waterfalls while summer offers warm weather and lush greenery, but the waterfalls can dry up by the end of summer (around August) depending on the previous winter's snowfall. Fall is beautiful for Yosemite wedding providing gorgeous colors and mild weather. Winter is cold and often snowy, but can make for gorgeous images with less crowds.

We always recommend having your wedding on a weekday (Monday-Thursday) to minimize the amount of tourists that will be in the park. We highly recommend considering an early morning (around sunrise or the hours following) ceremony for the most intimate experience.

Permits for Weddings at Yosemite

A permit is required for all marriages within Yosemite National Park- whether you're having a wedding or elopement. Permits are easy to obtain and are very cheap, so please follow the rules and obtain the proper permissions from the NPS.

How much does a Yosemite wedding cost?

It only cost $150 for the permit to have a wedding or elopement inside Yosemite National Park! It's much more affordable to elope in Yosemite than it is to have a large wedding and rent a traditional wedding venue. For just $150, you can rent the most beautiful outdoor wedding venue in California- Yosemite National Park.

Cost Breakdown

Permit - $150

Entrance Fee - $35/vehicle

California Marriage License - $60 from Mariposa County

Hey, we're Sav & Greg!

Yosemite Elopement Photographers

We're a husband and wife team that photograph experience based elopements + intimate weddings in beautiful locations for adventurous and earth loving couples.

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Yosemite Wedding Packages

PHOTOGRAPHY + VIDEOGRAPHY

Posing Guidance

CUSTOM TIMELINE

Curated Gallery

PHOTO coverage

A professional photography team and optional video services to capture every moment on your wedding day.

We'll create a custom timeline for you for the best experience, lighting and photos throughout your day.

We'll walk you through being in front of the camera with prompts and direction for natural posing. No experience necessary!

Professionally edited images delivered via an online gallery within 2-3 months with print shop access.

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Yosemite Wedding Photos

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