How to elope

Where to elope



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Ultimate Palm Springs Elopement Guide

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I looove the California desert and there’s truly no better place to elope if you want endless sunshine, palm trees galore, luxurious resorts at every corner, and tons of epic opportunities for outdoor adventure!! If you’re thinking of eloping in Palm Springs then you’ve come to the right place, because this is a full Palm Springs elopement guide with literally EVERYTHING you could ever need to know. I’ll be giving ya all the best Palm Springs elopement locations, deets on how to get your marriage license, activity ideas, and sooo much more. Pack your bags, put on your sunglasses and let’s do thissss!

Where is Palm Springs?

If you’ve never been to Palm Springs or aren’t familiar with California, you might be wondering where Palm Springs even IS. Palm Springs is a resort city located in southern California in the Sonoran Desert, about a 2 hour drive from LA and 2.5 hours from San Diego. It’s surrounded by Coachella Valley so if you’ve ever been to Coachella then you should be totally familiar with Palm Springs!! To get to Palm Springs you just fly into Palm Springs International Airport (PSP).

Why Elope in Palm Springs?

There are sooo many reasons why Palm Springs makes for an AMAZING elopement location, so let me give you just a few of the top ones in case you need some convincing!

Palm Springs is pretty much a desert paradise that people come from all over to visit. It’s most known for its luxury resorts & hotels, massive golf courses, upscale spas, and the fact that it’s in the middle of an absolutely gorgeous desert! Palm Springs is the perfect place to elope if you want the chance to have outdoor adventures but you don’t want to elope totally in the middle of nowhere – in Palm Springs you have easy access to epic places like Joshua Tree, but you can also enjoy all the 5-star resorts and R&R that the city has to offer! It’s honestly the best of both worlds. 

If you’re big foodies, you will also looove Palm Springs and all the amazing restaurants it has to offer! Or maybe you love hitting the golf course in your free time – you could totally start your elopement day off with a morning out on the green with your BFF’s. After your ceremony, head to one of the area’s natural hot springs, then spend the night out on the town. There are SO MANY things to do and the possibilities for a Palm Springs elopement itinerary are endless!

Best Time of Year to Elope in Palm Springs

Because Palm Springs is in the desert, it can get REALLY hot at certain times of year so it’s important to pick the time of year for your elopement carefully! It also gets superrr crowded in the summer when there are all sorts of activities going on & most people have time off of work, so you should def keep crowds in mind too.

In general, I’d recommend eloping in Palm Springs in the fall, around September-October, or even in the winter if you want the coolest temperatures possible (and are okay with more tourists)! Fall is when temperatures will be way less extreme & way more manageable (especially if you want to do a lot of outdoor activities), and when there will be the fewest tourists. Typically the busiest time of year in Palm Springs is between January-March, and then April/May gets crazy busy because of music festivals (AKA Coachella)! Summer does get busy, but not as busy as a lot of other popular destinations around the country simply because of how hot it gets.

8 Best Places to Elope Near Palm Springs

There are SO many amazing places to visit near Palm Springs, so trust me – you won’t have any problems finding the perfect place for your elopement!! I’ve narrowed down some of my fave places to elope near Palm Springs for ya below, so hopefully one of these locations fits the bill of what you’re lookin’ for.

1. Joshua Tree National Park

Obviously Joshua Tree has to be #1 on the list of the best places to elope near Palm Springs!! Joshua Tree is one of my all-time favorite elopement destinations in California (even in the whole country!) for couples who want to elope in the middle of the desert. Straddling the line between the Colorado Desert & the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree is about an hour east of Palm Springs so it’s a super easy trip to make if you’re spending the majority of your time in the city. It’s an iconic park, most known for its unique rock formations, crazy cool hiking opportunities, cholla cacti, and the wide-open desert landscape of your DREAMS. Whether you want to have your actual ceremony in the park or you just wanna venture around for elopement portraits, it’s a must if you’re in the Palm Springs area!

And because I love JT sooo much, I even put together a whole separate Joshua Tree Elopement Guide for ya 😉

2. Imperial Sand Dunes

Located about 2 hours from Palm Springs, the Imperial Sand Dunes (also known as the Glamis Dunes) are a must-visit if you’re down for a little bit of a drive! They’re the largest mass of sand dunes in the state, and the landscape is so freaking epic – it’s literally just miles and miles of rolling sand dunes as far as you can see. You can explore the dunes on foot or ride around in an off-highway vehicle (OHV), and either way it’ll be an unreal experience. Seriously, you’ll feel like you’re on a whole other planet – especially if you get an incredible sunset and explore the dunes during golden hour, it’s sooo magical!

3. Mount Jacinto State Park

If you’d rather be a little closer to the mountains than out in the middle of seemingly never-ending sand dunes, then Mount Jacinto State Park is the place to go. This park is an incredible place to experience the beauty of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains, covering 13,000 acres of land with over 50 miles of trails to explore! You’ll get gorgeous views overlooking the Sonoran Desert, and you can even go camping in the park if you want a night away from the city & under the stars instead! It’s only about an hour away from Palm Springs, so it’s a great spot to drive to for the day, either for your ceremony or for adventure elopement portraits while you hike.

4. Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

Nestled in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains is a super beautiful National Monument that you can visit, with gorgeous palm oases, views of snow-capped mountains, and scenic trails to explore. You can experience this picturesque area by hiking, biking, camping, or even horseback riding!! It’s such an epic place for elopement portraits out in the middle of the southern California desert, because alllll you can see around you is towering palms, backcountry trails, tumbleweeds, and the mountains, of course. Plus it’s only about a 30 minute drive from Palm Springs!

5. San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm

This is one of my faves and is probably one of the most iconic spots in Palm Springs! I can almost guarantee you’ve seen pics of the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm at some point on Instagram, because it’s a super popular place for photoshoots thanks to the unique scenery – it’s literally just rows and rows of white windmills that stretch from the eastern slope of the San Gorgonio Pass to North Palm Springs! If you’re in Palm Springs you HAVE to spend some time at the windmill farm to get epic desert portraits, like these ones I took recently (below).

6. Moorten Botanical Garden

Finally, if you want a bit more greenery for your ceremony or for some of your Palm Springs elopement portraits, the Moorten Botanical Garden is such an amazing option! It’s a privately-owned arboretum filled with tons of varieties of desert plants, including tons of cacti, of course. The garden is absolutely STUNNING and has space for weddings of up to 100 guests in the Palm Grove Oasis area, and you can do photoshoots in either the Palm Grove Oasis or the indoor Botanical Garden! 10/10 recommend visiting this garden during your time in Palm Springs even if you don’t take any photos there, it’s just sooo beautiful to walk through.

Palm Springs Elopement & Wedding Permits

Let’s talk permits!! If you want to get married at a state park or national park near Palm Springs, then you’ll most likely need to get a special permit that allows you to have your ceremony.

Palm Springs State Park Wedding Permits

Fees and requirements usually vary among California State Parks, so it’s best to check with the specific park you want to get married in to make sure you know what the process is. Typically though, you’ll need a Special Event Permit to get married in a California State Park! Some parks require you to apply a few weeks in advance, and some a few months, so plan as far in advance as you can in case the park you want to elope at does require early application. 

Palm Springs National Park Wedding Permits

To get married in a California National Park, you’ll need a Special Use Permit! Again, fees and requirements vary by park so you will need to look at the NPS website for your specific park to find out what to do. As an example, it costs $120 to apply for a Joshua Tree NP Special Use Permits, and that permit allows you to have your ceremony at certain locations within the park. Your photograph will also need to obtain a separate permit in Joshua Tree!

Getting Your Palm Springs Marriage License

In addition to getting park-specific permits for your elopement, you’ll also need a California marriage license, of course! The process for getting a license varies slightly by county, as do the fees, but as an example: Palm Springs is in Riverside County, where the fee for a marriage license is $100! No matter what county you get your license in, it’ll be valid for 90 days and there’s no required waiting period, meaning you can get married as soon as you have the license!

Here’s a quick recap of the basic California marriage laws you should know:

  • Cost: Varies by county – $100 in Riverside County
  • Blood test required? No
  • California residency required? No
  • Minimum age: 18
  • Waiting period: None
  • Valid for: 90 days
  • Valid outside of California? No

Best Places to Stay for Your Palm Springs Elopement

Okay now here comes one of the most FUN parts of eloping in Palm Springs: picking a place to stay!! Palm Springs is famous for its desert resorts and upscale accommodations, so there are a TON of amazing options to choose from, whether you want to stay in a poolside condo, a full-on luxury resort with a spa, or a cozy Airbnb surrounded by palm trees. Below are some of the top-rated Airbnbs in Palm Springs as well as a list of some of the best resorts in the area!

Palm Springs Airbnbs

Palm Springs Resorts

10 Fun Ideas for Your Palm Springs Elopement

One of the biggest draws to Palm Springs is the sheer amount of activities available & just how MUCH there is to do!! Whether you want to stay in the city the whole time or you want to take a few day trips further out in the desert; whether you want to go hiking in the mountains overlooking the Sonoran Desert or you want to relax by the pool at your luxury resort, there are options for everyone. Here are 10 fun activity ideas I had that I think would be so epic to include in your Palm Springs elopement!!

1. Ride a hot air balloon over Coachella Valley

2. Explore the Indian Canyons

3. Have a picnic in Joshua Tree National Park

4. Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

5. Walk along Palm Canyon Drive

6. Take a day trip to Los Angeles

7. Hike the Tahquitz Canyon Trail

8. Visit Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

9. Enjoy 360-degree desert views from Keys View

10. Walk around VillageFest

Palm Springs Elopement Photography Packages

Helloooo it’s me, your Palm Springs elopement photographer!! Now that you know ALL there is to know about eloping in Palm Springs, you def want to make sure you have your incredible trip documented beautifully 😉 I’m already ready to grab my sunscreen & sunglasses and take you on an amazing adventure through the desert to celebrate! Check out my Palm Springs elopement packages here and then hit me up here so you can give me ALL THE DEETZ & tell me what you’re dreaming up!!

More California Elopement Resources

If you’re still not quite decided on Palm Springs and want to know what other California elopement locations you have available to you, I got you covered! Here are more of my fav California elopement location guides 🙂

How to Elope in Yosemite

Ultimate Death Valley Elopement Guide

Ultimate Big Sur Elopement Guide

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