Choosing the best time of year to elope in Washington state isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. If it was, this would be the shortest blog post ever, and you probably wouldn’t even be here.
But here you are, with your preferences and daydreams, so here I am to help you pick the perfect time of year for you.
As always, if you want to talk things through or get some personalized advice, you can always email me!
Washington does have a rainy reputation, but we’ve also got distinct seasons. Throw in a huge variety in elevation and ecosystems and suddenly choosing the best time to elope in Washington can become a wee bit more complicated than just lining up schedules.
Believe it or not, people do elope in the winter here.
Not…most people, I will say. It’s not the height of “elopement season,” but it does have its charms. You’ll encounter fewer crowds, the snow up in the mountains is gorgeous, and there’s no better time to cozy up around a fire or wood-burning stove.
On the downside, it gets properly cold. Certain roads and campsites will close for the season, some hikes will be inaccessible, and November is a toss-up, honestly. The weather, in general, can be pretty inconsistent and difficult to predict, so keep an eye on the forecast leading up to your elopement and prepare for…everything. Back-up plans are also good.
Springtime in Washington is when she earns her rainy stripes. The weather is shifting, which means April is likely going to be chaotic. This is a perfect time of year to head for either the coast or eastern Washington. The Olympic peninsula is more temperate, and springtime in the eastern part of the state is more warm and dry.
You’ll probably see some fog this time of year, as well as bouncing temperatures. It’s stunning, though, watching the first signs of life after winter.
The most popular time to elope in Washington for a reason. During the summer months, you’ll be more likely to see sunshine and dry days, and the wildflowers will start blooming!
Snow can hang around some of the high elevation trails into July, and you’ll deal with more crowds this time of year. You also have more daylight, which is absolutely worth mentioning. With early sunrises and late sunsets, you have the entire day to do with what you like.
Summer may be popular, but autumn is an extremely close second. If you love that crisp, mild weather, the crackle in the air…then autumn in Washington may be for you.
I mentioned this in the Best Places to Elope in Washington article, but it’s worth mentioning again: we have colours here. Reds, oranges, and yellows, all mixed in with the evergreens to provide a stunning, rainbow backdrop to your elopement. (Definitely go check out the location article to read more about the larches!)
One of the big ways that eloping differs from big, traditional weddings is freedom. There are so many more things you can do and places you can go if you’re only handling a wee group or just the two of you.
I’m a big proponent of doing things you enjoy on your wedding day rather than going through motions for the sake of it. And if this is how you decide to plan your day, the best time of year for you to elope in Washington will fall naturally into place.
If you like hiking, summer and autumn may be your best bet, depending on the types of hikes you like to do and the scenery you like to enjoy.
Snowshoeing? Winter, obviously.
Wine tasting, whale watching, picnics, hot-tub soaks followed by cuddling in front of a fireplace… I hope you see where I’m going with this.
Figure out what you want to do, and your elopement date may follow naturally. Easy!
I don’t think Washington weather is as bad as the Californians make it out to be, but we can’t pretend the rain doesn’t exist, right? Any day of the year, there’s a chance of rain (some days obviously more rain-prone than others). There could be fog, snow, or a sudden dip in temperatures. There could be a heatwave or wildfire smoke.
None of that is meant to put you off, I’m just being realistic. Would you rather I pretend the weather is gorgeous 365 days a year and you shouldn’t plan for anything else…?
Anyway. My number one tip for handling bad weather is to roll with it.
Try to stop thinking of it as “bad weather” and start thinking of it as just “weather.” Some of my very favourite galleries are from foggy or rainy days. Or days when the wind was strong and whipping clothes and hair around. Weather like that brings life into images, and these end up being some of the most genuine looking photos I take because when your attention is focused solely on holding onto your partner and laughing while the wind blows your hair in your face, you can’t worry about the camera or anything else.
It’s not all just “good vibes” and wishful thinking; I always have hand warmers and clear umbrellas on hand to keep you comfortable. Keeping layers and a pair of dry socks in your car is also an excellent move, as is prepping for a range of weather conditions, especially at higher elevations.
For elopements during more “weather” prone times of the year, I also love backup plans. Even if you never need it, it’s nice to know you won’t be scrambling the day of when the snow comes early and the road you were going to take closes for the season.
This comes down to preference and priorities.
Summer in Washington is a gorgeous time to be outside, and you and I aren’t the only ones who know it. Trailhead parking fills up faster, you’ll pass more people out on the trails, and the more popular locations will be coated in tourists and locals alike.
If dry, sunny weather is the most important thing to you, then this is the compromise. To avoid the crowds, I recommend eloping on a weekday and/or at sunrise. I advise my couples away from the super well-known places anyway, but unless you want an audience, this advice is underlined and bolded during the summer.
If privacy is more important to you, then consider spring or autumn, or even winter if that’s what you’re into.
Much like we just discussed re: crowds, if you’re booking lodging or traveling at all, “high season” is going to require a wee bit more foresight.
That wicked AirBnB that you’ve had your eye on may book out well in advance. It may be harder to find somewhere to stay in Leavenworth in the height of the tourist season. Cabins may be cheaper to rent in the autumn.
Again, more to drop into the “preferences and priorities” category. I’m not saying you can never elope in the summer, it’s just going to be easier on you if you plan for that ahead of time rather than scrambling to pull it off last-minute. That is stressful, and I very much do not want you to be stressed.
As a follow-up to what I said above about seasons, the best time of year to elope in Washington depends on where in Washington you are. The state is pretty varied, but the main divide weather-wise is between the eastern and western portions.
Eastern Washington is the more extreme version when it comes to weather. Colder winters, hotter summers, and an increased risk of wildfires. Springtime in eastern Washington is like summer in western Washington.
West of the Cascades tends to be more temperate. The seasons are less extreme, although we do get more rain over here. Being sandwiched between the ocean and the mountains makes western Washington fairly unique in the U.S. as a whole.
Have you started narrowing down your date yet? Is a particular time of year showing up when you daydream about your wedding?
I’d love to hear all about what you’ve dreamed up. Contact me to schedule your free elopement consult and start planning your elopement experience!